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CES Feature Articles

January 08, 2013

CES 2013: Sony to Launch Ultra-Def 4K Video Player in Summer

Sony made a splash at the 2013 International CES (News - Alert) by showing off more ultra-definition TVs (including a mammoth 84-inch that will go for $25,000, along with a 55-inch version), but the real news bomb is the announcement that its video hardware player for 4K content will be ready to go commercial in the summer.

4K Ultra HD Video Player hard-disc server comes loaded with content, including both full-length Hollywood features and a gallery of videos, including a collection of 10 full-length feature films: The Amazing Spiderman; Total Recall (2012); The Karate Kid (2010); Salt; Battle Los Angeles; The Other Guys; Bad Teacher; That's My Boy; Taxi Driver; and The Bridge on the River Kwai.

It was first announced in November, but commercial availability was up in the air.

UD TV customers are to be “loaned” the hardware appliance, Sony said, borrowing a page from pay-TV operators who rely on “loaned” set-top boxes (STB) to distribute content feeds to the TV set. It’s a smart move too, considering that the approach is the only way to get 4K content into consumer hands.

The lack of 4K content is the biggest sticking point in the mega-def television ecosystem, making Sony’s early launch a significant one. Current HD content—let alone standard-def fare—looks grainy and pixelated on 4K TVs, meaning that all TV channels and most movies are rendered somewhat obsolete for those big expensive machines.

At the same time, there is not yet enough volume in terms of a UD install base to prompt media companies to invest in the equipment needed to shoot 4K content natively. Also, there’s currently no 4K Blu-Ray standard and no 4K broadcast standard for any delivery method, be it over-the-air, cable or satellite.

Further helping things along, Sony also said it would be selling “4K-mastered” Blu-Ray discs this summer, starting with The Amazing Spider-Man, Lawrence of Arabia and Taxi Driver, which will be in a rebooted 1080p-resolution format meant to look decent on UD TVs.

Similarly, as a standalone unit, Sony 4K LED TVs already "upscale" all video inputs to a better-looking resolution through the use of Sony's proprietary 4K X-Reality PRO three-chip picture engine.

Tara Seals has over thirteen years of experience as a journalist. Her areas of expertise cover the waterfront of the service provider segment, especially mobile networks, devices and applications; and video infrastructure, content and broadcast models.

Edited by Braden Becker

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