By Patrick Avenell
Picture, sound and connectivity: the three pillars of Sony’s new Ultra HD range, officially launched last night in Sydney. Ultra HD has four times the clarity of Full HD, with a resolution of 3,820 x 2,160.
Although LG has already shown off Ultra HD TVs in 55- and 65-inch models, Sony claims it will be the first to market with Ultra HD in these smaller screen sizes, having previously been the all-round first to market with its $25,000 84-inch model late last year.
Sony likes to call Ultra HD ‘4K’ because, as group manager for network services and technology Paul Colley explained, Ultra HD can also refer to 8K, especially in the professional videography market. In the consumer space, however, ‘4K’ and ‘Ultra HD’ almost always mean the same thing and are interchangeable.
The grunt powering the incredibly vivid and, at times, disturbingly realistic imagery on Sony’s Bravia X9000 Series of 4K TVs is the X-Reality Pro engine. More than any other TV supplier, Sony likes to talk about and talk up its Bravia engines – a sign of its unwavering confidence in its performance.
“We really are delivering cutting-edge technology that is far superior to anything else that is out there,” Colley said. “We have the best picture quality of any TV on the market; that is without question. The X-Reality Pro is the processor in our TV. For any image to get onto the screen of a TV, it has to go through a processor. It doesn’t matter what video content you’ve got or if you’ve got the best panel on the planet, all images have to go through the processor, and if you’ve got a dodgy processor, you’ll get dodgy images.”
Colley said the processor was responsible for upscaling, removing MPEG ‘noise’ and decoding content. Sony’s processor is superior, Colley said, because the data it uses to transfer content to images is built from laborious research conducted by Sony Pictures engineers — information that no other manufacturer has access to.
Further enhancing Sony’s picture quality is its new Triluminous Display feature, which can deliver a wider array of colours that a standard R/G/B LED TV. Already we have seen Sharp debut Quattron technology (yellow) and LG showcase TVs with a white pixel, though no supplier has managed to effectively market the advantages of extra colours to consumers.
The most distinct aesthetic feature of the X9000 Series are the integrated ‘Magnetic Fluid Speakers’ on the sides of the bezel.
A close up shot of the Magnetic Fluid Speakers.
“On most TVs on the market today, the speakers point down, because that’s the only place you can put them – because they are so thin that’s the only place you can put them,” Colley said. “But we sit in front of the TV, so it makes sense to have the speakers facing forward.”
While Sony’s new TVs are only 1-centimetre deep, the speakers employ NASA technology to enhance sound output, resulting in less distortion, Colley claimed.
The final piece of Sony’s triple threat is connectivity. Empirically, Sony has the most comprehensive Smart TV offering, with catch up TV services from the ABC, SBS, Channel 7 and Channel 10 — the only supplier to offer four different networks.
Sony also has Music Unlimited, Pandora internet radio, an app platform with 80 apps to download and video on demand services.
In 2010, shortly after Sony first started investing in Smart TV functionality, only 17 per cent of Smart Bravia owners were connecting their TVs to the internet. That figure has now risen to over 70 per cent, according to Sony’s internal research.
Sony’s new X9000 Series of 4K TVs in 55- and 65-inch models will be available in July 2013. When we asked for RRPs, we received the following response from a Sony press officer:
“The RRPs on the new Sony 4K TVs haven’t been announced yet. We will be able to share more information closer to the availability date in July.”
As a special gift-with-purchase, Sony will be bundling eight Blu-ray movie titles, remastered in 4K, with the TVs. These titles are Angels & Demons, Battle: Los Angeles, Ghostbusters, The Karate Kid (Jaden Smith), The Amazing Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield), Spider-Man (Toby Maguire), The Other Guys and Total Recall (Colin Farrell).
The Ghostbusters themesong by Ray Parker Jr was the subject of plagiarism accusations by Huey Lewis and the News songwriters Hayes and Lewis. One for the American Psycho fans…