Sony Electronics’ buzz word during its Monday press event and for the 2014 International CES is “Play” – with the emphasis on Ultra HD TV and mobile devices.
Sony made Ultra HD TV a central part of its CES press conference to unveil more 4K LCD TVs, announce expanded native Ultra HD content solutions, and to debut the industry’s first consumer-focused Ultra HD camcorder.
Also showcased by Sony was new wearable-technology and mobile devices, all designed to evoke a spirit of fun in the user.
Mike Fasulo, who made his first appearance in his new role as Sony Electronics U.S. president and COO, said the central focus of the 2014 line-up is based on the “Play” theme.
“The definition of Play can mean anything from playing games, to playing music, watching or participating in sports, to hitting play on your favorite device – above all, it means fun,” Fasulo said. “Our new products are designed to be there with consumers, enhancing the pleasure of activities they already love. They represent the essence of what drives Sony forward, combining technology and emotion to inspire the type of excitement that only Sony can evoke.”
For Ultra HD TV, Sony continued to add to its library of native 4K Ultra HD content solutions available to purchasers of Sony Ultra HD TVs. The brand’s 2014 4K Ultra HD TV lineup will be optimized to support new codecs and a variety of forthcoming 4K video services from Netflix and 4K photo services such as 500px and PlayMemories.
Sony introduced last year its Video Unlimited 4K Download Service, available to owners for Sony Ultra HD sets. Those models will also now add Netflix Ultra HD fare, once that service launches later in the first half of 2014, Sony said.
Sony’s new Ultra HD TVs will incorporate a decoder compatible with the latest HEVC video compression format, and will be able to display 4K streaming video at 60 fps (60p).
Sony is also supporting personal 4K content creation using its newly launched 4K Handycam camcorder, while new Sony Ultra HD TVs will offer access to 500px, a photo community that shares high-quality 4K photos from around the world through their TV.
Sony is extending its 4K Ultra HD TV lineup with three new series covering nine total models in screen sizes ranging from 49 to 85 inches. Most models will ship in the spring at prices to be announced later.
The latest models incorporate Sony’s 4K X Reality PRO picture engine that up-scales content regardless of source to 4K resolution, wide color gamut Triluminos Display technology for more lifelike color and shading, and Sony’s X-tended Dynamic Range technology that extends picture brightness and detail, even in the bright whites and deep blacks.
The new flagship XBR-X950B series comes in 85- and 65-inch screen sizes and employs direct LED backlighting arrays that widen the dynamic range of brightness.
The XBR-X900B series comes in 79-, 65- and 55-inch sizes and includes edge LED arrays and a new iconic wedge design that accommodates a new magnetic fluid speaker system.
The XBR-X850B is Sony’s new entry Ultra HD series, including the 49-, 55- and 65- and 70-inch screen sizes.
All of the new models will support new MHL 3.0, HEVC and 4K/60p technologies for Ultra HD streaming and sharing.
The company will also offer a full lineup of Bravia FullHD TVs in the W950B, W850B, W800B and W600B series.
The flagship W950B series incorporates Triluminos Display technology, X-Reality Pro and the wedge-shape design.
Meanwhile, Sony’s first less-than-$2,000 Ultra HD consumer camcorder highlights a field of 10 camcorder models for 2014, including four projector/camcorder offerings, and five action video cameras with additional mounting and underwater camera housing options.
The flagship 4K Ultra HD FDR-AX100 ($1,999 suggested retail) uses Sony’s XAVC-S high-bit-rate (60Mbps) recording system to capture 4K/30 fps video as well as FullHD 1080/120 fps video. It also offers dual video recording in AVCHD and MPEG4, and a 1-inch 20-megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS imager.
In digital still cameras, Sony unveiled an interchangeable-lens camera strategy, bringing together its DSLR and mirrorless NEX lines under one Alpha brand.
At the same time, Sony debuted the $599 Alpha family a5000 mirrorless compact system camera, with 16-50mm power zoom kit lens, featuring a 20-megapixel APS-C sensor, up to 16,000 ISO light sensitivity, and Wi-Fi/nearfield communications (NFC).
For SmartWear, Sony showed a new Sony Xperia smartphone, and a new linking Lifelog application.
The first product in the range will be a “SmartBand,” which lets consumers log daily activities that are represented visually in Sony’s Lifelog application.
New Sony mobile/handheld electronics products build on the company’s flagship Xperia Z smartphone platform, including the previously announced Xperia Z1 and new flagship Xperia Z1s (with an 1.5 meter waterproof rating for 30 mins.), which will be available in the U.S. through carrier partner T-Mobile. The Z1s also includes Sony’s advanced camera technologies including “G Lens,” “Exmor RS for mobile” and “Bionz for mobile.”
The Xperia Z1s will offer Social Camera applications including a new Background Defocus function for creative face shots, and comes pre-loaded with a PlayStation App for remote and second-screen PS4 gaming control.
Sony will also offer an Xperia Z1 Compact model that packs the Z1 features into a smaller handset, available in four colors options and adding more than 130 NFC-enabled accessories.
In car audio, Sony unveiled eight aftermarket head units, including the industry’s first six Bluetooth-equipped models with NFC and the industry’s first smartphone-cradle/receiver that turns multiple brands of smartphones into in-dash touchscreen controllers.