The Japanese electronics giant said today that it's now bundling an Ultra HD video player with the TV, giving users access to high-resolution content. And purchasers of the "4K Ultra HD Home Experience" also will receive an Xperia Tablet S that serves as a remote control.
In case that's not enough, Sony also is preloading the video player -- a hard-disk server -- with a gallery of 4K video shorts and 10 full-length feature films presented in native 4K. That includes "The Amazing Spiderman," "The Other Guys," "Taxi Driver," and "The Bridge on the River Kwai."
The video player is only available for buyers of Sony's 4K LED TV. And there was a curious little tidbit in the release about the bundle: Sony said the video player is a bonus loaned exclusively to purchasers of the TV. That kind of makes one wonder if people who receive the device have to return it or pay for it at some point.
Here's what a Sony spokesperson told CNET:
The loan is a free lease program with our customers and is just the first step in the rapidly evolving processes to deliver 4K content to the home. It's been provided as a value-add to its customers because Sony felt that consumers needed a solution now rather than later. Currently, the loan period is open-ended.
The spokesperson added that Sony will make more announcements soon.
When we asked for a little more clarification about this "loan process," another spokesperson told us that Sony's not going to go into peoples' homes to take back the video players.
"It's more about the content than the actual hardware," the spokesperson said. "The box itself may be a loan of some sort, but it's only the first step in delivering this content to our best customers."
The spokesperson added there's no timeline for the loan program.
Sony plans to make future 4K content available to people who buy the TV, and such programs will be delivered on BD-ROM disks. Customers will have the option of getting those delivered in the mail and uploading them to the server themselves, or they can have a concierge service come to their home and do it for them.
So what exactly is 4K Ultra HD, you may be asking? It's basically what comes after current high full definition screens. To qualify as Ultra HD, a display needs to have a resolution of at least 3,840 pixels horizontally and at least 2,160 pixels vertically. Additionally, the product will require at least one 4K-capable digital input and display 4K content natively without upconverting.
While 4H Ultra HD provides a much better resolution than 1080i/p (1,920x1,080 pixels), it does face a big problem: There's not really any consumer 4K content available. It's pretty tough to justify spending that much on a TV when there's no content to take advantage of the higher resolution.
Sony hopes the introduction of its video player, as well as the programming it's providing, will help change that.
The company noted its 4K TV, the XBR-84X900, already upscales all video inputs to a near-4K resolution. But the "with the new video player, consumers can for the first time enjoy true 4K Ultra HD video in the home," the company said.
"Sony is committed to delivering the finest 4K Ultra HD entertainment experiences to customers," Mike Lucas, senior vice president for Sony Electronics' Home Division, said in a press release. "The launch of the 4K Ultra HD Home Experience is another world first for Sony, and will wow consumers with 4K Ultra HD content."
Updated at 12:45 p.m. PT with additional comments from Sony about the loan program.