Santa Monica, Calif. — Sony Electronics will debut its first Ultra HD TVs with Android TV OS at a Video & Audio Center (VAC) store here today.
The Southern California A/V specialty chain, which has become a de facto launchpad for UHD technology, will preview three 4K models from the new LED LCD series at its Santa Monica showroom this afternoon, and will offer them for sale tomorrow at each of its three stores.
The Android TV line goes on sale nationwide next week.
On display today at VAC are the 55-inch XBR-55X850C, the 65-inch XBR-65X850C, and the 75-inch XBR-75X850C.
Retail pricing begins at $2,199 for the edge-lit 55-inch model, and steps up to $3,499 and $4,999 for the larger stablemates, which both feature direct LED backlighting.
All three models feature Android TV OS and Google Cast. Android TV is designed to deliver a simpler user interface and offers the ability to download 300 streaming Android apps from Google Play and use Google’s voice search from a microphone-equipped remote. Android TV also delivers a user interface similar to that of Android tablets and smartphones to deliver a consistent UI experience among Android devices, Sony said.
The onboard Google Cast function can stream content from Cast-enabled audio and video apps on mobile devices to the TV from the Cloud, preventing interruptions from incoming calls and letting consumers use other mobile-device apps while streaming.
The sets also stream 2K and 4K DirecTV programming without a satellite-TV box if the user installs a Genie DVR/server.
The 4K sets also feature MHL 3/HDMI inputs and Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac.
VAC will add two more models next month, the 65-inch XBR-65X930C at $4,499, and the 75-inch XBR-75X940C at $7,999, which will support high dynamic range (HDR) video conforming to the UHD Alliance single-layer HD specification, following a planned firmware update this summer. The TVs will then be capable of displaying HDR video that is expected to be available this year through Netflix and Amazon.com.
All of Sony’s new 4K TVs feature an X1 processor to significantly increase contrast, clarity and color from last year’s models, the company said, while the VAC-displayed models also offer the latest Triluminos technology to provide the widest color range ever on a Sony display, along with dynamic color correction to ensure consistent and accurate colors.
Philip Jones, Sony’s sound and home entertainment technology and training manager, said Triluminos delivers the color gamut of quantum-dot technology without sacrificing brightness and without adding depth to TVs through the addition of a layer of quantum dot crystals.
Jones, who will be on hand for today’s preview, said the Android TV OS will simplify the user experience through their familiarity with the mobile platform, and cited IDC data showing that Android commands 82 percent of the mobile market.
Tom Campbell, VAC’s spokesman and advisor and a Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) Hall of Fame inductee, said the chain is “very excited” that Sony chose to debut the new series in Southern California via Video & Audio Center. “It provides connectivity like I’ve never seen before, he told TWICE. “If you can use an Android phone you’re ready.”
Campbell added that VAC enjoyed “a very, very strong first quarter” and that “4K UHD TV was a major contributor to the sales increase.”
The 32-year-old Hollywood-area business, led by brothers Joseph and Mayer Akhtarzad, has long been the go-to showplace for CE introductions, and over the last two years has been selected by Sony, LG and Samsung as the launchpad for UHD displays — including last October’s debut of the first 4K Ultra OLED TVs, by LG.
VAC was also recognized by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, an industry promotional group for A/V hardware and software, as Hardware Retailer of the Year at a 2015 International CES ceremony in recognition of its role as a “common launch point for new technologies as well as a respected leader in showcasing it.”
The company operates three main Los Angeles showrooms, located here, in Lawndale and in Agoura Hills, and last year took up residence in a former Sony Store in Westfield Century City. VAC is also busy building a major new concept store that will feature such next-gen CE as robotics, drones and wearables. — Additional reporting by Joseph Palenchar