It's good news for the custom install industry when a big manufacturer invests in the channel, and even more so when it's Sony. That's why integrators are excited about Sony's first 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, which was announced at CEDIA 2016.
“Available in the spring, the new UBP-X1000ES 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player is specifically made for the CI channel,” says Mike Fasulo, president of Sony U.S.
You read that right. When the player is released, it won't be available to end users. Sony says that the new Ultra HD Blu-ray player was specifically designed for the custom install market, boasting many features that installers will find helpful, such as support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio formats and ‘virtually any optical disk format,' along with compatibility with leading home control and automation systems.
“The new UBP-X1000ES player has been long awaited by custom installers who desire a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player that provides a “one-stop” solution for their clients’ premium entertainment needs,” says Yukio Ishikawa, director of home entertainment systems, Sony. “Our new reference model has been specifically designed to deliver the highest quality video and audio possible and will excite the most demanding A/V enthusiasts.”
The X1000ES Universal Player is compatible with Ultra HD Blu-ray discs as well as video streaming in full 4K resolution and High Dynamic Range (HDR).
A Sony representative at the company's CEDIA booth said this kind of product launch will usually be reserved for the giant Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, but the fact that Sony chose to showcase the product for the first time at CEDIA — and offer it exclusively through A/V specialists — highlights “Sony’s love for the channel.”
In addition to support for Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, the X1000ES utilizes a Sony-developed Precision HD drive to help maintain consistent performance with virtually every optical disc format, including DVD Video and DVD Audio; CD and SA-CD; and Blu-ray 3D and BD-ROM media.
The player also incorporates a variety of video codecs that can deliver 4K streaming from video streaming services.
A dedicated picture mode for HDR content is provided, along with Sony’s video processing that upscales 1080p content to near 4K 60p resolution. Additionally, when playing 4K HDR content on a 4K SDR television, the X1000ES utilizes a unique Sony algorithm to reproduce the proper brightness and color gradations to provide the best picture possible.
The player's support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object-oriented audio compatible receivers is going to be key for some installers. In addition to that support, the player’s 32-bit processing DAC is compatible with both native DSD (at up to 11.2 MHz) and LPCM (at up to 192kHz) Hi-Res Music files, which are available in a number of different formats.
As for hardware, Sony has incorporated some of the flourishes that have been seen on several ES range products in recent years. This includes its Frame and Beam (FB) chassis which helps to increase structural rigidity. It also includes its honeycomb top plate, sf heat sync and offset insulator feet which reduce the effects of both airborne and mechanical vibration. Even the player’s removable rack-mount ears (to be sold separately) are designed to reduce vibration and electrical noise.
The X1000ES offers a number of other ES refinements, including dual HDMI outputs with separate audio and video signal paths and its HDMI, 2ch analog and coaxial digital outputs are gold evaporated for better conductivity.
Why the CI Channel?
So what makes Sony's new Blu-ray player a good fit for the custom install industry?
Unlike many conventional 4K Ultra HD players currently on the market, Sony has fully certified its model with some of the leading home control and automation systems, including Control4, Crestron and Savant, among others.
The player also provides virtually every connectivity option required for today’s custom installations, including IP Control over CAT 5 cable or Wi-Fi networks; RS232C two-way control and IR-IN. A web browser interface is also offered, along with support for ihiji.
Dealers at CEDIA told CE Pro they're excited about the new player; many have been using Oppo, which was interestingly enough not present at CEDIA.
The price point on the Blu-ray player is $899.