THE ROAD TO 4K
The TV industry hasn’t had very much going for it recently. Smart TVs were interesting for a while, but then most people simply decided that watching YouTube videos was easier on a PC (or laptop). The industry also tried to foist 3D on the consumer, and though the technology caught on for movie cinemas, 3D in the home theater’s pretty much become an afterthought.
4K on the other hand, looks to be an interesting story. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year, Sony CEO Kaz Hirai said that "4K is not the future, it's now".
Current high-definition displays feature screen resolutions of 1920 x 1080, or more commonly 1080p. 4K expands that to a resolution of 3840 x 2160. And while early 4K-capable televisions pushed the envelope in terms of price, costing in the tens of thousands of dollars (mostly due to massive 84-inch panels), companies like Sony and Samsung have moved in recent months to introduce models priced much lower, and with more approachable 55-inch and 65-inch offerings. We’ve spent some time with a number of 4K televisions, from Sony as well as the competition, and they are simply amazing. From a personal standpoint, if going to Full HD made a big difference, shifting to what the industry’s also calling Ultra HD 4K will be even bigger.
Cost aside, the white elephant standing in the room then, is content. Toshifumi Okuda, Senior General Manager for Sony’s Home Entertainment and Sound Division, wants Sony’s customers to be clear that Sony understands that content will be a major point of contention when it comes to consumer adoption of 4K. Mr Okuda says that with their 4K television offerings, Sony is going back to basics, and focusing on image quality on their television products. The idea is that customers should enjoy all the content they already have, on their 4K televisions, whether the few 4K-remastered titles available out there, or upconverted from existing Blu-ray or other 1080p content.
Having Sony Pictures Entertainment in their corner helps greatly, giving Sony a direct hand in producing movies shot with 4K in mind. SPE’s existing catalogue of movies can also be re-scanned at 4K resolution (with Sony’s own 4K scanners), and remastered for either native 4K or a HD master for reissue on Blu-ray, powered by Sony ColorWorks.
Sony’s already announced a slew of titles “mastered in 4K” that are optimized for 4K televisions (read: 1080p discs that will hopefully look decent when upscaled back to 4K), with titles including Godzilla, Spider-man 2, Men in Black and more.
To sum things up, Sony not only wants you to buy their 4K televisions, they also have the means to help creative professionals produce 4K content, while also having the ability to produce and publish 4K content. Heck, Sony also makes the projectors that display it in cinemas. It’s this all-rounder ecosystem that places Sony in prime position not only for success in the 4K space, but also presents the opportunity to define where 4K (looking forward, maybe even 8K) will move in the future.