Sony X9 4K TV geared for a great World Cup: We find out why
Sony's new range of 4K televisions are set to be some of the best the Japanese company has ever produced. But it's not just chance timing, Sony plans to launch these revolutionary screens in time for its World Cup coverage in 4K and just as Netflix and YouTube 4K streaming start to get up to speed. All this and 4K Blu-ray is expected before the end of the year.
To cut to the chase we've seen Sony's new 4K TVs and were amazed at the level of quality the £2,700 55-inch X9 offers. It's not cheap, but for the next-generation of television that'll future-proof you for years to come, it's not expensive either. Plus you'll get to watch World Cup games in 4K.
Sony plans to film three World Cup games in 4K including a semi final and the final itself. While it hasn't revealed who will be broadcasting the signal it says it does have companies lining up. That means owners of a 4K screen will be able to enjoy the World Cup in eye-watering detail. The footage we saw was so clear you could even make out the individual blades of grass on the field.
Peter Sykes, the company's strategic technology development manager, told us: "No other company offers the same coverage from lens to screen." Sony's F65 film camera, used for Hollywood blockbusters, shoots in RAW 8K using two 4K sensors. And it is these super high quality cameras that will be used to shoot the World Cup.
Nicolas Ericson, director of FIFA TV, added: "4K is a game changer in how we produce football matches." And even without 4K streaming it means two cameras can cover the entire pitch allowing for digital zoom for close-ups at 1080p HD quality.
The footage will be shot from different angles to conventional football broadcasting too as Mark Grinyer, Sony's head of live production business development revealed. "We're using 12 cameras with a similar layout to 3D, lower down so as to show more of the stadium for awe inspiring shots," he said.
And once the World Cup is done there should be plenty more 4K content to keep delivering your money's worth. Netflix is now streaming in 4K with House of Cards season 2 already available and all its new shows are shot in 4K too. Thanks to the HEVC codec decoder in the new Sony 4K screens, shows can be streamed directly to apps on the TV. YouTube is also streaming in 4K. But most crucially perhaps is that the Blu-ray Disc Association has said it aims to release 4K Blu-ray discs by the end of 2014.
Even without all that, the quality of the Sony 4K screens are so high they could be worth buying to watch upscaled 1080p footage right now. There are five key improvements Sony has made over last year's model: 4K streaming, 4K magnetic fluid speaker sound, 4K X-Reality Pro engine, Triluminous colours and X-tended Dynamic range brightness. Just look at the definition in darkness compared to a competitor.
We're going to save the gory details for our review of the set, but essentially it's fair to say that Sony is onto a winner with its new 4K screens, especially when streaming the latest 4K feeds.
Extras like social TV with pulled-in Twitter hashtags, or Skype video calling while watching TV should enhance World Cup shared viewing ever further. While we're reserving final judgement for our review, coming in the next few weeks, we're genuinely - finally - considering making the 4K jump soon.