Sony Introduces Direct-View HDTV

Evolution, not revolution. That's how Fujio Nishida, president of Sony Electronics Consumer Products Marketing Group, characterizes the coming debut of high-definition television. "This is just the beginning," Nishida said at a press conference on September 16 at which Sony's first direct-view HDTV, the KW-HD1, was unveiled.

Scheduled to debut at home-theater dealers in November, the cutting-edge set will sell for $8999. Its 16:9 flat-screen display is based on the same FD Trinitron technology used in the company's highly regarded NTSC sets. Compatible with all 18 varieties of digital television, the KW-HD1 is capable of full 1080i resolution, but it will also display traditional NTSC analog signals. It can also display mixed analog and digital pictures at 480p via Sony's Multi Image Driver circuitry. The set provides Dolby Digital sound when linked to DD receivers.

According to Jim Palumbo, VP of Sony's display marketing division, computer-display technology was adapted for the KW-HD1. When combined with a high-definition signal, the result is better detail and focus---"astounding picture quality," says Palumbo.

As a flagship "statement product," the costly KW-HD1 probably won't sell in large numbers, and its features and capabilities will likely be found in the much less expensive products that will enter the market as HDTV becomes more widespread over the next few years. Home-theater fans with finite resources should be happy to know that companies such as NetTV and Unity Motion are hot on the trail of affordable HDTV.