Sony's $699 4K player does Netflix streams, expensive movie downloads

/ Updated: February 2, 2015 11:24 AM PST

Sony

Last summer, Sony was first to the mass market with a media player capable of delivering 4K video. Now the second generation is avalable model FMP-X10, maintaining Sony's lead in the race to bring 4K content home.

When it was originally released in July 2014, the new player was proprietary to Sony's own 4K TVs and projectors. But a software update has since "unlocked" it for use with any brand of compatible 4K TV.

The biggest new feature is the ability to stream Netflix's 4K content, and Sony says Amazon 4K streaming is coming later in 2015. Like its predecessor, it also includes a large hard drive -- 1TB -- for storing and playing back 4K movies and TV shows downloaded from Sony's Video Unlimited 4K service.

Sony says the service offers more than 200 titles in 4K, including recent films like "American Hustle" and "The Amazing Spider-Man 2." Notable TV series like "The Blacklist" and "Breaking Bad" are also on tap. Pricing for movies is typically $7.99 to rent for 24 hours or $29.99 to buy.

Between Netflix and the on-demand service, Sony's new player offers more content than any 4K device.

Sony 4K TVs from 2013 lack the ability to stream Netflix since they don't have the built-in H.265/HEVC decoders found on newer sets, so owners of those sets could conceivably buy a FMP-X10 to fill in the hole.

Sony touts the download model over streaming, saying downloads provided better video quality more consistently. We were also told the new player has an improved interface and control scheme addressing some complaints (from custom installers particularly) compared to the previous version.

Sony told us that US availability has not been announced yet (the FMP-X5 doesn't allow movie downloads), and that the X10 does not come with any content pre-loaded.

Updated February 2015 to reflect the software update making the FMP-X10 non-proprietary.

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