Sony today held a press conference to unveil a number of new 4K TVs and cameras, though most interesting perhaps to our readers being their new 4K Film download service. The new "Video Unlimited 4K" service will launch this fall and requires Sony's new 4K Ultra HD Media Player (FMP-X1
), though Sony has stated previously they'll offer 4K downloads via the Playstation 4
At launch the service will offer 70 full-length movies and television shows, all displayed in the 3840 pixels x 2160 lines 4K format. Pricing isn't going to start any revolutions, with TV show rentals for $4, movie rentals at $8, and film purchases starting at $30.
None of this improved video quality will come cheap. The FMP-X1 will run you around $700, including a two terabyte drive loading with ten free 4K films. The 4K television sets feature early-adoption pricing as well, with most costing above $3,000.
"We now have the whole 4K ecosystem, from production to projection to download service to media servers and televisions," proudly proclaimed Sony Electronics President and COO Phil Molyneux.
One thing Sony doesn't have much of a hand in is the broadband pipe, and with films clocking in at around 45 to 60 GB each, 4K video is going to eat bandwidth like popcorn shrimp. While things should improve on that front somewhat with the rise of compression solutions like HEVC
, slow broadband lines and usage caps will be a significant barrier to entry, raising costs even higher.
Cable companies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable are experimenting with bandwidth caps as low as 5 GB
. A growing number of DSL providers like AT&T and CenturyLink
have implemented 150 GB caps on lines as slow as 1.5 Mbps downstream, with each 50 GB of usage costing users $10 a pop
. Users interested in 4K video need to be sure to factor those added costs into their calculations, though if they can afford Sony's latest 4K gear, expensive bandwidth surcharges probably aren't going to get a second look.