Sony's slimmed down the number of televisions it'll launch into the Australian market in 2012, with a focus on picture quality and smart TV -- but not "games and gimmicks". According to Sony, it's all about the content. I just had a brief hands-on session with the top of the line 55" $3999 HX850, an impressive display screen -- but then it'd want to be at that price -- with a layer of gorilla glass that makes it very robust. Or, to put it another way, I've never seen a TV demo that concluded with the company representative laying into the TV with the remote control.
Not that this was a serving suggestion; more a demonstration of how the TV should be able to cope with, say, a flying Wiimote or errant family pet. I also had a brief try of Sony's new lighter 3D glasses; they're nicely built but at $179 a pair, not a good thing to throw at the TV.
Sony's claim is that, based on its own data, it leads the local Smart TV market -- it here defined a Smart TV as "any TV that's capable of connecting to the Web" -- with around a third of the market. The reason, according to Sony's Paul Colley?
"From a content perspective, no-one has as much local content as we do. We've concentrated on content; not on games and gimmicks and novelty things, which people don't engage with."
It's an interesting summation; with the recent announcement that Sony's locked in Channel 10's catchup services, it can boast of having a total of twelve local channels across its entire 2012 Bravia range. One other interesting differentiator for its Smart TVs is that there's no feature creep; all its Smart TV functions are available on every panel, from the cheapest to the most expensive.
Aside from picture quality -- and, let's face it, no TV manufacturer is going to talk down its picture quality -- content is something that Sony's really pitching hard this year. According to its own figures, around 70 per cent of the IPTV delivered to Bravia screens comes from the local channels, around 28 per cent from YouTube and the remaining two per cent from other international sources. I'd say that means we're watching an awful lot of ABC iView, in that case.
The Sony Bravia TV range is significantly cut down from 2011; there you could pick from 23 Sony Bravia models, where this year there's a choice of nine. The entry level EX550 is a 26 inch panel, the EX650 comes in 40 and 46 inch sizes. Then the premium models are the HX750 range in 32, 40, 46 and 55 inch sizes, and finally the HX850 in 46 and 55 inch only. Sony's only officially announced pricing for the HX750 models. The 32 inch is $1099, 40 inch $1799, 46 inch $2699 and 55 inch $3299, but Harvey Norman is taking pre-orders on the 55 inch HX850 at $3999.