Sony sees 3D everywhere

While the rest of the world may still be sceptical over 3D’s readiness to take on the wider world, there’s no doubt on Sony’s feelings following its CES 2010 press conference.

Within seconds, using the glasses placed on every attendees’ seat, we were treated to 3D clips of Hendrix at Woodstock, before Sony president Sir Howard Stringer introduced a live 3D performance by US country music star Taylor Swift. The underlying theme was immediately clear.

As in previous years, Stringer was bullish about his company’s 3D credentials, pushing the message that Sony is the only company with links throughout the image production chain, and encompassing both consumer and professional products. But today’s announcements were also heavily reliant on partnerships.

Expanding on the association with Real-D’s 3D active shutter system, broadcast partners including Discovery, IMAX, CBS and US sport network ESPN were wheeled on to wax lyrical about 3D programming, and Sony’s involvement in particular. Stringer barely even winced when IMAX head-honcho Richard Gelfond mentioned the success of Avatar, made with equipment and support from arch-rival Panasonic.

In the home, Stringer singled out sport as being “clearly positioned as a driver for adoption”, announcing that the company’s cameras would be used to film both FIFA 2010 and this year’s PGA Tour, with 3D Blu-ray discs of the former also being released, and over 85 sporting events covered in the first year.

He also revealed that both Sony Pictures and Sony Music were working on a number of major film and live music events, as well as converting existing 2D footage (such as the impressive opening Hendrix clip) for both home and theatre distribution.

Sony Bravia LX900 seriesOn the product side, Stan Glasgow, the President and CEO of Sony Electronics, arrived on stage to announce a new 3D-ready LED TVs (the LX-903 series). Shipping in March, the sets will come with two pairs of active shutter glasses and a built-in transmitter.

Two further ranges will also be ‘3D-compatble’, with the option to purchase the transmitter and glasses separately. Sony has confirmed these sets will be compatible with services forthcoming from Sky and Virgin Media.

Not to leave existing devices in the cold, Glasgow also confirmed that the PlayStation 3 console will be firmware upgradeable to support both 3D games and Blu-ray discs, although no announcement was made about the potential for 3D video streaming. Existing and future Blu-ray players will also be made compatible with the newly ratified BDA 3D Blu-ray standard.

As for the future, numerous hints were also made that more 3D news would be forthcoming from the VAIO and Digital Imaging divisions of the company. The Sony stand also featured a prototype OLED 3D model – the only mention of the display technology to be had this year.

Finally, it was announced that all Sony stores will feature a 3D demonstration in an attempt to engage public interest. It seems that, other than knocking on people’s doors and physically giving them 3D kit, there’s nothing more the Japanese electronics can do to convince people that 3D for the masses is really here.

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