By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Santa Monica, Calif. — Hot on the heels of the retail launch event for LG’s first 84-inch Ultra High-Definition LCD TV, Sony and West Coast retailer Video and Audio Center (VAC) are teaming up to launch Sony’s 84-inch “4K Ultra High-Definition” set at an event that starts Thursday at 5 p.m. PCT, here.
VAC is using its Santa Monica location for the event, which will bring out top Sony executives to run through the many features and benefits of the big-screen XBR84X900. Sony’s set is retailing for $24,999, some $8,000 more than the comparable-sized LG LM9600 set that VAC helped launch on Oct. 25 at the chain’s Lawndale location.
Sony says that while the LG set is the same size, its model offers superior image quality using proprietary video-processing circuitry supported by a powerful new IC and an advanced built-in audio system, using a 10-unit speaker system array.
Both sets support 3DTV using passive glasses technology and include built-in smart-TV functionality.
Sony and VAC will also show the set and its new “4K Ultra High Definition” technology in all its glory, by bringing in a special natively produced 4K Ultra High Definition trailer of the upcoming Sony Pictures’ James Bond thriller “Skyfall.”
Sony has arranged to supply VAC with a special server to deliver a native 4K signal of the trailer to the XBR84X900 for the in-store demo.
A similar arrangement was made for the LG set, although using different native Ultra HD demo material.
In reality, consumers who purchase either set will have to wait an unspecified period of time to playback a native 4K Ultra High Definition image in their homes, because a standard for Ultra UD source devices has not be established yet.
In the meantime, both the Sony and LG sets are equipped with up-scaling circuitry that will make a FullHD 1080p image appear to have a 4K-like picture.
Similar systems were employed at the launch of the first HDTV sets, when standard-definition DVDs were up-scaled to 1080i and 720p formats to fit the extra pixels of the then new HD screens, until Blu-ray Disc players emerged several years later.
While LG and the CE industry are referring to the new 4K technology by the CEA’s officially sanctioned Ultra High-Definition moniker, which is said to have four times the resolution of FullHD 1080p, Sony is calling its technology “4K Ultra High Definition” with “better than” four time times the resolution 1080p.
Shoppers will have the opportunity to decide which set has the better picture for themselves in the VAC store at 1426 Wilshire Blvd. (near 15th Street & Wilshire Blvd.) in Santa Monica, on Thursday.
The set will go on sale in other VAC outlets the following day.
By bringing Ultra HD TVs to market before the holidays, Tom Campbell, VAC corporate director, said Sony, like LG before it, are helping bring much needed excitement back to the CE industry.
“It really delivers the wow factor again,” Campbell said of the new 4K Ultra HD technology. “This is the shot in the arm that the industry needed.”
Campbell said that LG’s launch event generated sales of 27 sets, which was unprecedented for a product at that price point.
“Everyone was shocked at how well this has been accepted. People in the industry are stepping back and saying, ‘Holy cow, there really is a market for this,’ ” said Campbell.
Another 25 of the LG sets are now on order, he added.
Whether or not Sony will be able to match that sales pace selling at an $8,000 premium remains to be seen, but Campbell said VAC has already taken five pre-orders on the set, which will officially go on sale at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, following presentations by top Sony factory executives and VAC staff.
The XBR84X900 uses a newly developed XCA8-4K chip to upscale HD (or lower resolution) images by analyzing and refining images from all sources.
Sony said the picture quality is pristine when watching a native 4K video or low-resolution smartphone clip.
The 50-watt sound system features a front-facing, two-way, 10-speaker system that includes soft dome tweeters for crisp highs, clear mid-range units and four sub-woofers that add dramatic bass depth.
The S-Force Front Surround 3D simulates 5.1 sound, with an enlarged sweet spot.
“The advent of the new Sony 4K HDTV at Video & Audio Center marks another milestone for this historic event,” said Joseph Akhtarzad, co-owner of the 31-year-old VAC.
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