Bravia Core is the streaming service from Sony that promises to push even the best TV (opens in new tab) to its absolute limits of quality. The catch? It's a Sony exclusive, so it only comes on the newer Sony sets. But if you can get it, this is one of the highest quality experiences you can have.
So is Sony Bravia Core better than Netflix and Disney+ that use Dolby Vision? Is it better than YouTube that has some 8K content? And can it actually beat solid-state Blu-ray in terms of bitrate quality? And finally, is there enough content on there?
All these questions are important because if Bravia Core is truly better than all those other options, it could finally represent the streaming service that is good enough to replace solid media once and for all.
We're going to explain all you need to know about Bravia Core, so if you're thinking of buying a Sony TV over the competition, this could play a big part in that decision.
What is Bravia Core?
Bravia Core is best understood in the context of its creator company. Sony not only manufactures tech but also is a big player in the film industry. As such it not only creates its own movies but holds the rights to lots of them too. For this reason it's gone out on its own to offer a streaming service that gives access to the highest quality versions of its movies, exclusively for Sony TV owners.
These movies are rated as "IMAX Enhanced" meaning, essentially, they've been given the IMAX digital treatment to maximize quality. This means titles have been remastered with the IMAX tech to give a more cinematic experience in the home. Think of it as the competitor to Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, combined.
However, it's the bitrate that really sets this apart.
Bravia Core quality
Bravia Core will stream in 4K and HDR, but it's in the bitrate that this stands out. The reason that 4K Blu-ray still looks better than Netflix is that higher bitrate.
So while Netflix tops out at 17.2 Mbps and Apple TV+ pushes that further up to 40Mbps, Bravia Core leads the way with a massive 80Mbps bitrate. This is equivalent to a 4K Blu-ray which tops out at 82Mbps, generally.
Step up to 8K and things change. While YouTube does have some content at this quality, bitrates are lower at 20-50Mbps. However, Sony has promised it will be adding 8K content and keeping that high bitrate so expect this to continue leading the way on quality in the future too. While Netflix and Disney+ will one day likely jump to 8K, no formal plans are laid out.
Bravia Core sound
The Bravia Core cinematic experience is further enhanced by audio quality. Lots of the titles available come with DTS enhanced audio tracks. Yup, that's more of that IMAX remastering magic coming into play. That means super surround sound with lots of channels so that audio can be bounced all around the room for a really immersive experience, where the audio hardware supports that, of course.
DTS is optimized for the DTS:X codec meaning 7.2.4 setup support, so if you have a super system on the audio front this will work to max that out too. While Netflix and Disney+ offer Dolby Atmos this is more about what system you have and which audio coding it will work best with.
Bravia Core broadband requirements
Netflix says that for the best streaming 4K and HDR experience you're going to want a 25Mbps connection. This is about the benchmark for most of the services on offer right now.
Bravia Core says that if you want the higher bitrate quality you're going to need a 43Mbps line or better. In fact if you want a truly lossless experience, and to be able to take advantage of the 8K upcoming content, then the top-end requirement is going to be a 115Mbps line.
Bravio core content
The content is where Bravia Core and the competition part ways a lot. Since this is mainly Sony licenced movies you're going to be limited. There are around 450 titles with more being added as the platform grows.
On top of the movies you also have Studio Access content meaning things like behind-the-scenes footage, interviews and more from Sony Pictures productions.
So Netflix has a lot more right now, as does Disney+ with its Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, National Geographic and Starz content growing fast. Apple TV+ has more and more original content, as does Amazon Prime Video. So, while Sony does have lots of quality movies, it may have to start licensing content from others if it wants to offer a broader range of high-quality content.
How much is Bravia Core?
Bravia Core is a pretty exclusive platform since the cost needs you to factor in getting a new Sony TV too. Most of the top-end Bravia XR Sony range from 2021 come with Bravia Core onboard.
This new TV purchase gets you either a 12 or 24 month subscription, depending on the model you opt for. Other models come with credits to redeem against pay-per-view content.
At time of publishing everything is free, though, with the app not even setup to process payments. But according to the small print this will end by February 2024. So if you're planning on getting a new Sony TV, this being included could be worth factoring in.
The competition, from Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+, by comparison charge between $4.99 and $17.99 per month.
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