Sony steps into PC gaming hardware with new INZONE range of monitors, headsets

Sony has been a powerful player in console gaming since the first PlayStation achieved immediate success in the mid-1990s. Now, four generations later, almost two years after its release, the company is still struggling to meet demand for the PlayStation 5. Despite all this success in the console gaming space, Sony has had a barely recognizable presence in the PC gaming market until now.

The INZONE line of peripherals is Sony’s first big step into the modern PC gaming hardware market. It’s clear from Sony’s initial commitment, which includes a pair of gaming monitors and a trio of gaming headsets, that it intends to focus on the key specs of leading products already on the market (while processing a few features for its loyal PlayStation). 5 owners, too).

For the monitor line, that means meeting both the 4K-focused gamer’s concerns about rich colors, lush images and sharp detail, as well as the more competitive gamer’s concerns about response times and refresh rates. Meanwhile, Sony’s first line of headsets seems to draw heavily on the pedigree of its much-loved WH-1000XM line of noise-cancelling headphones – particularly the recently released WH-1000XM5 model – while offering low-latency connectivity options and enhanced hearing.

Let’s take a look at the individual products that make up Sony’s first foray into the PC gaming space.

Sony's INZONE monitor and one headset

One of Sony’s new INZONE monitors alongside the new INZONE H9 headset

Sony

Monitor

Sony’s first wave of INZONE monitors come in two flavors: the 4K-compatible M9 and the 240Hz M3. Below are all the specs of both models that Sony has revealed so far:

INZONE monitors

IRON M9

IRON M3

Screen size

27-inch

27-inch

Solution

4K

1080p

Response time

1ms GtG (gray to gray)

1ms GtG (gray to gray)

Refresh rate

144Hz

240Hz

HDR support

DisplayHDR 600 (600-nit maximum brightness)

DisplayHDR 400 (maximum brightness of 400 nits)

color gamut

DCI-P3 >95%

sRGB 99%

Variable refresh rate support

VRR (HDMI 2.1), NVIDIA G-Sync compatible

VRR (HDMI 2.1), NVIDIA G-Sync compatible

Recommended retail price

$899

$529

Start window

Summer 2022

Winter 2022


Sony noted that it designed the new line of monitors to focus on five key areas of image quality: pixel resolution, refresh rate, brightness/contrast, color gamut and color depth. As you can see above, the M9 ticks a few of these boxes a little harder than the cheaper M3. This is due to the M9’s 4K resolution, maximum brightness of 600 nits and a wider color gamut.

However, the key metric in the specs for the M3 is the 240Hz refresh rate. For gamers targeting MMORPGs, MOBAs and RTS games, 60Hz (or a maximum of 60 frames per second) is often enough, with the 144Hz supported by the M9 being nothing short of luxurious at 4K. But for competitive FPS players, frames are king. This means that many of these gamers are willing to fall back to the lower resolution of 1080p to get the nearly double frame rate of 240Hz.

Basically, Sony is trying to serve both ends of the current market here: 4K-obsessed gamers who want the most beautiful, clearest, and sharpest image they can get, and gamers obsessed with getting the most frames per second, even if this at the expense of a few pixels.

Unsurprisingly, the PlayStation maker also realizes that many PC gamers are console gamers too. To that end, Sony has put some special tricks in the M9 and M3 that are activated when a PlayStation 5 is plugged in:

  • Auto HDR Tone Assignment: This helps gamers see sharper details, even in extremely high-contrast scenes, thanks to an improved distinction between light and dark areas of the screen. It will likely take advantage of the “Full Array local dimming” on the M9, which controls small backlight zones to better separate dark and light areas.
  • Auto genre picture mode: This feature automatically switches to “Game1 Mode”, which minimizes input lag when detecting a game being played on the PS5. Or it switches to cinema mode when it notices that a Blu-ray disc or streaming app is being used for “a more expressive picture”.

Features such as an “FPS Game Image Mode” that highlights enemies more clearly and a Black Equalizer that brightens scenes that are too dark are also available for PC gaming.

headsets

Sony INZONE monitor and 3 headsets

From left to right: Sony’s INZONE monitor, H9 headset, H7 headset, and H3 headset

Sony

The top two of Sony’s first headsets for both PC and PlayStation gamers are very similar to the WH-1000XM5. But the similarities don’t stop there, especially for the top-of-the-line H9. Below is a table with the known specifications per unit:

INZONE headsets

H9

H7

H3

Connection method:

2.4GHz Wireless + Bluetooth

2.4GHz Wireless + Bluetooth

3.5mm or USB

battery life

32 hours

40 hours

N/A

Recommended retail price

$299

$229

$99

Digital Noise Reduction

Yes

no

no

Although the details on these devices remain a bit sparse, we do know a few things. First off, the $299 H9 brings with it the digital noise canceling technology that its similar WH-1000XM5 is known for. However, this comes with a slight blow to battery life, dropping it to 32 hours, as opposed to the 40 hours offered by the slightly cheaper H7.

It’s also worth noting that both wireless units, the H9 and H7, support both 2.4 GH wireless and Bluetooth. This means that gamers concerned about the inherent latency that often plagues Bluetooth can use the included USB adapters that come with both models to connect over the much lower 2.4GHz latency – while still having can always quickly switch to Bluetooth to connect to their mobile device. Sony also noted that both models are Discord certified for voice chat.

The INZONE headset line includes another key feature: Sony’s “spatial sound field” technology. The company claims that this feature allows the headsets to analyze the shape of your ears to optimize the sound output for each user. The so-called “360 Spatial Sound Personalizer” uses each gamer’s unique analysis to better “determine exactly where enemies are.”

Sony also noted that both the H9 and H7 will support TEMPEST 3D AudioTech, a PlayStation 5 feature that can simulate up to 1,000 surround sound speaker positions around the user. If it works as well as Sony seems to claim, it could be a huge boon to competitive gamers hoping to rely on sound signals to tell them when enemies are coming around a corner or sneaking up behind them for a stealth kill.

Unfortunately, Sony has not given any information about a possible release window for its headset lineup. So we’ll update this piece if the company drops dates for the INZONE headsets. Check in the meantime our review of the top of the range INZONE H9 headset

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