Sony makesBy Tim Ryan
high-tech user friendly
Damn those people at Sony! Just when you think you're on top of the home electronics mountain, Sony Electronics announces several "gotta have" products.
At the recent Sony Hawaii 30th Anniversary Media Conference in Waikiki, the company debuted several new products, including the first flat-display Trinitron television, a multidisc digital video disc player, a camcorder that films in total darkness and a VCR that displays names of programs recorded on a tape and the amount of blank tape time left.
Sony is offering 41 new models of Trinitron direct-view and Videoscope big-screen televisions this year, but the big news is four Sony FD Trinitron Wega TV sets -- Wega is the brightest star in the constellation Lyra -- with flat picture tubes.
The new tube is flat-out-flat, both vertically and horizontally, delivering a superior image compared to conventional televisions. The FD Trinitron image is more accurate, clear and sharp, with minimal glare and virtually no distortion.
The new Wegas, in 32- and 36-inch models, will be available this fall at $1,700 to $2,500.
A five-disc CD-DVD is designed for those who want to take full advantage of the DVD format's versatility and playback options, Sony said.
Sony expects the new changer to be a natural upgrade to the five-disc CD carousel, integrating high-quality audio and video in a single unit. The changers feature a built-in Dolby Digital decoder and a component video output to help ensure the best possible video signal to the television.
The changer will be available in late summer in two models, selling for $500-$600.
For videophiles wanting to capture "shots in the dark," Sony has a remarkable line-up of new Handycam camcorders that not only record longer than before and with higher resolution, but even in a pitch black room using "NightShot" infrared technology.
When the lights go out, Handycams will record clear monochromatic images, using an infrared transmitter as an invisible light source so the camcorder can capture images invisible to the naked eye. An optional infrared video light can be attached to the camera's "intelligent shoe," extending its NightShot range up to 100 feet.
The eight 8mm and Hi8 Handycam camcorders sell for $599 to $1,399. A top-of-the-line digital model sells for about $2,000.
Wave a videotape in front of a new Sony VCR, and your TV screen will show an index of the tape's contents. Insert the tape, select the program you want to view, and the SmartFile VCRs will find and begin playing the program.
The electronic indexing system can also tell you how much blank time is left on a tape and automatically advance to that spot so you can record something else.
The feature saves the time and frustration of wading through videotape collections to find blank spots to record new programs or to find a particular program previously recorded.
SmartFile VCRs will be available this summer for $449-$499.
And for the younger set still clinging to the Walkman, Sony has three "freq" personal portable stereos in three see-through colors. The "freq" line features auto-reverse, AM/FM radio, transparent headphones and a protective "bumper guard" with a key ring attachment for fastening to belt loops or back packs. They sell for $54.95.