Sony to “Tax” Early Adapters of its 4K UHD TVs with the Purchase Price of a New HEVC Capable Media Player

by on September 10, 2014

by Stephan Jukic – September 10th, 2014

Taking a page from the same playbook that TV maker Philips is using, Sony is selling a 4K Media Player upgrade device that allows select Bravia 4K Ultra HD TVs which can’t play HEVC encoded streams of 4K content to now be able to display it.

However, unlike Philips, Sony isn’t going to give its customers a break and let those who bought early, non-HEVC capable versions of its Ultra HD TV sets, get the media player as a free upgrade.

Instead, they will have to pay a hefty $600 USD price tag for the media player if they want to be able to enjoy the latest content from sources such as Amazon Prime and Netflix, both of which encode all of their movies in HEVC compression for easier transmission across the broadband web.

The blocky, hefty looking 4K Media Player will plug into select Bravia model TVs such as the KDL-84X9005, KD-65X9005A / 55X9005A 2012 and 2013 series which were all built by the electronics giant before the widespread adoption of HEVC encoding and compression of streaming 4K content.

HEVC support is now a standard feature of virtually all newest model 4K TV sets made by every single one of the major brands, especially of the TVs that many companies have released at the recent IFA 2014 conference in Berlin, Germany. However, this wasn’t always the case and when the earliest 4K TV sets from Sony came out in 2013 and late 2012, no provisions for HEVC were built into them.

Currently, all of the later model Bravias by Sony do feature HEVC encoding, including such models as the KD-X9500B, X9000B and X8500B. Thus, given the cost of the media player the company is selling, customers who had enough faith in Sony to buy some of its earliest 4K TVs are being essentially charged a massive tax just so they can enjoy the same Ultra HD content that those who waited and bought later Sony 4K TVs have access to automatically.

Sony 4K TV

Sony’s Later Model Bravia’s can decode HEVC compressed streams

On the other hand, given the five-figure prices these early adapters of 4K TVs paid for the sets (back when they were much more expensive than they are now), the cost of the new Sony 4K Media Player is probably no big deal.

Of course, those who own a 4K TV of any kind can definitely get their hands on UHD content without having access to HEVC encoded streams but this is still logistically difficult and cuts out some of the latest and best shows that companies like Netflix and Amazon Prime are filming in native 4K.

The BBC, Sky and Comcast are just a few among the broadcasters who are experimenting with creating their own 4K broadcasts in HEVC encoding. Thus, the need for a UHD TV set to be compatible with this video compression technology is pretty pressing.


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