CEDIA Expo 2006: Highlights - Part 1

Sony Bravia KDL-52XBR3 52-inch 1080p LCD HDTV
If the first-day press conferences at the 2006 CEDIA Expo, being held in Denver this week, are any indication, 1080p (1,920 x 1080) will be the big buzzword this fall. Almost all the major brands are pushing the highest HDTV resolution in their step-up products and advertising campaigns.

Typically they are using phrases such as "full HD" or "true HD" to differentiate HDTVs capable of accepting and displaying 1080p high-def signals from those with lower native resolutions, such as 720p. The 1080p models will continue to be priced at a significant premium, however. At the opposite edge of the spectrum are ever-lower prices for flat-panel displays, particularly 42-inch plasma models and LCD TVs between 32 and 37 inches.

While new flat-panel plasma and LCD displays represented a significant proportion of the product introductions, there was a lot of action in front projectors as well - hardly surprising given that CEDIA is a show for custom installers - with Sony, Panasonic, JVC, Optoma, Sim2, and others rolling out new HD models at aggressive prices.

For example, Sony debuted its VPL-VW50 projector, a sleek SXRD-based model with 1080p resolution. The company actually drew cheers from the audience when it announced the price: $5,000. It joins Sony's two existing 1080p SXRD front projectors, the Qualia 004R1 and the VPL-VW100. The VPL-VW50 boasts a new single-chip video processing engine, enabling the use of an all-digital chassis, which the company says eliminates signal noise caused by analog-to-digital or digital-to-analog conversion. It also sports dual HDMI inputs with 1080p support at both 60 and 24 frames per second.

Sony VPL-VW50 1080p SXRD front projector
Sony continued its flat-panel LCD push with new large-screen Bravia sets - including two 52-inch models, its largest LCDs. The KDL-52XBR2 and KDL-52XBR3 both feature native 1080p resolution, 1080p-capable HDMI inputs, and Sony's distinctive floating-glass design. The XBR3 model has a piano black finish while the XBR2 has a silver bezel. They will both be available in November for about $6,800 and $6,500, respectively.