Best Sony XBR49X900E 4K TV Offers On Amazon (Cyber Monday Exclusive 2020)

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Getting 4K HDR right is no easy task. TV manufacturers have tried a number of technologies and ways to resolve the task of high peak brightness, often making image quality worse instead of better.

The best LCD solution is widely regarded as full array backlighting with local dimming. So-called FALD LED screens give greater results with HDR than edge-lit LED, but have typically been limited by super-large screen sizes. No more is that the case.

Using its X900E series, Sony offers the technology on the entire selection of the X900E’s screen sizes, from the massive 75-inch screen right down to the petite 49-incher, effectively making FALD open to all enthusiasts. Having said that, the X900E model we’ve here, a 55-incher, will come in at $1,700, however the series is also obtainable in 49-, 65- and 75-inch sizes if you want something somewhat larger.

Design


In terms of design, Sony continues to knock the ball from the park on its TV line-up.

The X900E includes a premium-looking thin matt black bezel, offset with aluminum trim, as the silver-slate pedestal stand provides crafty cable management. This central support marks a refreshing option to screen-wide feet which hardly ever fit on non-Ikea TV furniture. The set is moderately slim, given the provision of a primary backlight, nonetheless it still includes a sizable power brick which you’ll want to need to accommodate and may complicate wall mounting somewhat.

The set has four HDMI inputs (one back facing, others side-mounted), which are 4K HDCP 2.2 compliant. This implies you’ve a good amount of room for 4K Blu-ray, consoles and set top boxes. There’s also an element AV input, three USBs (among that is a fast blue 3.0 variant), and an optical digital music output for outboard sound systems. Ethernet and Wi-Fi are standard.

The set ships with the same rubber-keyed remote we saw on Sony’s 2016 TVs, much to your chagrin. With barely raised buttons, it doesn’t give you a great user experience. That rubbery surface also accumulates fluff non-stop, making your brand-new investment look rather unkempt. There’s an IR blaster in the box, to help you control other devices using the Sony remote.

Screen sizes available: 49, 55, 65 and 75 inches | 4K: Yes | HDR: Yes (HDR10, firmware upgrade for HLG planned) | Panel technology: Full array backlighting with local dimming | Smart TV: Yes, Android TV | Curved: No | Dimensions: 122.8 x 70.7 x 6 cm (W x H x D) | 3D: No | Inputs: 4x HDMI with HDCP2.2, component, stereo audio, 3x USB, Ethernet

Smart TV: Android TV


In conditions of connectivity options, the screen runs the Android TV OS, now a familiar sight on Sony sets.

If you have never used it before, Android TV is organized into tiers, which the upper-most is tutorials and advertising (the type of stuff you truly don’t have to see that often). That is accompanied by rows of apps, games, inputs and settings. It’s a cluttered interface that’s generally more obstacle than gateway.

Headline applications contain Amazon Video, Netflix and YouTube. Both Netflix and Amazon support 4K and HDR streams. If you want more there’s Google Play, Wuaki, PlayStation Video, Spotify and other things you’ll never explore in per month of Sundays.

All said it isn’t great, but Android TV fast to get started on and attentive to navigate.

HD/SDR performance


In terms of image quality, the X900E is successful. Straight from the box, it dazzles with clarity and punch. Sony doesn’t reveal just how many direct LED zones the set employs, but finally it’s not the quantity of bulbs clustered behind the glass that counts however the uniformity of the illumination – and in this regard, the X900E certainly impresses.

Picture presets comprise Standard, Vivid, Custom, Cinema Pro, Cinema Home, Sports, Animation and Game. As well as the usual Brightness, Color, Light Sensor adjustments, the Advanced settings include Auto local dimming, X-tended Dynamic Range and Advanced Contrast Enhancer. It’s worth tinkering with these.

The 4K panel is native 100Hz, which really helps motion handling. Sony’s Motionflow processor, incomprehensibly labeled XR 1000Hz, will come in Standard, Clear, True Cinema and Custom implementations. You may also transform it Off (but this will only be achieved for movies, when you wish in order to avoid that soap opera video effect). Standard does an acceptable job of holding detail without inflicting artifacts. It’s a good all-purpose choice, irrespective of content.

However, probably well known option may be the Custom setting, with Smoothness set to 3 and Clear to Min. This retains maximum clarity yet creates only negligible artifacts. It’s suitable for sports. Clear is appropriately the clearest setting for details. It’s also artifact free, but includes a large hit regarding luminance – not accurately what you need on an HDR screen. The other setting in order to avoid is Smooth, which exhibits copious artifacts.

The picture processor used this is actually the freshly baked X1 HDR imaging engine, which borrows numerous features from the X1 Extreme within the range-topping ZD9 and soon the OLED A1, namely Super Bit Mapping 4K HDR and Object Based HDR Remastering. When acquiring 4K HDR, the Light Sensor is locked on. Other settings remain adjustable, including Brightness, X-Tended Dynamic Range etc.

Super bitmapping effectively removes color banding from images, sometimes observed in sky gradations or animation on low bitrate content. More crucially, HDR Remastering can be used to upscale Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) contrast and color, by treating onscreen objects individually. This enables the technique more precision, and creates an extremely convincing dynamic image.

The rub is that HDR remastering isn’t a user adjustable feature. It’s on by default in every modes except one. This may be a concern if its implementation was heavy-handed and obvious. But it’s not. Indeed, it’s nigh on undetectable. Sure, you can indicate a spectral highlight and go ‘oooh upscaled,’ nonetheless it all looks supremely natural.

Sony’s 4K X-Reality Pro processor adds subjective detail and texture, and generally seems to work well. However, additionally, it may add undesirable artifacts. As the benefits associated with X-Reality Pro generally outweigh any obvious disadvantage, it’s worth keeping at least one preset clean of these (the Custom setting will be the evident choice). With X-Reality Pro disengaged, native high frequency 4K resolution is delivered unfettered by the panel. If it’s in the foundation, it’ll make it to the screen.

Helpfully, you can manually adapt the resolution of X-Reality Pro. The point where artifacts commence to become noticeable is really around 30 on the set’s sliding numerical scale – so you might simply leave the setting upon this and accrue some processing benefit.

4K/HDR performance


The X900E boasts X-tended Dynamic Range Pro with XDR, which is Sony lingo to signify that it has five times the contrast of a typical LED screen.

By method of comparison, the step-up X930E, using its Ultra Slim Backlight Plus, is rated at 10x, which is to state ten times the brightness of vanilla LED, as the flagship ZD9 sits at 16x.

As the screen isn’t leading the charge in terms of luminance, it still gives a good amount of peak brightness. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (UHD Blu-ray) bristles with zappy neon highlights and generally looks superb. When the newly Goblin-ised Harry confronts Spidey at Oscorp Power, the setting positively sparks. There’s a luminescence to the X900E’s images which is beguiling.

Because of that FALD backlight, dark tone uniformity is good, too – there are no uncouth splashes of white to compromise fully dark scenes. The neighborhood dimming algorithm is seen at work, for instance, when white colored text is held on a black background. A wider halo or bloom is seen behind, but it isn’t jarring and can be looked at a satisfactory consequence of the technology at the job.

Test footage of an HDR firework display explodes with appropriate brilliance. The set tone maps to 1000 nits, brightness ramped to the max. Compared to that end, first-generation HDR LED sets often struggled within their quest to provide peak highlights, triggering distracting backlighting effects along the way. Thanks to the entire array approach used here, that isn’t the case on the X900E. When the set must get dark, the black level becomes suitably pronounced.

So far as colors are worried, the Triluminos panel does a good job conveying deep reds, they’re more strong than you may expect from a mid-range LED. While UHD Blu-ray is a good image partner for the X900E, OTT streaming can look similarly impressive. The growing season one North African try in The Grand Tour (episode 5) is downright breathtaking. Sunlight glints off a Mazda MX-5’s bonnet with warming authenticity, as the fine weave in Hammond’s denim shirt appears exquisitely detailed.

Sound


You may expect the audio tracks quality on today’s thin screen without obvious speakers to be generally rather poor. However, the X900E surprises with good stereo separation and an acceptable amount of full-bodied heft, thanks to two 10-watt amps – Sony has apparently angled the drivers forward instead of just down, creating a less muffled soundstage.

We liked


Overall, the Sony X900E is a wonderful HDR TV that occupies a sweet spot between performance and price. UHD image clarity is great, color performance luscious and its own HDR delivery adds the ideal level of zing.

The X900E can be an HDR screen for ordinary people. The direct LED backlight with local dimming offers delightful screen uniformity. Inky blacks are largely free from the splotches seen on edge-lit sets, and contrast is high. It’s not in the same league as OLED, but also for the price it’s difficult to do better. Details and motion resolution are class leading.

We disliked


There’s some bloom around peak highlights on black backgrounds, that could be solved by a larger density of LED backlights (but the purchase price would rise too). The handy remote control feels cheap in the hand.

Final verdict


With excellent 4K image clarity, powerful SDR-to-HDR remastering, and a smooth direct LED backlight, Sony offers something completely different with the X900E. We loved the consistency of its images, the eye-popping vibrancy of its wide color gamut panel and its own easy-to-watch HDR – you get spectral highlights without accompanying eye fatigue.

With all this set’s high-but-fair price, any niggles we’ve are negligible. The X900E come

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