With its new InZone line of gaming displays and headsets, Sony is making an effort to appeal to gamers outside of the PS5 community. If you’d rather to watch or hear me talk about these devices, check out the video posted above.
The $899 InZone M9, designed for PC but with specifications to fully exploit the PS5 and Xbox Series X, is the most expensive item in the group. It is a 27-inch 4K IPS gaming monitor with virtually every feature a gamer could want, excluding an OLED panel of course, and was designed to match the design of the PS5. It has a 144Hz refresh rate, which is unusual for a 4K panel, a 1ms reaction time, and variable refresh rate (VRR), which works with both consoles and Nvidia GPUs that support G-Sync, as well as DisplayPort and HDMI 2.1 connectors. Video can also be displayed using USB-C.
Notably, the M9 has DisplayHDR 600 and full-array local dimming with 96 zones, both of which enable brighter highlights and deeper blacks and the ability to blend the two without producing a noticeable haloing effect. Some unique characteristics of this monitor (which also came from high-end Bravia TVs) include auto HDR tone mapping, which when connected to a PS5 automatically detects the M9 and purports to maximize the display’s HDR output. There is also an auto genre image mode that may change from low-latency to cinema mode when you start a Blu-ray or video streaming service, and back again when you start playing games.
Sony’s decision to omit video connections from the $899 M9 is astounding. The needed cable type, version, and length vary depending on a customer’s use case, according to a statement sent by Sony spokesperson Chloe Canta to The Verge. While I think Sony is correct in this regard, leaving out any video cables is simply unacceptable.
This winter, a $529 M3 monitor with various exclusions will be available to match the lower price point. Full-array local dimming is removed, the resolution is reduced to 1080p, and the peak brightness of the HDR is increased to 400 nits. The feature set is identical overall, with the distinction that the refresh rate can reach 240Hz.
Now let’s talk about the second product category Sony’s InZone is introducing: headphones. The H9, which features large over-ear cans and is at the top of its new series, can handle 2.4GHz wireless and Bluetooth at the same time. The style is very different from the Pulse 3D headgear that Sony introduced along with the PS5. Its features, which include highly adjustable side arms, a flip-to-mute microphone that can provide a healthy dose of sidetone (hearing yourself in the headset), and cushy ear pads that Sony claims are made from materials from its most recent WH-1000XM5 gaming headset, make it more comparable to competing for gaming headsets.
The H9 is the only model in Sony’s collection with digital noise-canceling, and it boasts a battery life of 32 hours per charge. They were equivalent to my own pair of Sony WH-1000XM3 in terms of their amazing comfort, effective noise canceling (Sony claims it “inherited” from the 1000X series, although it didn’t appear as good as the XM3), and excellent sound quality during my hands-on testing. They are simply big on your head, which is a drawback. The video up above includes a clip that demonstrates how big they appear while perched on my head.
With the H9, Sony has a distinctive perspective that, to my knowledge, no other hardware manufacturers have tried. To obtain a more personalized spatial audio profile, PC users can install its InZone companion app in addition to Sony’s 360 Spatial Sound Personalizer. Oddly, in order to achieve this, you must snap images of your ears, and Sony does really promise that doing so will enhance your audio. Although I only gave the feature a cursory hands-on try, I failed to detect any differences, but I’ll be sure to give it a complete examination for the review.
Sony offers a $100 wired gaming headset, the H3, as well as a second wireless headset, the $229 H7. The H7 keeps the style and dual wireless connectivity but has a somewhat smaller list of capabilities. Noise cancellation is not available, however, disabling it increases the battery life to 40 hours per charge. In contrast, the H3 has respectable sound quality, but its appearance is simpler than that of the H9 and H7.
Sony has tried before, so I didn’t really have it on my bingo card for 2022 or, really, ever to release its own gaming monitors. But the company’s new InZone gear appears and feels like completely developed concepts. It is unclear whether Sony intends to update these items yearly, as do its rivals. However, what will be released in 2022 seems to be very future-proof. Keep an eye out for the upcoming final reviews.