Sony Bravia XBR-55HX929 3D LED LCD HDTV Page 3

The Sony also had far less 3D crosstalk (ghosting) than I’ve noted in many other LCD 3D sets. Scenes from Avatar and A Christmas Carol that have produced annoying ghosts in the past were now essentially free of them. That’s not to say that you’ll never see 3D crosstalk on the Sony. In one circumstance, you definitely will. If you tilt your head (and the 3D glasses, of course) by even a small degree, you’ll see obvious ghosting.

A head tilt also produces obvious color shifts (red in one direction, green in the other). At press time, Sony told us that viewers who are bothered by this can order free polarizer lenses that mount on the glasses. Be aware that any benefits are said to come at the expense of a darker image and the appearance of flickering in room lights. We were unable to test these in time for our deadline. But based on the ghosting evident with the unadorned glasses, I couldn’t attempt a 3D color calibration on this set. Still, with the 3D white balance controls set to the 2D calibration values (you must insert them manually, as the controls for 3D and 2D are separate) and the Warm 2 color temperature selected, I had no issues with the Sony’s 3D color performance.

I did see some ghosting in the Sony’s 2D-to-3D conversion mode, which otherwise was neither more nor less effective than this feature has been on other 3D HDTVs. One other 3D issue I experienced was visible flicker in large, bright areas of white or a uniform color. But this was rare on most normal program material.

Comparisons
With the 55-inch Panasonic TC-P55VT30 3D plasma (Home Theater, September 2011) still in house, a direct comparison between that and the Sony XBR55HX929 proved irresistible. I matched the setup of the two sets as closely as possible, which required me to further lower the Sony’s backlight control to match the inherently dimmer Panasonic plasma. I was running the Panasonic as hot in its cinema mode as I reasonably could, while the Sony had gobs of brightness yet to spare (this will be true of any properly conducted plasma-versus-LCD comparison).

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I did this comparison only in 2D for several reasons. Primarily, the different 3D glasses that the two sets use would make a direct, side-by-side comparison impossible. But the 3D differences between the sets were obvious even without a direct comparison. The Sony is considerably brighter, while the Panasonic is free of ghosting under any circumstances we’ve been able to generate.

In this 2D comparison, there was almost nothing to say about the two sets concerning their relative color or resolution. While there were subtle differences, I doubt if anyone could see them short of this sort of side-by-side comparison. And even here,

they were elusive. The Panasonic does have superior off-axis performance—no surprise there. There were also differences in the Panasonic’s favor with some specialized motion blur tests (with the Sony’s Motionflow turned off), but these didn’t seem to matter nearly as much on real-world material.

The Sony’s total black easily trumped the Panasonic’s very good but not invisible full-screen blacks. Five key scenes from Stargate: Continuum vividly demonstrated the black level/shadow detail differences between the two sets. On the opening star field, the black background was less black on the Panasonic, but it showed more visible stars. The Sony put obvious halos around the brightest stars, while the Panasonic did not. In chapter 3, as a tramp steamer cruises across the Atlantic at night, both sets virtually tied with excellent shadow detail. But as the chief opens the door to the cargo hold later in the same chapter, the unlit space looked decidedly darker on the Sony. In the split-screen montage in chapter 10, the empty blocks were also a little darker on the Sony, although the difference was small. And in the Russian stargate installation (chapter 21), the Sony looked inkier, although the Panasonic avoided the slight black crush the Sony added to a few shots.

The biggest difference between the two sets, however, is the $1,000 premium in list price that the Sony commands. Of course, that gap will differ depending on the actual sale prices. Both are superb performers.

Conclusions
At $3,800 plus extra for 3D glasses, the Sony XBR-55HX929 is hardly a blue-light special. But you definitely get what you’re paying for. There are several other new local-dimming sets in our review pipeline, and it will be interesting to see how they compare. I’m always open to surprises, but they will have to cook up some very special sauce to perform better than the XBR-55HX929. This may not be the best 3D HDTV to pass through our studio, but I’d be hard-pressed to name a better one.

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COMMENTS
JoeBlogg1983's picture

Hi, Some other publications have noted an issue of a "crease" on their HX929 review samples. I'm wondering whether that is consistent to the sample you have reviewed?

Scott Wilkinson's picture
What do you mean by a "crease"? A crease in what? Where is it located?
JoeBlogg1983's picture

Hi Scott. The "crease" on the HX929 has been noted on several AV forums as well as some other publications. You can probably find results by searching "HX929 crease" in google.

It is generally described as a "column" of slightly darker pixels running along the left or right edge of the screen.

Claims have been made that this column ranges from barely noticeable to the unit being considered "defective".

I'm in the market for a new TV. The HX929 seems to be a good candidate, but the "crease" problem that I've been reading about may be a deal breaker for me.

I'm wondering if those are isolated incidents or a general problem for the series. You guys are the pros! - and therefore wonderingif you guys spotted the same problem in your review sample.

Thanks!

MISHARI M BERAGDAR's picture

i think it is the best detailed review with very good settings.

i thought 3D settings only shows cinemotion auto 2, i will check that.
and for motionflow, when set to OFF, 3D glasses flicker too much which is painful, so better to change to Standard to eliminate flickering

MISHARI M BERAGDAR's picture

also the 3D ghosting due to angle variation is due to Sony glasses, Xpand X103 eliminates this problem with better 3D overall. but the glasses flickering in Motionflow OFF is common, it can be seen by looking at the window or any bright light source and then change Mtionflow to Standard to notice the difference

Thomas J. Norton's picture
That's something we didn't see in our sample. If we had seen it, you can be sure it would have been mentioned. But is it possible we missed it. The sample is fortunately still here, so I'll check it out next week.
zoetmb's picture

I took delivery about 2 1/2 weeks ago on a set with an August 2011 Mexico build date and I have absolutely no crease. I also never saw a crease when I looked at the set in many different retail environments, including 2 chain stores, 2 independent stores and 2 Sony stores. But there are definitely people who have the crease, including some who also have an August 2011 build date.

From the online postings, Sony doesn't recognize it as a critical problem, instead saying that it's "within spec", but they have come up with a methodology for adjusting some hidden settings that supposedly fixes it or at least makes it less visible.

By the way, your review didn't mention anything about the audio quality of the set's internal amp/speakers, which I think is remarkably poor. While I realize there isn't much space for speakers in a flat panel, it has vastly inferior sound to my 25-year-old Sony KV-1917 CRT TV.

But there's no question that this is a great set and I'm actually happier with it than I thought I'd be, which is remarkable. Usually when I spend a lot of money on a device, I'm disappointed.

etrochez's picture

Can you be more specific about the black levels in this TV? You state the black level in Custom Picture Mode is unmeasurable by your meter. I'm stunned that you didn't talk more about the black level performance. You never waste any time to compare any TV to the 0.002 ft-L performance by the Kuro. Yet you don't mention anything in this review other than the comparison with the Panasonic. Does the Sony TV has the best black level performance you've ever tested? I'm sure I'm just confused, but a little clarification would be nice.

P.S.: I saw the new Elite at my local BB and it looks stunning. Can't wait for the review.

Stephen Trask's picture

From the HTLABS Measures page:
"With the LED Dynamic Control on low and the other settings unchanged, the peak white level was 29.6 ft-L AND THE BLACK LEVEL 0.004, for a full-on/full-off contrast ratio of 14,800:1. With the LED Dynamic Control off, the relative measurements were 30 ft-L white and 0.021 BLACK (A VERY MEDIOCRE NUMBER IN TODAY’S MARKET), FOR a full-on/full-off contrast ratio of 1,429:1. We recommend leaving LED Dynamic Contrast in its standard setting...

THE BLACK LEVELS FOR THE LOW AND OFF SETTINGS WERE TAKEN IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE IMAGE DROPPED TO BLACK. IN THOSE SETTINGS, THE BLACK LEVELS DROPPED AN ADDITIONAL DEGREE SHORTLY AFTER THE READING WAS MADE.

The color was not calibrated separately for 3D for reasons described in the main text. But I did measure a 3D peak white level of about 14.1 ft-L and A BLACK LEVEL OF 0.001 ft-L, for a full-on/full-off 3D contrast ratio of 14,100:1 (with the backlight at max, the picture on 70, the brightness on 43, the gamma on –1, and LED Dynamic Control on standard)."

TreyT's picture

You mention a .004 black level with the LED dynamic lighting set to "Low" but in the review you recommend having this on the "standard" setting. What measurements did you get in the "standard" setting if the .004 and 29.6 ft/l was in the "low" setting?

Breakdancefight's picture

I was able to find an open box close out at Best Buy. I picked it up for a steal and am loving everything about it. The closest to an Elite for me this side of winning the lottery.

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