Sony's Z-series and XBR9 LCDs get widgets

Sony has gone Yahoo "widget"-happy with its TV line-up for 2009, incorporating the internet-enabled doodads into two of the series announced at CES.

Described as "internet applications ... that deliver real-time information" in the press release, widgets "expand and personalise the TV experience by adding on-screen applications that provide such real-time information as weather reports, stock ticker updates, financial news, Yahoo! Video, Flickr images, and additional content".

The Sony KDL-Z5100 series will incorporate Yahoo widgets.
(Credit: Sony)

The three-model "Z-series", which consists of the 40-inch KDL-40Z5100, the 46-inch KDL-46Z5100 and the 52-inch KDL-46Z5100, will be available in the spring for yet-to-be-determined prices. It boasts nearly identical features to the company's higher-end XBR9 series, although styling and price will differ. According to Sony, the XBR models also feature a wider colour gamut backlight, but we doubt the improvement will be obvious to most viewers.

The XBR9 series consists of four sizes: the 52-inch KDL-52XBR9, the 46-inch KDL-46XBR9, the 40-inch KDL-40XBR9 and the 32-inch KDL-32XBR9. Prices were not divulged, as usual, and availability details were limited to "spring".

Each of the sizes has identical features except for the 32-incher. Among other differences, the smallest XBR9 has a 120Hz refresh rate as opposed to the 240Hz rate used on the larger sets, a different Bravia video processor, and lacks the internet-powered TV Guide Onscreen. The latter feature, found on the three larger sets, should be an improvement over the standard TV Guide, and we're looking forward to testing it.

All Z-series models include a fluorescent backlight (as opposed to the LED-backlit XBR8 series from 2008) and 240Hz refresh rates, so we expect video-processing performance to be similar to that of the 240Hz Sony KDL-52XBR7 we reviewed last year.

As mentioned previously, one notable addition to Sony TVs this year is an internet-powered TV Guide Onscreen, which we can't wait to test out. Interactive features aside from widgets include compatibility with the company's Bravia Internet Video Link and improved DLNA capability over the 2008 models — now the series can stream video and music from networked PCs, just like Samsung's and Pioneer's. Other features common to the line include four HDMI inputs, a PC input, and an improved XMB-style interface.

Sony KDL-Z5100 models

  • Sony KDL-40Z5100 ($TBA)
  • Sony KDL-46Z5100 ($TBA)
  • Sony KDL-52Z5100 ($TBA)

Sony KDL-XBR9 models

  • Sony KDL-32XBR9 ($TBA)
  • Sony KDL-40XBR9 ($TBA)
  • Sony KDL-46XBR9 ($TBA)
  • Sony KDL-52XBR9 ($TBA)

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