Sony has unveiled the first four products in its new Qualia family, a top-of-the-line range of digital cameras, video projectors and other products that is designed to return a little magic to the Sony brand name.
For the new range, Sony said it tried to combine functionality with design and a high level of customer service and support. The result is a range of products that are meant to touch the hearts of consumers, a Sony spokesperson said. Judging by the prices of the first four products, the Qualia line products will also reach deep inside the wallets of affluent Japan.
The project began in May 2001 and was first disclosed publicly in April this year, when Sony chief executive, Nobuyuki Idei, said the high-end product family would be launched in June. At the time he did not release details but promised that consumers “will have delight in just holding these products”.
The Qualia 016 digital still camera is a two mega-pixel device much smaller than Sony’s Cybershot U digital still cameras. It measures 69x24x17mm and weighs 50g, which is slightly more than a quarter of the volume of the Cybershot U and less than half the weight.
In exchange for the small size, consumers will find the camera lacks several features compared to other models in Sony’s Cybershot range. The monitor is 0.55 inches in diagonal width, there is no internal flash, although an external flash unit can be connected, and battery life is just 50 minutes. There is no optical zoom, although the camera does have a 4X digital zoom feature and comes in a kit that includes a telephoto and a wide angle lens. It stores images on Memory Stick Duo.
The kit, which includes the camera, will go on sale in Japan on June 24 priced at ¥380,000 ($4928). That’s roughly 15 times the street price of Sony’s Cybershot U and more than four times the price of its high-end Cybershot F717.
Sony also announced the Qualia 004 high-definition video projector. The unit uses the SXRD (Silicon Crystal Reflective Display) LCD projector technology announced by Sony in February this year, which promises to deliver a high quality, high contrast and brighter image than has been possible until now.
The projector accepts either analog or digital video inputs and will go on sale in Japan on August 1, priced at ¥2.4 million ($31,125).
The other two products are the Qualia 007 Super Audio CD player and the Qualia 015 Trinitron high-definition color monitor.
Sony said it has no present plans to sell Qualia products outside of Japan.