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Sony makes 4K player nonproprietary, shows off $50K 4K short-throw projector

We put some eyes on the ultra-short-throw VPL-GTZ1 laser projector, plus check out a double stack of $25,000 4K projectors, and find out some awesome news about the FMP-X10 4K media player.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

When Sony says the VPL-GTZ1 ($50,000) is an "ultra-short-throw" projector, it's not kidding. It can project a massive image from 0 inches away. Zero. The case can be against the wall you're projecting on.

At the CEDIA Expo, we were able to put our eyeballs on it. Also in their booth, they had a 220-inch screen reflecting the image from not one but two $25,000 4K projectors. Bright gorgeous goodness.

But even more important was the news that you'll be able to get hundreds of 4K movies in your home very soon. Interested?

4K 4 All

Sony's biggest announcement at the show, in my mind at least, was that the FMP-X10 4K media player would be updated later this year to work with other company's TVs. That's right: Sony is going nonproprietary. Sony. Wrap your head around that for a moment.


This is a big deal, since the lack of content had become a serious impediment to 4K adoption, and Sony was a major culprit. The FMP-X10 can access more than 200 titles in 4K, including films like "American Hustle" and future releases such as "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. And the player can also stream Netflix's 4K content. In short, it offers the best selection of 4k content anywhere.

There are restrictions, of course, but pretty reasonable ones. The TV will need HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2, and so on, meaning most 2014 4K TVs will be compatible, but some 2013 sets might not.

Perfect projector for penthouses

The GTZ1, which Sony says is "initially available throughout most of the New York metropolitan area" looks... interesting. It's sort of a like a small midcentury modern coffee table, or a squat dehumidifier/air conditioner/radiator. The top, though, has a cutout where the image is shot to the screen, mere inches away.


It works by preskewing the image (using processing and lenses), so when it hits the screen, it appears square. It's a neat trick, that. It will work from 0 to 7 inches from the screen, and in screen sizes from 66 to 147 inches. It's bright, too, at a claimed 2,000 lumens.

The image looks a perfect square, no visible curves or bends. The throw is so short you can walk to, and practically touch, the screen, and not cast a shadow (where was this when Wii was a thing?). It's got a three-diode blue laser, striking a yellow phosphor wheel. These combine to create a white light, which is then split to RGB for the SXRD chips. This is somewhat similar to how Epson is doing its laser projectors. Sony's claiming a 20,000-hour life-span.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

One installation they showed as an example was a pair of GTZ1s mounted near the ceiling, creating a 32x9 wall of video. As one of the Sony people joked to me, "You know that ocean view you wanted?" For the $100,000 two of these projectors would cost, I think I might be able to find an actual ocean view.

4K double-stack

The other cool video thing they had in their booth was a double stack of VW1100ES projectors, a mere $25,000 each. Using software Sony created, these overlap on screen near-perfectly, creating an exceptionally bright image. On the 220-inch, 1.3-gain screen, the image was gorgeous, one of the best demos I've seen at the show. Nose-to-the-screen close, you can still make out individual pixels, a testament how good the software is for the double stack.

Another trick they showed with this setup, which doesn't require a double stack, just a 4K projector (or large TV): four 1080p feeds at once. They used sports as their example, showing feeds of four different games and sportsball shows. The trick would be what to do about the audio...a problem I'm sure many people would love to, ahem, tackle.

I'll see myself out.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET