TV Reviews

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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  |  4 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 29, 2020  |  9 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,800

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Unsurpassed contrast
Superior color and resolution
Wide viewing angle
Minus
Complicated menu system
No HDMI 2.1

THE VERDICT
Sony's latest OLED measures up to the best, including the company's 2019 Top Pick of the Year-winning Master Series model, and comes in at notably lower price.

We previously reviewed Sony's XBR-65A9G OLED, a member of the company's Master Series Ultra HDTV family. While that set is still available and remains a first-class option, the only advantages it appears to offer over the new XBR-65A8H OLED reviewed here are slightly more sophisticated sound features plus an ability to serve as a center channel in an outboard multichannel audio setup. The XBR-65A8H, meanwhile, is priced considerably lower than its Master Series predecessor at $2,800.

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  |  Jul 19, 2018  |  4 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,300

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent shadow detail
Superb color and resolution
Punchy HDR
Minus
Mediocre off-axis performance
Some blooming

THE VERDICT
The new Sony XBR-65X900F is no OLED-killer, but it offers OLED-like benefits at a reasonable price.

OLED ULTRA HDTVS grab most of today’s headlines. And although prices for OLED sets have dropped dramatically over the last year, they still command a high premium. Even flagship LCD sets— Sony’s Z9D line, for example—remain beyond the price reach of many consumers. Sony’s new X900F LCD TVs, which are available in screen sizes all the way up to 85 inches, provide a more reasonable alternative. Choose the 65-inch X900F under review here and you’ll leave the store with a far smaller dent on your credit line than you would when buying an OLED or a flagship LCD.

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  |  10 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.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 17, 2018  |  3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive HDR brightness
Excellent black level and shadow detail
Superior off-center viewing angle for LCD
Minus
Some backlight blooming artifacts
Unimpressive built-in sound

THE VERDICT
Sony’s Master Series Z9F LCD makes a strong claim for top-dog status in today’s Ultra HDTV market. It produces superb images, with enhanced off-center viewing so all guests will be happy at your next Super Bowl party.

In mid-2016, Sony launched a new flagship LCD design, the XBR-Z9D. The series incorporated Backlight Master Drive, a local dimming technology that was a big step forward in realizing the peak brightness potential of high dynamic range (HDR). The Z9D series has remained at the top of Sony’s TV lineup for two years—an eternity for UHDTV technology. But it now shares space with the new XBR-Z9F Master Series LCD models, which are available in 65- and 75-inch sizes, along with the company’s new A9F Master Series OLED TVs.

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. 

Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 04, 2021  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,299

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Crisp resolution from Cognitive Processor XR
Ultra-wide viewing angle
Impressive shadow detail
Minus
Picture setup menu limitations
Minor black level issues with HDR

THE VERDICT
Sony's 65A80J delivers top-shelf video performance, HDMI 2.1 connectivity, along with many of the same features found in the company's flagship A90J OLED models at a significantly lower price.

Sony's new XR-65A80J OLED TV isn't a member of the company's Master Series—that designation belongs to its XR-A90J OLED models, which are spec'd to deliver higher brightness than the XR-A80J sets. And while we haven't yet tested those pricier Sony OLEDs, the XR-65A80J is far from being a second-class citizen.

The A80J's physical design is solid and well-executed. If you opt for a conventional installation instead of a wall-mount, its feet can be installed either 40 inches or 27.3 inches apart to accommodate a wide range of TV stands or cabinets, and they can also be slightly elevated to make space for a soundbar.

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  |  1 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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