PlayStation is no longer the only Sony gaming brand. The tech giant announced today a new gaming brand called Inzone aimed at expanding beyond the console market.
Similar to other gaming brands like Asus' Republic of Gamers (ROG), Acer's Predator, and Lenovo's Legion, the Inzone brand will largely focus on gear for PC gaming. Some products will have PlayStation-compatible features because it'd be silly not to incorporate some of the expertise from that brand.
Inzone H3, H7, and H9 gaming headphones — Sony is not new to gaming headsets. For PlayStation, Sony has released myriad gaming headsets including the Pulse 3D for the PlayStation 5.
For Inzone, there's a new trio of gaming headsets that look right at home with the PS5's white and black aesthetic; these headsets all work with PC and PS5. At the low-end, there's the Inzone H3, a $99 wired headset for PC; the mid-tier Inzone H7 is a $229 wireless headset with up to 40 hours of battery life; the Inzone H9 is a $299 wireless headset with up to 32 hours but has nicer materials like "soft fit leather" for the earcups and headband padding.
All three headsets should sound pretty much the same with heightened spatial sound. The H7 and H9 are more convenient with their wireless USB adapter and Bluetooth support. And the H9 has the added benefit of more plush comfort and digital noise-canceling technology; it's clear the H9 was inspired by Sony's WH-1000XM5 active noise cancellation headphone.
One cool feature on the H7 and H9 is the ability to wirelessly switch between voice chat (i.e. Discord), call, and music while gaming.
For PS5 owners, the Inzone headsets support the console's Tempest 3D Audio and includes on-screen status indicators for features like connection status, volume, battery level, mic mute/unmute, and game and chat balance. Basically, it has none of the shortcomings of third-party headsets like the mostly great SteelSeries Arctis 7P+.
Inzone M3 and M9 gaming monitors — These new Sony monitors are not a repeat of the ill-fated PlayStation 3D Display (not to be confused with the PlayStation TV, a mini-console that played PS Vita games and streamed digital content). Instead of a gimmicky 3D display, the Inzone M3 and M9 gaming monitors prioritize meaningful features gamers want such as resolution, color, and high refresh rates.
Both the Inzone M3 and M9 gaming monitors share similarities such as their 27-inch size, IPS 1ms GtG (Gray to Gray), VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) via HDMI 2.1, and Nvidia G-Sync compatibility. Both monitors also have features specifically designed for PS5 and auto KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) switching, and USB-C (DP alt mode).
The differences are in resolution, brightness, and color. The Inzone M3, which will sell for $529 when it launches in "winter 2022" has full HD resolution, but a higher 240Hz refresh rate; it's capable of reaching 400 nits of peak brightness (DisplayHDR 400) and covers 99 percent of the sRGB color range. The Inzone M9 ($899 and available this summer) has 4K resolution, but a lower 144Hz refresh rate; it has full array local dimming and can reach 600 nits of peak brightness (DisplayHDR 600), and covers 95 percent of the DCI-P3 color gamut.
The benefits of resolution, color, and high refresh rates really need no expanation. But full array local dimming is not a display tech that many are familiar with. Essentially, it's the backlighting system inside of a screen that makes bright areas brighter with increased highlights, dark areas darker with more contrast (but clearer), and colors more vibrant. I previewed the Inzone M9 against competing gaming monitors in the same class and Sony's definitely looked better.
The Inzone gaming monitors come with several features that PC gamers will appreciate, including the Inzone Hub software (Windows 10 and 11) for configuring the on-screen display (OSD) menu and configuring picture and sound settings to specific games. There are also a bunch of Gaming Assist features, including "FPS game picture mode" that dials up the brightness and contrast to make enemies more visible; there's a "Black Equalizer" mode that brings out details in shadows for easier enemy sighting; on-screen features include a crosshair for improving "aiming speed and accuracy," a timer in the corner up the display, and a frame rate counter.
If you've got a PS5, the Inzone Monitors support auto HDR tone mapping, which lets the console automatically optimize HDR for increased clarity. There's also an "auto genre picture" mode that switches settings between gaming and cinema modes depending on whether you're playing games or watching movies.
If Inzone doesn't catch on, it won't damage PlayStation's reputation.
Cautious PC expansion — You might be wondering why Sony doesn't just launch these headsets and monitors under its existing gaming brand, PlayStation. You know, a brand that's already established. And the answer is probably a very simple one: If Inzone doesn't catch on, it won't damage PlayStation's reputation. Sony’s starting with gaming headsets and monitors, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Sony expands to keyboards, mice, and other devices and accessories. Razer has built itself into a billion-dollar gaming brand; there’s clearly an opportunity here for Sony to make everything and anything that gamers might want.
As Sony ports more of its exclusive games like God of War over to PC, it's only natural that the PlayStation brand doesn't fit. Unlike Microsoft's pivot to rebrand Xbox as a service that works on any device with Game Pass, PlayStation is still synonymous with console gaming.
I've been testing the H3 and H9 headsets with an M9 monitor, using them on both PC and a PS5, and the pairing is a match made in heaven, which is no surprise considering they're designed to work together. Sound is terrific on the H9 headset and the M9 monitor is stunning enough to make me peel away from my Apple Studio Display. We'll have reviews for the Inzone headsets and monitors in the coming days. Stay tuned.