Bravia Core is Sony's high-end movie streaming service. It promises picture quality to rival 4K Blu-ray, the world's largest selection of IMAX Enhanced movies and the latest box office releases from Sony Pictures. But is it right for you? And how can you get it? Here's everything you need to know about Bravia Core...
As we reported back in January, Bravia Core claims to offer the highest bitrate of any streaming service currently available. Where Netflix streams 4K video in HDR at up to 17.2 Mbps, and Apple TV+ stretches to 40 Mbps during certain scenes, Bravia CORE claims to go one further with high-quality streaming up to 80 Mpbs.
Impressive. If Sony's figures are correct, Bravia Core is truly an industry first. It's not for everyone, though – we'll explain why below. Read on as we reveal the Bravia Core price, launch date, streaming quality, movie selection and more...
Bravia Core: release date
Bravia Core – the 'Core' stands for Centre of Real Entertainment – was unveiled at CES in January 2021 and officially launched on 6th April 2021. The service is due to launch in 50 territories in 2021, including the UK, US, Canada and most of Europe. There's no news yet on when it might arrive in Australia.
The video streaming service aims to serve the latest blockbusters from Sony Pictures Entertainment and also hundreds of the company’s classics in 4K Blu-ray-like HDR quality (provided you have a fast enough internet connection). Some content also supports DTS – but not DTS:X.
Here's a look back at the Bravia Core launch video...
Bravia Core: price
Bravia Core is available for free – but only when you buy a Bravia XR 4K or 8K TV from the 2021 Sony TV line-up. Right now, the Bravia Core app comes pre-loaded on the Master Series Z9J 8K LED and Master Series A90J, as well as other 4K LED models such as the X95J, X90J and X80J (you can find the full list here).
Don't fancy shelling out for a brand new Bravia XR TV? Unfortunately, there's no other way to experience Bravia Core just yet.
So will Bravia CORE will be available on older Sony TVs, or other Sony devices such as the PS5, in the future? Sony's FAQ page seems pretty clear: "No. BRAVIA Core will be available for eligible BRAVIA XR models."
Lastly, it's worth noting that the more you spend on a Bravia XR set, the more free Core you get. Splash out on the Z9J or A90J and you get 24 months' free Bravia Core plus 10 credits to spend on lossless titles that would otherwise be available on pay-per-view basis. Purchase any other Bravia XR models and you get 12 months' access and five credits.
At this point, you might be wondering what happens when the complimentary period ends? Short answer: nobody knows. Sony has yet to announce long-term pricing but according to Core's terms and conditions, "you may watch the movies you have redeemed via Bravia Core until February 23, 2026". That suggests Core could shift to a paid subscription model in years to come... assuming it's a success.
Bravia Core: free trial
Sony does offer a 'free trial' – a free 12- or 24-month subscription to Bravia Core – but only with the purchase a 2021 Sony Bravia XR TV. No bad thing, since the Bravia XR range could well include some of the best TVs Sony has ever made.
Bravia Core: streaming quality
Bravia Core aims to "bring the cinematic experience home" using Sony's own Pure Stream technology, which offers streaming at 30 – 80 Mbps.
"Pure Stream is the highest streaming picture quality available on Bravia XR television,” commented Bill Baggelaar, EVP and CTO, Technology Development, Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Bravia Core's main attraction is its collection of 300 new and recent titles that can be purchased or redeemed via Core credits. These are the crème de la crème, quality-wise, and many are available to stream in up to 80Mbps (4K Blu-ray discs tend to be around 82Mbps).
Then there's 'Unlimited Streaming', which offers over 100 titles from the Sony Pictures catalogue in up to 4K HDR quality. Lastly, Sony has thrown in more than 50 'IMAX Enhanced' titles, each of which is remastered using IMAX's proprietary technology in 4K HDR. Some of these titles boast DTS sound, too.
Of course, the streaming quality you achieve all depends on the speed of your broadband...
Bravia Core: broadband speed
For reference, the average broadband speed in the UK is around 64 Mbps according to regulator Ofcom. That's nowhere near enough to max out your Core experience – especially if Sony adds 8K content later in the year, as has been hinted.
Indeed, those who want to stream the highest quality lossless movies via Core will need a minimum internet speed of – drumroll, please – 115 Mbps. Sadly, many UK households don't have access to those kinds of speeds yet.
Bravia Core: catalogue
Sony has yet to release a full list of Bravia Core movies but the Japanese giant has highlighted the following titles:
Blade Runner 2049
Blade Runner 2049
Jumanji: The Next Level
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Bad Boys For Life
Smurfs: The Lost Village
Expect around 450 titles in total, including the premium titles above, popular classics and an extensive selection of IMAX Enhanced film titles. Around 100 of the titles can be streamed as many times as you like, at no cost, in up to 4K HDR quality.
On top of that, there's exclusive 'Studio Access' content, which offers behind-the-scenes extra footage and interviews from Sony Pictures productions.
Bravia Core: early verdict
Bravia Core will almost certainly find itself cast as "the high-end Netflix" but it's a very different proposition. Firstly, it's exclusive to selected Sony TVs. Secondly, it's designed to act as a showcase for Sony's Pure Stream technology. And thirdly, the current selection of movies is still quite limited when you compare it to some rival services.
If you're after a next-level, cinematic experience and have a smokin' broadband connection, Bravia Core could be a fantastic addition to your home cinema. If you don't, a 4K Blu-ray player could provide just as good picture quality and, we'd imagine, superior sound given the lack of compatibility with high-quality audio formats such as Dolby TrueHD.
Still, there's no doubting Sony's ambition and we look forward to putting Bravia Core through its paces when testing compatible Sony TVs.
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