CES 2010: Sony's Booth Coverage

BRAVIA's New Design Direction

BRAVIA's New Design Direction

Following the oversubscribed Sony press conference on 6th January, we return to Sony's booth on the first official day of CES 2010 to check out further some of the gadgets that we missed due to a lack of time. We know it may get a bit old by now but we had to start with the new BRAVIAs and 3D.

It's early the next morning and we were back at Sony's booth to get an exclusive tour of the highlights.

"Timeless, beautiful designs" is something that Sony's top creative honcho appears to have on his mind constantly. Fumiya Matsuoka revealed this in a media session about the creative processes and ideas behind the new Monolithic Design found in practically all of Sony's new mid and high-end BRAVIA TVs. To paraphrase Mr Matsuoka, the TV itself is an element of the room's interior design and while it's not in use, it should blend in with the room. Similarly, when it's in operation, the TV should not distract the user from the actual program shown on the TV.

This is but one element of the philosophy behind the Monolithic Design motif in Sony's new BRAVIAs. Another is the 6 degrees upwards style or tilt of the BRAVIA when mounted on its silver bar stand. This apparently was borne out of research suggesting that this was the optimal viewing angle for users, though it's dependent on having the TV fixed at a lower height than your eyes. If not, it's best to stick to the standard, vertical position, and that's something you can adjust with the stand.

Finally, the last design element is the contrast of materials used; in this case, the use of metal and glass in the BRAVIAs. One impression we get from Mr Matsuoka was that he regarded some of the market trends now, like borderless frames and thin LED TVs as, for lack of a better word, fads. And that the important thing now for Sony is to create a classic design that will last. It's certainly a valid design philosophy and not that surprising from the point of view of a designer. From the way Sony is focusing on its Monolithic Design now and perhaps for the next few years at least, it may seem like the 'design/art' school of thought has the edge over the engineers currently (after all, we know that Sony is capable of making those very slim LED TVs if it wanted to). In any case, we're all for aesthetically pleasing designs ourselves, even if it's a part of a product differentiation strategy from Sony.

Sony's Creative Center Chief Art Director for the Home Products Design Group, Fumiya Matsuoka, is the last word on what goes into the design of Sony's BRAVIA TVs and home theater products. At the moment, the Monolithic Design is Sony's theme for the new BRAVIAs.

As the Elegance here suggests, the NX series has Sony's new Monolithic Design along with Edge LED backlight, Motionflow 240Hz, integrated Wi-Fi and internet video and widget functionality. It's targeted at those who prefer their TVs without 3D. The 60-inch 60NX800 is available in spring for around US$4600.

The versatility here for the LX series is to reflect its 3D capability along with having basically all the features of a Monolithic Design Sony BRAVIA, from Motionflow to integrated Wi-Fi and USB/DLNA playback. The 60-inch model XBR-60LX900 is also the first TV from Sony to have an integrated full HD 3D functionality, including two pairs of active shuttle glass. All this is available only this summer.

Performance here for the HX represents the fact that Sony intends this series to have the best picture quality among the new BRAVIAs. Besides the full listing of Sony BRAVIA features, it lacks integrated 3D, though it is 3D ready, so users have the choice to equip it with 3D in the future by buying the emitter and glasses. Monolithic design of course.

OLED technology has been bandied around for the longest time but cost has been a major stumbling block. So while 3D appears trivial to implement on OLED screens as seen in this Sony tech demo, don't count on it actually coming to homes for a long while yet.

Part of Sony's new monolithic design for home theater systems, this new 3D Blu-ray player BDP-S770 will only be available in the summer, supporting Blu-ray 3D playback and BRAVIA internet video and BD-Live. It has built-in wireless Wi-Fi, DVD upscaling and all that jazz. And best if all, we saw its free BD Remote app for the iPhone/iPod Touch in action and it looks quite useful.

Basically similar to the S770 but without 3D, the Sony BDP-S570 Blu-ray player too has the Monolithic Design along with Wi-Fi and DVD upscaling. It will be out this spring, though no pricing info has been revealed.