Sony has announced a 4K Media Player upgrade device for Ultra HD Bravia TVs that can’t decode HEVC (H.265) files – the increasingly popular standard for 4K media.
Early adopters who jumped ship too soon will be able to pay a €399 (£328)
early adopter tax fee for a Sony FMP-X5.
This chunky-looking peripheral will plug in to the KDL-84X9005, KD-65X9005A / 55X9005A 2012 and 2013 models and will let you play content encoded with the HEVC video codec.
HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) support is already a standard feature of all of Sony’s 2014 BRAVIA 4K TV models, including KD-X9500B/X9000B/X8500B. So if you were smart and waited for standards to be defined and prices to drop, you won’t need to buy one of these.
Given the five-figures prices of models like the KDL-84X9005 when they first launched, a £300-odd upgrade will probably seem like pocket money to those who shelled out for one in the first place.
While it’s possible to get hold of 4K media files to watch on shiny Ultra HD panels, broadcast standards for live 4K have yet to be defined.
The BBC, Sky and other broadcasters are working as part of the DTG UK UHD Forum to agree on what these standards should be. While some tests of 4K video at 60fps (frames per second) have gone down well with panellists, other broadcasters argue that 100fps or faster is needed for live sports, action movies and anything with plenty of movement.
HDMI 2.0, currently a feature of 4K Ultra HD TVs like Panasonic’s TX-L65WT600B can only handle 4K video at up to 60fps. 4K TVs with the older HDMI 1.4 spec are limited to 4K at 24fps. If broadcasters decide that this isn’t enough, a new HDMI standard will be needed, meaning early buyers may have to shell out again if they want to enjoy Sky Sports in 4K.
The Sony FMP-X5 will go on sale in August.