Here’s a 4K TV that will likely speak to minimalists — and interior decorators.
Sony’s first OLED 4K Ultra HD TVs begin hitting the market this week and the displays have a cool-sounding feature: audio comes from the super-thin screen.
Both of the new Bravia models — a 55-inch set priced at $3,998 and a 65-inch $5,498 set — have four half dollar-sized actuators attached to the back of the screen that vibrate the OLED panel creating sound. A small rear-facing subwoofer speaker behind the display and in the center of its easel-like stand delivers experience-enhancing deep bass.
Consumers can opt to add a sound bar or a multi-speaker surround sound system, but many consumers will find the Bravia displays’ own sound more than adequate, says Philip Jones, Sony Electronics’ manager of home entertainment and sound.
Actually, most viewers will consider the sound that comes from the display more realistic since sound systems and sound bars come from around and below the screen, Jones says. “The sound emanates from the screen, so when an actor is on screen and speaks, it feels like it is coming from the actor’s mouth,” he said. “It is the best sounding TV we have ever made.”
The display has a new 4K High Dynamic Range X1 processor that also improves non-4K video. (High dynamic range, or HDR, High Dynamic Range (HDR) allows for an expanded palate of colors and deeper colors on 4K video.)
Upon seeing the display when it was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show show in Las Vegas in January, Reviewed.com‘s Lee Neikirk said, “I like it better than almost any OLED design to come before it, not least of all because the screen is flat.”
Until now, only LG Electronics has sold OLED TVs in the U.S. Sony’s entrance into the market will stimulate consumer interest in OLED, says Paul Gagnon, senior manager of analysis and research at IHS Technology. “With Sony’s focus on the premium market, their choice to back OLED lends credibility to the fact that it is such a high performance technology,” Gagnon said.
Of the 43.5 million TVs shipped in North America in 2016, 215,000 were OLED displays, according to IHS. OLED’s market segment should increase to 415,000 of the 42.7 million TVs expected to ship in 2017, Gagnon said.
Sony will sell the first Bravia 4K TVs with acoustic surface technology Thursday at an event at Video & Audio Center in Woodland Hills, Calif. The set will start becoming available nationwide this weekend. Already more than 300 customers have reserved spots for the event at 11:30 a.m. PT, says Tom Campbell, chief technologist for the L.A.-area retailer, which sold the first 4K TV in 2012.
Customers are intrigued by the set with its stand and speakers that virtually disappear to make seem that the TV floats, he says. Even thought he display with the folded stand is about three inches thick, the screen measures only one-quarter of an inch at the edges.
“Consumers have an appetite for new technology and they are embracing this display with the speakerless design,” Campbell said. ”We have got a home run here.”