Get Four Free 4K HDR Films When You Buy A Sony TV

The seemingly irresistible rise of HDR TV continues

The Sony 850C series.

No sooner have you got your head round the arrival of 4K UHD picture technology than a new TV tech has wandered into town. High Dynamic Range - or HDR for short - has already gone from being practically unknown as a TV technology in 2014 to become a key selling point for 2015’s TV sets. So much so that Sony has now joined Samsung in offering free HDR movies to people who buy its TVs.

The Sony promotion goes like this. If you buy one of Sony’s qualifying TVs - which basically means any of its 2015 HDR-capable models - you will be entitled to stream free of charge four HDR (and 4K UHD) movies via the Amazon Video app built into each TV. The four films in question are Brad Pitt war movie Fury, M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth, Men In Black 3, and The Amazing Spider Man 2

Home-grown HDR

These four titles are, inevitably, all part of Sony Pictures’ own library of movies, enabling Sony to make the same point regarding HDR that it also made regarding 4K with previous TV promotions: namely, that having feet in both the film- and TV-making worlds makes it uniquely qualified to deliver a true end to end HDR solution. As Sony Electronics President Mike Fasulo puts it: “Sony has always been a leader in HDR, from our HDR-enabled professional cameras to Sony Pictures produced and edited HDR content, to our line of HDR compatible TVs. Only Sony can bring you the full HDR viewing experience from the lens to the living room. You could say that HDR is in our DNA.”

You don’t have to be an Amazon Prime subscriber to take advantage of this Sony promotion, by the way - though you will be required to set up a (free) Amazon Instant Video account. That said, if you do sign up for Amazon Prime you’ll also be able to stream into Sony’s HDR TVs Amazon’s home-grown HDR content, which currently comprises the TV shows Transparent, Mozart In The Jungle, and the pilot of Red Oaks.

Had Sony announced this HDR promotion a few weeks ago it would have only applied to a pretty select group of its 2015 models; originally Sony had only stated that its X930C and X940C ranges would be getting the necessary firmware update later in the year to enable them for high dynamic range playback. 

HDR For All

However, at the recent IFA show in Berlin Sony revealed that it was extending its HDR firmware rollout to a much wider range of TVs. So the promotion now also applies to Sony’s X910C models, X900C models, and X850C models in the US, as well as the curved-screen S850 series available in some other parts of the world.

Movie critics might take issue with the quality of the four films Sony has selected for its HDR promo - After Earth, in particular, has received a pretty much universal panning. I’ve also heard mutterings from some corners of the (non-Sony) TV world to the effect that maybe it wasn’t appropriate for Sony to expand its HDR upgrade programme to take in the extra TVs, on the grounds that those additional sets are perhaps not technically equipped to do full justice to the extra brightness range and contrast the HDR format is capable of delivering. 

However, even if the relatively low-end models in Sony’s new HDR-capable range don’t prove able to produce a full-throttle HDR performance, I’ve seen enough demos of HDR in action to think that any degree of HDR is frankly better than no HDR at all. And giving buyers of those TVs the means to experience right away the full potential of their new TV purchase with the four free HDR 4K movies seems like just the sort of move the AV industry needs while we wait impatiently for other readily available HDR and 4K sources to emerge. 

Please note that Sony has not at the time of writing confirmed the effective start and finish dates of this HDR promotion, presumably because it's waiting for the necessary HDR update to its TVs to go live. So if you're tempted by the offer keep checking with your local Sony retailer to see if it's started.

For details of Samsung’s rival HDR 4K offering, check out this previous story.