Sony has revealed that contrary to early expectations, two series of its imminent 2015 4K TV range will be capable of playing high dynamic range (HDR) content.
The XBR X930C and X940C TV ranges, due to launch in May, will both offer compatibility with HDR’s enhanced luminance range. The feature won’t be available from the TVs’ launch, though – instead it will be added via a firmware update ‘this summer’.
At this year’s CES in January and then again at a launch event in the UK in February Sony originally implied that we’d have to wait for all-new sets in the second half of the year to deliver HDR compatibility. Clearly, though, Sony has come to believe that the X930C and X940C models (the ultra-slim X900 models are apparently not going to get the HDR treatment) have the picture quality muscle to deliver HDR’s spectacular impact.
The key to this lies in Sony’s X-Tended Dynamic Range technology, which manipulates the way power and light are distributed around the screen to boost bright areas and deepen black level response.
Neil King, Head of Home Entertainment for Sony UK and Ireland, has this to say about the HDR news: “Sony has always been the leader in 4K and our exclusive Sony technologies have been at the core of providing TV lovers with the best picture quality, no matter what content they are watching. Our decades of experience allow us to introduce merging industry standard HDR to our 4K Ultra HD TV series and to reinforce contrast thanks to Sony’s unique technology X-tended Dynamic Range PRO”.
While on the surface the addition of HDR to Sony’s imminent range seems like a welcome development, though – especially as it means there will be some competition for Samsung’s JS9500 (reviewed here) and JS9000 (reviewed here) HDR TVs – it has to be said that Sony’s announcement is rather light on detail.
In particular, there’s no word on exactly what HDR formats will be supported. You could argue that this is hardly Sony’s fault, as the AV industry still hasn’t fully defined HDR (though a trio of standards have been announced for the upcoming Ultra HD Blu-ray discs). But since Sony also offers no clarity on exactly what brightness levels or colour range the X930C and X940C TVs may be capable of delivering, simply saying the sets will be HDR compatible is pretty much as vague as it gets.