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RED's $1,450 Redray player challenges Sony for control of 4K in the living room

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redray player stock press 1020
redray player stock press 1020

It's looking pretty likely that 4K TV won't be a fad, but if you buy a pricey new Ultra High Definition television this holiday season, you might have some trouble finding 4K content. Sony will actually deliver a 4K home media server to buyers of its 84-inch, $24,999 4K UHDTV and even preload it with ten movies, but soon there will be another option: the $1,450 Redray Player, from RED Digital Cinema. We got a quick peek at an early version at the NAB expo early this year, and now RED has put the hardware up for pre-order.

As typical for RED products, the 5.9 pound aluminum set-top box looks like it's built like a tank, and plays 4K video from an internal 1TB hard drive anywhere between 24 and 60 frames per second. It has six HDMI ports, two of which are capable of 4K and four that run up to 1080p (or carry digital audio). There's a catch, though. The Redray only supports 4K video that's encoded in the company's proprietary new RED format. Admittedly, it sounds neat: the company says RED files can offer both 4K video and 7.1-channel 24-bit 48KHz LPCM audio for just 2.5MB per second, enough for approximately 100 hours of content on the included 1TB drive.

At the same time, however, the company's also launching Odemax, a distribution network for 4K content with an App Store-like model, where it takes a 20 to 30 percent cut of the profit in exchange for delivering ultra high definition video from the cloud to both homes and theaters. Make no mistake, the same company that's winning the high-resolution camera race is making a serious play to own the ecosystem too.

RED says the Redray Player will ship at the end of December, and the Odemax service will begin in January for content creators. It should begin distributing 4K content as early as March 2013, according to the company.