- The HCE Video Series
Details leaked over the weekend on a number of new Sony 4K products; chief among them the FMP-X1 4K player/server as well as pricing and release dates for two UltraHD/4K displays. The FMP-X1, which some may recall from CES 2013, is Sony’s attempt to satiate its critics -present company included – with regards to their cries for 4K content.
The FMP-X1 is more or less a 4K streaming/storage device, in that it will come pre-loaded with 10, 4K films that include; Bad Teacher, Battle: Los Angeles, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Salt, The Karate Kid (2010), Taxi Driver, That’s My Boy, The Amazing Spider Man, The Other Guys and Total Recall (2012). If these titles sound familiar they should, for they are the same titles that early adopters of Sony’s LG sourced, 84-inch, UltraHD display received pre-loaded on their home servers. In fact, Sony will be giving those early adopter customers the ability to exchange their home servers for a FMP-X1 when they become available. What’s more impressive is that the FMP-X1 is said to cost $699 when it goes on sale this spring/summer.
Future 4K titles will be able to be downloaded to the FMP-X1 via an unnamed or unconfirmed Sony service, though its roll out (Sony’s 4K download service) is said to be delayed until fall. Still, the last time Sony sought to be the first to market with a new AV format -Blu-ray -it cost consumers over $1,000, where as the FMP-X1 will retail for a more reasonable sum of $699 according to leaked reports. $699 preloaded with 10, 4K films isn’t a steal, but it’s far from outrageous in my humble opinion given what early adopters have paid in the past for being first. It’s a far cry from either of Sony’s true UltraHD/4K displays -the VPL-VW1000ES projector or their 84-inch UltraHD LED display at $25,000 each. The FMP-X1 also showcases how 4K’s future will most likely not rely upon a physical disc but rather on streaming/downloads.
Sony also leaked prices and availability on two of their new UltraHD/4K displays. Their 55-inch LED UltraHD display will reportedly list for $4,999 and the 65-inch model will list for $6,999. Both will supposedly hit retail store shelves by the end of April if reports are to be believed. This means the barrier to 4K entertainment, complete with 4K content, can be had for well under $10,000 -realistically for less than $6,000 if you can live with a 55-inch 4K display.
Of course there are still some things and potential pitfalls to be aware of. At present, there is no 4K standard that has been ratified or accepted by all the manufacturers making 4K displays. I have to assume that the 4K content pre-loaded onto the FMP-X1 is probably of Blu-ray quality but with UltraHD/4K’s higher resolution. What I mean by this is that compression is probably similar, if not the same as Blu-ray. Bit rate and bit depth is also probably comparable as is color space. These are just my assumptions based on leaked data and what I know of Sony’s process so far -of course, Sony could prove me wrong when they officially announce their plans for our 4K future at NAB this week. Stay tuned…
UPDATE 04/08/13: Sony confirms or announces that FMP-X1 WILL ONLY work with Sony UltraHD/4K displays. Also, the FMP-X1 WILL ONLY work with one Sony display at a time. Frustrating?