Denver — Sony Electronics president Mike Fasulo used a CEDIA Expo keynote address to encourage the current atmosphere of cooperation between companies, industries and even competitive rivals to make 4K Ultra HD TV, high-res audio and systems integration continued successes.
In his speech, Fasulo also introduced a range of new Sony Ultra HD-compatible TVs, projectors and ES-series A/V receivers, and said the company’s second-generation 4K media player, model FMP-X10, will soon receive a firmware update to open compatibility with other manufacturers’ Ultra HD TVs for the first time, provided those sets have the necessary HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 ports.
The $699 FMP-X10, which has been available since earlier this summer, will accept 4K movie streaming from service partners including Netflix, movie and TV show downloads from Sony’s 4K Unlimited download service and will also support 4K/60p video. The player also includes a new user interface, along with plans to support Control over IP capability and HEVC/H.265 decoding, Fasulo said.
The Sony Electronics president said the player initially will have access to several 4K/60p sample files, including highlights from the recent FIFA Soccer Championship.
For the custom-integrator crowd, Fasulo said: “Thanks to the efforts of Sony and other leading companies, 4K Ultra HD has the potential to literally transform both the consumer electronics and home entertainment industry. Additionally, all of our latest 4K compatible products feature Control over IP capability, which makes them more convenient to use with the leading system integration products.”
He pointed out that the 2014 4K Ultra HD TVs can also easily stream 4K content, including new 4K programs from Netflix and, later this year, Amazon Instant Video.
Fasulo brought Rob Caruso, Netflix engagement management director, to the stage to discuss the streaming service’s forward-looking plans for 4K Ultra HD delivery.
Caruso said Netflix is very pleased with the level of consumer engagement generated by its 4K offering so far and added that the streaming service is looking to raise the bar even further on high quality 4K delivery, and expects to offer signals to future-generation sets with high dynamic range capability.
“HDR combined with the greater resolution of 4K, we believe the overall result will be an experience that is notably superior to today, and we think the Internet is going to be the best vehicle for that,” Caruso said.
Sony also announced new enhancements to reference standard and entry-level 4K home-theater projectors, featuring Control over IP operation, and unveiled the industry’s first 4K Ultra HD short-throw projector for the home.
The VPL-VWGTZ1 is a specially designed version of the company’s ultra-short-throw technology targeting the high-end residential and commercial markets. The three-chip SXRD projector will offer native 4K Ultra HD resolution and is powered by a laser light engine outputting up to 2,000 lumens of brightness, with a 20,000 hour life rating.
It will project up to a 147-inch screen size positioned just a few feet from the projection surface and can be used in front- or rear-screen applications. Sony said it can also seamlessly combine two GTZ1 projectors to double the effective screen size, among other things. Pricing was not announced.
As for other 4K projectors, Sony’s existing VPL-VW1100ES and VPL-VW600ES models will soon receive new calibration software via a PC application. Both models can render native 4K images, FullHD 3D or professional-quality up-scaled HD.
For audio, Sony launched a new line of ES receivers, including the STR-ZA3000ES, ZA2000ES and ZA1000ES, each of which has been completely redesigned based on direct feedback from dealers and installers, Fasulo said.
The highlighted ZA3000ES features 110 watts per channel of power and includes six HDMI inputs and two outputs supporting 4K up-scaling and passthrough. Two of the inputs also support the latest HDCP protocol to ensure secure 4K distribution across two different video zones.
The ZA3000ES also features Control over IP capability.
The new STR-ZA3000ES ($1,699) and ZA2000ES ($1,399) 7.2-channel 4K AVRs will be available starting mid-September; the STR-ZA1000ES 7.2-channel 4K AVRs will be available starting in January for $899 at Sony stores and other authorized dealers nationwide.
Sony executives said none of the new ES receivers will be Dolby Atmos surround-sound enabled, adding only that the company continues to look at all new high-quality sound technologies.
However, Fasulo said Sony continues its advances in delivering high-resolution audio formats to its home and mobile music devices, and is working to continue the momentum in the development of high-resolution audio downloads from multiple music distributors.
Fasulo introduced Jim Belcher, Universal Music technology and production VP, to announce that “Universal Music Group is working with CEDIA right now to develop a high-resolution audio offer exclusively for CEDIA members or their clients. The details of the deal are not worked out yet, so we aren’t going to do any official announcements, but stay tuned.”
Don Gilipin, CEDIA executive director and COO, then took the stage to reveal that CEDIA has partnered with Sony and other manufacturers to develop high-res-audio training courses in 2015, and will utilize the association’s new online education delivery portal as well as instructor-led events planned all through 2015.
Meanwhile, back in New York, Sony Corporation disclosed that a forthcoming Cloud-based TV service it has planned will launch with 22 Viacom networks. The deal marks Viacom’s first-ever agreement to provide its networks for an Internet-based live TV and video on demand service.
“Viacom always strives to create transformational opportunities that combine consumer value and technological innovation,” said Philippe Dauman, Viacom president and CEO. “Given our young, tech-savvy audiences, our networks are essential for any new distribution platform, and we’re excited to be among the many programmers that will help power Sony’s new service and advance a new era for television.”
“Our new Cloud-based TV service will combine the live TV content people love most about cable with the dynamic experience they have come to expect from our network,” said Andrew House, group executive, network entertainment business, Sony Corporation. “Viacom’s award-winning networks are a perfect match for our new service, ensuring that our customers will be able to access the shows they love on their favorite devices, when and how they choose.”
The partnership unites Sony’s rapidly growing network and more than 75 million Internet-enabled Sony devices in U.S. living rooms with Viacom’s content portfolio.
Viacom owns and operates the largest basic cable portfolio in the United States by audience share, including 25.9 percent share of basic cable viewership among young people aged 2 to 34.