Sony's first 4K HDTV is an 84-inch behemoth

Sony has just announced its first HDTV to feature 4K resolution, and the set boasts a whopping 84-inch-diagonal screen. The XBR-84X900 offers an edge-lit LED display, features passive 3D viewing, and has a 10-driver 50W speaker system.

The XBR-84X900 is both the largest and the highest-resolution TV set from Sony so far. The set’s price and availability date are still unknown.

The “4K” nomenclature refers to the (nearly) 4000 horizontal pixels in the 3840-by-2160 display, a resolution that adds up to four times the pixels of a 1080p HDTV. Unlike the term “1080p,” which refers to the number of vertical pixels on a 1920-by-1080 HD display, the “4K” refers to the number of horizontal pixels.

The 4K format is already in use in cinemas across the world, and Sony also makes 4K projectors. But the problem for consumers is that there is basically no 4K content commercially available. Streaming 4K content is also problematic, as video files are considerably larger than 1080p files.

However, Sony says its latest TV set uses a newly developed chip that upscales HD or standard-definition video for the 4K display. The set also features passive 3D viewing, which is another first for Sony; the company’s prior 3DTVs required battery-powered active-shutter glasses for 3D viewing. You’ll still need to wear glasses to see 3D effects on the new set, but they’ll be similar to the ones you receive at 3D cinemas.

The passive 3D technology in the XBR-84X900 also has a novel use, something that should excite console gaming fans. Called SimulView and available on several game titles for the PlayStation 3, the feature allows two players to use the same screen to play multiplayer games without splitting the screen. For this to work, each player has to wear the 3D glasses so they can follow their side of the gameplay.

Sony’s XBR-84X900 is also an Internet-connected TV (it has built-in Wi-Fi), with apps such as Netflix, Pandora, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, and Skype.

Don’t expect the XBR-84X900 to come cheap, given its massive size and its higher-than-high-definition technology. As a point of price comparison at this size, Sharp’s 90-inch LC-90LE745U costs $11,000, and it’s “only” a 1080p TV.

Update 9/5/2012: Sony announced price and availability information for the XBR-84X900 today. The 4K HDTV will cost $25,000 and is slated for availability in November. Pre-orders for the XBR-84X900 will begin on Sept. 6.

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