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4K TV, High-Res Audio Get Sony Focus

Sony is expanding its selection of Ultra HD TVs with high dynamic range (HDR), expanding the capabilities of its wireless multiroom-audio products, and launching what is likely the industry’s first USB turntable to convert songs on vinyl to high-res music files.

In TVs, the company is bringing Open HDR high dynamic range technology to seven new Bravia models, having offered two 4K TVs in its 2015 lineup with HDRupgrade capability. All run Google’s Android TV OS, adopted by Sony for the first time in 2015.

In wireless multiroom audio, the company is launching its first Wi-Fi speakers that can be used as surround speakers with two new wireless-multiroom-equipped soundbars and a new wireless-multiroom AVR. The speakers are also the company’s first Wi-Fi speakers that can be used as separate left-right pairs to widen the sound stage.

Also in wireless audio, Sony is launching its first two Blu-ray players that integrate with Sony’s wireless multiroom-audio network for use as playback sources. One is also the company’s first Blu-ray player to play high-res music files.

The company is not launching a 4K Blu-ray player.

No priced were announced, but the company revealed these details:
4K TV: Seven new 4K TVs shipping in early 2016 consist of 55-and 65-,inch models in the XBR-X930D series, a 75-inch model in the XBR-X940D series, and 55-, 65-, 75-, and 85-inch models in the XBR-X850D series, all with Open HDR.

It wasn’t certain at press time whether any models would meet the UHD Alliance’s 4K performance specs.

Starting in 2016, Sony 4K TVs that take full advantage of HDR content will be branded with a new “4K HDR Ultra HD” logo, which will be used across HDRcompatible Sony products from filming to display devices and services. HDR TVs will appear in the XBR-X850D series on up.

All of the new 4K TVs run Google’s Android TV OS, feature Android TV voiceenabled search via a microphone-equipped remote, Android Play store access to download apps, and Google Cast, which lets users cast content from Android and iOS entertainment apps and from computers.

The TVs also feature Android TV’s ability to control home automation systems. Via the TV’s UI, consumers can control a Logitech Harmony Hub along with hub-connected home entertainment products and IoT devices such as lights.

At the top of the line, the XBR-X930D and XBR-940D models sport an ultra-thin design with a bezel so narrow that, “when hung against a wall, the television is so close, and the bezel is so thin, that it can appear to be flush with the wall,” Sony said.

The XBR-X930D models add new Slim Backlight Drive full-array LED backlighting with local dimming and multiple dimming zones. These TVs use a “unique grid array local-dimming backlighting structure to distribute the backlight source more precisely to each specific zone of the screen while maintaining a slim display,” Sony said. The technology is combined with enhanced backlight-control X-tended Dynamic Range PRO to enhance dynamic range while maintaining a slim profile, the company said. The X940D features full-array LED backlighting with X-tended Dynamic Range PRO.

All of the new 4K TVs also feature Sony’s 4K Processor X1 to enhance color, contrast and clarity; Triluminos display to reproduce a wider color gamut, and 4K X-Reality PRO to deliver “stunning picture detail,” the company added.

Wireless multiroom audio: The company is extending its Wi-Fi-based multiroom-audio technology to a Blu-ray player for the first time, having previously made the technology available in tabletop speakers, soundbars, and AVRs.

Two new soundbars, an AVR and two tabletop speakers with wireless multiroom also debut. All are available in the spring.

The two soundbars deliver discrete multichannel surround sound when a pair of Sony’s new wireless multiroom-audio speakers are used as wireless surrounds. The soundbars are the HTNT5 and HT-CT790 2.1-channel soundbars. Both feature wireless subwoofer, HDMI 2.0a inputs to pass through 4K video with HDR, HDCP 2.2, Spotify Connect, and Google Cast, which lets users cast Cast-enabled music apps such as Google Play Music or Pandora s from a mobile device or laptop to the bars. The NT5 also feature high-res audio playback.

The two new wireless speakers are the SRSZR7 and smaller SRS-ZR5. The former features high-res music playback. Both are the company’s first multiroom speakers with HDMI ARC port to connect to TVs to amplify TV sound.

Both feature Google Cast, Spotify Connect and multi-room capability via Sony’s SongPal app. Two of each model can also be used as separate leftright speakers.

The ZR5 also features Bluetooth, NFC, and proprietary LDAC technology to stream high-res music over Bluetooth with near-high-res quality, thanks to a maximum 990kbps transfer rate, which is triple that of conventional Bluetooth audio.

A new AVR, the 5.1-channel STR-DN1070, also features wireless multiroom audio as well as playback of such high-res files as 5.1-channel DSD 5.6 MHz. It also features built-in Wi-Fi, LDAC Bluetooth technology, HDR-capable HDMI 2.0a ports, ability to use wireless multiroom speakers as surrounds, new front-surround technology, AirPlay, Google Cast and Spotify Connect.

Blu-ray: The new UHP-H1 and the BDP-S6700 Blu-ray players feature 4K upscaling and wireless multiroom audio capability, enabling users to stream music from a CD or USB stick to wirelessmultiroom speakers, soundbars, and AVRs in other rooms.

The UHP-H1 is Sony’s first Blu-ray player to play high-res music files. It uses proprietary LDAC technology to send near-high-res streams over Bluetooth to LDAC-equipped Bluetooth headphones and Bluetooth speakers.

Both feature Wi-Fi and PlayStation Now, which enables the players to stream select PlayStation 3 games from the cloud and play them on a TV via Dualshock 4 wireless controller.

High-res USB turntable: The HX500, due in the spring, features built-in A/D converter to convert vinyl music to high-res native DSD (up to 5.6MHz) or WAV files (up to 192 KHz/24-bit) formats for playback on high-res portables, music servers, and other products.

The HX500 comes with computer editing software. It also features two-speed belt drive, aluminum die-cast platter, thick (5mm) rubber mat to help stabilize disc rotation and minimize vibration, and built-in phono EQ. A high-density acoustically inert cabinet also helps offset vibration and reduce resonance. The dust cover is also designed to minimize vibration.