Sony Delivers 4K TV for $5K

Sections: 3D, TVs, Video, Video servers

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Sony XBR-55X900ASony has officially announced two new 4K TV models, along with an Ultra HD playback device, all at prices well within the realm of the reasonable. The 55-inch XBR-55X900A and 65-inch XBR-65X900A will hit store shelves in April for an amazing  $4,999 and $6,999, respectively, putting the smaller model at a fifth the cost of Sony’s flagship 84-incher. To make sure those TVs aren’t starved for content, Sony is simultaneously launching the FMP-X1 4K playback device, which replaces the server that was loaned to owners of the XBR-84X900 last year, and comes packed with 10 movies at launch.

If all of this sounds so amazingly tantalizing (and let’s face it — affordable 4K is pretty huge news), just know that, at these screen sizes, you might have to sit a bit closer than you’re used to sitting to get the benefit of that extra resolution. To start to appreciate the 4K resolution of the 55-inch set, you’re going to need to sit within six or seven feet of the screen. Any farther than that and you may as well be watching 1080p. Of course, the increased quality of the source, the expanded color gamut, better 3D, and the rest of the benefits of 4K are still there, but just keep in mind when planning your pre-order.

Key Features of the new models include:

  • Images become lifelike with a resolution of four-times that of Full HD TV (3840 x 2160) delivers lifelike images.
  • All content is viewed at the highest resolution possible with enhanced images reaching near 4K with Sony’s proprietary two-chip 4K X-Reality PRO picture engine.
  • All colors, including difficult blues, greens and reds, are delivered naturally and accurately through TRILUMINOS™ Display.
  • An immersive picture draws in viewers with blacker blacks and excellent contrast produced with dynamic edge-lit, LED backlighting.
  • Amazing sound from the integrated 65 Watt, front-facing, magnetic fluid speaker system complements the stunning picture.
  • A cinematic experience is brought to life through Full HD 3D and passive glasses.
  • Entertainment choices are endless with WiFi™ connectivity, including access to the full Sony Entertainment Network suite of services.

Of course, what’s a 4K TV without 4K media? The PlayStation 4 won’t be out until the fall, and to feed the beast until then, Sony has acrazy round media box to hold it all. From the press release:

Sony FMP-X1 This summer, consumers of Sony’s 4K UHD TVs can purchase the FMP-X1 4K Media Player bundled with 10 feature films and video shorts in true 4K resolution for $699. In the fall of 2013, users of the same 4K Media Player will be given access to a fee-based video distribution service offering a library of 4K titles from Sony Pictures Entertainment and other notable production houses. The feature films included with purchase of the 4K Media Player are Bad Teacher, Battle: Los Angeles, The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Karate Kid (2010), Salt, Taxi Driver, That’s My Boy, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Other Guys and Total Recall (2012)

The box is download-only, with no chance of physical media input. Given that 64% of the US is on a bandwidth cap, 50GB 4K movies might be a long and expensive slog ($10 per 50 GB overage for some ISPS).

What I’m really looking forward to seeing is how well 4K fixes the problems with passive 3D systems, finally making polarized passive systems the equal of their shutter glass counterparts. Passive polarized 3D effectively halves the resolution available to each eye, so all of those passive 1080 sets are actually delivering 520p in 3D mode. But Sony’s 4K sets will effectively deliver 1080p to each eye, reducing the blockiness and scan-line issues that have plagued the home format to this point.

Pre-orders for the XBR-55X900A, XBR-65X900A, and FMP-X1 start April 21 on the Sony Store and at select retailers

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