Olympic years usually see a big push to get consumers to shell out for the latest and greatest TV technology to enjoy the action. But it appears the promotional cupboards are relatively bare, and 4K hasn't been the unit mover manufacturers and retailers would have hoped for. But for those with a bit of cash to splash that are looking to upgrade, Sony is providing some options with its range-topping Bravia Z9 (ZD9 in Europe) series, promising better contrast, more accurate colors and deeper blacks than previous X series Bravias.
At the core of the Z9 series is the 4K HDR Processor X1 Extreme, an updated version of the 4K HDR Processor X1 found in the company's previous models. The new processor makes use of three new technologies for a more realistic picture: object-based HDR remaster, dual-database processing, and Super Bit Mapping 4K HDR.
Object-based HDR remaster is designed to give images a more detailed texture by analyzing the images in each scene, and then correcting the color and contrast of each object individually. Sony says the system also takes standard dynamic range HD images and upscales them to more closely match 4K HDR content.
Super Bit Mapping 4K HDR is all about creating a smoother picture, something it does by breaking up solid bands of 8-bit or 10-bit color and converting them to the equivalent of 14-bit. This, according to the team behind it, makes for better reproduction of faces, sunsets and other areas of subtle colour gradation.
Finally, the dual-database processing system adds a new noise-reduction database to the existing up-scaling database built into the TV. Having scanned through a range of different picture patterns, the system can remove any unwanted noise and upscale content to a clear 4K image.
These elements work with a Backlight Master Drive, initially introduced as a concept at CES this year. Using a unique LED setup, the Master Drive allows for more precise dimming and lighting of individual screen areas to improve contrast levels.
Picture aside, the new Bravia Z9 is able to pull content from just about anywhere. The TVs are running a modified version of Android TV, and have full Wi-Fi connectivity built in. Not only does that allow for app downloads and updates, it also means content can be mirrored from other devices on the same network more easily.
There's also the full range of physical connectors on the back, with four HDMI ports, two composite video inputs, one component video input, an Ethernet connection and three USB ports. Buyers can also connect to a high-end audio setup through the digital audio output.
The Bravia Z9 Series are also 3DTVs and will be available in 65, 75 and 100-inch variants. Both the 65 and 75-inch model come with a tabletop stand, while the biggest version also ships with a floor mount. You'd want to use a sturdy table, with the 65-inch weighing 79 lb (36 kg) with the stand attached - seriously heavy, in spite of its thin 3.07-in profile.
Pricing starts at US$7,000 for the 65-inch, while the 75-inch goes for $10,000, both of which are available for pre-order now. Pricing for the 100-inch model, which is set to launch later in the year, hasn't been revealed, but expect it to be around $80,000.