Last Thursday I spent the morning at the Sony Pictures HQ in Golden Square, London. This was the rather apt venue that Sony had chosen to show off its new line of HD compliant flat screen TVs. The message that Sony was keen to hammer home was that your next TV needs to be both digital and HD compliant. I have to say that it’s refreshing to hear a manufacturer talk about the perils that a consumer faces when buying a new television – it’s all too easy for the man on the street to fall into the trap of buying old technology. And judging by the presentation last week, Sony is trying to make things as easy as possible for prospective buyers.
This means that Sony is trying to ensure that its new range of TVs ship with a digital tuner and also sport the “HD Ready” logo. This means that each screen needs to be equipped with both an HDCP compliant HDMI port and a set of component video connectors. Obviously it also means that each TV will be able to resolve at least 720 lines, in order to produce a 720p image. Now, it might seem obvious for a company like Sony to make sure that its new televisions show the HD Ready logo, but it wasn’t that long ago when I saw the new line-up from Toshiba and was disappointed to see that the WL56 range of LCD TVs could not sport the HD Ready logo, due to a lack of component video connectors.
So, you want a TV that’s HD Ready and digital, but do you go for LCD or plasma? Well, Sony spent quite a while extolling the virtues and advantages of LCD over plasma, which although valid, seemed a little odd considering that there is a 50in plasma screen in the new line-up. The reason for this is that very large LCD screens are still very expensive, so if you’re looking for a super-size screen for your home cinema setup, plasma may still be the way to go. Although Sony resolutely insists that a plasma screen shouldn’t be used for gaming, due to the screen burn issue.
Anyway, onto the new screens. Kicking things off is the new S Series, which will be available in 19, 23, 26, 32 and 40in flavours. Now, although I initially thought that every model in the new Sony range would sport the HD Ready logo, I actually found out that I was wrong. Like Toshiba before it, Sony has forgone the HD Ready certification on the low end screens. This means that the 19in and 23in S Series televisions don’t have an HDMI port, and therefore can’t carry the HD Ready logo. This is a real shame, and somewhat undermines Sony’s very strong message about buying the right technology.
On the plus side though, the 26, 32 and 40in screens are all HD Ready branded. These babies all sport a true 16:9 resolution of 1,366 x 768, along with component video input, HDMI, PC input and two RGB SCART connectors. They all ship with a swivel base, but if you fancy wall mounting, you’ll be glad to hear that the screens are VESA compliant.