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CES 2016: Sony Unveils Streaming App, TVs and Cameras, Most With 4K

Reprising his call to serve customer’s “kondo” (a Japanese word meaning emotional impact), Sony Corp. president and CEO Kazuo Hirai unveiled a range of cameras, TVs and audio products during a press preview Tuesday evening at CES. Many of the wares feature 4K technology and aim to tap into the company’s design and aesthetic roots.

Another 4K offering is the streaming app Ultra, which delivers thousands of film and TV titles, some in 4K, via Android TV. The service is optimized for Sony’s upmarket Bravia line of screens and also enables viewers to access their library of UltraViolet titles.

“Curiosity, playfulness and challenging the status quo” were ticked off as three core values by Hirai, as nature images filled a curving screen behind him. “These sometimes result in epic successes. Then there are those other times …” The wry comment seemed an oblique nod to the devastating hack that metastasized through late 2014 and the firs part of 2015, but it wasn't clarified.

The hour-long presentation showcased the ways consumers have become “storytellers,” capturing sharper and sharper video and photos, often via smartphones. Several minutes were taken up with a display of home photographs taken by Sony Electronics president and COO Michael Fasulo and Glenn Gainor, president of physical production at Sony’s Screen Gems film division.

While there wasn't a detailed presentation about PlayStation, Hirai announced that the PS4 platform sold 5.7 million units over the holiday season and now has cumulative worldwide sales of 35.9 million units.

One statistic, delivered by a non-Sony exec, underlined both the challenge and the opportunity for the company. Lucas Watson, vp of video online global sales for YouTube, joined Fasulo to discuss online video viewing trends. Watson said that in 2015, the average person’s daily viewing of YouTube content via mobile device soared 50% over 2014 levels, reaching 40 minutes.

The company also introduced X93D 4K HDR TV, which features the Content Bar navigation tool, offering voice recognition in 40 languages. Enhancing the set’s picture is Sony’s Backlight Master Drive, which is still at prototype stage.

Fasulo said Sony is all in on 4K across its portfolio. The high-definition technology “is changing the way people experience real life, even if they’re not experiencing it live.” He noted that portions of next week’s Sony Open golf tournament will be broadcast in HD by the Golf Channel.