Sony had invited the Press onto the stranded ship, which lies at the Křge Bugt in Denmark – better known as Arken (The Ark). Arken is large museum of modern art but today we arrived before the crowd and sneaked our way into a large hall to attend the presentation of Sony's new autumn line-up. Sony had brought new televisions, new television technology, a new SLR camera, sound products and a dancing mini-robot. And even though the dancing robot was very entertaining we want to talk about the new Sony LCD-TVs and the new TV technology.
Sony’s LCD-TVs are very popular throughout the world and the BRAVIA brand is one of the best selling brands today. At the moment Sony are replacing all of their high-end series with new models and today we shall see previews of X4500, W4500 and the new Z series with 200 Hz + Motionflow. Sony also mentioned the new ZX1 series that is less than 1 cm thick and the soon-to-come second generation Picture Frame EX series.
Z series - the world's first 200 Hz TV The Z series was announced on IFA 2008 in Berlin. Sony had prepared a huge campaign counting down to August 28 with the slogan"All Becomes Clear August 28".
The new Z series and W4500 has a lot of similar specs, with Motion Flow 200 Hz as the primary difference. 200 Hz is designed to create even more fluid image sequences. By calculating new images in-between the original ones, using advanced algorithms, you can create a very smooth and sharp picture even in fast paced action movies.
The design is part of Sony's"Draw the Line" concept, and the frame has a very dark bluish hue called Midnight Sky. The bottom speakers are “floating” because of the transparent and discreet glass frame. The loudspeakers come in different colors.
The TV wasn’t really challenged and a pretty standard movie was displayed. It had a fair bit of film noise/grain (the movie, not the TV) but occasionally the camera panned and we got to see how well the TV was able to handle motion. And it looked good. I will refrain from evaluating too much. It is difficult to do so at a very short and biased presentation by the manufacturers themselves.
Please note that the Z series follows the same name-pattern as other Sony models. They are called Z4500 and will be available in 40, 46 and 52 inches called, respectively, KDL-40Z4500, KDL-46Z4500 and KDL-52Z4500.
Other features include digital tuners with MPEG4. The Bravia Engine 2 is used to optimize the picture, and a dynamic contrast ratio is specified as 50000:1. The wireless streaming system used for music, photos and movies called DLNA is a part of the product, too. Remember the name DLNA. It will become big in 2009.
Prices? No, nothing yet. We can expect the Z4500 models at the end of 2008.
W4500 - the successor to W4000 The successor to the W4000 series is W4500. I shall talk about some of the most important features here.
Sony had this model standing around, too, so I got a chance to see it. The frame is black and glossy. In the middle of the frame there is a hole so you are able to see the stand.
The screen has Motionflow + 100 Hz – like the X3500 series – and a Full HD panel. Digital tuners with MPEG4 are integrated too as well as Sony's Bravia Engine 2.
The W4500 will be available from October 2008 in three different sizes. 32 inches is gone and the first W4500 model has a screen diagonal of 40 inches. Besides the 40-inch model, Sony offers a 46-inch and a 52-inch called KDL-40W4500, KDL-46W4500 and KDL-52W4500, respectively.
Sony x4500 - now with LED backlight A cool new technology from Sony is the LED backlight in the X4500 TV-series. It allows for both new imaging systems, and provides attractive opportunities for reducing depth (physical), power consumption and heat production. Also it can ensure a very even distribution of the backlight – unlike the CCFL lamps used in most LCD-TVs today.
LED was introduced by Samsung some time ago but the introduction was not very successful. The Samsung LCD-TV had some obvious flaws and the price was far too high as you could buy for example a high-end Pioneer that provided far better picture quality at a more attractive price. It’s time for Sony to try to tame the LED technology and if the story of the 100 Hz technology is to repeat itself, Sony will make a better job than Samsung once again.
So now the X4500 series is here – with LED backlight. LED is short for light-emitting diode and is considered the next big breakthrough in the LCD world. The lighting industry is also about very committed to the LED technology because it has proved to improve light intensity, longevity – using only few watts.
With the introduction of LED, Sony has also improved the Motionflow + 100 Hz system, which also existed in the last generation of X series. Now called “Motionflow + 100 Hz Pro” meaning that Sony utilizes a principle which has been known for some years in the imaging industry. It has primarily been called “black frame insertion”.
The principle relates to the human eye. Your eye does not “wash away” a picture instantly. You know of the phenomenon when a very strong and short bright light flashes. This bright light will stay fixed on your iris for a few moments. By inserting very short black image in between the other images you can “reset the eye”, so it perceives the image - for example on a TV - faster and with less trailing on movement.
This principle creates the foundation in the new LED backlight system by Sony. This way you can reduce the perception of trails and blurred movement on the LCD screen - without actually improving the response of the LCD panel.
The LED backlight is also divided into “zones” in order to control the light on the panel with a local dimming system to help improve blacks. Samsung has also tried but it has not been a very great success, because of too few zones meaning that halos are created around for example white text on a black background. An example; a completely black sky with bright stars. The stars are very small and the groups of LEDs behind the panel are much larger meaning a greater area than the single star is illuminated creating a white halo area around the star.
I hope Sony has done a better job than Samsung but unfortunately the presentation was hosted during the day so we did not get a good look at the X4500 series in ideal surroundings.
Back to the product, because here are facts and features: Full HD, Motion Flow 100 Hz Pro, digital tuner with mpeg-4, Bravia Engine 2 Pro, 4 HDMI inputs and LED backlight. And once again, DLNA is integrated. Remember the name, it will be great.
The design has received a facelift and no longer has a glass frame surrounding the inner-frame. The speakers are still located on the sides., however.
The smallest X4500 is 40 inches. Two more variants are released, too, being the 46 inches and the new screen size from Sony; 55 inches. Model names are as follows: KDL-40X4500, KDL-46X4500 and KDL-55X4500.
Launch: Later this year.
ZX1 - the world's thinnest LCD TV We take one step further into the world of tomorrow with the ZX1 series. I have seen it on IFA 2008 but unfortunately Sony did not receive the product in time to present it to the press on Arken Museum of Modern Ark. But I can tell you that it is impressive.
So let us take a look at it even though it speaks for itself with an ultra-slim frame of just 9,9 millimeters in depth.
Sony ZX1 serien
ZX1 is the design TV of tomorrow. It is the flat panel TV version 2.0. The depth is just 9.9 millimeters – far slimmer than any other TV out there – and it looks great.
Sony ZX1 serien
The secret? LED backlight and an external media box. I have talked about LED backlight already but there is a difference from the X4500. The LEDs are not placed behind the panel but on the left and right side and then the light is distributed across the panel by some light diffusers. The external media box allows the user to connect all inputs to a separate box. The signal is sent to the TV wirelessly with almost no loss of picture or sound quality. A very elegant and smart solution that will please the women, too, I am sure. Everything the TV needs, is a power cord - at least until we invent the wireless power.
Sony ZX1 serien
Other technical features include Motion Flow 100 Hz, 4 HDMI inputs, Bravia Engine 2, digital tuner with MPEG4 and various other news from Sony including the Xross Media bar menu, Bravia Sync, etc.
The image quality looked fair at the IFA fair but I cannot say much more. It is difficult to conclude anything based on these kinds of presentations. It looked convincing, sure, but one might fear that Sony had to compromise picture quality in order to create the slim profile. But no doubt that we look forward to reviewing and testing the ZX1 series.
Sony ZX1 serien
Sony said January 2009, but if we are lucky the ZX1 series might be ready for the Christmas sales 2008. At the moment only a 40-inch version is on the roadmap and the price has not been disclosed but it is definitely not one of the cheaper Sony 40-inch TVs.
EX1 - the white picture frame TV You may recall the launch of Sony's E Series, which was the first picture frame Tv. An integrated Picture Frame mode could turn the TV into a digital picture frame. Sony has announced an updated version of the E series called EX1.
The EX1 series is slated for November or December 2008.
You might wonder how it differs from the existing E series. Well, the EX1 series has the Motionflow + 100 Hz circuit and the external wireless media box that I am really excited to try out.
Sony EX1 trĺdlřs sender
You simply connect your cables to this box, and then wirelessly sends the picture and sound directly to the TV panel.
The design has some minor differences but the overall philosophy is intact. It has the white framework, which separates the TV from the crowd. The lines are sharper and raw. You can also choose between a black or silver outer-frame.
The TV also features the Picture Frame mode (surprise).
Technical features include Full HD panel, Bravia Engine 2, Motionflow + 100 Hz, 1080p24 support, 4 HDMI inputs as well as digital tuners with MPEG4.
No 32-inch version is planned. EX1 is coming in 40 inches as well as 46 and 52 inches. Launch is scheduled for November 2008.
Final words Sony is ready for a completely new high-end portfolio that looks very promising and I look forward to have a look at the new LED backlight models and the new external media boxes. Sony has low and mid-end models on the roadmap, too, but they are not very appealing as the main living room TV in my opinion.
Sony once again takes design to the next level. It is nice to see something different from the glossy black finish. Also, I’m excited about the new DLNA wireless system that I’m sure will be a great success.