Live from CEATEC Japan: Sony keeps focus on 4K

In an attempt to gain some ground in the oh-so-competitive smartphone space, Sony is drawing on its other strengths at CEATEC 2013 in Japan this week, adding a higher-res camera and display to its flagship smartphone, the Xperia Z1. In addition, the electronics manufacturer has continued its push down the 4K path, highlighting the 4K Handycam consumer camera and a prototype 56-in. 4K OLED TV (both first seen at CES in January).

“When we say the Best of Sony, we mean we are utilizing a lot of technology from throughout the Sony corporation,” Sony PR rep Yu Tominaga said at the company’s booth. “We have integrated technology from our display and our camera [divisions]. And we are focusing on a new kind of usage of the smartphone camera – for social [media] and picture or video [streaming].”

Xperia Takes the Best of Sony’s Camera, Display Worlds
Drawing on its other areas of expertise — cameras and video displays — Sony hopes to gain ground in the increasingly competitive mobile-phone market. With the germane tagline “The Best of Sony” pasted all over its booth, the company is showcasing its Xperia Z1 smartphone featuring a crystal-clear camera and an HD Triluminos display.

The camera (which runs on Android 4.2.2 along with Sony custom software) combines Sony’s G Lens, Exmor RS mobile custom-made large 1/2.3-type CMOS image sensor with 20.7MP, and a BIONZ for mobile image-processing engine. According to Sony, the camera is especially capable in low-light conditions, and the high shutter speeds and 3X clear-image zoom avoids blurring and allows shots to be taken at greater distances.

Sony is also highlighting the Xperia’s camera apps. A nifty Social Live app allows the user to broadcast footage live as it is shot on the phone to Facebook (think of the implications for live-streaming video from a sports event on a phone).

Sony 4K Back in Action
The stunning 56-in. 4K OLED display on hand at Sony’s booth is among the best 4K pictures to be found on the CEATEC floor this year. But, just as it was at CES in January and IFA in September, the razor-thin set remains in prototype mode, with availability not yet announced. Rumor as it that, given the high-tech nature of the OLED technology used to produce the set, if Sony were to bring the high-octane set to market, it would be well out of the price range of even the most hardcore (and financially endowed) TV consumer.

In addition to the OLED, Sony has rolled out 55- and 65-in. Bravia X8500A 4K LED TVs equipped with the company’s 4K X-Reality Pro technology and Triluminos display. The X8500A series will support the latest HDMI version 2.0 specs to accommodate 4K/60p content via a firmware update starting from the end of this year.

Sony is also demonstrating its TV SideView application with these sets, allowing users to display content related to TV programs on smartphone or tablet.

As for the cameras, Sony is displaying the FDR-AX1 4K Handycam along with its F-65 4K cinema camera. The Handycam incorporates Sony’s 8.3MP Exmore R CMOS image sensor and allows users to playback 4K content captured by the camera on a compatible 4K TV simply by connecting the two devices via supplied HDMI cable.

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