Sony Keynote Touts 4K, Hi-Res Audio

In a keynote speech that marked the beginning of CEDIA’s 25th anniversary celebration this week in Denver, Sony Electronics President and COO Mike Fasulo touted an “Install Innovation” theme and took attendees through a variety of new and growing profit opportunities that Sony, along with industry partners who joined Fasulo on stage, is presenting to today’s integrators.

UltraHD/4K was a key part of that message, with Sony not only introducing a new Ultra Short Throw 4K projector, the VPL-GTZ1, but also announcing that, starting in the fall, the company’s FMP-X10 4K media player and Video Unlimited 4K streaming service would begin working with Ultra HDTVs from other brands. To date, the service has only been available for use with Sony’s own sets, but it will soon be an option for any Ultra HD that offers the lastest HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 connection interface.

Fasulo also alluded to an announcement last week by the Digital Entertainment Group that an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc standard was close to completion (it’s expected to be ready for licensing by spring 2015), and to an announcment also made recently that Amazon would soon begin streaming 4K video. He had Rob Caruso, director of engagement management at Netflix, join him on stage to talk about the success to date of his own company’s 4K streaming service. Caruso suggested new 4K announcements would be forthcoming by the next CES, and mentioned HDR, or high dynamic range displays, as the next opportunity that he expects Netflix to jump on in the future once HDR compliant HDTVs begin making their way into the market later this year. The HDR experience requires both a content and hardware/display component to show off the incredibly wide contrast that is its hallmark.

Sony has also been a leading proponent of high resolution audio, and Fasulo invited CEDIA’s executive director Don Gilpin and Maureen Droney, managing director of the Recording Academy’s Producers & Engineers Wing on stage to discuss CEDIA’s announcement Wednesday that it would begin offering training programs to installers to school them on the technicalities and opportunities surrounding high-res audio. Fasulo also showed off a new compact, high resolution portable audio player, the NWZ-A17, and new Sony Elite A/V receivers with high-res audio capabilities. Jim Belcher, VP of Technology at Universal Music Group, shared with the audience that 60% of U.S. music sales are now digital streaming or downloads, with the majority of that still in the download arena where high-res music is merchandised. Belcher said Universal alone now has more than 1,000 high-res music titles, and would be announcing a special package in the coming months that CEDIA dealers will be able to offer customers to introduce them to the benefits of high-res.