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 high-end monitor for two days. Both the 27-inch Inzone M9 monitor and the Inzone H9 headphones have features that set them apart from the competition. But given their price points, the premium products can be hard to sell for gamers who already have a large number of other hardware manufacturers to choose from.

Sony plans to woo gamers with products it believes are available at competitive prices. The company has a $899 4K resolution monitor with a 144Hz refresh rate available this summer and a $529 1080p monitor with a 240Hz refresh rate available later this winter will be available.

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

The monitor can be controlled by a software program called Inzone Hub, where settings can be adjusted to a game preset or to a standard picture mode that reduces brightness and saturation. Even then, with settings that looked more like your average monitor, the M9 made in-game scenes – like the green vistas and rushing water in “Neon White” – a feast for the eyes.

With the new hardware brand Inzone, Sony is targeting PC gamers

The excellent graphics are the most notable feature of the M9 monitor, which Sony is likely to rely on when selling devices. The company gave influencers advance access to the monitor to review it. it performed well on benchmark tests, showing high dynamic range. However, with a price tag of $899, Sony is making a tough deal of lower-end options on the market (some of which are in the $300-$600 range) while strategically staying under $1000.

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

The concept for Inzone emerged in 2019 as Sony executives observed the growth of the video game and esports industry. Three years later, Inzone is a late start to the PC gaming market.

“We’re entering the gaming gear 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 Washington Post an exclusive interview in last week. “We leverage Sony’s high-quality display and audio technologies to deliver products that allow gamers to immerse themselves in their gaming world.”

Sony didn’t package 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, PC, USB-C cable and Displayport.

The monitor comes with its own stand, a white leg similar in design to the PS5. It can also be mounted on a third-party stand.

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

Read more: With the PS5, Sony is betting that what’s good for developers is also great for gamers.

In the meantime, Sony’s approach to gaming headphones is to see which of their three models resonate with consumers. The company sells a $299 wireless headset with noise cancellation and leatherette, as well as a discounted wireless headset for $229 (no leather or noise cancellation) and a pair of wired headphones for $99.

Priced at $299, the H9 headphones offer excellent sound quality. The audio is solid for games like Overwatch 2 and Valorant, and helps me hear which directions enemies are approaching from.

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

However, consumers may find the H9’s microphone feature completely useless. When speaking over Zoom and Discord, my voice sounded muffled no matter how I tilted the mic to my mouth. The laughter into the microphone sounded like a loud boom. Mercifully, the sounds were muted when the mic was pointed away while eating. Sometimes when I spoke into the microphone, the headphones would play the sound of my voice. The muffled mic sounded so uncomfortable that my callers asked me to switch back to my professional podcasting mic instead.

All three pairs of Sony gaming headphones are equipped with a spatial sound field function that allows gamers to use the audio to determine how far away opponents are from them and where they are. Sony’s 3D audio was a key selling point for the PS5. From preliminary tests of the H9 headphones — the $299 headphones — other players in first-person shooter titles can be spotted fairly easily 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 was muffled, as was the click of my mechanical gaming keyboard — although I could still hear both eventually.

The headphones are also designed to be less snug on the ears, allowing gamers to wear them comfortably for hours. This was a standout feature of the headphones, which were more comfortable than Apple’s AirPods Max ($549) or 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 were designed for the PS5.

The H9 headsets offer a battery life of 32 hours and a charging time of 10 minutes; When I tested it, my device seemed to live up to those claims. These headphones will beep loudly when they are out of power, disconnected or charged.

The Japanese conglomerate is hoping PC gamers — particularly first-person shooter gamers — will give Inzone a shot, and the products I’ve tested are solid picks. Nonetheless, Sony is entering a saturated market and specifically opting not to cut prices.