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Sony waits out the pack, plans Ultra HD Blu-ray player release in 2017

Kaz Hirai at CES 2016
Kaz Hirai at CES 2016 Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
While Samsung, Panasonic, and Philips were busy showing off their shiny new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players at CES this year, Sony was conspicuously absent from the club. That may seem odd since Sony was one of the original Blu-ray pioneers and since Sony has already announced a batch of discs to be released in the new format. Given Sony’s involvement in 4K at every stage, why not provide the hardware to play the latest 4K Ultra HD format?  Turns out, Sony is producing an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc player, just a year later than its competition, according to Twice.

Why so late? Sony has a few reasons: First, it says that it wants to wait until a large number of discs supporting the new format are available. Second, the company wants to do things “the Sony way and the right way,” a company spokesman told Twice.

The company has also historically taken a “wait and see” stance on 4K Blu-ray as a whole. Sony’s Kaz Hirai said as recently as CES last month that the company would only launch a player if the format was successful, saying that the popularity of streaming services might keep that from happening.

Sony has a preference for streaming services, and in addition to its PlayStation Vue service, has another one in the works: a 4K HDR streaming service meant to be used with its TVs. The company aims to launch this service relatively soon, saying it would arrive before the Ultra HD Blu-ray player.

Despite Sony’s preference for streaming, some customers either can’t or don’t want to use streaming services, preferring physical media. Amazon already has 4K discs available for pre-order, and they’re surprisingly affordable, considering the format isn’t officially out yet. Prices for 4K discs currently hover around $30, compared to the $20 their HD siblings sell for.

No more details on the upcoming player are known currently, but we’re expecting the specs to be fairly similar to the offerings we’ve seen from other companies, perhaps with SACD playback and Hi-res audio playback capability built in. With the launch date potentially so far off, we’ve got plenty of time to find out.

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