Sony InZone gaming monitors and headsets trying to return to more than just PS5 owners. If you’d rather see or hear me talk about these gadgets.
Sony Inzone Gaming Monitor
The $899 InZone M9 is the flagship product of the bunch, designed for PC but with specs to take full advantage of the PS5 and Xbox Series X. It’s a 27-inch 4K IPS gaming monitor designed to match the PS5’s aesthetic while offering virtually every spec that gamers could want, minus the OLED panel, of course.
It has a 144Hz refresh rate (unusual for a 4K screen), a 1ms response time, variable refresh rate (VRR, both for consoles and with G-Sync compatibility for Nvidia GPUs), and DisplayPort and HDMI 2.1 ports, as well as DisplayPort and HDMI 2.1 ports. It can also show video over USB-C.
Remarkably, the M9 includes full-array local dimming with 96 zones, as well as Display HDR 600, which allows for brighter highlights, darker blacks, and the ability to mix the two without haloing.
Some features unique to this monitor (and inherited from high-end Bravia TVs) include auto HDR tone mapping, which detects the M9 when plugged into a PS5 and claims to optimize the display’s HDR output.
There’s also an auto genre picture mode that can switch to cinema mode when you launch a video streaming service or a Blu-ray, then back to low-latency mode when you restart gaming.
Sony, in a peculiar move, does not include any video cables with the $899 M9. Sony spokesperson Chloe Canta told The Verge that the company chose not to because “the required cable type, version, and length vary depending on a customer’s use case.” I suppose Sony is correct in this regard, but not including any video cables is simply unacceptable.
This winter, a $529 M3 monitor will be released with some omissions to meet the lower price point. It removes full-array local dimming, reduces the resolution to 1080p, and reduces the peak brightness of the HDR to 400 nits. The feature set is otherwise similar, with one exception: the refresh rate can be increased to 240Hz.
Sony Inzone Gaming headset
Moving on to the next product category being introduced by Sony’s InZone: headsets. The H9 is at the top of its new lineup, with large over-ear cans and the ability to handle both 2.4GHz wireless and Bluetooth at the same time.
The design is nothing like Sony’s Pulse 3D headset, which debuted alongside the PS5. Instead, it’s more like competing gaming headsets, with highly adjustable side arms, a flip-to-mute microphone that can provide a healthy dose of sidetone (hearing yourself in the headset), and pillowy ear pads that Sony claims are made from the same materials as the WH-1000XM5.
The H9 claims to have a battery life of 32 hours per charge and is Sony’s only model with digital noise cancellation. During my hands-on experience.
They were comparable in merit to my personal set of Sony WH-1000XM3, with great comfort, effective noise cancellation (Sony claims it’s “inherited” from the 1000X series, but it didn’t seem quite as good as the XM3), and superb sound quality.
One disadvantage is that they are simply enormous on your head. In the video above, there’s a shot that shows how big they are while on my head.
Sony, like its monitors, has a unique angle with the H9 that other hardware makers, to my knowledge, haven’t tried. To get a more customised spatial audio profile, PC players can install its InZone companion app along with Sony’s 360 Spatial Sound Personalizer.
Surprisingly, taking pictures of your ears is required, and Sony claims that doing so will actually improve your audio. I didn’t notice a difference in my brief hands-on test of the feature, but I’ll be sure to test it more thoroughly for the review.
Sony also offers a wireless headset, the $229 H7, and a wired gaming headset, the $100 H3. The H7 has fewer features, but it retains the design and dual wireless connectivity.
You won’t get noise cancellation, but removing it increases battery life to 40 hours per charge. The H3, on the other hand, provides adequate audio performance but is less visually appealing than the H9 and H7.
Sony releasing its own gaming monitors was not on my bingo card for 2022, or, for that matter, ever — not that it hasn’t tried before. However, its new InZone hardware appears to be fully realised ideas coming to fruition.
It remains to be seen whether Sony intends to iterate on these products on a yearly basis, as its competitors do. However, what’s coming out in 2022 appears to be relatively future-proof.