As a kid, one of the most popular community activities for our family and friends was the slide show. A family would take a vacation somewhere, and a bunch of us would gather in a darkened living room, watching images of the trip projected onto a large, white screen.
Sony’s new 4K Ultra HD technology is so realistic, with such high resolution, that I think we will see a return of this communal viewing. Friends will gather in front of one of Sony’s new Ultra HD 4K LED TVs and be marveled by brilliant images and video, like the slide shows of the past.
I visited the Sony Store in Century City here in Los Angeles and had a chance to check out a range of the new Ultra HD 4K LED TVs, especially their 55″ and 65″ models. It was breathtaking to look at still pictures, in bright, beautiful color and ultra-high definition resolution, even on a large screen. Movies looked stunningly realistic as well and video games were almost overwhelming in their detail.
4K Ultra HD is 4X as good as current HD
The 4K in Sony 4K stands for resolution of over 4,000 lines, just about four times the resolution of the 1080 lines of current HD displays. That means there are more than 8 million pixels in the images on the screen. The TVs come with proprietary enhancement technology, what Sony calls their “4K X-Reality Pro Picture engine”, enabling even non-native 4K content to be viewed at the highest possible resolution.
The image quality is startling. I first checked out some high resolution nature images, flowers and ocean waves and even with my nose to the TV screen, the resolution was perfect. No pixelization or distortion. Sony makes an 84″ model and even on this one, the resolution was truly amazing.
While movies and video content look wonderful, I found the still images exceptionally beautiful. The resolution and brilliance of the photos, even on that huge 84″ screen, was like something from an art gallery. It opens a whole new world of visual entertainment, why not have the screen display high resolution images of family, great paintings or beautiful nature scenes, just as art to look at on the wall. In fact, with the high resolution of many digital cameras now approaching or exceeding 10 megapixels, the images they produce are perfect to be seen at these large sizes.
Blu-Ray discs looked amazing as well, but the real treat comes with true 4K content. This is content that is filmed and edited in the 4K format, maintaining the highest quality image possible. Native 4K content is delivered to the Ultra HD LED TVs via Sony’s FMP-X1 4K player. Native 4K content, delivered via the player through the Sony TV represents the best image quality available on a consumer television. That same Sony 4K resolution is also the standard in many theaters, but I think the image looks even better at home on an LED display, than when projected onto a screen in a theater.
I’ve always been impressed with the sound Sony achieves from their high-end televisions and these are no exception. To maintain their ultra-thin profile, Sony developed front-facing, magnetic fluid speakers that pump out 65 watts of power and enhance the viewing experience.
The Sony FMP-X1 4K media player comes bundled with 10 feature films (including The Amazing Spider-Man, Taxi Driver, Total Recall and more) and Sony is launching a fee-based 4K distribution service in the fall. This will probably be either a subscription or pay-per-view model with content delivered via the home Internet connection to the player. Although not announced, I think the next generation of PlayStation might also function as a 4K media player. The TVs are also web portals, with direct high-speed Internet connections of their own, for streaming video and audio from Netflix and other sites and apps.
The Sony XBR-55X900A 55″ Ultra HD LED TV is $4,999 and the XBR-65X900A 65″ Ultra HD LED TV is $6,999. As with any new technology, I think the price will eventually start to come down and we will also see other manufacturers embracing this new Ultra HD standard, bringing a competitive element into the marketplace. But for now, if you want the ultimate in image quality at home, the Sony Ultra HD 4K LED TVs and the Sony 4K media player are the only way to go.
Freddy Sherman is a world traveler and editor of the travel blog travel4people.com. He constantly seeks out new and innovative technology to help him share his travel experiences and to enjoy his home environment. You can follow him on Twitter – @luxuryfred and on Instagram – @luxuryfred.
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