There were a lot of dropped jaws and mutters of disbelief when Samsung announced a few weeks ago that its new 4K Ultra HD TV would sell for $39,999. Now coming up on the other end of the spectrum is a 4K TV that’s actually in the zone of sorta affordable (compared to $40K), and it’s from Sony.
At CES this year Sony showed off two new 4K TV models (in addition to its existing 84-inch model, which you can see reviewed here). Now the company is announcing the prices for those models, and the smaller of the two (at 55-inches) is priced at $4,999. The larger, 65-inch model will be priced at $6,999. Both will be available for online and retail purchasing on April 21. This is the first time a 4K TV will be available online.
If you buy the XBR-55X900A or XBR-65X900A 4K Ultra HD TV, you’ll also get Sony’s new “Mastered in 4K” Blu-ray discs of Spider-Man (2002), Ghostbusters and Angels & Demons.
The new TVs include Sony’s proprietary two-chip 4K X-Reality PRO picture engine which upscales regular HD content to 4K. These edge-lit LED LCD TVs use something Sony calls TRILUMINUS display to deliver more accurate colors. Both models also include integrated 65 Watt, front-facing, magnetic fluid speaker.
In addition to the two new TVs, Sony is officially announcing some details about its 4K media server, now called the FMP-X1. The media player will be available for $699 and includes 10 feature films and video shorts, all in 4K resolution. If you happen to be one of the buyers of Sony’s first 4K TV and received the included server (basically a Dell computer), Sony will let you exchange that for the new server at no cost. This fall Sony will open up its 4K media service. No details were available on how the service would work or how exactly 4K movies would be delivered to the system.
We also don’t know anything new about the 4K OLED TV the company showed at CES.
The feature films included with purchase of the 4K Media Player are Bad Teacher, Battle: Los Angeles, The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Karate Kid (2010), Salt, Taxi Driver, That’s My Boy, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Other Guys and Total Recall (2012).
Until this announcement, the cheapest 4K TV was the LG 84-inch (reviewed here), which is priced at $19,999 but sells for $16,999. Releasing two models under $10K is kind of a big deal, because while these are smaller TVs, they also demonstrate that the technology can be scaled to sizes and prices that are more in line with what consumers will be willing to swallow. While $4,999 is still a lot for a TV, and is thousands of dollars more than any other premium TV, it’s no longer in the “I could’a bought a car” realm, which makes it seem more like a real product and not just a statement piece.
LG, Sharp and Toshiba also promised more 4K TVs later this year, but we haven’t heard what the 2013 prices will be. Is Sony making the first volley in a 4K price battle?
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.