CES '16: Sony Announces Ultra, a 4K Streaming Video Service
Sometime this year, Sony will create a new way to stream on-demand 4K video. At its CES press conference, Sony announced the upcoming launch of Ultra, a Sony Bravia TV app that lets viewers purchase 4K titles from the Sony Pictures Home Entertainment library. That's as much detail as the company gave, declining to say when the app would launch, how much titles would cost, how many titles the library would contain, or if the service would expand to other devices.
Sony typically wows the press with its TVs, and this time it announced the X93D Bravia 4K LCD line. The company promised a novel backlight system that offers grid array backlighting previously only found in LED sets. The series will also include technology that delivers a wider color gamut, brighter highlights, and deeper blacks. Sony didn't offer details on how many sets are in the line, when they'll be released, or pricing.
Despite being a board member of the UHD Alliance, Sony didn't mention the group's new HDR certification. It did, however, talk up its new 4K HDR logo, which is meant to assure buyers of Bravia TVs that deliver heightened visual quality.
CES visitors will be able to see a prototype of Sony's Blacklight Master Drive powering an 85-inch screen at the company's Central Hall booth. The prototype is meant to show super-deep blacks, as well as brights with a peak brightness of 4,000 nits. Standard sets have a brightness of 400 nits, said Mike Fasulo, president and COO of Sony Electronics.
To help create 4K video, Sony showed the compact FDR-AX53 4K Handycam, which includes 20x optical zoom. Its audio system captures stereo sound from five directions. Sony didn't mention price or availability.
In one of the more confusing moments of the press conference, Sony brought out Lucas Watson, vice president of global brand solutions at YouTube, to talk about how YouTube viewing is changing (it's growing on mobile devices and connected TVs) and the rise of 4K. This didn't lead to any kind of partnership or announcement; Watson just talked about YouTube's growth.
Sony Corporation president and CEO Kazuo Hirai
The screen is the speaker for the Bravia OLED A1E series where the image itself vibrates to produce the audio, possible thanks to a slimmer design.
Ultra will debut next week, allowing Sony 4K TV owners to purchase (but not rent) from a collection of 40 to 50 titles.
It's Sony versus Sling in the battle of the online bundles. Will cord-cutters prefer smaller or larger sets of channels?
When will viewers finally take notice of the benefits of 4K video? When they can stream a live football or baseball game in glorious ultra-high definition.
At 0.2-inches, some of Sony's latest 4K models are thinner than a smartphone. Bravia sets gain the Android TV OS, with Google Play support.
Focus will be on recommendation, personalization and "watch and resume" functionality across devices including tablets, phones, and of course PlayStation and PS4.
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