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Sony Kicks Off 4K Streaming Service, Adds New TVs

9/08/2013 08:00:00 PM Eastern

NEW YORK – Continuing its leadership position in end-to-end 4K Ultra High-Definition TV to the home, Sony revealed the download service for its 4K Ultra HD Media Player (FMP-X1) went live at the end of August, as promised.

During a press event at the Allen Room of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Sony also unveiled two more Bravia Ultra HD TVs at new price thresholds, and introduced the industry’s first curved edge-lit LED FullHD 1080p LCD TV.

Phil Molyneaux, Sony Electronics president and COO, said the native 4K download service launched with 70 Ultra HD movie and TV show titles, including the hit “Breaking Bad.”

Rental pricing starts at $3.99 for TV show episodes and $7.99 per movie for a 24-hour period. Movie purchase prices average $29.99 per title and includes UltraViolet device-sharing privileges in most cases.

Content comes largely from Sony Pictures and some other noteworthy producers.

The selection is scheduled to ramp up to more than 100 available titles by the end of the year in native 4K Ultra HD resolution. Viewers receive movies as downloads, which can take some time. The Ultra HD Media Player has an internal hard drive that stores the content for uninterrupted playback at the viewer’s convenience.

Movies are encoded in 3,820 by 2,160 “4K” resolution at 24p and 30p frame rates.

The Sony 4K Ultra HD Media Player (FMP-X1) is compatible only with Sony Bravia Ultra HD TVs.

Sony’s new Ultra HD TVs include the XBR-55X850A (55-inch) and XBR-65X850A (65-inch) models, which offer much of the same capabilities of the already available X900-series models but without the elaborate onboard sound system. The newer sets will be available next month through Sony Stores and select authorized retailers nationwide for $3,499 and $4,999, respectively. Preorders are being accepted now at Sony.com/NewTVs.

Molyneaux said that all of Sony’s Ultra HDTVs soon will be updated with new firmware that will make the sets compatible with the just revealed HDMI 2.0 specification, which among other things provides support for 4K/60p video signals. The previous HDMI 1.4b stopped short at 4K/30p. The signal is favored by owners of advanced camcorders and other recording devices.

Molyneaux took a jab at rival Samsung by saying Sony’s Ultra HD TVs will be seamlessly upgraded over the Internet and will not require the installation of a hardware-based kit to get the new HDMI 2.0 capabilities, as many Samsung TVs will.

Meanwhile, “the world’s first curved screen LED television,” model KDL-65S990A, will be available in October at Sony Stores and select electronics retailers nationwide for $3,999. The KDL-65S990A combines curved visual panel with Sony’s Triluminos Display color system “for accurate, deep, vibrant colors, and a powerful angled surround sound speaker system to complete the home theater like never before,” Sony said.

Like Sony’s Ultra HD TVs, the curved LED system uses LED edge-lighting, and the bow in the screen actually helps to improve off-angle viewing image quality over a flat-screen set.