We’ve been getting a lot of pricing from Sony in the past week: for their 4K OLED TV, the A1E and their consumer flagship 4K HDR sets, the X930E and X940E. Now you can add to that list the X800 4K Blu-ray player, which was also announced at CES 2017.
Earlier today, I talked about a piece by Forbes which laid out pricing for Sony’s 4K HDR OLED TV, the A1E. Though the 77-inch has yet to get a price tag associated with it, everything else fell in line with industry pricing, indicating an aggressive stance towards the OLED market by Sony. As for their consumer flagship series, the X930E (55- and 65-inch) and X940E (75-inch), pricing is once again in line with current 2016 models which have received price cuts throughout the last year. Once again John Archer from Forbes:
This isn’t really a series, as there’s only one model: the 75-inch 75X94E. This follows the 75-inch single model trend established by X94 models for the past couple of Sony TV generations.
These TVs use direct LED lighting and local dimming, and have impressed in their 2015 and 2016 incarnations, so I’m hoping for great things from the 75X94E too. Especially as it benefits from Sony’s new X1 Extreme processing system.
I do find it a bit mystifying/frustrating, though, that Sony still refuses to add at least a 65-inch model to its X94 range.
As many regular readers might know, I’ve been eying the X940 series, seeing how it’s likely to be my replacement for our current projector setup and from what I saw at CES 2017, the price tag feels right for what you’re getting, though who doesn’t want it to be cheaper, right?
Thanks to our tipster for pointing me towards this article by Forbes writer John Archer where he talks about the droolworthy 4K HDR Sony OLED TV, the A1E.
Sony’s decision to introduce include OLED TVs in its 2017 range initially seemed surprising. The more I’ve seen of the A1E’s in action, though, the more sense they make. For as well as enabling Sony to ‘show off’ with the A1E’s lovely frameless/standless design and an innovative sound system that uses the screen as the speakers, the inclusion of OLED TVs in its 2017 range gives Sony a high-end alternative to its Z9D models for AV fans more interested in black level and viewing angles than brightness and color volume.
As for pricing Sony OLED TVs:
Though Sony didn’t announce a ton of new products at CES 2017, the reveals they did have were important and noteworthy for their electronic business. For that reason, I found CES 2017 to be Sony’s best show in quite some time, or certainly since I started attending 7 years ago. As for their noteworthy products, they include the 4K HDR A1E OLED TV, the X930E/X940E consumer flagship 4K TVs (which I’ll likely be buying this year), and the X800 4K HDR Blu-ray player alongside various sound bars. Even though Sony didn’t announce “a ton” of products, there’s still plenty to mull over, including what features they do and don’t offer.
To that end, Sony has put together a short 5 minute video in which host Jon Rettinger answers your questions about their product reveals. Typically I’m not a huge fan of these vids as they turn more into a promotional piece instead of answering consumer questions, but there’s some decent stuff in this SGNL piece. Worth a watch.
The folks at What Hi-Fi have put together a short first look video covering the Sony 4K OLED A1E TV which was unveiled at CES. There isn’t a ton of new information (if any) but for those itching to see the TV one more time, it’s a quick watch. It’s worth noting that all the footage of the TV is from the TV being filmed which really means you can’t get a proper sense for how gorgeous this TV actually looks. Having seen it at CES 2017, I can absolutely attest that even if this is a TV you can’t afford when launched or you simply don’t have an affinity for OLED (like yours truly), when it becomes available to look at in a local store, it’s definitely worth a visit.
At CES 2017, HDR was unsurprisingly everywhere and the format has become a key differentiator of 4K. Simply put, once you see 4K HDR, you’ll never want to go back to HD, let alone 4K content. When Sony announced PS4 Pro, one of it’s main features was the ability to play 4K HDR games but HDR gaming was also coming to the normal PS4 despite its inability to output 4K. Typically 4K and HDR have gone hand in hand and many, including yours truly, had assumed that in order to have HDR, you’d need to have 4K as well. Apparently, I’m wrong.
(note that you can click on all charts for a much higher resolution version)
It’s been a rather tumultuous week for Sony with news coming out that Sony Pictures would be responsible for a nearly $1 billion writedown which you can see in the above profits chart. Though Sony begs to differ, I think Sony Pictures is either quietly being put up for sale or that was the result of a sale falling through which meant Sony had to balance the division out but I’ll leave that for another piece. I’ve already broken down the earnings report for two divisions:
So where does that put Sony as a whole for Q3 FY16? Profitable, but not by a lot. Jon Russell writes this for TechCrunch:
One of the biggest dilemmas I’ve faced in the past two years is giving up my projector for a TV. What started out as a temporary thing before we got 4K TV has turned into the world’s biggest #FirstWorldProblems where I can’t see myself going down to a 75-inch TV after having a 120-inch screen projected on my wall. Alternatively, things are in 1080p which is unacceptable because of that hashtag I just mentioned. Luckily Sony has a solution for that, a 4K HDR projector, also known as the VPL-VW550ES.
And there you have it folks. Without as much as a whimper, Sony and LG have announced that all TVs produced from this year on will lack 3D capabilities. As a huge proponent of 3D in the theaters, the writing was on the wall when manufacturers decided to have yet another format war between progressive and active 3D capabilities, causing all kinds of headaches. Unsurprisingly, with little appetite from consumers, 3D went from a flagship feature to a spec checklist to many TVs not even offering it.
CES 2017 saw Sony unveil a host of goodies for home theater enthusiasts, ranging from TVs to sound bars and receivers. The big takeaway from Sony at CES was Dolby, in that they are bringing support for Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos. To that end:
Having heard the ST5000 sound bar in person, I can definitely tell you that for a majority of consumers, they’ll simply be blown away by the sound quality and if you can manage to find content in Dolby Atmos, you’ll swear that there are hidden speakers installed. Still, some need a bit more firepower and flexibility, which is where the Dolby Atmos DN1080 receiver comes into play. From Simon Lucas at What Hi-Fi:
Strange but interesting tech is one of the reasons I enjoy going to CES so much and the Sony MT500 and MT300 sound bars do not disappoint in that area while not being too far fetched or impractical either. From a distance, both units are exactly what you’d expect, a 2.1 sound bar with a host of features like Bluetooth for wireless music streaming from your iOS/Android device and NFC for easy pairing.
Between the two, many of the features and technical specifications are identical like power (currently no documentation on exact power output) and color options which includes black and white, though I’m sure Sony will have something fancier in mind for them once they’re officially released. Where things differ between the two is in their brains or smart functionality that they provide. According to Sony:
At CES 2016, the big question for Sony was why their fleet lacked supported for any initiative coming out of Dolby, namely Dolby Vision HDR in TVs and Dolby Atmos in their receives and sound bars. This year, Sony answered critics by unveiling the A1E OLED and X930/940E series with Dolby Vision HDR and the HT-ST5000 sound bar with Dolby Atmos support.
As I learned, with Dolby Atmos, we have a new way of looking at sound and to that point, the sound bar is a 7.1.2 system with the latter two numbers indicating sound that’s coming from above. With a proper sound system and receiver, the .2 can actually be expanded to beyond that number and actual speakers would be placed in your ceiling where with a sound bar, that sound is simulated. In the case of the HT-ST5000, the impressive thing Sony has done is to put speakers on its end and have them fire off into the ceiling which will ultimately bounce back the sound.
For techies like you and me, terminology like OLED, 4K, 4K HDR, Dolby Vision, and so on make sense. However, for the vast majority of consumers who make up the vast majority of purchases, a lot of the terms at best have no meaning behind them and at worst, make the whole purchasing experience far worse and confusing. Not understanding the new tech and their advancements is also a big negative for companies like Sony who are investing hundreds of millions of dollars to create what they feel like are improvements to the typical TV experience which, when ignored by the general public will result in little excitement for their product and in turn, decrease reasons to upgrade.
Here is Sony CEO Kaz Hirai when speaking to the BBC:
The more I talk with Sony engineers and trainers, the more impressed I become with what they’ve achieved with their first true foray into consumer OLED with the 4K HDR A1E. Though this video isn’t a deep dive into the technology powering their OLED TV, it gives you a brief overview of what you can expect from it as well as what kind of upcoming pieces I’ll be working on.
If you’re wondering what sets this OLED apart from others, in short, it’s Sony’s X1 Extreme chip and their innovative speaker technology.
One of my favorite things during the past three years at CES has been to see Sony’s Life Space UX progress. The idea behind this division is to imagine without the normal constraints of what our technologies can be. Sometimes this will lead to actual products and other times, what they’ve learned or bits and pieces of the technology will find themselves in other products.
The most amazing of these products is easily the 4K Ultra Short Throw projector which can sit just inches away from the wall and produce one of the most stunning pictures in sizes well over 100-inches. This indeed materialized into a real product though it’s priced out of most people’s range with it coming at somewhere north of $50K. To that end, Sony this year is demo-ing a version of that projector in a much smaller form factor with some additional enhancements as you’ll see that can really blend the TV into your home decor.