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CES 2013: Sony Launching 4K Video Distribution Service This Summer

By Matthew Braga

After a year of 4K television hype, the first digital distribution service for delivering native content from Sony Pictures and more will soon be available to early adopters.

You can't launch new, ultra high-definition televisions without content to match – a fact of which Sony and countless other television manufacturers are no doubt painfully aware. In other words, while 4K TVs are just one of many next-big-things being hyped again at this year's show, there's a veritable dearth of next-gen 4K content for viewers to see.

However, at the company's CES press conference last evening, Sony Electronics president and chief operating officer Phil Molyneux announced the world's first 4K video distribution service will be available in the U.S. this summer.

Though details, pricing and exact availability are still unknown, Molyneux revealed that owners of Sony 4K televisions would have the opportunity to download and enjoy native 4K content created by Sony pictures and other studios that have yet to be named. The new service will be paired with the release of a "dedicated 4K Media Player for the home," according to a press release issued after the event.

However, Sony also has plans to release "Mastered in 4K" versions of certain Sony Pictures films – namely, those either shot in 4K resolution or higher, or scanned from film. A copy of the most recent Spider-Man remake mastered in this format could be seen on display in Sony's booth. At this point, it's not clear what differences in quality or compression – if any – exist between Sony's proposed distribution service and "Mastered in 4K" films. The first of these Blu-Rays (also including The Karate Kid and Taxi Driver), will be released in the spring, and shortly after to select markets worldwide.

Both announcements came shortly after Sony unveiled two new 4K televisions, to be released this spring. Admittedly, the company's previous 84" 4K television, released last year, wasn't the most reasonably priced display, and Sony is hoping its new 55" and 65" displays will be sold at a more accesible cost instead. The company also previewed a 56" 4K OLED prototype television – the world's largest, apparently – and we'll be sure to get more impressions and pictures from the show floor.