Sony explains $25,000 price for 84-inch Ultra HD TV, closed distribution and 4K

By Patrick Avenell

Sony Australia today downplayed its first-to-market status in Ultra HD TVs, claiming it is more important to have the right product rather than being first on the shelves.

At a special media preview for Current.com.au today, Sony Australia unveiled its debut 84-inch “4K” TV (KD-84X9000), a $24,999 LED LCD panel that will be sold in only five Sony Centres for the foreseeable future. LG Electronics was the first supplier to showcase an Ultra HD TV when it held a press conference in early October though its $15,999 model is not yet on sale.

“More important than to be first is to do it properly,” said Sony Australia group manager for networked services and technology Paul Colley. “Our 4K TV is purpose built from the ground up for 4K images — we’re not just taking a 2K processor and upscaling the image to a 4K screen — we’ve made sure that we’ve delivered the right quality that we need to for 4K to become successful.”

The picture engine on the new Bravia KD-84X9000 is the 4K X-Reality Pro. Colley said the picture engine in a TV was like the lens on a camera — just as a bad camera lens leads to bad photos, a bad picture engine leads to poor TV image quality.

The $9,000 price difference between the only two 84-inch Ultra HD TVs announced to date is due to Sony investing in a bespoke 4K picture engine, Colley said. LG’s 84-inch Ultra HD TV, the 84LM9600, has the same Triple XD Engine as its top-of-the-range Full HD TVs launched in April 2012.

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“I’m sure if you see the picture, it’s very engrossing and it draws you in,” Colley said. “We’re finding that when most people look at the TV they walk up close to it rather than stand back and that’s because the picture is so sensational — you’re just drawn into it.”

When asked why such a “sensational” TV was being limited to just the five Sony Centres in the mainland capital cities, Colley hinted at a lack of faith in retailers to properly showcase this supreme piece of technology.

“In the early days, we’re making sure that the experience is what people expect from a premium TV like this,” he said, “so we’re demonstrating from Sony Centres and selling through Sony Centres so the installation is managed properly.

“I’m sure as 4K technology expands, as we expect it will, like we saw with Full HD and 3D, 4K will also expand, and I’m sure that at that point it will become more commonplace through retailers.”

Colley continually referred to the KD-84X9000 as a “4K” TV. This is because it has a 3,840 x 2,160 pixel count (Sony is rounding up the first figure to 4,000).

Unlike LG, which altered its description of the 84LM9600 TV from UD to Ultra HD, Sony is refusing to change its marketing, despite the Consumer Electronics Association (USA) issuing a decree that “ultra-high-definition displays, also known as 4K television sets for their higher resolution, will be officially known as Ultra HD".

Colley indicated this reluctance to conform is likely to remain and he subtly contested the CEA’s authority to make such pronouncements.

“There are actually no formal standards yet that have been communicated,” he said. “There are a few options — Ultra Definition is less specific, as it captures 4K, 8K and ‘other’ — whereas [with] ‘4K’ we’re being quite specific about the technology and what it’s capable of.”

Check out this video of Paul Colley introducing the new TV, shot on a Panasonic Lumix FZ60 camera:


 

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