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SONY'S CONNECTED FUTURE

Sony unveiled its vision for the future, at what is rapidly becoming its European HQ on Potzdamer Platz in Berlin. It kicked off with the announcement that the company is following the success of its Sony credit card with a move into global banking, smoothing e-commerce and future entertainment technologies.
With an eye to that, it laid out how it sees MiniDisc coexisting with its Memory Stick solid-state memory system: while Memory Stick, with its high capacity but relatively high cost, will be a transfer medium for getting music from PC to home system for example, MiniDisc will continue as the personal medium of choice for many users.
There is also a range of other options: Sony's mobile communications division showed a clutch of combination mobile phone/computer/personal stereo concepts. It's all part of the company's new corporate image - based around the slogan 'Go Create' - emphasising the interconnectivity of everything from PCs to camcorders to music and home video set-ups, using the Sony i-Link system.
Using the Firewire/IEEE1394 combined data/signal transfer protocol, i-Link is found in many of Sony's new products, not least of which is the Lissa audio system shown in prototype form in Berlin. This has conventional phono inputs and outputs, for connection to external components, but the hook-up between the system's receiver, CD player and MiniDisc deck is purely by i-Link, carrying both audio signals in digital form and all the control data. Plug in another i-Link component and the system will recognise it, and the whole thing could also be linked to one of the company's Vaio notebook computers for control purposes.
The Lissa system will be available in the shops in time for Christmas this year. It can be partnered with Sony's Pascal speakers, and a spokesman wouldn't rule out a digital version of the speakers, so the whole system could be hooked up with i-Link.
On the more conventional hi-fi front, Sony strengthened its commitment to the SACD format with demonstrations of its SCD-XB940 player, which is part of the mainstream QS range. It should be in the shops soon with a 550 price tag, and will be partnered by two integrated amplifiers designed to handle the wide frequency and dynamic ranges of SACD. It gets tested in our July issue.

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To boost the appeal of DVD, Sony has not only new standalone players, but also the DAV-S300, a combined DVD player/Dolby Digital/dts receiver and speaker package, all for a staggering 550. The slimline main unit uses digital amplification to ensure its trim dimensions, while set-up is simplified by the use of colour-coded plugs and sockets. We test it in July's issue of What Hi-Fi?

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