Sony Spotlights HDR In 2015 4K UHD TVs
Sony gave its 2015 4K Ultra HDTV products a formal sendoff by unveiling six new series of UHD LED LCD TVs, highlighted by XBR65X930C and XBR75X940C models offering enhanced performance dynamics, including the ability to display a wide color gamut and high dynamic range.
The 2015 line also includes some of the thinnest LCD screens to date, and makes use of a new X1 4K processor for improved contrast, color and clarity. New smart TVs also include the Android TV OS, bringing greater compatibility and interoperability with a wide range of smartphones and tablets. Sony also continues to make high-performing Full HD TV models more and more affordable.
More on Sony’s 2015 4K Ultra HD and Full HD TV models after the jump:
The new models join the carry over X950B and X800B series models, and Sony’s line of 4K Ultra HD projectors, including the new VPL-VW350ES 4K UHD SXRD front projector and the 4K Ultra HD short-throw projector.
All of the 4K UHD TV models incorporate Sony’s X-Realty Pro upscaling system that processes lower-resolution content for display on the higher-resolution screens. Sony also includes its Triluminos Display technology in X850C series models and up, to deliver a wider color gamut and “dynamic color correction” through a combination of techniques applied to the panel, LED lighting system and picture processing.
Sony’s X930C series features one 65-inch model ($4998 unilaterial pricing policy) and the X940C features one 75-inch models ($7998 UPP). The 65-inch 930C model uses edge-lit LED lighting with local dimming, while the 75-inch model features full-array LED backlighting with local dimming. Sony adds its X-tended Dynamic Range (65-inch model) and X-tended Dynamic Range PRO (75-inch model) systems to “deliver a peak brightness of LED (Sony is not quoting exact brightness levels) as well as deeper blacks,” for a “superior viewing experience compared to that of normal HDR video sources as well as any other video source,” according to the company.
The X930C and X940C series will also be compatible with High Dynamic Range (HDR) content via a firmware update this summer, which will add HDMI 2.0a capability (among other things) to the set to enable reading HDR metadata from specially encoded HDR content. The name of the source at Sony who said that HDMI 2.0a is to be enabled via a firmware update was Toshiyuki Ogura, Sony assistant to senior general manager, chief distinguished engineer TV platform division. Sony explained that “HDR is an emerging video format that can display a wider range of brightness levels which will allow content creators, such as movie directors, to expand their range of creativity.”
“We will support HDR through a firmware update coming later this year for the XBR 930 and 940 TVs. But just because you can accept the signal doesn’t necessarily mean you have the ability to display it, so you need to come up with new ways to do this with an LCD TV,” said Philip Jones, Sony TV product information manager. “The first thing you have to do is local dimming. This allows us to dim the darker areas of the screen with control over the LEDs and it gives you detail in the dark scenes. Then you have to make the brighter areas of the scene brighter. Again we use local dimming, taking the left-over power from the darker areas to locally boost the brighter areas of the picture. So now you are going to put higher visible contrast on screen. I can have a picture of a room looking out of a bright window and I’ll see details outside the window but at the same time I can see details inside the shadows in the room, which is what you see in real life. But you have to have some technology like this to be able to utilize the signal. So maybe my set can do 1000 nits [peak brightness], but if I do 1000 nits, what happens to my black level? The goal is to put both of them on the same screen at one time, and that ability is what is going to separate a good TV from a great TV.”
HDR content will be available from major video service providers including Amazon and Netflix this year.
Sony pointed out that it continues to be an industry leader in 4K Ultra HD development “from the lens to the living room,” and is a founding member of the Ultra HD Alliance, which is working with other companies and studios to help establish new standards in video technologies including 4K and higher resolutions, high dynamic range, wider color gamut and immersive 3D audio.
“To be immersive you also have to have an audio experience. So we have enhanced audio in both our 930 and 940 Series Ultra HDTVs,” said Jones. “You can also integrate devices – whether it be a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player or a 4K Joey box — into a 4K ecosystem and get maximum high resolution sound quality as well as get the picture to pass, which means HDCP 2.2.”
Other features in both the XBR-65X930C and XBR-75X940C models include: a native 120Hz refresh rate, 3D support and new Android smart TV system.
The 55- and 65-inch X900C models measure under 0.2 inches thin (see picture above), use an LED edge lighting system and include a “Vanishing Edge” screen, designed to make the picture appear to “float on the wall.” Pricing will be announced closer to the TVs’ release date later this summer.
The X910C, which features a 75-inch model that will also ship later this summer, features a similarly thin panel size and floating-screen size, but is slightly thicker than the X900C models.
The X900C and X910C series models include a special wall that keeps the set nearly flush against the wall.
Other 2015 4K UHD LED LCD TV models include the 830C series with 43- ($1299.99 UPP) and 49-Inch $1599.99 UPP) models and X850C series with 55- ($2199.99). , 65- ($3499.99 UPP), and 75-inch ($4,999.99 UPP), models.
This year’s X 4K and W HDTV series TVs (W850C and W800C) feature an Android TV operating system, which brings access to content from a range of over-the-top streaming services including: Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Google Play, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube, PBS, PBS KIDS, EPIX, YuppTV, iHeartRadio, Madefire, PlutoTV, Vevo and others.
Other smart features include Google Cast that allows casting content from a favorite program app on an Android or iOS smartphone or tablet, PC, Mac or Chromebook to the TV. A voice-search feature in the included One-Flick remote helps viewers quickly find programs by speaking into the remote or compatible smartphone.
“We have to make sure our TV blends into the new lifestyle,” said Jones. “Many people talk about how good their TV interface is. This [Android smart TV] is not a TV interface, it is a lifestyle interface. It doesn’t matter what is in the center of your universe, because I can seamlessly incorporate this into my televisions, so you can start watching a movie on my TV, hit pause, and pick up watching it on your tablet, then go over and watch a little bit more on the smartphone. Or you can start playing a game on a smartphone, hit pause, and go over and resume playing it on the TV.”
This summer, gamers will be able to play games directly on the TV through PlayStation Now. PlayStation 3 games can be streamed to the TV and played with an optional DUALSHOCK 4 controller.
Meanwhile, Sony will offer three series of Full HD LED LCD TVs including: the R510C, W800C and W850C.
The W800C line includes the 50- ($999.99 UPP) and 55-inch ($1299.99 UPP) screen sizes. Pre-orders on the 55-inch model begin in June. Features include: LED edge-lighting, native 120Hz refresh rate, 3D support and the new Android smart TV system.
By Greg Tarr
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