One of the great things about running a site like SRN is that Sony routinely gives me free stuff like their latest 4K TV, the 75-inch monster that is the X940E. Unveiled at CES 2017, the X940E takes everything about the 2016 X940D and improves upon like adding Dolby Vision HDR, thanks to their new X1 Extreme processor.
Now, yes, I had to wait for the pre-order to go live on Best Buy, and yes, I had to pay for the TV on my own credit card. But Sony was nice enough to make sure the pre-ordering process itself was free. So see, they give me free stuff like the opportunity to buy their TVs, something that some of their other divisions don’t allow for, seeing how you can’t find them on store shelves (looking at you, Sony Mobile, h.ear headphones and speakers, etc. etc.).
All of this is basically a long winded way of saying that when I decided to drop $6K+ on the X940E, it wasn’t a decision I made lightly. So why the X940E, and why not?
As more and more people start to watch shows via streaming services, the more important the hardware we use becomes. This notion becomes even more critical for home theater and tech geeks who are finding themselves drawn more and more to Netflix who is leading the good fight for providing 4K, HDR, and now Dolby Vision HDR content, something that physical media and traditional TV simply cannot match. Now just because Netflix offers it doesn’t mean your TV will be capable of playing it, or playing it in an optimal way. Enter the Netflix Recommended TVs guide, a list provided once a year to help consumers make a better decision when buying their next TV set.
At Netflix, we are continuously innovating to make sure using internet TV is as easy and great as possible. Improving the experience on the Smart TVs our members watch Netflix on is a big part of this process, and with our Netflix Recommended TV program, we are able to shine a light on the TVs leading this wave. This year, a handful of devices have innovated further – offering better usability, faster performance, and new features that make getting to Netflix and other internet TV services as easy as getting to live TV. Today, we’re excited to announce the first Netflix Recommended TVs of 2017.
One of the more delightful reveals from CES 2017 was the inclusion of Dolby Vision HDR in Sony’s flagship series of TVs coming in 2017 which includes the X930/X940E series and the OLED A1E. What’s made this possible is Sony’s custom X1 Extreme processor which can be found inside both TV sets. In fact, the highly rewarded Z9D from Sony which arrived in October of 2016 is also getting Dolby Vision HDR as it utilizes the same chipset inside, allowing Sony to bring the feature via a firmware update.
All of this of course begs the question – just what the hell is Dolby Vision HDR? A lot of us have been hearing about HDR for nearly two years now which typically refers to HDR10, something that Sony and Samsung both had a hand in creating. In fact, all 4K Blu-ray with HDR must support HDR10. Here is John Archer from What Hi-Fi breaking down the two formats:
CES 2017 was a bit of a coming out party for Sony’s home theater endeavors. With everyone lamenting that Sony didn’t support Dolby’s latest sound and vision efforts with previous models, 2017 models point to a different story. Dolby Vision HDR is now available on the Z9D with the upcoming A1E OLED and X930/940E series also supporting the format once they’re released.
As for sound, Sony is also ready to bring Dolby Atmos to the masses with the ST5000 sound bar and DN1080 receiver which gives you more flexibility than you know what to do with. Now three months after the show, all of these products have price tags and release dates.
Year after year, Sony got dinged for not offering an OLED TV while others like LG did. After all, OLED TVs are the hot thing in home theater (that is if you don’t plan on putting your kids through college) so at CES 2017, Sony did something about it by introducing the A1E series, their first consumer OLED TVs.
You can see my Sony OLED TV preview from CES 2017 here but in a nutshell, they’re impressive TVs that will cost you, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Pricing for the series is as such:
You know what Sony’s amazing at? Designing products and winning awards for them. You know what Sony is terrible at? Telling the world and not regular readers of sites like SRN that they make these fantastic products.
Today Sony is proud to announce that 18 products have been honoured with iF Design Awards, including three prestigious gold awards. The products that have won gold awards are the PS-HX500 turntable, Future Lab Program™ T Interactive Projector and PlayStation®VR (PS VR) virtual reality system for PlayStation®4, from Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE).
Here are the products that won:
While Sony Mobile has gotten better about timely Android updates, Sony’s TV division is still lagging. Having arrived all the way back in December in the US, Android 6.0 is starting to go live in Europe for 2015 and 2016 TVs. Though Sony has yet to confirm it, 2017 models will ship with the latest OS that has some big changes and visual refinements that should dramatically improve the overall experience. Here is Rasmus Larsen from flatpanelshd:
Google says that Android TV 6.0 includes mostly bug, performance, and security fixes to bring the TVs up to speed. However, it also includes new features such as external USB storage, improved search, a new “design concept”, interface tweaks, a “child mode”, a new audio volume bar, and more.
Furthermore, you can control which apps are allowed to push content to the recommendations row. The other rows (apps and games) can be re-organized. We have included a changelog at the bottom.
TVs eligible for the update include:
I hope you weren’t too accustomed to getting your TV programming guides from the Sony TV SideView app because come May 24th, that functionality is going away. As for what the program used to do:
Use your smart phone to discover TV programs and control your TV remotely. Using the app you can use your android mobile just like a TV remote to directly control your Sony Bravia TV by simply swiping your screen.
Video & TV SideView’s fantastic functionality enables users to browse content, as well as send and receive program recommendations based on your favorite shows!
Top picks can now be displayed in order of popularity and it’s possible to be notified of today’s recommended TV programs via push notification, meaning you’ll never miss any must-see TV again!
But alas, a lot of that is going away on the iOS and Android app. According to Sony, functionality that won’t be making the cut include:
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: