Sony has begun to take preorders on a 4K Ultra HD Media Player that will reach retail on July 15 and carry a price tag of $699. The launch comes about seven months after Sony unveiled the player at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.
Designed to give buyers access to 4K content while it supply remains short, the device, compatible only with Sony-made 4K TV sets, comes preloaded with ten movies in the eye-popping format: The Amazing Spider-Man; Bad Teacher; The Karate Kid; The Other Guys; Battle: Los Angeles; That's My Boy;Salt; Total Recall 2012; Taxi Driver; and The Bridge on the River Kwai.
Sony’s offering a $200 voucher toward the purchase of the player to customers who have previously purchased its XBR-55X900A or XBR-65X900A 4K TV models.
Sony said it will “soon” launch Video Unlimited 4K, a service that delivers a regularly updated library of 4K feature films and TV shows via broadband. Users will can purchase 4K titles starting at $29.99, or rent them for 24 hours starting at $7.99.
Sony’s 4K player sports 2 terabytes of built-in storage, and will allow customers to expand storage via an external drive. Sony has not disclosed compression rates for its 4K movies, but has tapped Eye IO’s proprietary encoding technology. Eye IO CEO Rodolfo Vargas told Multichannel News that his company’s encoding system outperforms H.265/High Efficiency Video Coding [HEVC], which is designed to be 50% more efficient than MPEG-4/H.264.
Sony is launching its player as it seeks out ways to kick-start sales of 4K TVs.
U.S. pay TV operators have yet to launch any 4K services and some programmers, including ESPN, are taking a wait-and-see approach to 4K. However, the next wave of cable set-top boxes and gateways will support 4K video and HEVC. At last month’s Cable Show in Washington, D.C., Comcast demonstrated 4K video running on its production network.