Sony's new TVs put design and picture quality first... pictures and hands-on

It seems that, after making record losses, Sony has developed a plan to make its new televisions impress in the areas that customers say are most important.

The company is focusing, therefore, on TVs that must be well designed and have great picture quality. And while consumers don't care - or at least, say they don't - about features like 3D and internet streaming video, at least they are added to screens for very little extra expense.

Monolithic design remains important to the company, and the TVs we saw in a recent visit to the company's home base in Japan all look stunning. The design is improved, and Gorilla Glass has been included to get the weight down and the thickness of the glass more sensible.

Anyone who had to lift one of its older monolithic TVs will appreciate how important this is, and how much reducing the weight will impact the environment, with shipping CO2 costs being an important factor.

The new TVs will also feature an improved user interface that makes it easier to see online functionality. A new Twitter app can run alongside the TV picture and allow you to see what's happening with your friends while you're watching "event" programming, such as sport or reality TV.

Sony is also creating apps for both iOS devices and Android phones and tablets. These make it a lot easier to connect with your TV and share content from your phone's camera or to look at a web page loaded on your tablet, via your TV. This "catch and throw" system is incredibly simple, and reinforces how important Sony views the extra screens in so many homes these days.

There are new 3D glasses too, with a lightweight design. Sony tells us that, while they won't be included as standard, they'll cost the same, or less, than extra 3D glasses do at the moment.

If Sony's picture quality on these new TVs is actually as impressive as the demos it gave us, then we're in for something of a treat. The demo we saw proved the firm has perfected local dimming on LED televisions. In the demos we saw, haloing was reduced to almost zero and the blacks gave plasmas a run for their money.

One of Sony's skills seems to have been in perfecting the default shipping set-up. Out of the box, the firm's screens should need less tweaking, and that should mean normal consumers are much more satisfied than with other manufacturers' TVs that need much more setting-up when installed in their home.