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Interview with Phil Molyneux of SonyTV reviewer David Katzmaier talks 4K TVs and new products with Phil Molyneux, President and COO of Sony Electronics.
-Hi. I'm David Katzmaier from CNET. I'm here at Sony's New York event concurrent with IFA and I'm standing with Phil Molyneux who's the President and COO of Sony Electronics. How are you doing today, Phil? -I'm doing very well, thank you. -Wonderful. So, Phil, you guys introduced a bunch of new products today. Can you give me a quick rundown of the most exciting product that you really introduced today? -So we start with the 4K TV's. We've introduced 2 new 4K ultra high-definition TV's from Sony. The X850A, a 55-inch version, a 65-inch version and the 55-inch version, we're starting that pricing at 3,500 US dollars so we're really excited about that. And for those of you that don't know about 4K ultra high-definition, it's 4 times the resolution of full HD. -Now you guys are really aggressive with the 4K price cuts. It looks like you're the first to reach that 3500-dollar price point among the mainstream TV manufacturers out there. Can you give me an idea why you're being so aggressive with those price points why you're pushing 4K so quickly to such relatively low prices? -We want more consumers to enjoy the experience of Sony 4K ultra high-definition. We have unique technology in there in terms of how we upscale any input. In addition to that we've just announced today 4K native feature film download service along with TV episodes, etc. -Yes. I mean it is great that Sony is the only guys doing the 4K content thing with this video distribution service. The TV however is relatively expensive. How do you sell 4K to a consumer who's saying to himself, you know what, I'm really happy with my 1080p TV. It's about, you know, a thousand dollars, at 1500 dollars for the same size. -Yes. -How do you convince the average consumer that 4K is worth the step-up especially when there's very little content despite in this service? -Yes. So very little content may be on the native 4K content side, but we've got 70 movie titles, feature films, etc. We'll have 100 feature films, TV episodes by the end of the year. So that's the native side. On the other side the upscaling capability of our TV's and the color reproduction it's just quite unbelievable. -Now with 4K it does require you know a relatively close seeing distance to really see the benefits. At least that's what I understand. I mean the TV's are really large again that you can really see this benefit for 4K. How do you address that issue the fact that again 1080p looks really good on most people's TV's and to see the difference and the benefit of 4K, don't you have to sit relatively close or experience content that is, you know, again a lot better than on a normal 1080p TV? -So let me put it at a different way just so that we can frame this correctly. If we went back 10 years ago you may have had for instance a 24-inch TV in your room and you sat maybe about 6 to 8 feet away. -Yes. -And then you decided to upgrade and then you brought, let's say it was a 40-inch flat panel and you put that on the wall but you didn't move your settee. -Yes. -You stayed where it is because you wanted to enjoy that more immersive experience, right? -Yes. -So now you can buy a 4K ultra high-definition in 65-inch or 55-inch, put it on the wall and no need to move your settee or your sofa I should say in America, because now your field of view is full of that picture. And if you go to the theatre today to see a movie in the theatre, have a look. The screen now is-- your complete field of vision and even the backseat you've filled your vision, so that's the best experience that you can get. -That's an interesting take because you're talking about recreating the theatre experience in the home. I've heard you know something called [unk] distance which refers to the fact that most people still even with today's HD TV's sit around 9 feet away from their television. -Yes. -At that distance is that something that you can appreciate with 4K or do you actually at Sony have some information where you've actually seen that distance decrease in the home because I think that'll be interesting. -We haven't measured people in their homes to their extent. We know that, you know, if you fill your field of vision when you're watching 4K content on the Sony TV that's the best experience you can get. However regardless whether you've moved your sofa back another 2 foot, you still got 8 million pixels on that screen as opposed to 2 million pixels. -Right, right, right. I have another question about your video distribution service. The little device that comes with it-- -Yes. -It's a little video player, a download player people can actually download these movies and watch them and pay, you know, specific prices for each movie. -Yes. -My question is does that work with devices other than Sony products right now? -No, it's Sony only at this stage. -Is there a reason for that, Phil? -Well, you know, there are many reasons but one of the key reasons is you know the DRM-related issues and the importance of making sure that content is safe. -Is that something in the future that you'd wanna do at Sony is to maybe expand this to work with other manufacturers? I know you're talking about expanding 4K, letting everybody watch it. If you're the owner and the only people distributing this video service wouldn't it be the kind of thing that you would wanna distribute and make, you know, that device applicable to a lot of other TV's out there? -Yes. The same is with HD content. You know we have Sony Pictures as part of our company. Of course they want to expand distribution and of course we should expand distribution in due course, but the industry needs to tackle a few other points first of all. -Right. -But we'll get there. We'll get there. -That's good to hear. Talking about the industry, one of the surprises for me today at least was the announcement of the curved LED base TV the one behind us right here. -Yes indeed. -Can you tell me a little bit about that product and specifically why Sony went with a curved LCD-LED as opposed to the curved OLED that we've seen some other manufacturers? -We think this is perhaps not mainstream consumer, but if you want this theatrical-type effect and this curved, it kind of wraps around you and takes you deeper into the picture. -Yes. -We thought this is a good starting point. OLED technology, we've been shipping OLED technology in terms of screens on the professional side of our business for 2 years. So we know how to do it, yes, but it takes time to get it to a point where it's commercially viable to bring it to consumers. -I mean one of the most exciting products at this year's CES was the 4K OLED product that you showed which I understand is a joint development-- -The world's first. -Are we gonna be seeing that product next year? -Yes. In due course you'll be seeing it. Yes. We're working on that. Yes. -I love it. Well, thank you very much, Phil. -My pleasure. Thanks very much. Good to see you.