Sony has some new competition in the next-generation Ultra HD video race. Digital video heavyweight RED has announced pre-orders of its US$1,450 Redray 4K Digital Cinema Player, an Internet-connected Ultra HD media player that will display ultra high-resolution video from various sources.
The Redray will primarily store video on its 1TB internal hard drive, drawing content from the fibre-connected Odemax.com distribution network that RED is also setting up across the United States. SD card and USB 2.0 input means content can be physically brought to the player.
Able to process and output video at up to 4096x2160 pixels from the proprietary .RED file format, the Redray is designed to work within RED's ecosystem of high-end digital cinema cameras. It can also up-scale video from lower-resolution sources like 1080p Full HD. A grand total of six HDMI ports — five for video, and one for audio — mean one Ultra HD or multiple lower-resolution displays can be connected.
The Redray is also compatible with high frame rate 3D — the 48fps 3D video that will debut on cinema screens with The Hobbit being the first use of the format, with 60fps 3D also supported. Another technical superiority over the now six-and-a-half-year-old Blu-ray format comes in Redray's 12-bit, 4:2:2 colour format support, where Blu-ray is only able to handle 8-bit 4:2:0.
Local pricing and availability of the Redray and Odemax has not been confirmed for Australia; we're unlikely to see the network available locally, but it is possible (just) that RED could reach a distribution agreement with local rights holders and Internet service providers.
In reality, RED's 4K Digital Cinema Player isn't likely to make it to Australian shores, but it shows that content creators and hardware providers are beginning to take the next-generation format seriously and provide for filmmakers as well as early adopters.
This news comes as Sony's pre-orders for the $25k Ultra HD BRAVIA get a firm delivery date of (approximately) 15 December, while LG hit a roadblock when trying to sell the first unit of its $16K Ultra HD TV last week.