Consumers buying Sony's latest plasma display panel television will be getting a little more than just a monster flat-panel television.
Sony is providing a gadget, called a palette display, which is based on Linux, sports a 17.5cm touch-sensitive liquid crystal display and looks a little like a small tablet PC.
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It stays in touch with the PDP via an 802.11a wireless Lan link and can be used to watch television, access the internet or control the PDP and other devices through its remote control function.
Both internet data and television signals are sent across the wireless Lan, the latter as a streaming video signal. While this is more complicated than simply fitting the palette display with its own TV tuner, it means that the picture should always be clear because the streaming video can be sourced from an external antenna or cable TV signal present at the PDP.
There is a dual-tuner for terrestrial channels, so different stations can be displayed simultaneously on the portable unit and PDP, and a single tuner for satellite channels. The set does not offer a tuner for digital terrestrial broadcasting, which will begin in Japan in December.
It is the first time Sony has bundled such a device with a television, although the basic concept for the palette display is not new. Sony's Airboard, which was first launched in 2000 and most recently updated with a third-edition model earlier this year, has many of the same functions and features. Unfortunately, the palette display has some of the same weak points too.
The palette display is available with either the KDE-P50HZ1 or KDE-P42HZ1 televisions, which were launched this week and are 50-inch and 42-inch widescreen PDPs, respectively. The 50-inch panel has a 1,365-pixel by 768-pixel resolution and the 42-inch panel has a 1,024-pixel by 768-pixel resolution. Screen resolution on the palette display's 7-inch screen is 800 pixels by 480 pixels.
Martyn Williams writes for IDG News Service