Sony’s new 2015 4K TVs are going to have HDR Playback

by on April 20, 2015

Stephan Jukic – April 20, 2015

HDR is one of the newest buzzwords around the 4K TV industry and with good reason; the technology promises to revolutionize the way on-screen content is viewed by audiences in a way that is far more immediately noticeable and obvious than the enhanced resolution of 4K pixel counts.

This is because HDR increases the contrast levels of content, enhancing both light and dark regions of the screen in a multitude of levels in a manner that creates far sharper, brighter, more realistic and more vibrant imagery. This effect of HDR is something that a viewer can immediately notice from any distance, making it potentially even more popular than the 4K UHD resolution it will be paired with in the next generation of 4K TVs.

Furthermore, this next generation of 4K TVs is now arriving and Sony is no exception to the game. The company is releasing at least two new models in 2015 which will come with High Dynamic Range playback built into them.

These are the XBR X930C and X940C Sony TV ranges, both of which are expected to go public in May of this year.

The two ranges of TVs will both offer compatibility with the augmented luminance ranges of HDR and will thus allow viewers who use them to fully appreciate the high dynamic range content that is expected to start hitting transmission channels from sources like Netflix and Amazon Instant video later in 2015.

In tandem with this, the TVs themselves won’t actually have their HDR capacity enabled right after going on sale. In an interesting and perhaps annoying twist, Sony has decided not to include the feature right off the bat and instead release it only in the summer through a firmware update that they’re promising.

While this may seem a bit odd, it’s also not necessarily a big problem given that HDR comes from content and not the TV, meaning that, unless you’re viewing entertainment with HDR coded into it, you won’t see any difference from regular 4K content even if your TV has the capacity already working inside it.

Content from sources like Netflix will soon be arriving with HDR encoded into it

4K Content from sources like Netflix will soon be arriving with HDR encoded into it

Both at this year’s CES in Las Vegas and on another occasion in the UK in February, Sony had implied to the media that HDR-enabled TV ranges wouldn’t be emerging until the second half of 2015 and that the XBR X930C and X940C TVs would only be designed for conventional, first generation 4K media. Apparently, the company now believes that the upcoming models do indeed have the capacity to really show off this new level of ultra HD content vibrancy when it becomes available.

Part of the key behind the HDR technology of the new TVs can be found with Sony’s already well-established X-tended Dynamic Range technology, which is already found in their more recent models and manipulates the way in which light and electricity are arrayed across the screen for the sake of enhancing brighter spots and deepening the darkness of black tones.

Since the AV industry, including content creators and distributors, hasn’t yet defined what exact HDR standard they will be adopting (among several under consideration), Sony has also thus-far been vague about exactly what standards they will support. This is almost certainly part of the reason why the company is also delaying the actual HDR playback capability until their summer firmware update. They’re waiting to see how the cards fall. For now however, the new TVs from Sony are also offering a spark of competition to Samsung’s new SUHD TVs, which are also designed with HDR playback in mind.

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