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Sony’s 4K Player? Just a Big Hard Disk

Drive Comes Preloaded with The Amazing Spiderman, Total Recall, and More

Last week we wrote about a promised 4K playback solution that would be bundled with Sony's new XBR-84X900 4K LED television. This week, the news is official — and it seems to highlight the difficulty of getting 4K content to consumers, rather than promising to make it any easier.

According to Ray Hartjen's latest post at The Sony Blog, Sony's first 4K (actually, Ultra HD) delivery mechanism is "a hard disc solution" preloaded with 10 movie titles, plus "other 4K content," including material from Red Bull Media House.

Handing consumers a big hard drive full of movies when they buy their TV is an unusual idea. Even the language is a little odd: Hartjen doesn't say the disc will be given to TV purchases, but rather that it will be "loaned" to them. Will Sony eventually ask for the physical drive back? Or is this a slightly coded way of telling people, "You don't actually own the movies on this disc, and they may disappear at any time?" Better watch fast, just in case!

There are few details in the post, but Hartjen previously called it "the world's first 4K Ultra HD delivery solution," so it seems clear that the disk will have an Internet-connected component. (In fact, it will be "updated periodically" with new content, according to the blog post.) Hjarten also teased an announcement coming up at CES in January as the "next step" in providing 4K content. OK, we'll see. Until then, you have these movie titles in their high-res glory, all from Sony/Columbia Pictures: The Amazing Spiderman, Total Recall (2012), Bad Teacher, The Karate Kid (2010), Salt, Battle Los Angeles, The Other Guys, That's My Boy, Taxi Driver, and The Bridge on the River Kwai. (What, no Lawrence of Arabia?)

As an interesting historical note, Sony's PlayStation 2 was thought to have helped accelerate the adoption of DVD back in the late 1990s, when it was the first game console to offer DVD movie playback at a time when most U.S. households were happily watching their movies on VHS. And the PlayStation 3 is a widely used, more-than-capable Blu-ray player that's credited with giving that format a cool factor that helped it defeat rival HD DVD. It would be fitting if the next PlayStation were to be the first mass-market device to support 4K playback — but, unfortunately, it looks like Sony's UltraHD rollout isn't quite going to coincide with a next-generation game-console upgrade.

Will the PlayStation 4 be 4K-capable whenever it finally does show up? Stay tuned.

2 Comments

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  • http://www.engadget.com Richard Lawler

    Not sure if the player itself has any internet connection, but Phil Molyneux told us to update the movies either Sony will send its white glove service out to load new ones, or mail them to owners on BD-R. The hard drive is “free”….on lease. So it certainly goes back to Sony….eventually? But you’d figure at $25k a pop that’s pretty far off and probably well after there’s another way to get 4K to homes.

    • Anonymous

      Interesting. I wonder what’s going on inside the Blu-ray Consortium when it comes to 4K. Surely they have to be thinking about it. Everyone seems to want streaming to be the answer, but judging from the picture quality of streams via Netflix, PSN and my FiOS on demand, there’s a lot of quality missing from “HD” streaming that we should think about restoring before we start trying to accommodate more pixels.