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

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

I was able to test the headphones for a week and the high-end monitor for two days. The 27-inch monitor, called the Inzone M9, and the headphones, the Inzone H9, have features that set them apart from the competition. But given their prices, high-end products can be a tough sell for gamers, who already have plenty of other hardware makers to choose from.

Sony plans to appeal to gamers with what it sees as competitively priced products. The company is offering an $899 4K resolution monitor with a 144Hz refresh rate, available this summer, and a $529 1080p monitor with a 240Hz refresh rate, coming later this winter.

The 4K resolution M9 monitor I tested has full local dimming. Thanks to this, the colors appear super bright and easy on the eyes. PC games like “Valorant,” “League of Legends,” and “Neon White” looked crisp and crisp. On the PlayStation 5, titles like “Deathloop,” “Elden Ring,” and “Horizon Zero Dawn” rendered shadows and combat well. Photos on the monitor are bright and clear, and it’s easier to see flaws in blurry images through the screen.

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

Sony targets PC gamers with new hardware brand, Inzone

The stellar graphics are the standout feature of the M9 monitor, which Sony probably relies on to sell units. The company gave influencers early access to the monitor to review; it performed well in benchmark tests and displayed high dynamic range capabilities. With a price tag of $899, however, Sony is trading hard on the low-end options in the market (some of which cost between $300 and $600) while strategically staying under $1,000.

I already own two 27-inch 1080p gaming monitors with decent refresh rates (Acer and ViewSonic), but they are several years old and need to be upgraded. I will not have bought an M9 monitor to replace either; the $899 price tag is on the steep side when a low-end monitor can easily do the job. Still, the M9’s better colors, brightness, and higher refresh rate made a subtle difference when I was gaming compared to the older models I already had. It’s a welcome addition to my current gaming setup, especially when playing competitive mode.

The concept of Inzone was born in 2019 as Sony executives watched the growth of the gaming and esports industries. Three years later, Inzone is a latecomer to the PC gaming market.

“We are entering the gaming hardware industry with monitors and headsets at an exciting time, as gaming and esports have become even more popular over the past few years,” said Kazuo Kii, president of entertainment at home and audio products from Sony, to the Washington Post. an exclusive interview last week. “We leverage Sony’s high-quality display and audio technologies to deliver products that will allow gamers to immerse themselves in their gaming world.”

Sony did not package the M9 monitor with an HDMI cable, commonly used to connect to a PS5 or PC, so customers must purchase one separately for the monitor to work. The monitor has multiple ports so you can connect a PS5, PC, USB-C cable, and DisplayPort.

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, Inzone products have all been designed to resemble 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 will be great for gamers.

Meanwhile, Sony’s approach to gaming headphones is to see which of their three models resonate with consumers. The company sells wireless headphones for $299 with noise cancellation and synthetic leather, as well as a sleek $229 wireless headphones (without leather or noise cancellation) and a pair of wired headphones for $99.

Priced at $299, the H9 headphones offer excellent sound quality. Audio is solid for games like “Overwatch 2” and “Valorant,” helping me hear which direction enemies were approaching.

Connecting the headset to my PC via Bluetooth was an ordeal, but after the initial setup and fiddling with various game and Discord settings, using the headset repeatedly became much easier.

However, consumers may find the H9’s microphone feature totally useless. Speaking via Zoom and Discord, my voice was muffled no matter how I bent the mic towards my mouth. Laughing into the mic sounded like a thud. Luckily pointing the mic while eating cut out the sounds. Sometimes when I spoke into the mic, the headset picked up the sound of my voice. The muffled microphone sounded so unpleasant that my callers were asking me to switch back to my professional podcasting mic instead.

All three pairs of Sony’s gaming headphones are equipped with a spatial sound field feature, which allows gamers to determine how far away their opponents are and where they are based on audio. Sony’s 3D audio has been a key selling point for the PS5. From the preliminary tests of the H9 earbuds — the $299 ones — other players in the first-person shooter titles are fairly easily spotted by the sound of their footsteps.

Another thing to point out about the headphones is that the noise cancellation works pretty well. The hum of my air conditioner died down, as did the clicks of my mechanical gaming keyboard – though I could still hear both.

The headphones are also designed to fit looser around the ears so gamers can wear them comfortably for hours on end. It was a standout feature on the headphones, which were more comfortable than Apple’s AirPods Max ($549) or HyperX Cloud Stinger Headphones ($49.99). The roomy in-ear shape made the Sony H9 headset one of the most comfortable I’ve tried, even better than the PlayStation Pulse 3D headset, which has smaller ear holes and was designed for the PS5 .

H9 headsets offer 32 hours of battery life and a 10-minute charge time; in my testing, my unit seemed to live up to those claims. These earbuds beep when powered off, disconnected, or finished charging.

The Japanese conglomerate hopes PC gamers — especially first-person shooters — will give Inzone a shot, and the products I tested are solid picks. Still, Sony is entering a saturated market, choosing in particular not to cut prices.

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