CES 2013: Sony Announces Ultra HD Video Player Loaded with 4K Movies

To help get consumers interested in its 84-inch 4K Ultra HD TV priced near $25,000, Sony will loan buyers a 4K Ultra HD Video Player preloaded with 10 feature films in 4K format. According to the press release, the films include “The Amazing Spiderman,” “Total Recall,” “Salt,” “Bad Teacher,” “Bridge Over the River Kwai,” and “Taxi Driver,” among others.

The Ultra HD Video Player is designed to be updated with additional 4K titles and video clips, says the company. The Sony system includes the 84-inch 4K LED TV and an Xperia Tablet S that serves as a remote control.

“As a standalone unit, the Sony XBR-84X900 TV already upscales all video inputs, including the more than 7,000 Blu-ray Disc titles currently in distribution, to a near-4K resolution through the use of Sony’s proprietary 4K X-Reality PRO three-chip picture engine,” notes the press release.

“While there are other 4K Ultra HDTVs arriving this year — and we expect to see many more at CES in January — at the moment, this is the only one with a content delivery system in place, to go along with its upscaling chops, and the only studio pushing content at this res so far,” reports Engadget.

Firmware Update for Sony Bravia TVs adds Twitter, Facebook, YouTube HD

  • Sony announced it has updated firmware for its Bravia LCD TV sets, enabling viewers to get tweets, post on Facebook and watch hi-def videos via YouTube HD.
  • Bravias have also added compatibility with a version of the Remote Keyboard application, previously available only on Vaio PCs and Xperia smartphones.
  • “Finally, you can now get live Twitter updates along the bottom of your screen and even use a Shazam like feature called Track ID to determine the names of songs, or their artists, that are played during your shows or commercials,” reports Engadget.
  • The press release emphasizes keyboard compatibility: “You can already use your smartphone or Vaio keyboard to control your TV and surf the Web — and now you can use other laptops too. From typing a Web address to searching for information about the latest movies, it makes entering text on-screen even easier than using your TV remote.”
  • The free update is currently available for those with compatible Bravia TVs.

Proposed AS-10 Metadata Spec Aimed at Streamlining Video Workflow

  • A new video metadata specification that would enable efficient interoperability of video between cameras, editing, playout and archiving may arrive as early as next year’s NAB Show, reports TVNewsCheck.
  • The Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA) has spent the past nine months developing AS-10, aimed at retaining and rendering readable the video metadata across devices that come from different vendors.
  • “Our goal is to have a single file that could move from camera to edit to playout to archive and back, really to be able to traverse the entire work flow,” says CNN’s Michael Koetter, who also serves as the AMWA director.
  • “I would love for CNN or CBS or whoever to be able to walk up to a [product] and see a little badge on it that says ‘AS-10 Inside’ and have some greater level of assurance than I do today,” adds Koetter.
  • The AS-10 effort has drawn support from CNN, NRK (the Norwegian state broadcaster), and vendors such as JVC, Sony, Harmonic, MetaGlue, MOG Solutions, Canon and Adobe.

Game Consoles May be Aging, but PlayStation, Wii, Xbox Still Selling Strong

  • Despite analyst speculation that video game consoles may be in jeopardy due to the increased capabilities and growing popularity of smartphones and tablets, “Microsoft’s Xbox and Nintendo’s Wii sold in record numbers last week as Americans kicked off their holiday shopping,” reports AllThingsD.
  • Some 960,000 Xbox 360s were sold last week and 500,000 Wiis were sold the day after Thanksgiving. Game consoles are still experiencing strong sales five and six years after they were introduced.
  • “It’s difficult to imagine any other consumer hardware that could attract that kind of demand after such a long period of time,” suggests the article.
  • Blockbuster game titles like Activision’s “Call of Duty” game, which grossed $775 million in its first five days, continue to juice the market.
  • Motion-controls such as Wii and Microsoft’s Kinect open up the market beyond gamers to a family market.
  • And, as previously reported on ETCentric, game consoles are becoming entertainment centers for streaming video, music and other media content through partnerships with providers such as Netflix, Hulu, ESPN, HBO GO and others.

2012 CES Content Preview: Entertainment Matters

Entertainment Matters at CES (EM), currently in its second year, is an International CES program created specifically for the Hollywood and entertainment community.  EM includes On the Floor, which targets relevant exhibits for content and entertainment professionals; Keynotes and Panels that address key trends, technologies, media and branding; the Red Carpet Program, an exclusive, invitation-only VIP program to CES; and Next Generation, a custom experience for tomorrow’s entertainment media leaders.  Sponsored by Variety and Ericsson, EM is a tailored connection to partnerships and innovations at the world’s largest consumer electronics tradeshow, the 2012 International CES® (January 10-13 in Las Vegas).


DTS, Technicolor, LG, Sony and ESPN 3D are just a few of the more than 2,700 leading tech companies exhibiting at CES On the Floor – from global giants to emerging startups – unveiling innovative new products and services and showcasing the collaboration between content creators and CE manufacturers.


The Red Carpet Program is an insider’s view of global technology and content, and access to potential business opportunities.  It is an invitation-only VIP program open to select executives, directors, producers and talent (contact: RedCarpet@CE.org).  Red Carpet benefits include:

  • Free access to the CES show floor
  • Access to private Red Carpet Lounge on the show floor (LVCC, North Hall)
  • Preshow and on-site service, including a dedicated hotline
  • Priority VIP passes to Keynote Addresses*
  • 20% discount on Entertainment Matters Conference Pass
  • Customized guided tours of show floor*
  • Access to exclusive VIP parties and special events*
*Space is limited.


For Hollywood’s Next Generation leaders, EM provides a custom experience designed to introduce this highly networked and influential community to the CES experience.  The program targets tomorrow’s studio chiefs, content producers, leading actors, agents and attorneys (contact: Hollywood@CE.org).  Next Generation benefits include:


  • Free access to the CES show floor
  • Curated/guided tour of the show floor*
  • Free access to select Entertainment Matters Conference Sessions
  • 20% discount on full Entertainment Matters Conference Pass
  • Access to invite-only Thursday evening event
* Space is limited.


Entertainment Matters also includes the International Academy of Web Television’s inaugural IAWTV Awards; the Technology & Engineering Emmy® Awards; various TechZones such as 3D@Home, Access on the Go, iLounge Pavilion and Mobile DTV; the Official Entertainment Matters Party at LAVO; and Conference Tracks that should be of particular interest to entertainment professionals, such as Tweet House Presents: Social Media Success Stories, The Reinvention of an Industry: Entertainment Everywhere, Games Summit at CES and Digital Hollywood.


Additionally, CES provides relevant news updates twice a week with the Entertainment Matters Digital Content SmartBrief (EM SmartBrief), covering news essential to the digital entertainment industry (to subscribe: www.smartbrief.com/ceadigital).


Click here to register for Entertainment Matters.  Use priority code EM13 and receive free registration and a 20% discount on the Entertainment Matters Conference Pass.  (You must be a working professional in the content and entertainment industry.)

Virtual Theater: PlayStation Home Members can Access Movies and TV via Crackle

  • Sony PlayStation 3 users will be able to stream movies and TV shows and enjoy them with friends from multiple locations with an updated version of Crackle.
  • Instead of accessing Crackle via the console’s Internet browser, users can enter a virtual movie theater with custom PS3 controller navigation. “Fire up PlayStation Home — if you’re a free member, that is — and navigate over to the LOOT EOD Theater, the Hollywood Hills House, or the Sunset Yacht areas,” reports PCMag.com.
  • The streaming service allows users to create avatars and use them to interact with up to 11 friends (or 60 strangers) in a virtual movie theater with access to hundreds of movies and more than 1,000 TV episodes. “Think of it as an opportunity to have a giant recreation of ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ with strangers,” suggests the post.
  • “We are very excited to bring familiar social experiences from the real world into a virtual environment, so people around the globe can connect and communicate with each other while sharing their favorite movie, show, music, or event,” said Sony DADC VP David Sterling. “This is the next big step in social networking and it will transform the way people consume media.”
  • Sony is also planning PlayStation Home support for Ustream content and streaming radio service RadioIO later this year.

Standards Effort: Companies Team Up for Full HD 3D Glasses Initiative

  • Panasonic, Samsung, Sony and X6D Limited (XPAND 3D) are collaborating in an effort to standardize 3D glasses. The companies have launched the “Full HD 3D Glasses Initiative” licensing program and will open a test center later this month.
  • “Currently, we have wholly incompatible active-shutter models based on different technologies, which the consortium wants to replace with a unified standard that will let you use the same pair of spectacles on any display or at any theater that uses the XPAND 3D standard,” reports Engadget.
  • According to the press release: “Infrared and Bluetooth enabled radio frequency system 3D active glasses technologies are licensed within the licensing program. All information including licensing fees and process requirements to become a licensee, are available on the Initiative’s official website.”

Epson Moverio: First See-Through 3D Head-Mounted Display

  • Epson Japan announced the Moverio this week, a see-through 3D head-mounted display that the company claims is the first of its kind.
  • “Think of it as a mix of NEC’s transparent HMD Tele Scouter and Sony’s cool 3D OLED head mounted display HMZ-T1, powered by Android OS,” reports TechCrunch.
  • Epson’s Moverio is lower resolution than the Sony HMD, but at 160g is much lighter in weight.
  • “The Moverio supports MPEG-4/MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 video files, including side-by-side 3D images on its 0.52-inch displays with 960×540 resolution,” indicates the post. “It handles AAC and MP3 audio files, too.”
  • The HMD is expected to hit Japanese stores later this month at a price equivalent to $770.

Miramax CEO Believes Hollywood Needs Effective Strategy for UltraViolet

  • According to Miramax CEO Mike Lang, the future of the home entertainment industry and movie production rests in cloud-based digital locker UltraViolet.
  • Warner Home Video and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment are among the studios rolling out sellthrough titles this fall, which are capable of being stored on UltraViolet and then played on various compatible devices.
  • “As an industry, we really have to believe it,” Lang said in a Q&A session at MIPCOM in Cannes. “We really don’t have choice. If the home entertainment business as we know today, in terms of the transaction business, goes away, that’s not good for anyone in this room.”
  • “Lang said failure to reinvigorate the sellthrough model could adversely affect studios’ ability to finance movies going forward,” explains The Hollywood Reporter. “Sales of DVD/Blu-ray Disc/electronic sellthrough movies have historically affected whether a title was profitable or not.”
  • Lang suggests the digital transaction model has not always been clear to consumers, especially in terms of compatibility with all the available devices and different ecosystems. He points out that Netflix has been so successful due to its ease of streaming on multiple devices such as Blu-ray players and game consoles.
  • The Miramax exec believes the studios need to partner with tech companies and retailers moving forward to develop a cohesive strategy. “I don’t know how many people use photo sharing software, but that is 90 percent cloud-based,” he said. “Ninety-five percent of the software industry in the world is now through cloud-based transactions. I’m hopeful that the movie business gets there.”

CEATEC News: Toshiba Unveils New 55-Inch Naked-Eye 3D TV

  • Toshiba is showcasing its 55-inch Regza 55X3 TV at CEATEC this week in Japan. The unit boasts a resolution of 3,840×2,160 — and glasses-free 3D at 1,280×720 — for what TechCrunch is calling “the first TV of its kind.”
  • “The TV features 5,000:1 contrast ratio, LED backlight, a new processor called ‘REGZA Engine CEVO Duo,’ a face-tracking function to enable high-quality 3D pictures for viewers, REGZA LINK, five digital tuners, 10W×2ch+10W speakers, four HDMI ports, and two USB ports,” reports TechCrunch.
  • TechRadar reports that the Toshiba TV joins Sony’s VPL-VW1000ES projector and Sharp’s 60-inch LCD in the 4K offerings featured at CEATEC this week. The report also suggests Toshiba hopes to ship 1,000 units a month of the Regza 55X3. “This is high hopes for a technology that’s burgeoning in the cinema market but is brand new in the home,” indicates TechRadar. “And with the economic climate as it is will be something of a battle, even with both Sony and Toshiba on board.”
  • The Regza 55X3 will be available by December in Japan for $11,730 (U.S.).

Will the Kindle Fire Help Amazon Take on Netflix? Content Will Decide

  • Amazon’s launch of the Kindle Fire tablet may have an impact on Netflix, since the new tablet will make it easier for users to watch streaming video content via Amazon.
  • “With its $199 price point the tablet could sell like crazy this Christmas,” reports Forbes. “Users will be encouraged to buy Amazon Prime in order to speed their Amazon purchases and Prime just happens to come complete with Amazon’s streaming video service.”
  • The decision for consumers between Amazon Prime and Netflix will likely be based on pricing and variety of content offerings.
  • Amazon Prime beats Netflix on price, set at $80 a year ($6.67 per month), while Netflix streaming costs $8 a month.
  • Netflix, however, has more variety of content with 51,000 titles currently available for streaming, compared to Amazon’s 11,000.
  • Amazon may soon be able to compete in this regard with added content from Fox and CBS deals. Netflix has similar deals with Fox and CBS and a new DreamWorks Animation deal, but it will lose movies from Sony and Disney with the loss of Starz.
  • Both companies may press Hollywood to license more content for streaming, but continuing to pay more for films could potentially break Netflix, while Amazon has other sources of revenue to cover costs.

Sony Vision: Will Tablets be Key to the Future of TV?

  • Rob Wiesenthal, chief financial officer of Sony America and chief strategy officer of Sony Entertainment, says TVs will get access to video content through tablets which would enable, for example, Sony’s Video Unlimited subscribers to go to a friend’s house and “throw” a film to the TV set.
  • “If you think back five years, it was all about the boxes; Tivo, Slingbox, Roku,” he said. “I think consumers really had box exhaustion.” Apple’s AirPlay, for example, allows iPads and iPhones to wirelessly connect to TVs.
  • Sony is using the Digital Living Network Alliance standard to interoperate with different manufacturer’ devices without the need for a box.
  • “Other benefits include the lure of offering more targeted advertising through an IP-enabled tablet than has proved possible through set-top boxes, and the advantages of finding content on a tablet rather than by aiming a remote control at a TV 10 feet away,” reports Financial Times.
  • In order for this approach to work, however, home Wi-Fi networks will require the capacity to transfer large video files without interruptions and cable providers will need to be willing to make content available this way.

Hands-On Reviews: Striking New Sony DSLRs and Mirrorless Digicams

  • Digital Trends takes four of Sony’s new digicams for a test drive — a pair of 24-megapixel DSLRs (the SLT-A77 and SLT-A65) and two compact mirrorless cameras (the NEX-5N and NEX-7).
  • The 3-day test period was conducted by recording more than 1,200 stills and dozens of short videos in rugged Southern California exteriors.
  • The review speaks highly of the DSLRs: “Sony really leaped ahead with this new pair by upping still resolution, the frame rate, video quality and incorporating a high-quality OLED viewfinder. Resolution is now 24.3 megapixels, the most of any consumer camera. Even with all the pixels, the A77 cranks off 12 frames per second at full resolution; the less expensive A65 does 10. Both also capture AVCHD Progressive movies, which are a beautiful 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second, rather than 1080i.”
  • In terms of cost: “The A77 costs $1,399 for the body only and is sold with an extremely sharp constant-aperture f/2.8 16-50mm lens for around $2,000. The A65 costs $999 with a more traditional 18-55mm lens. As a comparison, the 3.7 fps 18-megapixel Canon EOS Rebel T3i is $899 with an 18-55mm lens.”
  • Regarding the mirrorless cameras, Digital Trends comments: “Although the NEX-7 still requires a final production sample test, the early taste was quite fine. This could easily be the camera of the year given our hands-on experience. The buzz among the reviewers was pretty intense. As for the NEX-5N, although it’s a nice camera, it really paled in comparison to its big brothers and sisters.”
  • Pricing for the mirrorless models: “The NEX-7 has the high-quality finder built-in on the rear top left; the view is very good. We used the camera with an f/2.0 24mm prime lens, which added a cool $1,200 to the basic $1,149 price for the body. The NEX-7 will be sold with a cosmetically-matching black 18-55mm lens for $1,349. This outfit has a very Leica-like vibe and takes some pretty spectacular images… The NEX-5N has a 16-megapixel APS-C sensor (up from 14) and costs $699 with an 18-55mm kit lens.”

Movie Studios Turn to the Internet: Are We Ready to Bid Farewell to the DVD?

  • Hollywood studios are responding to the 40 percent drop in home entertainment sales by recognizing that the future may heavily rely upon ramping up Internet delivery businesses.
  • According to the Los Angeles Times: “Across Hollywood, a quiet revolution is brewing that’s about to transform living rooms around the world… In the next few years, the growing number of consumers with Internet-connected televisions, tablets and smartphones will face a dizzying array of options designed to make digital movie consumption a lot more convenient and to entice users to spend more money.”
  • “It’s now critical that we experiment as much as possible and determine how to build a vibrant market for collecting digital movies,” says David Bishop, president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment division.
  • Studios may be eager to change, but have yet to determine how it can be effectively accomplished with a uniform approach. As a result, the immediate future will most likely see an expanded but confusing selection of options for consumers.
  • The article looks at some of these potential options including premium VOD, cloud computing, UltraViolet’s “virtual locker,” new offerings from Apple’s iTunes and sharing movies via Facebook.

Will Sony Streaming Player Have the Juice to Take on Roku and Apple TV?

  • Sony will offer its SMP-N200 set-top box next month in the U.S. for $99. The player, introduced at IFA in Berlin, is the successor to the company’s Netbox.
  • The device has been upgraded to support 3D and live content streaming. It can be controlled with an iOS or Android smartphone.
  • “The original featured then-impressive support for local media playback and streaming, but does the Blu-ray-less wonder does it have what it takes in 2011?” asks Engadget. “If it has a UI refresh and access to comparable sources thanks to Sony’s now streamlined Video Unlimited/Music Unlimited media approach then this could play well as a one-two punch with a connected PC, phone or tablet.”
  • The SMP-N200 features DLNA capability and an array of connection options including composite, component, HDMI and Wi-Fi.
  • “The Streaming Player is ideal for consumers who want to upgrade to a connected television, but are happy with the TV they currently have,” said Charles Speidel, vice president of Sony’s Home Audio and Video Group. “Whether using it in the family room or on a secondary television in the house this new set-top-box offers access to the full complement of streaming content available from Sony, without committing to the cost of a new Bravia.”

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