When you consider that Sony was the company that originally developed Blu-ray, they've been rather quiet on the subject of its 4K Ultra HD equivalent.In fact, it was Twentieth Century Fox that were first to announce 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray titles in their press conference at IFA. However the Japanese giant has finally embraced higher resolution discs with the announcement of their first 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays. Sony will release them in 'early 2016' and the initial titles are The Amazing Spider-man 2, Hancock, Chappie, Pineapple Express and Smurfs 2. When exactly these titles will hit stores remains unclear, basically any time between January and March, but we can expect some big announcements at CES, followed by a roll-out of players and discs during the first quarter. When we spoke to the BDA at IFA, they gave the impression that 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray would launch in the US in late January and then Europe and the UK in 'early spring', which suggests March as a likely timeframe.
Sony's press release is a bit light on details but the 4K discs will include HDR and immersive audio, although exactly which formats remains unclear. The Blu-ray specs currently include three HDR formats (HDR 10, Dolby Vision and Philips HDR) and Sony has previously announced that they will be using Dolby Vision, so we'll have to wait and see if that's the case with these first discs. In terms of audio formats, Sony have recently been releasing Blu-rays that include Dolby Atmos soundtracks, so that would seem a likely choice. However there also competing next generation audio formats from DTS:X and Auro-3D. Sony have been releasing catalogue titles based upon new 4K remasters for some time, so it's a safe bet that we'll see titles like The Fifth Element, Dracula, Leon, Lawrence of Arabia and Ghostbusters, along with new releases, heading to UHD Blu-ray next year.
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