Sony talks 4K and, of course, wearable tech at CES 2014

Sony's press conference hits the expected key note of 4K, but has a surprise with a new line of so-called "SmartWear".

Nic Healey Senior Editor / Australia
Nic Healey is a Senior Editor with CNET, based in the Australia office. His passions include bourbon, video games and boring strangers with photos of his cat.
Nic Healey
3 min read

Sony has, as expected, reiterated its commitment to 4K, with Ultra HD content and devices forming the centrepiece of its CES 2014 press conference.

(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

Sony President Mike Faluso summed up the theme of the company's press conference by saying "I can't stop talking about 4K".

"From scene to screen", according to Faluso, Sony promises to deliver "native 4K direct to your home". He pointed out that there are 140 titles on offer on Sony's 4K download service — including the award-winning Breaking Bad.

Sony has also started working with YouTube on a new 4K video decoder called VP9, as well as bringing Netflix to the stage (again) to talk about Netflix in 4K — just like LG did. According to Netflix, the HEVC codec will allow 4K to be streamed over speeds as 'low' as 15Mbps — which still isn't great for Australia.

Sony also stated it was able to provide the infrastructure to allow events, concerts and sport to be shot and then distributed all in 4K and "end-to-end" solution for production companies.

Continuing the theme, Faluso revealed the FDR-AX100 4K consumer handicam, which the company will price at "around US$2000".

Sony's range of 4K Bravia TVs were, of course, on display, with the "reference standard" X950B TV. The X900B series is also joining the Bravia series of 4K TVs — this one features a thicker "wedge" design to allow for better speakers. This makes for nine models in three series for 4K.

All 2014 4K TVs come with Sony's HEVC decoder built in, which will allow you to enjoy new forms of content, said Faluso.

(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

Alpha cameras

Back on the topic of cameras, Sony moved onto the Alpha A7 and A7R which, according to Fasulo, is a leap in technology to create a fully functional mirrorless camera that's half the size and weight of a DSLR. These were joined by the Alpha 5000 — the world smallest interchangeable-lens camera.

Sony's newest action cam, the HDR-AS100V, has an all-new lens and image sensor, and the ability to shoot in broadcast quality.

Sony also pushed high-res audio players during its conference, with Faluso saying that Sony was working with a number of studios to ensure that high-res audio could become more accessible for the regular user, not just the audiophile.

This plan includes new A/V receivers, Blu-ray home theatre systems, portable devices, high-res capable speakers and headphones. The portable devices include the Walkman W — a waterproof high-res music player than can run for 60 minutes on just three minutes of charge time.

(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)


Sony Mobile Communications CEO, Kunimasa Suzuki, ended out the conference talking about Xperia smartphones — although before doing so, he first looked at the inevitable wearable tech, or "smartwear" as Sony is calling it.

The heart of SmartWear is the Core — a tiny waterproof device that, through the LifeLog app, lets you capture and analyse many aspects of your life. The Core can be worn in many ways, including the SmartBand, pictured above.

The concept is about going beyond just fitness or activity tracking, but instead somehow tracking your entire life... as weird as that sounds. Sony seems to feel that this will help with you "entertainment, communications, ideas and recommendations". It was all quite vague and more details are expected during Mobile World Congress later this year.

After that, the new small version of the flagship Xperia Z1 — the Xperia Z1 Compact — seemed to pale slightly in comparison, as did the US-exclusive Z1S. The Compact coming in four colours — black, white, yellow and pink — and has a metal finish, 20MP camera and a Triluminos display.