By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
NEW YORK — Sony Electronics began its rollout of its XBR X900Aseries 4K Ultra HD sets, which bring the 4K experience to 55 and 65 inches, by releasing pricing at the recent NAB show and selling the products at retail.
The sets, initially unveiled at International CES, brought Ultra High-Definition TV to screen sizes smaller than 84 inches for the first time.
The 55-inch XBR-55X900A has a $5,000 suggested retail and the 65-inch XBR-65X900A is priced at $7,000.
Six Sony Store locations showcased the new sets — in Century City, Costa Mesa and Palo Alto, Calif., and in Houston, Las Vegas and New York — and both became available for order online and at select retail locations around the country, Sony said.
One of those retailers was Video & Audio Center in Santa Monica, Calif., which began selling the 55- and 65-inch 4K TVs on Sunday, April 14, the same day it officially opened its 4K department.
During the retailer’s event, with Sony executives in attendance, it sold six of Sony’s 65-inch model and one Sony 84-inch at $24,999, according to corporate director and spokesman Tom Campbell.
He noted that all three Sony 4K sets are now available from Video & Audio Center, as well as the 84-inch LG and 85-inch Samsung. They are “all on the floor” and have been put in the same area of the store, he said.
He said that the customers who bought the Sony 4K sets all commented on “the cosmetics and sound quality. The audio on these sets are great.” He added that customers realized that existing HD broadcasts look better in 4K, as well as “family photos and videos taken with their smartphones or tablets. They are better quality and bigger than the originals.”
To push the point, Campbell said, “In real estate, the mantra has always been, ‘Location, location, location.’ In video it is now, ‘Connectivity, connectivity, connectivity.’ ”
Sony also revealed further plans for its 4K media player, the FMP-X1, and video-distribution service, which are expected to provide the first pathway to regular native 4K video-content deliveries.
Mike Lucas, Sony Electronics home division senior VP, commented, “Our TVs deliver a vibrant and natural picture that is four-times clearer than high definition. As for content, these new sets enhance all of the video people are watching today, and this summer our 4K media player, followed in fall by the video distribution service will demonstrate how Sony continues to lead in bringing the 4K entertainment experience to viewers.”
Sony is hosting in-store demos of the new XBR 55X900 and 65X900 4K model TVs using both native and up-scaled 4K content.
The FMP-X1 4K media player will go on sale this summer bundled with 10 feature films and video shorts in true 4K resolution for $699, Sony revealed.
“In the fall of 2013, users of the same 4K media player will be given access to a fee-based videodistribution service offering a library of 4K titles from Sony Pictures Entertainment and other notable production houses,” Sony said in a statement.
Video titles will be delivered via broadband to the FMP-X1 where it will be stored over a period of hours for later play back at the viewer’s convenience.
The included feature films 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).”
Last November, Sony became the first to offer native 4K content when it made available a special hard-disk-based media server containing an assortment of 4K movies and videos to purchasers of the 84-inch XBR-84X900.
At the time, Sony said it would periodically update and add content to the system. Sony said that it recently began delivering new 4K content to owners of the 84-inch XBR set with the home server.
Sony provided an assortment of new 4K video shorts, and the classic film Lawrence of Arabia, which was recently remastered in 4K resolution by Sony Pictures Colorworks.
Owners of the first-generation video server will be able to exchange that device for the new FMP-X1 4K media player, once the distribution service launches in the fall, Sony said.
In another development, Sony said its Sony Pictures Home Entertainment company will also begin to market a lineup of new “Mastered in 4K” Blu-ray Discs with 1080p high-definition pictures derived from “the highest quality 4K source materials.”
The special Blu-ray titles will feature expanded color that’s optimized for the 4K Ultra HD TVs and plays back on all existing Blu-ray players and HDTV, Sony said.
As an added bonus, consumers who purchase the XBR-55X900 or XBR- 65X900 4K Ultra HD TV will also receive “Spider-Man (2002),” “Ghostbusters” and “Angels & Demons” Mastered in 4K Blu-ray discs (while supplies last).
Key features in the XBR TVs include 3,840 by 2,160 resolution; Sony’s proprietary three-chip 4K X-Reality PRO picture engine; Triluminos Display rendering of natural blues, greens and reds; enhanced black levels and contrast using dynamic edge-lit LED backlighting; an integrated 65-watt, front-facing, magnetic fluid speaker sound system; FullHD 3D using passive 3D glasses; and built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, including access to the Sony Entertainment Network suite of services.
Sony last week kicked off a year-long partnership with The Tribeca Film Festival to promote 4K video production and distribution among amateur and professional film makers.
During the festival in New York, Sony showcased 4K technologies for use from lens to living room.
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