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Sony announces the Bravia XBR-84X900, its first 4K TV

Consumer Reports News: August 29, 2012 04:38 PM

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Sony today announced the 84-inch Bravia XBR-84X900, its first 4K television. If you'd like to experience what a TV that has four times the number of pixels as a current 1080p set actually looks like, your best bet is to visit one of the 10 Sony Stores that will have the TV on display, starting September 6th.

While a lot of details about the 4K set have been released, its U.S. price remains a mystery and will remain so until the CEDIA Expo trade show, which kicks off next week. Rumors put it in the $20,000 to $25,000 range, although Sony executives refused to confirm or deny those numbers ahead of CEDIA.

What we do know is that the LCD TV is a flagship 3D model with all the bells and whistles, including an edge LED backlight, built-in Wi-Fi, and access to a lot of online content, including Netflix and Sony Entertainment Network (Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited). Most important, of course, is that it raises a standard HDTV's resolution (1920x1080) to 3840x2160.

Given the new Bravia's 84-inch panel size and the fact that it uses passive 3D technology rather than the active 3D included in all of Sony's other 3D TVs, it would seem Sony is sourcing the 4K panel from LG Electronics, which has announced a 4K set that's the same size; Sony executives declined to comment about the panel supplier. One consequence of the passive 3D technology is that the set's vertical resolution is cut in half, from 2160 to 1080. But that would still make it the first passive 3D TV we've seen with full 1080p resolution.

Sony will be using its 4K X-Reality PRO picture engine to perform the video processing, including the upscaling of content to match the TV's 4K resolution. The TV will come with a 50-watt, 10-speaker sound system with virtual surround. The side-mounted speakers are detachable for those who think it more worthy of a full-blown home theater system.

Of course, the downside of this new TV—apart from price—is that there is limited native 4K content that can take advantage of the TV's higher resolution. Currently, Blu-ray doesn't support 4K output, and neither does broadcast TV. For most of us, digital photos are probably the most widely available 4K content, although YouTube supports 4K video. Sony executives say they expect more 4K content to become available in the future.

If you're interested in 4K TVs, check back with us for our coverage of news coming out of the CEDIA Expo next week. We're expecting Sony to reveal pricing for the XBR-84X900 here in the U.S, and several other TV brands to announce 4K and OLED TVs.

James K. Willcox

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