The latest President of Sony Electronics America, Stan Glasgow, has pledged greater co-operation between the brand’s electronics and computer entertainment divisions, as well as further development of Sony’s HD strategy for both TV and camcorders. Some observers might say that the biggest challenge facing the Sony CE division this year is the introduction of Blu-ray, but Glasgow believes that the format face-off with HD DVD could be over in less than two years. “The price of BD hardware could fall twice as fast as it did for DVD,” he suggests.
Sony’s biggest success story is the re-branding of its LCD TV range as BRAVIA.
Launching on both sides of the Atlantic this Summer are the latest BRAVIA S and V Series screens, which utilise a seventh generation LCD panel and the company’s latest proprietary image processing, in the form of BRAVIA engine.
The displays also offer enhanced wide-angle viewing courtesy of S-PVA (Super Patterned Vertical Alignment), which extends the viewing angle to a full 178 degrees. Stepping up from the S series is the V range, which promise superior colour fidelity, via Live Colour Creation technology.
“Reds and greens are the most difficult colours to reproduce on LCD screens – and they are vital,” says Darren Ambridge, Group Product Manager, TV Marketing UK. “The challenge in creating a picture that people instinctively see as realistic is how to reproduce true, lively reds and greens while faithfully reproducing what we call memory colours, like human skin tones. That’s why Live Colour Creation is such an important part of what makes the V-Series special.”
Making this possible is the introduction of a wide colour gamut (WCG) CCFL (Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamp. Both S- and V-Series are HD-Ready with integrated Digital Freeview TV tuners. HDMI and PC inputs are standard across all the sets, which come in 26inch, 32-inch, 40-inch and 46-inch screen versions.
AV journalist John Archer says “Aside from putting an extra digital connection on these screens, it’s hard to imagine what more Sony could have done with these sets. They prove without question that Sony has well and truly found its LCD sea legs – and the TV marketplace is all the better for it.”
Official Sony BRAVIA briefing notes:
Wide Colour Gamut
The colour gamut of a device is the portion of the visible spectrum that it can detect or reproduce. The BRAVIA V-Series is capable of exceptionally lifelike and natural colour thanks to its extended colour gamut, particularly in the red and green areas of the spectrum.
Overall, Sony calls the process Live Colour Creation. This is achieved by a combination of digital processing in the BRAVIA ENGINE EX, a specially modified backlight, and RGB filters in the screen exactly matched to the spectrum produced by the light.
The backlight itself is referred to as the WCG-CCFL, for Wide Colour Gamut Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamp.
True wide angle viewing with Super PVA
Super Patterned Vertical Alignment (S-PVA) LCD panel technology is the key to the remarkably wide viewing angle of BRAVIA S and V-Series TVs. S-PVA provides a wider than usual viewable range of 178o, but even more importantly, it also maintains colour saturation and contrast when the screen is viewed obliquely.
A basic LCD panel (the smallest component of the display) contains a matrix of liquid crystal molecules. Rotating these molecules as a group under the influence of a local electric field allows backlight illumination to pass through or not.
The cell is either open (lit) or closed (dark). This on-off technique is applied to groups of three cells or sub-pixels, each capped by a red, blue and green filter in order to produce a single pixel which apparently changes colour depending on the relative intensities of the R, G and B sub-pixels.
By varying the voltage passing through each sub-pixel to control its brightness, the range of apparent pixel colours is greatly increased. However, since light transmission is via a single chain of molecules within each sub-pixel, aligned perpendicular to the screen surface, it is highly directional.
Move away from right in front of the screen, and the colour weakens and fades out. With Patterned Vertical Alignment, the matrix of liquid crystal molecules within each sub-pixel is itself divided into discrete areas.
By refining the control over the liquid crystal matrix still further, Super PVA LCD panels can split each sub-pixel into two segments. The overall viewing angle can be increased considerably by varying the orientation of each segment. Better still, instead of relying on half-open states to create a wider range of half-tone colours or greys, segments can offset each other. In this way, a grey can be created by a patterning of black and white within the sub-pixel, rather than having the whole thing set to half-open.
Black (dark) and white (lit) segments are relatively unaffected when viewed obliquely, whereas grey (half-lit) is prone to colour shift. A combination of black and white segments creates a grey minimally affected by colour shift as the viewpoint changes, increasing the stability of the image over a much wider viewing angle.
7th Generation LCDs
The BRAVIA S and V-Series showcases the very latest 7th generation TFT amorphous LCD panels. The largest single mother glass previously manufactured measured 1.5m x 1.8m, but 7th generation mother glass measures 1.87m x 2.2m, technically large enough to produce two 82-inch or eight 40-inch screens.