Four models from Sony's 2015 Android TV-powered 4K television range are now available for pre-order, with shipping to begin in May.
The Japanese electronics giant unveiled its 4K TV lineup for 2015 at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, but kept pricing and release information to itself, only saying the new sets would be available sometime in the spring. Those details are finally here and the TVs themselves aren't far off.
According to the company, all models in the X830C, X850C, X930C and X940C series are now available for pre-order and will begin shipping to customers in May, while the super-svelte X900C--slimmer than three U.S. quarters, pictured at top--and the X910 series models will be available in the summer.
The entry-level X830C is available in 43- and 49-inch sizes, priced at $1,300 and $1600, respectively. Move a little further up and you'll find the X850C series with 55- 65- and 75-inch models, costing $2,200, $3,500 and $5,000, respectively. Finally, we have the two HDR-ready sets at the very top: the $4,500 65-inch X930C and the $8,000 75-inch X940C.
The story behind the story: Research firm IHS estimates that by 2020 the 4K display market will be worth $52 billion, an increase of more than fivefold from current levels. If that prediction sounds overoptimistic to you, note that LCD panel makers are targeting 40 million 4K TV shipments in 2015 alone.
Sony's 4K TV lineup is a manifestation of the enthusiasm that's sweeping the whole industry. And, in typical Sony fashion, the range has all the fancy features you can think of and prices to match.
Similarities more than skin deep
These TVs have more in common than just the amount of pixels (over eight million, or four times as many as 1080p televisions). For one, they are the company's first 4K sets to run Google's Android TV, a smart-TV platform that counts Sony, Philips and Sharp among its backers. So you can look forward to Google Cast support and voice control, as well as loads of apps and games.
If you want something more hardcore than upscaled mobile games, there's Sony's PlayStation Now cloud gaming service to quench your thirst. A DualShock controller and a subscription is all you need to stream the service's large selection of PlayStation 3 titles.
There are similarities on the hardware front as well, with all models being powered by the new 4K Processor X1 chip. Apparently, the chip is capable of some remarkable feats of image enhancement, enabling the X-Reality Pro Picture Engine to upscale all HD content "to super clear 4K quality."
TVs in the X850C series and up make use of nanoscale semiconductor crystals called quantum dots to "deliver the widest color range ever." Marketing fluff aside, that these nanoscale particles can greatly enhance an LCD's color gamut is a proven phenomenon, and such quantum-dot TVs have been around for over two years now. Sony, which pioneered their use in LCDs, likes to call its implementation Triluminos.
The X940C and X930C take things a step further in the image quality department in that they boast a high dynamic range or contrast, which is the ratio of a display's brightest white to the darkest black. Please note these two models won't support HDR playback out of the box, and you'll have to wait until this summer for a firmware update for that.