Sony seized the reins of the Ultra HDTV market today with the introduction of two new models. The move brings the company’s Ultra HDTV count to five, more than any other TV maker. (Ultra HDTV, a new standard that offers four times the pixel resolution of high-definition TV, is also called UHDTV and 4K by Sony.)
Sony’s new models, the 55-inch XBR-55X850A ($3499) and 65-inch XBR-65X850A ($4499), are the lowest-priced 4K displays available in these screen sizes. Along with having 3840 x 2160-pixel resolution, the new sets feature Sony’s Triluminos expanded color system, slim bezel design with edge-lit LED LCD panel, 4K X-Reality signal upconversion, Internet movie streaming, active 3D and built-in Wi-Fi.
The company also announced today the activation of its Sony Video Unlimited 4K Download Service. Using Sony’s FMP-X1 player ($499 with a Sony UHDTV purchase and $699 if sold separately), the service launches with more than 70 titles in native 4K Ultra HD format for rental or purchase. Initial offerings include the TV show Breaking Bad and the movies Moneyball, Think Like A Man, Premium Rush, Ghostbusters, The Amazing Spider-Man and Funny Girl. TV episodes are $3.99 each and movies start at $7.99 for a 24-hour rental, or $29.99 for purchase. Content gets downloaded via your home’s hard-wired Internet connection and is stored on the FMP-X1′s internal hard drive. More than 100 titles are expected by year’s end. The FMP-X1 is a proprietary design and will only function with Sony UHDTVs.
HDMI 2.0 Announced
One thing holding up UHDTV adoption (besides the high cost of entry) has been a lack of standards. Current hardware can’t handle signals over 30 frames-per-second (fps), an issue that limits the system’s ability to display sports (the 720p HDTV system used by ESPN, Fox and ABC is 60 fps). But HDMI 2.0, a long-awaited new standard that supports 60 fps UHD signals, was finally released today by the HDMI Forum. All Sony Ultra HD televisions will be able to get an upgrade to HDMI 2.0 via an Internet-delivered firmware update by year’s end.
The HDMI 2.0 standard will also permit viewing of homemade 60-fps UHD content created with Sony’s first UHD consumer camcorder, the FDR-AX1. The new camcorder ships this fall at a retail price of $4499.
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