Sony bares broadband Bravia

By James Wells in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS: Sony unveiled one of its best kept secrets today with the launch of a module called Internet Video Link, which creates broadband-enabled Bravia televisions.

Operated via remote control, the module will allow users of its new range of Bravia televisions to access free internet content, including high definition feeds from provider partners including America Online (AOL), Yahoo! and Grouper, as well as its own companies – Sony Pictures and Sony BMG Music.

Sony’s new internet video-ready televisions will be able to receive streaming broadband video, including high-definition content, via a small optional module that is easily attached and concealed behind the TV for a clean, integrated appearance – even when hung on the wall.

The module links the television set directly to a user’s broadband internet service provider via an Ethernet connection.  The content can then be accessed directly on the TV without use of a personal computer.

Initial content provided by the module will be free of charge, including internet video, music videos, movie trailers, user generated videos and RSS feeds.

Pricing has not yet been announced, however the US market is likely to receive the first shipment of units by the middle of this year. Australian availability has not been confirmed.

“This initiative will not only enhance the entertainment experience for owners of Sony internet video-ready HDTVs, but also reinforce our defining strategy of providing more personalisation of products and content for consumers that no other company can offer,” said Sony Electronics president and chief operating officer, Stan Glasgow.

The Bravia Internet Video Link will initially be first supported by Sony’s BRAVIA S-series flat-panel LCD high-definition television line, which was also announced today – the KDL-46S3000, KDL-40S3000, KDL-32S3000 and KDL-26S3000 units.

“We are shifting content experience from a lean-forward PC exercise to the comfort of the big screen TV in your living room,” said Sony Electronics senior vice president – home products division, Randy Waynick.

“Internet video will clearly be the next step in the evolution of high-definition television, giving users more control over the content they view.”

Waynick also put the internet video initiative into context with other Sony personalisation efforts.

“One of our first personalisation projects was based around removable colored bezels on the XBR2 line of BRAVIA LCD televisions this year and the reaction was tremendous. Now by providing customers with the ability to watch internet video as if it were an additional personalised TV channel, we are taking this concept to the next level.”

Sony’s Technical Emmy-nominated Xross Media Bar (XMB) user interface will help users navigate through internet video content, as well as the standard TV menu features on most of the company’s 2007 television models.

First featured in the PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3 video game consoles, as well as Sony’s latest AV receiver (STR-DA5200ES), the XMB is an icon-based menu system that allows users to easily navigate menu selections.

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