One thing I can say about Sony with a touch of humility is that while we sure do create some truly outstanding and innovative products, we could use a little help in naming them.
The most recent example is the new BRAVIA Internet Video Link. In its first incarnation, this device comes in the form of a roughly $300 hardware module that clips on to the back of our 2007 line of BRAVIA high-definition televisions. It allows you to access streaming Internet videos for free from a variety of content providers right on the TV set without the need for a personal computer.
Among them are videos from AOL, Yahoo!, Crackle (the former Grouper now owned by Sony Pictures), Conde Nast, Sports Illustrated and blip.tv, which was recently rated No. 1 in a PC World reader survey of the best user-generated content sites. In addition, Sony Pictures is now offering new Internet channels through the service. And in the near future, we expect many other famous and not-so-famous (yet) providers to contribute content for the service, which internally we fondly refer to as "BIVL" because the full name is such a mouthful.
Based on the selections and capabilities of the content providers, BIVL can also stream high-definition content, which I believe is an industry first.
In another touch of Sony integration, content from the Internet service can be navigated through very easily on a BRAVIA television set with Sony’s Xross Media Bar (XMB) user interface, which received a Technical Emmy award and was adapted from work originally done by engineers from Sony’s Playstation development team. Despite the long name, the BRAVIA Internet Video Link represents a unique, "PC free" approach – and just the beginning of one – to the whole concept of IPTV. That said, at the outset, you need to have a broadband Ethernet connection in your home where your BRAVIA TV is set up.
This clever interface lets you switch channels smoothly and quickly regardless of whether the content is coming from broadcast, cable, satellite, BIVL internet content providers or RSS sources. (Speaking of which, getting the latest RSS feed with local news – while not the sexiest – is probably one of the most used and one of my favorite BIVL services.)
But what’s so cool is that if you have a flat-panel set and hang it on the wall, you don’t even notice the module is there since it’s so sleek and thin.
If you have one of the new flat-pannel BRAVIA LCDtelevisions you may notice that they already have two sets of slots on the back panels, so in the future you will be able to add yet another module. Within Sony, our engineers are already working on future modules that will offer a variety of services that will add value to a BRAVIA HDTV. Just imagine, for example, clip-on modules that are wireless, feature hard drives for storage and recordability, offer Blu-ray Disc capability, are powerful AV receivers, provide direct Internet download capability (sans a PC), and more. These are a few of the many possibilities, so stay tuned.
I invite you to visit one of the 40 Sony Style stores around the country or any of our retail partners who are carrying the Bravia Internet Video Link module and check it out for yourself. Hopefully, you won’t let it’s long name stop you from giving it a test drive. My colleagues and I would greatly welcome your feedback.