LAS VEGAS -- Sony is promoting 4K resolution as hard as anyone, from its TVs to its studios, to its video distribution service. At CES 2014, the company's TV lineup reflects the major part 4K plays in its plans.
Sony debuted three separate lines of 4K resolution televisions today, including an entry-level series aimed at a "broader base of consumers." Given Sony's history of pushing 4K TV prices down -- at least among major brands -- we have hope that the cheapest sets might actually qualify as mainstream-priced this year. We'll find out when pricing is announced closer to launch this spring.
In the meantime here's the rundown from most- to least-expensive, starting with the 4K models and moving on to good ol' 1080p. Unlike last year, no OLED models were shown -- thanks to the expiration of Sony's and Panasonic's joint venture -- but the company delivered a wide range of LED LCDs that seems appealing on paper.
- XBR-X950B series: 4K resolution, direct LED local dimming Sony's newest flagship packs all the picture quality enhancements, including that sweet dimming. It's only available in truly large sizes and will likely cost a mint.
Sizes: 85, 65 inches
- XBR-X900B series: 4K resolution, edge-lit LED local dimming The main difference between this and the flagship, aside from screen size selection, is that the local dimming is available from an edge-lit array. If it performs as well as similarly-equipped Sonys such as the W900A -- our favorite
LED TV for picture quality last year -- that's not a bad thing.
Sizes: 79, 65, 55 inches
- XBR-X850B series: 4K resolution, Triluminous display Another thing we loved about the W900A was its color, which seemed a cut above the competition, thanks to its quantum dot-equipped Triluminous backlight. The X850B, Sony's cheapest 4K set, keeps that backlight but loses any kind of local dimming.
Sizes: 70, 65, 55, 49 inches
- KDL-W950B series: 1080p resolution, edge-lit LED local dimming Speaking of the W900A, this TV seems like its direct successor. It gets all the picture quality extras of the higher-end 4K X900A series, without the extra pixels that you probably won't be able to discern. Win!
Sizes: 65, 55 inches
- KDL-W850B series: 1080p resolution, Wedge design Sony's mainstream 1080p line begins with the W850B, a big-screen series that's the cheapest to get the "iconic Wedge" design chops found on the step-up sets. It incorporates large front-facing speakers in a relatively small footprint.
Sizes: 70, 60 inches
- KDL-W800B series: 1080p resolution, 3D Gone from this smaller series is the wedge, but it preserves the 3D compatibility also found on all of the more-expensive models. It's tough to tell from Sony's preliminary press material whether it offers better 2D picture quality than the step-down sets.
Sizes: 55, 50 inches
- KDL-60W630B: 1080p resolution, Smart TV We liked the 60-inch R550/R520A series from 2013, and this set looks like its direct successor.
Sizes: 60 inches
- KDL-W600B series: 1080p resolution, Smart TV If you want a 2014 Sony for as little money as possible, the W600B is your boy -- assuming the company doesn't sneak in a smaller or cheaper set later in the year.
Sizes: 48, 40 inches
We'll have more information on Sony's 2014 TVs later in the show.