In a close-up, for example, the XR chip will focus on creating a realistic complexion. But if the camera is moving behind an actor, it will look for other things, like how a sign is lit in the background or smoke billowing from the street. While I personally didn’t see any of the new Sony TVs in action, the company was able to replay debug footage during a video call, which showed exactly what the XR processor was focusing on. In a clip of Defile, he seamlessly switched from highlighting Tom Hanks face to Times Square neon lights in another shot. And in a scene La La Land, I could see that the chip automatically detected Emma Stone’s face as the camera circled around her.
The XR cognitive processor will also boost Sony’s 8K performance, according to Kazuo Kii, the company’s global display and processor expert. Given the shortage of content in this resolution, Sony 8K Master Series Z9J TVs (available in 75-inch and 85-inch sizes) will rely on XR scaling to help HD and 4K content take advantage of those extra pixels. According to Kii, the focus on cognitive intelligence is particularly useful for 8K TVs, as it allows Sony to focus the processing work on the parts of the image that matter. It would take an even more powerful processor to optimize an entire 8K display in real time.
In addition to the Z9J, the XR Cognitive Processor will also power the company’s 4K Master Series A90J and A80J OLED TVs, as well as its X95J and X90J 4K LED sets. All of this year’s Sony bundles will also include Google TV as a built-in operating system, a hands-free Google Assistant, and support for Amazon’s Alexa. You can also expect HDMI 2.1, which means they’ll support 4K at 120 fps for next-gen gaming consoles, as well as eARC and variable refresh rates.
An interesting omission is the Mini-LED, a display technology that Samsung and LG introduce this year, after the adoption of TCL in 2019. It allows smaller LEDs, which could significantly improve the performance of the backlight. Kii says Sony is exploring the technology, but he had nothing to say yet.
Like most TV announcements during CES, Sony does not yet have any pricing or availability details to share, but we expect to hear more this spring.