Here at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, just about everyone is showing off 3D TVs. But at Sony’s oversized press conference on the eve of the big expo, the company went far beyond TVs, hyping up everything from 3D cameras and handicams to laptops and self-contained 3D headsets.
Chief among the 3D products soon to hit the market is the 3D-enabled Vaio laptop. I tried it out for myself before the press conference. The picture quality was fine but I thought the 3D effect was a little underwhelming, mostly because of the size of the screen. Also, it requires a pair of battery-powered glasses for viewing the 3D, which means yet another thing to pack along with your laptop. If that’s not a problem for you, the 3D Vaio will be available this spring and Sony says it will retail for around $1,700.
Sony also made a big push for its 3D-capable camcorders. The company claims that one in particular is the first consumer camcorder to shoot 3D in double HD. There will also be 3D versions of the company’s horribly named Bloggie camcorders.
Off the topic of 3D but on the topic of camcorders, Sony also showed off its first handicam with a built-in digital projector. It’s a nice idea but I wasn’t blown away by the quality of the projection being demonstrated at the Sony booth, especially for the price tag of $700.
Back to 3D. Still in development stage were two interesting projects. The first is a portable 3D disc player that doesn’t require 3D glasses for viewing. The problem I had when looking at the prototypes on display was that the screen seemed to have a very limited set of angles from which it could be viewed. So while making it glasses-free would seem to make it a great product for entertaining a car-full of kids, only the child sitting in the middle would be getting the full effect.
The other prototype was yet another attempt by a company to create an immersive viewing experience by putting a 3D TV in a personal headset (see photo at top of the story). I was able to slip one of these monsters on and actually felt it had promise. The only problem is that the device is so heavy it can’t easily be held up to the user’s face. Also, since each eye is looking at a different screen, the headset requires measuring and adjusting for each user’s pupillary distance. I can imagine the arguments that would happen if one set were to be shared among a whole family — or even a few adult roommates.
Sony would give neither a timeline nor a speculative price point for either of these in-development products.
In addition to the 3D products, Sony touted its upcoming 3D movies and video games. While most the crowd was giddy when Green Hornet stars Seth Rogen and Jay Chou came out to show off a 3D clip of their movie, the coolest comin’-at-ya attraction was a preview of the PlayStation 3 game Uncharted 3, where the effect seemed less like an attempt to cash in and more integral to the experience. Of course, it was a 30-second clip, so take that statement with a big grain of salt.
Some other things of interest from the Sony show:
*The company has teamed up with Time Warner Cable to produce a TV set that requires no set-top box (for Time Warner Cable customers, that is).
*Aside from the Uncharted 3 demo, there was no real discussion of the PS3 or the PSP.
*In addition to bragging about all the tweaks to the Bravia line of TVs, Sony also said that many of the new TVs will be faced with Gorilla Glass from Corning, which will apparently make it much more difficult for morons to do things like this.
CES proper kicks off bright and early tomorrow morning and I, along with the Consumer Reports crew, will be there all day and into the night.