FLAT PANEL REVIEWS

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Tom Norton  |  Apr 05, 2013  |  7 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $25,000
At A Glance
: Stunning resolution • Superb color • Glorious 2D and 3D performance

With 4K-resolution Ultra HD the latest and greatest star in the consumer electronics galaxy, we ink- and pixel-stained wretches of the press were all champing at the bit to lay hands on one. But at a massive 84 inches diagonal, 216 pounds with its floor stand, priced high enough to put you in a nice new car as long as your tastes aren’t too posh, and still limited in availability, Sony’s new 4K flagship made the company understandably reluctant to ship review samples to all the usual suspects.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 28, 2012  |  4 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $2,600 At A Glance: Deep, uniform blacks • Superb out-of-the-box color and crisp detail • Head-tilt 3D crosstalk

The most popular, current approach to designing an LCD HDTV with LED lighting is to position the LEDs around the periphery of the screen and rely on diffusors to spread the light out uniformly. Sometimes (but not always) the brightness of the LEDs is also altered dynamically to help the LCD pixels create deep blacks, where needed.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jun 07, 2013  |  0 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $3,300 At A Glance: Rich black level and good shadow detail • New color technology • Bright, punchy 3D

The new KDL-55W900A is Sony’s newest, top-of-the-line, non-XBR set. All of the XBRs, going forward, will be Ultra HD (4K) sets, but the KDL-55W900A, as all of the KDL designs, is firmly in the standard HD, 1920 x 1080 camp. It’s an edge-lit design with local dimming, but its marquee feature has nothing to do with contrast and black levels. Color is the plot here, and Triluminos, a term Sony has used in the past (see sidebar), promises a wider color gamut.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 07, 2014  |  1 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,300

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent color and resolution
Good blacks and shadow detail
Satisfyingly bright 3D
Minus
Typical LCD off-axis limitations
Minor 3D flicker and ghosting

THE VERDICT
It may lack the headline-grabbing, 4K bling-zing of Sony’s XBR Ultra HD designs, but this 65-inch KDL series HDTV sits at the top of the company’s bread-and-butter line and offers more than enough features and performance to satisfy a wide range of buyers.

With all the ink spilled these days about the trendy but expensive Ultra HDTVs, a plain vanilla HDTV, with its resolution of 1920 x 1080, may seem a little ho-hum. But Ultra HD (4K, or more correctly, 3840 x 2160) is still consumer 4K content-starved with its specs not yet fully complete, and the jury is still out as to whether or not it will offer significant benefits in typical home screen sizes. Its price of admission also remains high. As a result, top-of-the-line, non-Ultra HDTVs, such as Sony’s new KDL-65W850A, remain serious players in the high-end video market.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Dec 13, 2012  |  5 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $3,500 At A Glance: Plasma-quality blacks • Near flawless color • Bright, vivid 3D

All LCD HDTVs require some form of backlighting. The LCD panel’s pixels modulate the light and provide filtered color, but without backlighting to shine through the panel, you’d have no picture. Recently, LEDs (light-emitting diodes) have replaced the fluorescent backlights used in older flat-screen LCD sets. LCDs aren’t perfect in blocking light (which is why so many early models had poor black levels), but if you can shut off or dim the LEDs on demand, the LCDs’ light-blocking chores become far more efficient. And LEDs can do this; they can be shut off and turned back on almost instantaneously in reaction to the signal coming in.

Al Griffin  |  Dec 18, 2012  |  0 comments

When it comes to picture quality, LCD TVs ?with a full-array, “local dimming” LED backlight tend to outperform their edge-lit LED brethren by a not insubstantial margin. We’ve covered the particulars of LED backlight tech before, so I won’t get sidetracked in explaining it here, but the finer control afforded by a full-array design allows for improved contrast and, for the most part, better uniformity when displaying dark images. Sony was among the first TV makers to push full-array for LCD, and then mysteriously put the tech on hold. But it roared back in 2011 with the XBR-HX929 line, a series that pushed full-array to new heights. The newest such sets to arrive from Sony are the HX950 series, which started shipping in late 2012. Can they match, or even exceed, Sony’s vaunted HX929 TVs?

Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 21, 2014  |  5 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $4,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Exceptional blacks and shadow detail
Excellent color and resolution
Impressive sound with optional subwoofer
Minus
Price
Small screen for 4K

THE VERDICT
Short of sitting very close, you’ll need a screen bigger than 55 inches to see the full benefits of 4K resolution. But the XBR-55X900B is, nevertheless, a champion in all respects, including one we didn’t anticipate: state-of-the-art edge-lit local dimming.

The XBR-55X900B is the smallest set in Sony’s X900B series, which also includes the 65-inch XBR-65X900B ($5,000) and the 79-inch XBR-79X900B ($9,000). Fifty-five inches is a relatively small size for achieving the maximum benefits of 4K resolution. But it’s also perhaps today’s most popular size for the principal home HDTV, so there’s no denying its market importance for Ultra HD as well.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 13, 2017  |  4 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $5,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent contrast
Superb color and resolution
Looks good from every angle
Unique panel-based sound system
Minus
No color management system
Some white clipping

THE VERDICT
While it might appear that OLED UHDTVs are popping up everywhere, the most visible supplier to date has been LG. But Sony, by acquiring OLED panels from LG and adding its own electronics, processing, styling, and unique features, has jumped into the fray, landing firmly on both feet with a solid performer.

Sony’s new OLEDs (the 65-incher reviewed here has a 55-inch sibling, and a 77-incher will be available by press time) haven’t yet taken pride of place at the top of Sony’s TV lineup. That honor belongs to the Z9D (Sound & Vision, January 2017 and soundandvision.com), now spruced up with the imminent addition (as I write) of Dolby Vision for 2017. But you might think of the OLEDs as stepping stones to Sony’s future in self-emissive displays—the spectacular, commercially oriented, and wall-sized CLEDIS LED display Sony demonstrated at the 2017 CES comes to mind. But that’s the future. Sony’s OLEDs are now. As of today, Sony’s OLED implementation uses a panel supplied by LG (but with Sony’s own secret processing sauce). At its press-time street price of about $4,000 in the 65-inch version, it was roughly comparable, if not a touch less expensive, than LG’s own like-sized C7P model.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 11, 2013  |  21 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $7,000
At A Glance
: Four times the native resolution of standard HD • Advanced color technology • State-of-the-art 3D

With the introduction of its new 2013 XBR sets, Sony has shown that it’s serious about bringing Ultra HD, popularly referred to as 4K, to consumers at prices that, while still high, are less seizure-inducing than the $25,000 sticker on its 84-inch XBR-84X900 (Home Theater, June 2013).

Technically, 4K is shorthand for a resolution of 4096 x 2160 pixels—the professional 4K format. Consumer 4K sets, on the other hand, have a resolution of 3840 x 2160, exactly four times the pixel count of full HD 1080p. Regardless of the industry’s plan to refer to such sets as Ultra HD, 4K has already crept into the lexicon as the popular term for 3840 x 2160 home video.

Al Griffin  |  Nov 28, 2017  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Extensive streaming options
Strong contrast with full-array local dimming
Accurate out-of-box color
Minus
Average LCD off-axis picture uniformity
HDR highlights a notch below the top TVs
Android TV interface can be confusing

THE VERDICT
The impressive performance delivered by Sony’s midrange UHDTV makes it a compelling choice for budget buyers upgrading to HDR.

Here’s the top Sony TV news for 2017: The company started selling its first big-screen OLED models. With an elegant “One Slate” design and an ability to emit sound from actuators positioned directly behind the glass screen, Sony’s A1E line (November 2017 and soundandvision.com) is destined to give LG’s OLEDs some competition. But when you consider that a 65-inch model costs about $4,000 after discounts, the Sony OLEDs are pricey. Fortunately, there are plenty of other Sony Ultra HDTVs to choose from, including the midrange X900E series, which lists for $2,000 for the 65-inch model and will run you about $1,800 on the street.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 03, 2016  |  2 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive edge-lit local dimming
Respectable off-axis viewing
Bright, punchy HDR
Minus
Often redundant menus
Tight remote control layout

THE VERDICT
Full-array local dimming remains the gold standard for LCD Ultra HDTVs, but Sony has now upped the ante with the best edge-lit set we’ve seen.

The last time I reviewed one of Sony’s 4K sets, it had large speaker enclosures attached permanently to the sides of the screen, with a separate “subwoofer” firing out the back. This made for an inconveniently wide design, and with the introduction of Sony’s new 2016 models, those audio “wings” are now history.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 15, 2016  |  9 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $5,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
State-of-the-art local dimming
Class-leading HDR brightness
Above average off-center viewing
Minus
Price

THE VERDICT
With the top manufacturers jostling for a view from the top of the Ultra HD pyramid, Sony has taken an express elevator and is racing fast for the checkered flag. But enough with the mixed metaphors. If this TV isn’t today’s best LCD UHD/HDR set (and perhaps the best of any type), it’s not for lack of trying. Sony has given us their best technology here, and it shows.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2016, Sony demonstrated a prototype of a future LCD TV design incorporating what the company called Backlight Master Drive. We found it dazzling, as did most of the show-goers with whom we spoke. Nevertheless, we all looked at it as a “show car”—something that might appear in a store near you in a couple of years, if ever.

Al Griffin  |  Mar 07, 2013  |  0 comments

To hear Sony tell it, the future will be in 4K. This stance comes as no surprise: The company’s 4K-rez digital cinema projectors have been installed in over 13,000 theaters, and at least 75 Sony-produced titles have either been shot with 4K digital cameras, or transferred to the higher-rez format from film. And Sony isn’t just pushing 4K for theaters — it wants viewers to experience it at home. 

Bob Ankosko  |  Nov 26, 2014  |  First Published: Nov 25, 2014  |  6 comments
Wondering if you should step up and buy a new TV this holiday season? Take our 30 second quiz...
Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jul 05, 2012  |  2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $2,795 At A Glance: Built-in multifan airflow cooling system • Discrete IR input • Watertight cable entry compartment cover

A number of years ago, I wrote an article about putting together a backyard home theater using an inflatable front-projection screen from Sima. It was a blast—and more than just a blast of air from the pump that inflated the Michelin-Man-dream-date, 72-inch-screen-covered blimp in less than 6 minutes. I took the setup to a friend’s house one Saturday during my “research” where we had a three-family movie night on the patio in his backyard. Sodas and margaritas flowed freely that evening. Much popcorn was popped. I don’t think any of us remember the actual movie, but to this day none of us has forgotten how much fun we had—more fun, as a matter of fact, than we’d ever had watching a movie the proper way inside the house.

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