First impressions of Sony’s new gaming PC monitor and headphones

Sony Electronics has launched a new gaming hardware brand, Inzone, aimed at PC gamers. The company announced the brand last week with two 27-inch monitors and three types of gaming headsets.

I was allowed to test the headphones for a week and the more expensive monitor for two days. Both the 27-inch monitor, called the Inzone M9, and the headphones, the Inzone H9, have features that make them stand out from the competition. But given their price points, the premium products can be a tough sell for gamers, who already have a myriad of other hardware makers to choose from.

Sony intends to win over players through what it considers to be discounted products. The company is offering an $899 4K monitor with a 144 hertz refresh rate this summer, and a $529 monitor with 1080p with a 240 Hz refresh rate, which will be released later this winter.

The 4K resolution M9 monitor I tested has full array local dimming. This makes colors appear super bright and pleasing to the eye. Games on PC like “Valorant”, “League of Legends” and “Neon White” looked bright and vibrant. On the PlayStation 5, titles like “Deathloop”, “Elden Ring” and “Horizon Zero Dawn” portrayed shadows and combat well. Photos on the monitor look crisp and clear and it’s easier to see the flaws of blurry photos through the screen.

The monitor can be controlled by a software program called Inzone Hub, where settings can be adjusted to a gaming preset or to a standard picture mode, lowering brightness and saturation. Even then, with the settings tuned to look more like an average monitor, the M9 made in-game scenes — like the green vistas and flowing water in “Neon White” — a joy to watch.

Sony targets PC gamers with new hardware brand Inzone

The great graphics are the most notable feature of the M9 monitor, which Sony probably relies on to sell units. The company gave influencers advance access to the monitor to view it; it performed well in benchmark tests and showed high dynamic range capabilities. However, at $899, Sony is doing a hard deal with cheaper options on the market (some of which cost in the $300 to $600 range), while strategically staying under $1000.

I already have two 27-inch 1080p gaming monitors with decent refresh rates (Acer and ViewSonic), but they are several years old and in need of an upgrade. I wouldn’t have purchased an M9 monitor to replace either one; the $899 price is rather steep when a lower monitor can easily get the job done. Still, the better colors, brightness, and higher refresh rate on the M9 made a subtle difference when gaming compared to the older models I already had. It’s a welcome addition to my current gaming setup, especially when I’m playing competitive modes.

The concept for Inzone came about in 2019 when Sony executives observed the growth of the video game and esports industry. Three years later, Inzone launches late into the PC gaming market.

“We are entering the gaming industry with monitors and headsets at an exciting time as gaming and esports have become even more popular in recent years,” Kazuo Kii, Sony’s president of home entertainment and sound products, told The Washington Post in an exclusive interview last year. week. “We leverage Sony’s premium display and audio technologies to deliver products that allow gamers to immerse themselves in their gaming world.”

Sony did not ship the M9 monitor with an HDMI cable, which is commonly used to connect to a PS5 or PC, so customers will need to purchase one separately for the monitor to work. The monitor has multiple ports so you can connect a PS5, a PC, a USB-C cable and a Display Port.

The monitor comes with its own stand, a white leg that resembles the design of the PS5. It can also be mounted on a third party stand.

Aesthetically speaking, Inzone products are all designed to look like Sony’s latest PlayStation console. Both the monitor and the headphones have a band that lights up blue. The PS5 can also automatically detect the M9 monitor and adjust high dynamic range settings, saving you a few extra seconds of setup.

Read more: With the PS5, Sony’s big bet is that what’s good for developers is great for players.

Meanwhile, Sony’s approach to gaming headphones is to see which of their three models resonates with consumers. The company is selling a wireless headset for $299 with noise canceling and synthetic leather, along with a discounted $229 wireless headset (no leather or noise canceling) and $99 wired headphones.

At the price of $299, the H9 headphones offer great sound quality. The audio is solid for games like “Overwatch 2” and “Valorant”, allowing me to hear which directions enemies were approaching.

Connecting the headset to my PC via Bluetooth was an ordeal, but after the initial setup and playing around with various game and Discord settings, using the headphones repeatedly became a lot easier.

However, consumers find the H9’s microphone function completely useless. Speaking via Zoom and Discord, my voice was muffled no matter how I angled the mic toward my mouth. Laughing into the microphone sounded like a loud banging. Fortunately, muting the sounds by pointing the microphone away while eating. Sometimes, when I spoke into the microphone, the headphones played the sound of my voice. The muted mic sounded so obnoxious that my callers asked me to switch back to my professional podcasting mic.

All three of Sony’s gaming headphones are equipped with a spatial sound field feature, which allows players to determine how far away opponents are and where they are based on the audio. Sony’s 3D audio has been a major selling point for the PS5. Preliminary testing of the H9 headphones — the $299 one — detects other players in first-person shooter titles quite easily by the sound of their footsteps.

Another thing to note about the headphones is that the noise cancellation works quite well. The hum of my air conditioner died down, as did the clatter of my mechanical gaming keyboard, though I could eventually hear both.

The headphones are also designed to be less snug around the ears, so players can wear them comfortably for hours on end. This was a standout feature on the headphones, which were more comfortable than Apple’s AirPods Max ($549) or the HyperX Cloud Stinger headphones ($49.99). The roomy ear shape made the Sony H9 headphones some of the most comfortable I’ve tried, even better than the PlayStation Pulse 3D headphones, which have smaller ear holes and are designed for the PS5.

The H9 headsets have a battery life of 32 hours and a charge time of 10 minutes; as I tested, my unit seemed to live up to those claims. These headphones beep loudly when power is lost, connection is lost, or charging is complete.

The Japanese conglomerate hopes that PC gamers – especially first-person shooter players – will give Inzone a shot, and the products I’ve tested are solid choices. Still, Sony is entering a saturated market, while notably choosing not to cut prices.

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