Sony XBR-X930D Bravia Review
4K Aquos TV, 4K Media Player and Receiver included, HDR, Quantum Dot
by Jack Burden, Senior Editor
We were able to view this model alongside the X930D from last year. The new model has superb up-scaling and conversion of standard definition, HD, DVD, and BluRay incoming content. Sony's new advanced (video) noise reduction gives their newer models an excellent smooth quality. Sony's up-conversion technology is creating a 4K-like picture with normal everyday resolution signals. This is a great strategy and Sony is able to show off their superior processing.
The X930D has it all in terms of picture features, High Dynamic Range, X1 Processor, and X-Reality Pro up-scaling algorithm, and widened color gamut Triluminous Display technology. All this combines for a fantastic picture.
How does the Sony X930C compare with an LG 4K OLED TV? We love OLED technology, so for a 4K UHD signal we give the 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.
The X930D can really produce fantastic detail when it comes to 4K content.
HDR (High Dynamic Range)
The focus TV feature for 2016/2017 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.
In the X930D the X-tended Dynamic Range Pro technology is the workhorse in enhancing contrast with HDR and non-HDR content by manipulating zonal backlight flows. I would describe Sony's backlight manipulation as more subtle than those of some other competitors like Samsung.
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 X930D 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 2016/2017 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 X930D 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 20 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. What's the point? Sony's design elements are simple and straightforward but very attractive. The X930D 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 X950D 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.
The selection of apps on Android TV is impressive. Most of the services have good content to offer.
4K content development was slower than most projected in 2015. That will likely continue in 2016 and we expect the same delays in HDR content.
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 X850D. 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 X850D 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 the last couple of years. With the exception of the slim backlight drive and HDR, most the features were included in last years model. This will allow Sony to be very competitive on price for the X930D.
- 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
- Slim 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
(A note about our reviews. Our professional reviewers begin our reviews with our initial impressions about quality of picture and features inclusion, then we add specifications, then value and pricing information, and finally, ratings. When our reviews contain an overall rating, they are complete. Thank you for reading!)
|Jack Burden joined the review staff of CEAG Inc. in May 2003 after finishing his graduate work at Harvard University. He has been reporting on consumer electronics and conducting product reviews for more than seven years. Focusing on the audio-visual segment of the electronics market... Read more about Jack|