783-inch diagonal size. 63 feet long and 17 feet tall. 16K resolution. Million-to-one contrast ratio. HDR. 1,000 nits per pixel. Price: $5.8 million. Those are the basic stats for one of the most amazing displays ever created: the Sony Crystal Cinema.
Originally presented at the NAB trade show in April 2019, Sony has announced today that its Crystal LED technology is now available for consumers like you and me to install in their home theaters — if you and me had millions to burn in the bank, that is.
Previously, this tech was only available for theater and commercial customers, like the 16K Crystal Cinema screen that you can see below. Sony installed one of these at the new research lab of Japanese cosmetics firm Shiseido.
But now anyone can buy it and have it installed. Similar to Samsung’s Cinema Screen technology, Sony allows you to build any screen size using Micro LED modules that have zero bezels and can be seamlessly installed on a wall to create one single display surface.
According to Sony, the Full HD Size is composed of 18 panels that are 16 x 18 inches each, with a 1080p resolution and a 110-inch diagonal size that results in a 8 x 4-foot screen. The 4K size jumps to 72 panels, which makes a display that is 220 inches diagonally for a 16 x 9-foot surface. 8K goes tip to a whooping 288 units, 440-inch diagonal size and 32 x 18-foot total display area.
And finally, the insane 576-panel 16K model gets you a 790-inch screen with a resulting area of 63 x 18 feet. Absolutely insane.
The specs are insane too. The Crystal LEDs — as Sony labels its MicroLED technology — are 0.003 square millimeters in size, half the width of a human hair according to the Japanese display maker. That’s 100 times smaller than a traditional LED pixel, they claim. They are also brighter than OLED pixels — each pixel glows at 1,000 nits — and has the million-to-one infinite contrast as OLED, since every red, green and blue pixel is illuminated individually and be totally turned off to achieve pure black.
The HDR color gamut is impressive on paper too: according to Sony, it gets 140 percent of the sRGB spectrum. It can achieve 120 frames per second with a near 180-degree viewing angle, the company says. And they can do 3D too, apparently.
All this innovation comes at a high price. Each panel costs about $10,000, so 1080p will set you back $180,000. Want 4K? $720,000. 8K you say? $2.88 million. And yes 16K is $5,760,000.
Is it worthy over a high end true cinema 4K projector like the Sony SRX-R151P? Well, that depends on your usage. If you are projecting on a dark home theater, I would say probably not. With a list price of $135,000, this thing will satisfy the biggest lovers of cinema, even while it doesn’t have the same 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio.
If you are looking to put this in your living room and watch movies in broad daylight, the color and brightness of the MicroLED can’t be matched by a projector.
With $720,000 worth of the Crystal Cinema you can get put a down payment on a house with a dedicated basement home theater with a crazy good projector and crazy good sound. But would I want the Crystal Cinema instead? Well, yeah.
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Jesus Diaz founded the new Sploid for Gawker Media after seven years working at Gizmodo, where he helmed the lost-in-a-bar iPhone 4 story and wrote old angry man rants, among other things. He's a creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce, and currently writes for Fast Company and Tom's Guide.