Sony XBR-X930E Bravia Review
also XBR-55X930E, XBR-65X930E, XBR-75X940E
4K AQUOS TV, 4K MEDIA PLAYER AND RECEIVER INCLUDED, HDR, QUANTUM DOT
by Robert Wiley
New features in this years Sony flagship LED-LCD TV model has a slim backlight drive, which is a full array backlight feature that's new and improved. As we have noted in the past, the best LED-LCD TVs have excellent full array backlighting as a separating feature. This is truly a performance feature we believe is worth the extra cost – one of the few. For a complete explanation on the benefits of this new technology check out Sony's page here.
This 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 X930E has it all in terms of picture features, Extended Dynamic Range Pro, X1 4K Processor, and X-Reality Pro up-scaling algorithm, and widened color gamut (for HDR) Triluminous Display technology. All this combines for a fantastic picture.
How does the Sony X930E compare with an LG 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.
In the X930E the X-tended Dynamic Range Pro technology is the workhorse along with the new slim backlight 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 X930E 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 X930E 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 X930E 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 X930E 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.
4K content development was slower than most projected in 2015 and 2016. That will likely continue in 2017 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 X930E. 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 X930E 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 Sony to be very competitive on price for the X930E. We expect a price of around $1999 for the XBR65X930E and $1499 for the XBR55X930E. It's a great TV for the price.
- 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
|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|