Requires HDR compatible content from supported streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Video or HDR compatible content device connected via HDMI input. Samsung and LG's TVs have had the ability to control cable and satellite boxes using infrared blasters for a couple of years, but 2014 is the first time Sony has implemented the scheme via its own included blaster (below). I checked out an episode of "Mad Men" and a baseball game, and none of the 4K sets provided any increase in detail or resolution. By widening the color spectrum, TRILUMINOS Display, powered by the Picture Processor X1 Ultimate, reproduces more colors than a conventional television. Uniformity: While not quite as uniform in flat field test patterns across its screen as the Vizio or HX950, let alone the plasma, the Sony was still very good in this area. I also arranged them in the same theatrically close seating distance I used for 4K testing, described above. Those honkin' three-way speakers to either side are augmented by the additional cabinet room of Sony's bottom-heavy wedge shape, improving bass response according to the company. And for some reason, hitting forward and reverse skip (available on my Fios DVR and very frequently used) only caused a "feature not available" message. Shadow detail on the X900B was also superb, outdoing the HX950 and especially the Samsung, which suffered from some crushing. The X900B is also more expensive than most 65-inch 4K TVs. 3 This is the perceptible contrast level expanded by X-tended Dynamic Range PRO technology, which is a unique figure calculated for the contrast that users actually feel and experience (XDR Contrast). Unlike many TVs at this level, the W900B lacks a 10-point grayscale and color-management system. 1 8K: 7,680 x 4,320 pixels. The LG and Panasonic AX800U were worse (lighter), the Vizio M was in the middle, and the Samsung came closest, delivering a very respectably deep black itself -- albeit not nearly as deep as the X900B. It analyzes and processes data in every image to make colors even more natural and precise so pictures are closer than ever to real life. In some cases it actually surpassed the ZT60, in particular during extremely dark scenes. For live programming, you get a grid-style guide that, again, was inferior to the one on my cable box, with inadequate navigation, pokey load times, and the annoying tendency to start at channel 001 (standard-def!) Download the Google Home app from the iPhone App Store or Google Play. They define this hulking TV, for better or for worse, as something beyond just another slim-bezel skinny set. Moving back to a seating distance of about 8.5 feet, even those vanishingly small differences vanished. Actual prices may vary, contact a dealer for current prices and screen sizes. The only area where I consistently noticed a marked improvement in detail was in small graphical elements, for example onscreen text that described the virtues of the cameras used to capture the footage. Instead, the major differences were in contrast (black level), color, uniformity, and picture quality areas detailed in the 1080p tests below. Instead, I simply chose the most accurate picture setting (determined during each TV's full 1080p calibration; see below) and adjusted basic settings, namely light output, contrast, and black level. Sony provides a little magnetic cover for the panopticon-averse. 9 This Sony TV is compatible with AirPlay 2 and HomeKit. Personally, I'm not a fan of the speaker-dominated look, but I liked the X900B's other luxury touches. The second section involves a wider comparison group, with which I performed the same suite of high-definition tests I put every TV through. 4 User must connect to a Google account to use, including voice to activate linked apps. It has similar specifications, but instead of the active 3D system used by the other two, it has passive 3D. www.netflix.com/termsofuse This difference might also lead to some differences in 2D picture quality, but we can't say for sure. Much more popular services like Amazon Instant, Netflix, and Hulu Plus are relegated to small icons along the bottom. Adding the subwoofer again provided extra oomph, and if you watch a lot of movies, this combination is well recommended. Black level: The X900B was one of the best performers in the stellar lineup I assembled for this review, beating every TV in this area aside from the HX950 and the ZT60 -- both of which are no longer available for sale. Requires HDMI cables sold separately Cable and satellite box control: [Editors' note: I originally tested cable box control for the X850B review. The latter looked most impressive, but both appeared slightly better-looking than the Super HD (1080p) stream. If you're a big spender who can do that, the X900B is an awesome choice. According to my DVDo 4K Test Pattern Generator, all of the HDMI inputs accepted 4K resolution at 24Hz and 30Hz, and HDMI 1, 2, and 3 all accepted it at 60 as well (HDMI 4 did not). Failure isn't a huge deal, but attentive watchers may notice some artifacts, for example moving lines or moire patterns, at times with film-based material delivered to the TV in 1080i, for example via a cable TV connection. The answer is yes, but only because of differences that had nothing to do with 4K resolution. 4K Ultra HD availability subject to your Netflix subscription plan, internet service, device capabilities, and content availability. Explore a new level of contrast with the Picture Processor X1 Ultimate. User must link compatible devices in order to control operation. I removed the smaller HX950 and ZT60 from the lineup and swapped in the 65-inch Panasonic TC-P65S64 to use as my 1080p reference. Among the active sets the Samsung was second-best, followed closely by the Panasonic AX800U -- all of which far outclasses the Sony X900B. In mixed albeit still mostly dark scenes, like the Room of Requirement (57:40 and 59:36), the ZT60 took its place as the best in the room, with superior pop and contrast, not only in the letterbox bars but also the depths of the shadows.
It's noticeable but doesn't affect the picture and is a much less steep rake than that of the crazy Panasonic TC-65AX800U. Hopefully I'll get the chance to revisit Sony's 4K catalog when the second-generation FMP-X10 arrives later this summer. Apple ID account required. A few extras of questionable usefulness include a Football button that's sure to confuse some red-blooded Americans, since it calls up videos and Sony's dedicated websitefor soccer. Aside from its 4K resolution, which, like all 4K LED LCDs these days, amounts to 3,840x2,160 pixels, the X900A's most prominent picture-centric feature is local dimming on its edge-lit LED backlight. When I asked him why, he said he noticed the very subtle presence of pixel structure in some flat fields, for example blue skies, and that tipped him off. From the brilliant golden temples and lush jungles of Chapter 3, to the resplendent primaries of the Buddha in Chapter 4, colors on the X900B were superb. This ranking order remained intact in other very dark scenes from the film, for example the bombardment at the start of Chapter 14. If you can stand its speakers, Sony's XBR-X900B will reward you with the best combination of audio and video quality you've ever seen (or heard). That said, this test did reveal a limitation of the X900B's edge-lit dimming compared to the full-array HX950 and Vizio -- in the latter two cases, the lower letterbox bar remained dark and blooming-free, while on the X900B and the other edge-lit sets, it also showed stray illumination. With advanced Full Array LED technology, you'll see crystal-clear 4K HDR1 images in everything you watch. With bright material it showed no particular advantage. Unfortunately, the box wasn't very reliable (see below). The Samsung and Vizio in particular washed out more quickly. Connectivity: The X900B gets four HDMI inputs to go with a combination composite/component-video input, three USB ports, and a headphone jack. They face the listener like good speakers should, and are unlike pretty much all TV speakers these days -- which are typically invisible and face down or to the rear. Details were sumptuous across the board, and the camera work and subject matter was designed to show off the extra resolution. Watching "Hugo," the ghostly double image of crosstalk was more evident than any of the other sets, including the ZT60, in difficult areas like the statue looming over Hugo in the graveyard (14:56), the pillars below the clock (1:52) and its numbers as the ghostly outlines converge, and the sleeve of Mlis right before Hugo approaches to swipe the mouse. The idea is to replace your box's interface and remote control with one built into the TV. For everybody else the only real advantage is for frequent users of the TV's built-in browser, where the touchpad eases navigation significantly. I used the middle position for photography and testing, mainly because we ran out of stands wide enough to accommodate the wide position, and the TVs that needed them (I'm looking at you, Panasonic and LG) weren't as flexible as the Sony.
Yes, looking very closely at the gold embroidery of the tablecloth I detected the slightest bit of extra resolution and clarity on the 4K sets, and the legs of the lobster and the flesh of the duck appeared oh-so-subtly sharper. In any case, he stressed that the difference he saw was minuscule, likely impossible to pick out when not looking at a side-by-side comparison using select parts of extremely high-quality material, and much less important than some other aspects of picture-quality differences he noticed, like black level and color. This figure is based on our conventional TV without local dimming. Contrast is further enhanced by X-tended Dynamic Range PRO 6x, which gives the screen 6 times the contrast range of a conventional edge-lit LED TV , creating higher peak brightness in highlights and detailed blacks in shadow. I chose the best-looking Blu-ray I know, "Samsara," and stared hard at highly-detailed scenes to try to discern any difference in resolution, sharpness, perceived depth of field, and so on between the 4K Sony and the 1080p S64. All three introduced a minor but still easily discernible amount of smoothing. For comparison purposes I swapped out the Samsung curved TV for a Panasonic TC-P65S64 to represent 1080p and kept the seating distances the same as described above. Using the highly-detailed mandala scenes from "Samsara" Chapter 4, I played around with the Reality creation settings. The result was very even with no particular part of the spectrum poking out: relatively supple, deep bass, excellently nuanced vocals and plenty of sparkle where it's required. All other trademarks are trademarks of their respective owners. Two other modes, Clear and Clear Plus, also hit the 1,200-line threshold but weren't quite as clean as Impulse on the test pattern. In this era of sparse 4K content, of which Sony offers more than anybody, for now the company is keeping it proprietary. Most people won't love 'em. 4K vs. 1080p content from test files and Netflix: I didn't have access to the RED players I used last year to compare the same content at 4K and at 1080p resolution, but I did have some video files in both 4K and 1080p, as well as Netflix's feeds. They just declare, "I'm here, deal with it. It truncated light output by a whopping 75 percent, but unlike Impulse on some previous Sony sets, the flicker it introduced was subtle to nonexistent to my eye. The demo boxes from both TV makers contained spectacular footage, some of it at 60fps, of breathtaking scenery, cityscapes, natural and man-made wonders, baroque interiors, a concert, golf and soccer, and of course tech demos extolling the virtues of said manufacturer. Both offer access to more than 200 titles in 4K, including recent films like "American Hustle" and "The Amazing Spider-Man 2." It's available on all "W" and "X" series models for 2014. And if that's not powerful enough, you can throw in Sony's optional wireless sub ($300). If you're a gamer, you may appreciate the addition of PlayStation Now, a feature that allows you to play streaming games on the TV itself by simply pairing it with a PS3 controller. A 79-inch version, model XBR-79X900B , will ship in July. To be fair, so were the other sets with the exception of the LG. Finding apps Sony decided not to surface can be tedious. He is known to two people on Twitter as "The Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics.". Network services, content, and software of this product may be subject to separate terms and conditions and changed, interrupted or discontinued at any time and may require fees, registration and credit card information. The Sony also did a very good job maintaining black under the lights, matching the Samsung and HX950, and outdoing the others in this area, including the ZT60 by a nose. The sides of the Sony comprise a big chunk of chrome, invisible from the front, that matches the flashy chrome legs of the stand. Only the ZT60 maintained superior, more natural-looking shadows than the X900B. That's too bad, since passive 3D on a 4K TV is a killer combination. 11 IMAX Enhanced content enables the full IMAX Enhanced experience. App availability varies by region and device.
), and CalMAN for BRAVIA app to be downloaded from Google Play and installed on your TV. As with the Blu-ray, none of them looked any less-detailed either. Sony includes two pair of active shutter glasses in the box. To make this arrangement work, one TV (the LG in this case) had to be the odd man out, with a distance of about 115 inches. As expected, the LG was the best 3D performer in the group, with virtually no crosstalk and the added brightness of passive 3D. Requires compatible devices connected to the same wireless home network. Seen from the side the X900B exemplifies the "wedge" design found on 2014 high-end Sony sets. Subscriptions may be required to access certain content. And as you might expect from a TV with speakers like this, it sounded great. (I received an "unsupported signal" message when I tried setting it as a Custom Resolution via the nVidia software, but didn't try any of the other methods listed here.). I tried Netflix 4K as well, streaming a couple of episodes of "Breaking Bad" and "House of Cards." Most of the set is glossy black, and I especially appreciated that the screen blends seamlessly into the edges where the speakers are mounted. For that reason, the 79-inch version won't be included in this review. TV and wall mount system sold separately. Unlike last year's Triluminos Sonys, however, the 2014 version of this feature no longer uses the Quantum Dot technology supplied by QD Vision, Inc. Sony says it now has an in-house version that uses the same branding, but beyond the marketing line of "more colors to produce a more-vibrant picture," Sony wouldn't tell us how the "new" Triluminos technology differs from standard white LED display tech. My Oppo Blu-ray player's pause icon in the upper right, for example, caused blooming in the nearby letterbox bar, but on the X900B it was relatively dim. In case you're wondering, I did test the XBR-X900B with one of Sony's 4K video players, the FMP-X1 (below). 14 Available for select Sony OLED and LED models ranging from 55 class to 75 class. The material from the monks' mandala to the destroyed buildings (Chapter 6) to the Baroque interiors (Chapter 7) looked equally detailed on all of the sets. 4K: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels. Its 3D picture was its main weakness, but that's inconsequential in the scheme of things. 5 Based on market research from June 2019. They provide the sweetest sound we've heard from any TV, and combine with stellar picture quality to deliver the complete package. Switching to a lower-quality source, my Verizon Fios TV connection at 1080i, was the same story. On the X900B you can also make Skype calls from within Social View; the idea being to "watch TV with friends while being connected to them through Skype.". Diving deeper allows you to choose from six dejudder (smoothing) modes including an Impulse mode that engages black frame insertion, play with a two-point grayscale system, and pick from a few gamma settings. HDMI 2 and 4 support MHL, while HDMI 1 is the only one with ARC. Unsurprisingly, Cinema mode in its default settings was more convincing with "Mission Impossible 3" resulting in clear dialogue, wide stereo effects, and booming explosions. Subject to third party app terms and conditions. In place of the old multipin RS-232 port for custom installations there is a "serial control" port that does the same thing. The built-in camera is well hidden in the upper-left corner (below), and unlike many other TV cameras, it doesn't pop out of the frame. Navigation isn't made any easier by swiping around as opposed to pressing keys, but some button-phobic users might appreciate the simplicity. Android, Android TV, Google Play, Google, YouTube and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc., used with permission. Its picture is superb, its features well-thought-out, and its access to 4K content unrivaled compared to other brands. The TV can also pair with compatible devices via NFC. It talks up the "magnetic fluid" speaker design, said to deliver more powerful sound with a smaller footprint. Even the HX950 couldn't match it, although it and the X900B again came closest. Yes, the Sony's deep blacks and solid color were assets in 3D, and the glasses comfortable enough, but its crosstalk was a deal-breaker. See exactly what the creator intended with the advanced color, light, and gradation of the TRILUMINOS Display. The Sony XBR-X900B series provides the best picture quality of any 4K TV we've tested so far, competing well against the better plasmas. As long as you like the look of speakers, that is. Internet needed to utilize app services on TV. 13 Actual look may differ depending on TV size and type pf cables used. LIke nearly all current 4K TVs, the X900B uses a panel with a 120Hz refresh rate. Differences in black level were similar to what I describe below in the 1080p section. David has reviewed TVs, streaming services, streaming devices and home entertainment gear at CNET since 2002. In other words while colors looked accurate and almost perfectly saturated, they didn't seem head-and-shoulders above the best TVs I've tested. With Sony's optional 4K video player, it can access significantly more 4K content than other brands of TV. The main aim of the new layout seems to be placing the company's own services front and center. Crosstalk was rampant. One problem is that frequent DVR users are left in the cold. Just start with Hey Google to ask it questions, control smart home devices or access many of the apps and services you already use every day.4 In addition, cast your favorite apps with Chromecast built-in , or enjoy a huge range of apps from Google Play, including YouTube, Netflix, Prime Video, Spotify, and more.4. Beautifully detailed, if weird, I set it up to play simultaneously via two separate PCs on both the 4K TVs and the 1080p Panasonic S64. 15 Requires separately sold CalMAN calibration software to be installed on your PC, a pattern generator, a meter (colorimeter, spectrophotometer etc. Other tabs from the Home menu, with the exception of Channel (which leads to "TV selections," described below) also point toward Sony services, namely Album goes to the Play Memories photo service, and Music to the Music Unlimited and Vevo services. Finally there's Standard and Smooth, which introduce significant and massive smoothing respectively, preserve maximum light output, and registered 600 lines of motion resolution. Sony XBR-65X900B CNET review calibration report.
Speakers are perceived as ugly and unnecessary, better kept hidden and facing down or to the rear than shown off.
I turned to "Samsara" for even better colors and wasn't disappointed. 12 Netflix streaming membership required. Previously David wrote reviews and features for Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. In my favorite dark torture test from "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2" the X900B's letterbox bars remained darker than any of the others aside from the HX950's during the initial hilltop shot (46:00), providing inky contrast to the rest of the darkness. In case you didn't notice, them's some biiiig speakers for a TV. For speakers to sound good, they need to be big, and they should face the listener. All rights reserved. Sony also offers a second screen app called TV Side View with remote control and a program guide. 4K TVs with 4K content: My first goal was to see if any of the TVs' rendition of the best 4K material I had on-hand looked substantially different. What sells in TV land is the "all-picture" look, with as little bezel as possible, leaving no room for hefty, forward-facing woofers and tweeters. Hitting the Home button brings up the Movies tab by default, where movie thumbnails from -- you guessed it -- Sony Video Unlimited take up the entire middle of the screen. Once download is complete, the Google Home feature may be connected to the Sony device to access the voice control function Sony also touts the Triluminos color on this and its other 4K TVs. He is an ISF certified, NIST trained calibrator and developed CNET's TV test procedure himself. It also pumped out best sound of any TV we've heard, bar none. Easily search and watch your favorite movies, get answers on screen like sports scores or weather updates, control your TV and even your home - all with your voice. It's also worth mentioning again that the 79-inch version uses a passive 3D system, so I expect it to offer superb 3D picture quality. The Impulse setting, said to incorporate both black frame insertion and blinking, looked the best in our motion resolution test, delivering the full 1,200 lines extremely cleanly. Now blast something out of me.". 3D: The X900B's 3D performance wasn't as bad as I saw on the W850B, but it was still the worst in my lineup, and simply unacceptable for a TV of this level. Beyond its picture, the X900B's main claim to fame is sound. The X900B ships with two remotes: the same standard multibutton clicker I lauded in the X850B review, (which now seems too cheap for this TV; I'd at least like to see some backlighting), and a smaller version with just a couple of buttons and a touchpad. I could not see any major differences in detail. The high resolution doesn't provide a major boost in image quality, especially with non-4K content. The main "Apps" screen has a few "featured" apps, but beyond that you'll have to dive into "All apps," a firehose of 280 separate icons (give or take), from "Vimeo" to "Internet Browser," to "EarthCamTV," to "Captain Philips." Keeping with the theme of fun names, Sony also touts its "4K X-Reality Pro picture engine," which is said to improve the necessary scaling from standard-def and high-def sources to the TV's 4K resolution, as well as "X-tended Dynamic Range" which, translated from Sony-speak, just means the TV has local dimming. It was quite subtle, however, and I bet most viewers would have a tough time telling the difference, even at the theatrically close distance from which I was sitting. For viewers who demand the proper look of film with 1080p/24 sources, the MotionFlow settings of True Cinema and Off (between which I couldn't tell any difference) are the only ones that qualify on the X900B.
The majority of our testing was done with mere high-definition resolution sources, and the Sony was outstanding in just about every regard. Sony's version, found under the "Key Pad," is worse than those of its rivals, with an endless horizontal scroll to find the "button" you need. Subscriptions may be required to access certain content. rather than the current or last-tuned channel. The same went for the demo files I tried, including a particularly nice piece of demo material: "The Ultra Definition showcase" from Florian Friedrich, available at UHDcontent.eu. And yes, Hugo's hand in that scene also showed worse crosstalk than the others. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. I played with the Web browser, which seemed a step down from the offerings of Samsung and LG, with slower response times and difficult scrolling, even when I used the touchpad remote. Its shots of a beachside town, animals, and mountains were equal in quality to any of the manufacturer-supplied footage I saw. I didn't bother with Sony's "Mastered in 4K" setting, mainly because it applies only to a handful of Blu-ray titles.
Any kind of content can be upconverted to lifelike 4K resolution1,2 with Sonys unique 4K X-Reality PRO and Object-Based Super Resolution. any audio built into the TV. None of these variations were visible in program material however, and my review sample was devoid of large uniformity issues. While the XBR-X900B did a superb with 4K, none of its picture quality advantages had to do with resolution. With its dedicated tweeters, mdrange woofer, and transmission-line-style bass, the Sony is able to capture music in a way I haven't heard from a flat-screen before. The bottom is wider than the top, angling the screen back slightly. For what it's worth Sony's FMP-X1 4K video player will only connect to HDMI 1 or 2. At the high end, where TVs like Sony's XBR-X900B compete, there's the added fact that many people have a dedicated home-theater system, with big separate speakers and amplification that render moot (mute?)
Compared to the other sets, it showed a slight advantage in some areas, particularly red, which on the sunlit monks' robes for example (8:39) appeared a bit more full and lush than on the Samsung and Vizio, albeit about the same as the ZT60 and HX950. local dimming on its edge-lit LED backlight, kind of impressive-sounding albeit fake number, Other: Optional subwoofer, available in black or white (SWF-BR100, $299), extra 3D glasses (TDG-BT400A, $50 list); optional 4K media players (see below); PlayStation Now streaming game compatibility. The bass of that system's subwoofer sounded bloated and boomy, and the vocals sounded very constrained, lacking the wide stereo imaging of the TV. I also asked a couple of CNET staffers to check out the same scenes from "Samsara," and while one agreed with me he couldn't see any difference, the other was able to pick out the 1080p S64 relatively quickly.