Sony.com | $5,000-$25,000

While Ultra High Definition 4K TVs were first introduced at January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Sony has become the first hardware maker to ship its new line of screens through its Bravia brand.

The move is significant because the TV biz is eager to prop up sluggish sales of flatscreens. 4K could very well be the next-generation technology that will give the needed boost. That’s especially true as more consumers opt for TV sets larger than 40 inches.

The first 4K Bravias, which come as 55- and 65-inch sets and are priced at around $7,000, were expected to ship in June but have already begun finding their way into homes. An 84-inch unit costs as much as $25,000.

As an incentive to buy the devices (considering there isn’t much content shot in 4K yet), Sony is offering a complimentary set of 10 “Mastered in 4K” Blu-ray movies, which includes “Ghostbusters,” “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “Taxi Driver” and “Angels & Demons,” and will launch a digital download service to offer more content.

But more television shows and feature films are expected to become available soon: The creative community likes 4K over HD for its ability to offer sharper images, greater contrast, color and other details.

Whereas most HDTVs broadcast images featuring 1080p resolution — or 2 million pixels per frame — 4K TVs boast 8.8 million pixels. April’s “Oblivion” was lensed in 4K, for example, and DirecTV, Dish and Verizon’s FiOs are considering adding 4K channels in time for soccer’s World Cup in Brazil next year. There are now 100 movies available in 4K resolution.

Sony isn’t alone. LG, Sharp, Panasonic, Samsung, even China’s OEM Seiki, also have 4K units hitting retailers soon, for as low as $1,500, which could create a potential dilemma for theater owners: Newer, larger TVs with crisper pictures at home could keep more people from the megaplex.

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