Sony announced three series of 3D-compatible TVs at CES in January, and on Wednesday the company filled in the remaining details with pricing, availability, and a list of included 3D material. The principal throw-in is "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" on 3D Blu-ray, as well as vouchers for 3D games on the PS3.
Pricing, as with that of rivals Samsung and Panasonic, is pretty high. Sony's 3D models, all with LED backlights, start at 40 inches and $2,100 for the Sony KDL-40HX800. Samsung's least expensive LED-based 3D TV at that size is the UN40C7000 ($1,800), although the similarly-priced 50-inch Samsung PN50C7000 plasma and the non-LED-based 46-inch Samsung LN46C750 LCD (about $1500) both provide bigger screens for the buck. Panasonic, for its part, charges about $2,500 for its cheapest 3D TV, a 50-inch plasma known as the TC-P50VT25/TC-P50VT20.
One of the three Sony series, the flagship XBR-LX900, includes two pairs of the necessary 3D glasses, which is more than Panasonic (1 pair) and Samsung (zero pair). The other two, dubbed HX909 and HX800, require you to buy the glasses ($150 a pair--the same as Panasonic and Samsung) as well as a separate emitter to synch the glasses to the TV ($50--both Samsung and Panasonic build the emitters into their TVs).
Sony does offer the most extensive throw-in bundle of the three at the moment, at least for PS3 owners. According to the press release:
Consumers who purchase and register one of the new 3D Bravia models will receive a copy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's Blu-ray 3D title "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" as well as Blu-ray 3D title "Deep Sea." The sets will also include a PlayStation Network voucher enabling 3D BRAVIA purchasers to download stereoscopic 3D gaming experiences on the PlayStation3 (PS3) System (sold separately). The titles include Pain (partial game) and MotorStorm: Pacific Rift (demo) and full game downloads of WipEout HD and Super StarDust HD.
If you're keeping track, Panasonic's current 3D Blu-ray throw-in is either "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" or "Coraline"; while Samsung offers a "starter kit" with two pairs of glasses and "Monsters vs. Aliens" ($350, or free when you buy a BDP-C6900 Blu-ray player). Having played Super Stardust HD in 3D at CES, I can tell you it's the most satisfying 3D TV content I've experienced so far, so Sony's free offer could be compelling to people who don't care about childrens' animation (I am looking forward to "Coraline," though).
Content aside, the real question is how well Sony's sets deliver the 3D experience, something we don't know for sure until we've had a chance to review them. In the meantime here are Sony's 2010 3D TVs in a nutshell, including LED backlight schemes. All are available for preorder at the prices listed.
KDL-HX800 series: Entry-level 3D; edge-lit LED with local dimming; more info
- Sony Bravia KDL-55HX800: 55-inch ($3,400)
- Sony Bravia KDL-46HX800: 46-inch ($2,700)
- Sony Bravia KDL-40HX800: 40-inch ($2,100)
XBR-HX909 series: Formerly HX900; full-array LED with local dimming; more info
XBR-LX900 series: Flagship with glasses and emitter; edge-lit LED backlight without local dimming; more info
In non-TV news, Sony also announced that the 3D firmware upgrade for its compatible Blu-ray players is available now. There's no update on when we'll see the PS3's 3D Blu-ray firmware upgrade, but the console's first 3D games are available now.