Sony Planning 4K Blitz at CES9 Dec, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Company eyes ultra HD resolution as brand savior
Sony Electronics is planning a major rollout of 4K-enabled consumer electronic devices next month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The move comes as Sony attempts to resurrect its CE brand in the face of high-flying competitors such as Samsung, LG and Apple, among others.
Ultra HD is the closest thing to bringing the 4K digital cinema theatrical experience to the home, offering consumers resolution of 3,896 by 2,640 pixels, an alleged superior picture quality compared to current HD products.
Netflix had much of its flagship “House of Cards” original series filmed in 4K — resolution it expects to stream the majority of its content in the future.
In October, Sony’s 4K XBR 65-X850A TV won a best video product award from the Home Technology Specialists of America (HTSA), a specialty home electronics installation group.
“We’re [going] after the premium consumer out there,” Sony Electronics president Phil Molyneux said in a Dec. 8 media event. In addition to HDTVs, Sony is also incorporating 4K resolution in camcorders and reportedly smartphones.
“It’s clear people will want to generate their own 4K content,” he said.
The BDP-S790 Blu-ray player from 2 years ago, had a built in 4K upscaler. But since there has been no 4K or Ultra HD standard established for packaged media, Sony currently has no player capable of playing it.
"We currently offer Video Unlimited 4K, which is a video download service that drives our FMP-X1 media player," said Rob Manfredo, manager of corporate communications at Sony Electronics. 'While some optical discs have the capacity to carry a 4K movie, there is not a software standard for reading it."
Bob O’Donnell with Technalysis Research said the focus on 4K at CES for Sony is not to create a huge number of sales of the expensive technology, but rather help reposition brand as a premier provider of high-quality video.
“They’ve lost some of their prestige to Samsung and Apple over the last few years, and this can help them reestablish themselves as a technology leader,” O’Donnell told AllThingsD.com.
Indeed, Samsung is offering free 4K content with the purchase of a 4KTV. Through Dec. 28, those who purchase a Samsung Ultra HD TV will receive two free, full-length Imax films, The Last Reef and The Grand Canyon Adventure, along with several short-form UHD videos.
NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke remains impressed with 4K and its potential in home entertainment.
“The picture quality takes your breath away,” Burke told an investor group in October. “I have no doubt 4K is going to occur. To me the question is: How quickly can things go?”