Sony XBR-X900E Review
4K AQUOS TV, 4K MEDIA PLAYER AND RECEIVER INCLUDED, HDR, QUANTUM DOT, 4K HDR Android TV
by Robert Wiley
The new XBR-X900E model from Sony has a few minor picture quality downgrades from the XBR- X930E above it in Sony's 2017/2018 lineup. It has a different yet new processor included the 4K HDR X1 engine, which has been redesigned with upgrading content to look more like HDR content in mind. Video signal processing is a particular strength of Sony and has been for years. It has full array local dimming, one of the best features an LED/LCD TV can have when done right (which the X900E does). The last new feature I'll mention here is the X-tended Dynamic Range Pro 5X, which is a contrast enhancement booster mechanism, and not one of my favorite features, due the fact that it usually makes little difference to the viewer and can add flicker to the picture. All three of these features are slightly scaled down compared to the X930E, but are still very robust.
Other features included are a Triluminous display, widened color gamut for HDR, Motionflow XR technology, and 4K X-reality Pro, are all good technologies left over from last year.
How does the Sony X900E compare with an LG or Sony 4K OLED TV? We love OLED technology, so for a 4K UHD signal we give a strong edge to the LG OLED. But we believe Sony has the best processing and outer panel of the 4K TVs, so for 1080p and lower signals we believe this TV outperforms the LG 4K OLED.
HDR (High Dynamic Range)
The focus TV feature for 2017/2018 is HDR. HDR extends the range that a pixel in an LCD TV can show. This applies to the brightness and luminosity of images. Contrast is enhanced by increased brightness rather than deeper blacks. Rather than just increase the brightness of the picture overall though, the real purpose of HDR is to increase contrast in various image areas of the picture. It improves the presentation in the brighter parts of the picture and this creates more contrast with surrounding darker parts of the picture. Since picture contrast is one of the primary features in improving perceived depth, HDR is considered a major picture quality improvement even though it may not increase the overall contrast of the panel a lot. Bright colors receive enhanced purity. A good HDR image will show better shadow detail, and the scenes that you will notice the most are those with light illuminating images, especially outside sunlight effects, or a room that has sunlight coming in through a window and illuminating parts of the room. HDR content is and will be in short supply for a while. However, Sony is not waiting on HDR content to attempt to show you an HDR quality picture. The X900E is equipped with enough processing firepower to enhance color and light in such a way as to somewhat mimic content that was originally produced in HDR. That's the goal with the new technologies full array backlight and X1 processor anyway.
Sony's backlight manipulation is a bit less conspicuous than that of Samsung, which I like.
Triluminous Display - Color Rendition - Contrast
This wide-gamut color technology has been fantastic for Sony for a couple years. It produces much more realism and true-to-life color renditions than most of Sony's competitors, and in general takes less calibration effort to obtain a proper picture solution. The HDR contrast enhancement technology works well with the Triluminous display to provide incredible light flow through colors and enhance areas of the on-screen picture which are lit by windows or lighting. This all adds up to a more 3-dimensional picture quality depth even with HD signals. This is what we're looking for. The colors are not over saturated as they are with some, but they still have plenty of pop and are beautiful. The outer panel on the X900E is what really sets it apart from the lower priced 4K Sony's. It's also what adds so much to the cost. It creates the depth, richness, and vibrant colors and contrast that make this TV so desirable.
Up-Conversion of HD to 4K
Up-scaling and conversion is the most important aspect of any 4K UHD TV for 2017/2018 due to the dearth of 4K content, and Sony is the best at it in my view. The reasons are the excellent combination of the 4K X-Reality PRO up-scaling Algorithm technology used with the new 4K Processor X1 engine. On the X900E panel a good HD signal just looks incredible. Movies are also excellent and we recommend a room light condition of moderate to low light for this TV to unleash its full capabilities.
Side Angle Viewing
The old Achilles heal of LED backlit TVs cannot be fully remedied, even with an outer panel this absorbent. Color saturation and contrast begin degrading at around 15 degrees off center. On the bright side, it does not degrade severely, nor does it get much worse the further off center you view the TV.
Sony does not seem smitten by the curved screen craze from Samsung. I agree with them. It's never really appealed to me. Sony's design elements are simple and straightforward but very attractive. This TV will appeal to interior designers. Even the back of the TV has a nice contour and patterned design so that the TV looks good no matter where it is situated in the room. The X900E has a very thin black ribbon inside the outer panel so there is no indention for the frame. If you purchase the accompanying Sony mount, it mounts nearly flush to a wall.
The new jet black matte finish touch pad remote from Sony has a very nice fast responsive touch pad that definitely speeds up scrolling somewhat across Smart TV Apps (over 100) and also speeds up search considerably when typing on the on-screen keypad.
But for this year if you're searching on the Smart TV platform we've never seen a better voice search system than the Android TV search function enabled on the Sony 4K TVs. The voice recognition search works flawlessly, even in a noisy room. The TVs response time on delivering results is fast and accurate. Give it a try. It's great for searching YouTube, and Google Play options.
Smart TV/Android TV Operating System Features
The X900E gets the newest Google Android TV ops system 6.0. Android TV featured Apps include Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant, Vudu, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Crackle and SiriusXM, and around 30 small insignificant Apps. Add HBO NOW, EPIX, Starz Play, Fusion, Pluto TV and a few more to the assortment this year. At first it looks like a limited selection until you delve into the Google Play Music, Games, Movies and TV options. Then lots more content opens up. What we really like is the operation speed combined with excellent video and sound quality of the Android/Google Play section of the Smart TV offerings. This is differentiated from the competition. The voice search function on the touchpad remote works exceptionally well and fast with You Tube and Google Play options.
Google Cast allows you to show movies, pictures, and TV shows from your IOS or Android based smartphone or from a laptop. We think the best use of Google Play is gaming.
Obviously, if you're not content with the choices, you can always connect a Roku box, which still has the best offerings anyway. Then you get both.
Film/Cinemotion Mode – Keep it Low or Off to prevent Soap Opera Effect
The Film or Cinemotion (depending on software update) Picture Setting is located in the Picture Setting Adjustments menu, under Advanced Settings, under Clarity. The setting combined with the Motionflow setting has an impact on whether your picture is over-clarified by eliminating too much natural background blur. This creates the dreaded “Telenovela effect”. It's easy to prevent on the X900E. All you have to do is keep the Motionflow Smoothness setting at level 3 and Clearness setting at level 2 and tune the Film/Cinemotion setting to Off or Low. The feature only provides frame compensation to remove judder at the top two settings of Medium and High. All of that said, The Telenovela Effect is not nearly as pronounced and distracting in the X900E as with many TVs on the market such as the Samsung's.
This certainly will not be your most inexpensive option, buy Sony has become much more competitive price-wise over the last couple of years. With the exception of the new slim backlight drive, most the features were included in last years model. This will allow Spny to be very competitive on price for the X900E.
- Immersive 4K Ultra HD picture quality with four times the resolution and clarity of Full HD 1080p
- X-tended Dynamic Range enhances HDR and non-HDR content
- Full Array Backlight Drive with Precision Grid Array Backlighting
- 4K X-Reality PRO picture processing helps with upconversion
- 4K Processor X1 (enhances 4K images)
- TRILUMINOS Display accurately reproduces color, clarity and detail
- Speaker Position : Undermount
- ClearAudio+ Digital Sound Processing (DSP) with S-Force Front Surround
- HDMI 2.0 and HEVC codec playback 4K content at 60p
- Built-in Wi-Fi for Smart TV features
- MHL 3.0-enabled for mirroring second screens
- Google Assistant
- Android TV Smart TV with Google Play
|Having reviewed and written about Television Technology for over 10 years, Wiley never tires of researching the newest qualitative trends related to the technology. Most people do not get excited about possibilities behind the latest video engine... Wiley does. Read more about Robert|