4K TV: What the heck is it and what can I watch?

by Ray Hartjen 11/19/2012, in 4K, Sony Professional

4K Ultra High Definition television has been in the news a lot lately, but many technology fans are still in the dark about what it is and what it means. In this post, I’ll try to tackle a few of the questions I get asked most.

What is 4K Ultra HD?

4K Ultra HD is really simple. It’s four times the resolution of Full HD. Think about that for a second and just let it soak in – four times the resolution of Full HD. Wow!

On Sony’s XBR-84X900, it means no less than 8 million individuals pixels (3,840 x 2,160) packed into its 84” (diagonal) screen. You can sit closer to a bigger screen without seeing pixilation of scenes, and that allows you a deeper, more immersive entertainment experience.

You Are What You Watch

Okay, I know what you’re thinking – What about 4K content, right?

Now, if I answer that question with the old “chicken and egg” scenario about introducing any new technology, you’ll just tune out. So, I am not going to that, and instead, I’ll answer the question in two parts.

First, the XBR-84X900 has a three chipset solution that incorporates Sony’s proprietary and critically-acclaimed X-Reality PRO picture engine and upscales video content to near 4K quality. That’s right, the programming you currently enjoy, whether from cable/satellite or even your favorite movies on Blu-ray Disc, will be upscaled to an even higher resolution. The thousands of Blu-ray Discs already published have instantly gone from looking good to looking phenomenal.

Secondly, while 4K Ultra HD broadcasts aren’t the norm yet, you have already been viewing the first broadcast applications. At one of its NFL games each week, Fox Sports utilizes a Sony 4K F65 Cinealta camera to capture footage for instant replays. When the network enlarges the video to get an up close look at say a receiver tiptoeing a sideline, the video naturally loses resolution, common to enlarging any photo or video. But, with 4 times the resolution of Full HD, 4K has more than enough resolution to spare, and losing half still provides the best picture possible.

Still not a good enough answer? Yeah, I get it, and I don’t blame you. Sony blog readers are way up the discerning scale as far as technology news goes.

So, do me a favor – look around. Make certain no one is looking over your shoulder. I have something to tell just you.

Sony makes 4K projectors for the home and cinema, 4K upscaling Blu-ray Disc players, and 4K Ultra HD televisions. Sony also makes 4K professional cameras for production studios. Plus, Sony has its own studio – Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) – that turns out 4K production every day. Do you really think we’d leave our 4K Ultra HD TV customers hanging?

In the next couple of weeks, the XBR-84X900 television will ship to customers who placed pre-orders since the product introduction in September. As an extra bonus, included free with the purchase will be the world’s first 4K Ultra HD delivery solution, complete with pre-loaded, native 4K entertainment. Not some goofy 4K content shot as a demo. I’m talking full length feature Hollywood productions, and available exclusively to purchasers of Sony’s 84” 4K Ultra HD TV.

I know, cool, right?

Okay, I can’t say anything more right now, ‘cause my boss probably already thinks I’ve written too much. But, stay tuned for an announcement sometime after turkey day. 4K Ultra HD fans will be stoked.

Hello, My Name is …

Lately you’ve read the consumer electronics industry would refer to 4K TV as Ultra High Definition or UHD TV. You’ve probably noticed I have been referring to it as 4K Ultra HD, and that’s because here at Sony, we’re not new to the 4K game.

You see, after bringing the first 4K projectors to cinemas around the world in 2005, Sony delivered 4K to the home in 2011 with the VPL-VW1000ES projector, the world’s first 4K projector designed for custom home theaters (pictured below). On top of that, earlier this year Sony introduced the world’s first 4K upscaling Blu-ray Disc player, the BDP-S790. Now, we have the XBR-84X900 4K Ultra HD television.

As the leader in the 4K technology platform, you will continue to see Sony refer to “4K Ultra HD” because unlike other consumer electronics companies, Sony is involved in the entire technology ecosystem, including making 4K production cameras, producing 4K content, and even installing over 10,000 4K projectors in cinemas across the country. 4K is the technology, and UHD alone, while somewhat descriptive, doesn’t tell the entire technology story. Besides, what would future technologies be called – super duper ultra high def? C’mon, man.

Sony is not an electronics company. Rather, it’s an entertainment company that produces movies, TV shows, music, games, and yes, electronics too, making it uniquely qualified to deliver full entertainment solutions. I invite you to see 4K Ultra HD. You won’t believe what your eyes will see.


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