Consumer electronics giant Sony (NYSE:SNE) released its new PSX device at the CEATEC Japan 2003 consumer electronics show, and it's a truly stunning machine.

Set for release in Japan this year, then Europe and the U.S., the PSX combines a PlayStation 2 game system -- and its ability to play both next-generation online games and original PlayStation titles -- with a television tuner and video recording system, DVD player/recorder, and more. (The "X" stands for "crossover.")

It's also beautiful, seemingly combining Sony's best design ideas with, say, those of Apple Computer (NASDAQ:AAPL), Bose, and maybe Steven Spielberg. (An Australian Sony page has a small gallery at the bottom.) There's little doubt that just about anyone into gaming or high-end electronics will look very seriously at this device.

It wouldn't be the first time Sony reinvented a market. The Walkman and original PlayStation, for example, went a long way toward cementing Sony as a household name and its products as gold standards in some segments. And clearly, personal electronic devices will continue to pack more and more functions -- and Sony, with its Clie handheld computers and upcoming PlayStation Portable, has never shied from a challenge.

At the same time, PSX looks anything but indispensable, despite its best efforts to be everything to everyone and optimistic words from Sony's CEO. At the prices mentioned today (roughly $700 to $900 depending on memory) Sony is asking an awful lot of money from people who are likely just now considering a move to higher-end televisions (perhaps even one of Sony's) and may already own one or more of the devices the PSX jams together -- each at a different stage in its "life cycle."

Worst case, PSX conjures memories of Apple's Cube PC, which the company pulled off the market in 2001, despite its impressive computing power and unique design. That experience, while reaffirming Apple's ability to create innovative, memorable products of high quality, also represented a painful marketing misstep.

If PSX doesn't quite echo the triumph of form over function that bedeviled the Cube, there are nevertheless questions about its timing, pricing and execution. Even so, its daring combination of old and new concepts is a strong signal that wherever consumer electronics may go, Sony will take chances to remain among the leaders.

Dave Marino-Nachison can be reached at