4K is Now – Sony has brought 4K to THEIR Consumers


I said it when RED announced their 4K distribution method, you can’t bring 4K to the mainstream with closed systems. Sony has gotten one step further though, they actually are delivering their 4K Ulra HD Player starting on July 5th! A real player with real content and a real way to view it in your home. Assuming you love Sony.

The box is round, kinda roomba-like, if you have one of those. Sony went for hard lines on the PS4 and took all the curves from the PS3 and wrapped it around 4K!

It’s a Win for 4K because:

It’s actually shipping, has a way to view it and has content you can actually view in 4K. It’s only compatible with the Sony 4K Ultra HD TVs (55X900A and 65X900A) though.

It’s actually almost affordable. $700 is expensive, but the Sony PS3 was one of the most affordable bluray players on the market when it launched at $500, if anyone expected the first generation 4K players to come in under that price, you should probably just wait a year, it’ll come down.

It comes with actual content, you can download more films but it comes pre-loaded with 10 4K films, a $300 value at the retail price of $30 per film. Although that sounds like the entire library available at this time. “Launching soon, Video Unlimited 4K from Sony will be the world’s first and only network video service that gives you access to a regularly updated library of full-length 4K feature films and TV shows right in your living room”.

No physical media, the price is high for digital ownership but I do believe the lack of physical media is a win, right now the average internet speed is slow, so streaming 4K won’t be quite like Netflix speeds for most of us, but hopefully that will change quickly, 4G beats my home ISP service, that can’t be a long-term reality. Maybe I’m weird, but I own 4 blurays, that’s it. I stream content for convenience, some people like having the physical media but all my music is in itunes, lots of movies are also, I rent digitally from iTunes, Amazon, and pay subscriptions to Hulu and Netflix, physical media is sooo 20th century.

Why it’s Not Going to Be the BluRay of 4K:

It’s Sony proprietary top to bottom. The biggest kink in the armor.

You buy ($30+) and rent ($8+) from Sony, and “Fees may apply for 4K networked video service” according to Sony’s footnotes. You need a Sony 4K Ultra HD TVs (currently only a 55″ and 65″ model exist) to view the content, and chances are you will only be getting Sony distributed films for quite a while.

Sony didn’t win the HD race over HD-DVDs by creating a closed system, they promoted the bluray and licensed it. That’s how 4K will be brought to the mainstream.

I could probably dig deeper and reveal more issues but I honestly believe that Sony can’t possibly bring this to mainstream on their own. If they open it up and allow other distributors to use their “Video Unlimited 4K from Sony” service to deliver 4K content to consumers, that would be a good first step to actually becoming the distribution standard. Allow other TVs to be used with the 4K Ultra HD player, and maybe even open it up like Netflix/Amazon/Hulu and let it be a service on other 4K capable devices in the future so you don’t have to buy the Sony box. 4K distribution should be a service, if the service is good, it will help them sell hardware, if it’s bad, has incomplete catalogs or just plain is too expensive, they are fighting a losing battle.

If all of that happens, Sony will corner the 4K market. Right now, they are just the first fish in the pond and I fully expect someone to come along a drop a whale in it sooner or later.

However, Sony did do something interesting, they have a “4K Showcase”. Details are vague but I do hope this becomes a distribution method available to filmmakers with 4K content who are looking to share it in it’s original format.

…a variety of short-form videos are also included that showcase the immersive experience and fine detail that only 4K can deliver1. When you see the collection of Indie films, shorts and 4K gallery videos that demonstrate the full capabilities of end-to-end 4K video production, we think you’ll agree – there’s nothing else like it.

As usual Sony delivers amazing aspects next to disappointments, if they can’t deliver 4K to the masses, it’s obvious the floodgates are opening and someone will.

Jared Abrams is a cinematographer based in Hollywood, California. After many years as a professional camera assistant he switched over to still photography. About two years ago a new Canon camera changed the way the world sees both motion and still photography. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
  • joshua

    The reason for ownership of physical media for me as a filmmaker had always been the bonus material (commentaries, etc.). If that came bundled with a digital media buy, there wouldn’t be much more for comparison.

  • http://natums.com Nate Weber

    Very true. I do value that on the discs I do have.

  • natums

    Very good point, that’s definitely a perk of physical ownership that isn’t common with digital ownership.

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