Sony announces InZone gaming monitors and headsets for PC and PS5
Sony is trying to reach more than just PS5 gamers with its new brand of InZone gaming monitors and headsets. I got my hands on them in the video embedded above if you’d rather see or hear me talk about these gadgets.
Made for PC, but with specs to take full advantage of the PS5, along with Xbox Series X, the $899 InZone M9 is the flagship product of the bunch. It’s a 27-inch 4K IPS gaming monitor that’s built to match the PS5’s aesthetics, while actually having every imaginable specs gamers want universally, without an OLED panel, of course. It has a refresh rate of 144 Hz (that is not so common available with a 4K display), a 1ms response time, variable refresh rate (VRR, both for consoles and with G-Sync compatibility for Nvidia GPUs), plus DisplayPort and HDMI 2.1 ports. It can also display video via USB-C.
Notably, the M9 offers 96-zone full-array local dimming, along with DisplayHDR 600, both of which provide brighter highlights, darker blacks and the ability to juggle the two without too much halo effect. Some features specific to this monitor (and that trickled down from high-end Bravia TVs) include automatic HDR tone mapping, which the M9 automatically recognizes when connected to a PS5 and claims to optimize the display’s HDR output. There’s also an automatic genre picture mode that can automatically switch to cinema mode when you start a video streaming service or a Blu-ray, then go back to a low-latency mode when you start gaming again.
In a mind-boggling move, Sony isn’t adding any video cables to the $899 M9. Sony spokesperson Chloe Canta shared a statement with The edge that said the company chose not to because “the required cable type, version and length differ based on a customer’s usage.” I suppose Sony is not wrong there, but not inclusive each video cables just don’t make sense.
There’s a cheaper $529 M5 monitor coming this winter that makes some omissions to match the lower price. It stops full-array local dimming, drops to 1080p and pushes HDR back to 400 nits of peak brightness. Otherwise, the feature set is similar with one exception: the refresh rate goes up to 240 Hz.
On to the other product category launching Sony’s InZone: headsets. The H9 is at the top of its new lineup, rocking big over-ear cans and has the ability to handle both 2.4GHz wireless and Bluetooth at the same time. The design is nothing like the Pulse 3D headset that Sony launched alongside the PS5. Instead, it’s more like competing gaming headsets, with highly adjustable side arms, a flip-to-mute mic that can provide a healthy dose of sidetone (hearing yourself in the headset), and soft ear cushions that Sony says borrows building materials from. its latest WH-1000XM5.
The H9 claims to offer 32 hours of battery life per charge, and it’s the only model in Sony’s lineup with digital noise cancellation. During my hands-on, I tested them with my personal Sony WH-1000XM3, and they were comparable in merit, with great comfort, effective noise cancellation (Sony says it’s “inherited” from the 1000X series, but it didn’t appear quite as good as the XM3) and excellent sound quality. A disadvantage, however, is that they are just huge on your head. There is a shot in the video above showing how big they look while sitting on my head.
Like its monitors, Sony has a unique angle to the H9 that other hardware makers, as far as I know, haven’t tried. PC players can install the companion InZone app along with Sony’s 360 Spatial Sound Personalizer to get a more customized spatial audio profile. Oddly enough, this requires you to take pictures of your ears, and yes, Sony claims this will actually improve your audio. In my short hands-on test of the feature, I didn’t notice any difference, but I’ll definitely test it more thoroughly for review.
Sony has yet another wireless headset, the $229 H7, and a $100 H3 wired gaming headset. The H7 has a slightly smaller set of features, but retains the design and dual wireless connectivity. You don’t get noise cancellation, although dropping that feature increases battery life to 40 hours per charge. The H3, on the other hand, delivers decent sound performance but is more understated in styling compared to the H9 and H7.
Sony releasing its own gaming monitors wasn’t exactly on my bingo card for 2022, or, well, ever — not that it hasn’t tried before. But the new InZone hardware looks and feels like fully realized ideas coming to fruition. Whether Sony plans to iterate on these products annually, as its competitors do, remains to be seen. But what comes out in 2022 feels relatively future-proof. Stay tuned for the latest reviews coming soon.