Sony XBR-84X900 Ultra HD TV

To hear Sony tell it, the future will be in 4K. This stance comes as no surprise: The company’s 4K-rez digital cinema projectors have been installed in over 13,000 theaters, and at least 75 Sony-produced titles have either been shot with 4K digital cameras, or transferred to the higher-rez format from film. And Sony isn’t just pushing 4K for theaters — it wants viewers to experience it at home. 

After releasing a 4K home projector in 2011, the company started selling its 84-inch XBR-84X900 LCD Ultra HD TV in late 2012, and plans to follow up with 65- and 55-inch models this spring. Pricing for the smaller sets hasn’t been announced, but the 84-incher sells for $25,000 — about the same price as a new Honda Accord or a semester at Oberlin. (Incidentally, the term 4K has been officially superseded by “Ultra HD” in the TV realm, but they’re still interchangeable.)

 A 4K software format doesn’t exist yet, but even that fact hasn’t deterred Sony. The company has been loaning out servers — basically a big Dell computer — filled with 4K content including 10 Sony Pictures titles to consumers who purchase the  XBR-84X900. (An update via data BD-Rom providing additional content was scheduled for early March.) Sony also has a 4K movie download service in the works on target for a summer launch, with details to be announced in April.

How do I know all this stuff? Because the recent CES was chock-full of Ultra HD TV-related news and product announcements. And also because Sony recently invited me to its NYC office to check out the XBR-84X900. I was left alone in a dark room with my testing gear, a 4K server, and a Blu-ray player, and given a few hours to have at it without anybody looking over my shoulder.