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Just about the most ingenious new TV technologies of 2016 was Sony’s Slim Backlight Drive. It put two sets of edge-mounted LEDs and two separate LED light plates in sequence to double the amount of individually controllable light zones possible with an advantage LED lighting system.
The system is back improved form on the 2017 X930E series, increasing the amount of individually handled light zones and introducing an enormous boost in brightness to get maximum impact from today’s high dynamic range sources.
The 55X930E also builds on its predecessor by including among Sony’s new X1 Extreme chipsets. They are around 40% stronger than the initial X1 chips, and introduce separate databases to greatly help it analyze noise and upscale sub-4K sources to the screen’s native 4K resolution.
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Add an apparently much-improved audio system and Sony’s Triluminos technology for delivering today’s wider color ranges and, in writing at least, the X930E series appears to tick all of the right boxes.
The X930E series will come in two different sizes, a $3,299 65-inch and $2,299 55-inch version, the latter which is what we’ll be covering in-depth here.
Taking into consideration the Slim Backlight Drive was formerly made to be, well, slim, the 55X930E is, somewhat ironically, a reasonably chunky TV by today’s standards. It’s heavy too – we strongly advise against trying to create it up on your own.
That said, it can wear its bulk fairly sharply, though. Its black screen frame looks glossy and well developed, and the half-and-half gold/black outer trim is distinctive and incredibly ‘Sony’. The gold tone reaches the attractively no-nonsense desktop stand and entire back panel, too.
The trunk panel is distinctive for just two other reasons: the precious stone pattern engraved involved with it, and the actual fact that large parts of it are made from removable panels. It’s designed that way in order that you can hide your cabling away – Sony permits you to cover cables from external kit within the desktop stand mounts.
The connections Sony is indeed keen to cover up are as we’d expect of a higher end 2017 TV: four HDMIs, three USBs for multimedia playback/recording TV to USB drives, and an Ethernet port for adding it to your network. Also you can network it via Wi-Fi, of course.
One last aspect of the 55X930E’s design worth mentioning may be the handy remote control. This mercifully dispatches the almost flat buttons that proved so difficult to use on 2016’s models, taking a more traditional raised button feel.
There’s still somewhat an excessive amount of going on in the remote’s main, central area for our liking, but at least you will have half a potential for using the remote successfully without looking at down at it every couple of seconds.
Screen sizes available: 55-inch, 65-inch | 4K: Yes | HDR: Yes (HDR10, Dolby Vision via upcoming firmware update, HLG via upcoming firmware update) | Panel technology: LCD with edge LED lighting, local dimming and Sony’s Slim Backlight Drive technology | Smart TV: Yes, YouView and Android TV | Curved: No | Dimensions: 1232 x 715 x 40mm (W x H x D) | 3D: No | Inputs: Four HDMIs, three USBs, tuner input, Ethernet port, optical digital audio tracks output, analogue music inputs, headphone output, PCMCIA slot
Design TL;DR: Although it’s too chubby to be totally en vogue, its high construction, fetching black and gold color combo and comprehensive cable-tidying tricks make the 55-inch iteration of the X930E series a pleasurable addition to any room.
Smart TV (Android TV)
There are actually only two things a lot of people need from a good TV system: speedy usage of favorite content sources, and a crisp, clean, customizable interface. Sadly, the Android TV system on the 55X930E offers neither.
Its interface is cluttered and dictatorial, and little to no chance of customization. And Google’s apparent belief that quantity trumps quality where software are concerned helps it be frequently painfully difficult to look for favorite software or specific content.
Google Assistant is because of be put into Sony’s 2017 Android TVs later in the entire year, which might improve things a bit, but we can’t help but feel there should be a complete rethink of the Android TV approach if it certainly wants to turn into a strong smart TV interface.
Sony has at least ensured that the 55X930E gives the 4K and HDR-capable versions of YouTube, Netflix and Amazon, so that’s something.
An added issue with the Android TV smart system, though, is that it still appears buggy and sometimes appears to cause the TV’s main menus to perform sluggishly.
Smart TV TL;DR: Android TV is less flaky than it used to be and could be improved with the addition of Google Assistant voice recognition later in the entire year. Overall, though, Android TV still remains our least favorite smart TV interface.
Sony is definitely one of the better brands at upscaling HD sources to 4K, however the dual database processing system in the X1 Extreme chipset takes what to a complete new level.
Detail levels are exceptional – high-quality HD sources do transform into a thing that often looks near 4K. This transformation, moreover, is achieved with the processing making scarcely any undesirable unwanted effects. The picture looks clean and natural, a clear testament to the genius of the noise handling part of Sony’s latest upscaling system.
The upscaling effect isn’t limited by just adding more texture or pixel density, either. Sony’s upscaling processing is clever enough to calculate the very best color tones for the an incredible number of extra pixels it’s creating with breathtaking accuracy, giving pictures a feeling of depth and realism no other upscaling system has delivered before.
In addition, the 55X930E doesn’t just raise the resolution of non-4K images: In addition, it provides a typical dynamic range to high dynamic range conversion process. Sony is indeed confident about this you can’t even transform it off with almost all of the TV’s picture presets. This confidence proves well founded, too, as the machine manages to improve the brightness and color of standard dynamic range material remarkably effectively. The enriched tones look natural and balanced, together with enjoying an increased sense of ‘volume’ – the term the TV world is currently using to describe the result brightness is wearing color.
The excess brightness is introduced by the SDR-to-HDR conversion without leaving bright highlights looking flared out or forced. Also, unlike LG’s recently tested OLED65W7, the screen’s extreme brightness capacities (it’s with the capacity of hitting peaks of beyond 1500 nits) imply that it could boost an SDR’s image peaks to something at least resembling HDR levels without needing to first dim the image’s average brightness.
One last indicate add here’s that the 55X930E’s contrast looks mostly exceptional with SDR content, even though it’s been given the HDR upscale treatment. Black levels are great, and signs of backlight clouding/blocking around bright objects are both rare and really faint even though they do arrive.
HD/SDR Performance TL;DR: Class-leading upscaling and brilliant color and light management deliver state of the art HD and SDR quality.
Great although 55X930E looks with HD standard dynamic range sources, that is evidently a TV that’s been built for today’s bleeding edge 4K and HDR content. And generally it provides such leading edge goodies blisteringly well.
Its extreme brightness – which is up there using what we’ve been resulted in believe we are able to expect from Samsung’s upcoming ‘QLED’ Q7 and Q8 models – does a beautiful job of expressing the wider brightness range HDR was created to deliver. Actually, the brightest elements of pictures – street lights, sunlight, metallic reflections, etc… – look a lot more punchy and powerful than they did even on Samsung’s 2016 flagship KS9800 TVs.
Better still, the high brightness performance isn’t limited to just the most dramatic highlights. The 55X930E is ready, too, to render high degrees of brightness over the whole image when required – such as for example with all that lovely sun-drenched exterior footage within the recently released Ultra HD Blu-ray of THE WORLD II. In this respect specifically the 55X930E outguns almost all other LCD TVs out there, which often need to run more dimly when necessary to cope with a complete screen packed with HDR-level brightness.
Making all of the 55X930E’s brightness look a lot more striking may be the way the screen has the ability to resolve subtle shade and color detail in every however the most extreme bright areas.
This degree of tone mapping continues to be rare in the HDR TV world, with only Samsung previously obtaining such subtle tonal information at HDR’s extremes.
The 55X930E’s brightness helps it do exceptionally well at portraying the colour ‘volume’ facet of HDR sources, while Sony’s Triluminos technology really helps to make certain that again, regardless of how vivid and bright a location of color may be, it still looks gorgeously abundant with both saturation and subtle tonal detail.
While HDR perhaps catches the attention most using its brightness, the dark end of the light spectrum can be key to a successful HDR picture.
And in a few ways the 55X930E does very well here, too: It’s in a position to deliver a deeper, richer black than many edge LED solutions, bolstered without doubt by the localized lighting aftereffect of the Slim Backlight Drive and Sony’s Xpanded Dynamic Range technology, that allows power unnecessary for the dark regions of the picture to be utilized to improve bright areas.
The 55X930E also offers the light management prowess to retain good degrees of detail in dark corners, instead of just removing so much light from these elements of the picture that they look hollowed out and empty.
It’s worth adding that the impressive HDR factors we’ve been discussing so far connect with the relatively unsophisticated HDR10 standard. The 55X930E may also be in a position to handle the likely superior pictures of Dolby Vision HDR content (which uses dynamic metadata to greatly help the TV do an improved job of managing HDR content on a scene by scene basis) carrying out a firmware update later in the entire year.
Resolution holds up much better than usual on the 55X930E, too, when there’s motion in the frame – be it camera pans or objects moving over the screen. Even without applying the available motion processing systems there’s just a little less judder than you customarily get with LCD TVs. But Sony’s motion processing can be greater than most, creating less artefacts and making movies look less ‘Eastenders-like’ than many rival motion processing systems.
It’s a pity is that the most natural-looking motion setting, Clear, also causes the picture to be too dark for comfort – especially with HDR content. Having said that, picture performance is definately not perfect: First, when very bright HDR objects appear against predominantly dark backdrops, you can view undesired backlight clouding spreading out an excellent 2-3 inches beyond the bright object’s edges.
The other problem may be the TV’s viewing angle. Watch from less than 25 degrees down the TV’s sides and the backlight ‘blooming’ issue I’ve just described escalates substantially, becoming both more aggressive and more widespread. Colors have a dip in saturation too.
4K/HDR TL;DR: HDR has seldom if looked so rich, strong and sharp – though there’s a cost to cover the brightness in the sort of some backlight blooming issues, particularly if you’re watching from an angle.
Last year’s XBR-X930D TVs were a disappointment sonically, sounding thin and weedy by Sony’s usually high aural standard. Thankfully things have improved drastically for the 55X930E.
The speakers are better and open, and have the ability to sound more direct. There’s a startling three-dimensional scale to the soundstage too, since it manages to deliver a feeling of depth, height and width without losing cohesion or sounding brittle. Importantly, though, regardless of the scale of the sound, dialogue always stays locked to the screen where it ought to be.
A little more bass will be nice but, overall, the 55X930E’s sound definitely outperforms nearly all other screens in its class – and never have to sacrifice its design to accomplish it.
Sound TL;DR: Among the flat TV world’s better sounding TVs – despite its design sporting no discernible speakers.
Other panels to ponder
Among the first TVs to come our way in 2017, during writing we’re mostly needing to consider 2016 TVs for comparison here, with evident alternative being Samsung’s KS9800. As noted earlier, the 55X930E outperforms Samsung’s 2016 flagship TV on color and brightness. However, the KS9500’s make use of a primary LED lighting system, where in fact the lights sit directly behind the screen, means it suffers less often and less aggressively with the backlight clouding distractions you get with Sony’s new set.
Also impossible to ignore are LG’s 2016 OLED TVs – especially the OLED55E6 and OLED55B6. The former of the builds in a decent sound bar alongside its beautifully contrast-rich pictures, as the latter makes OLED technology cheaper than it’s ever been before.
Do remember, though, these OLED TVs achieve not even half the brightness of the 55X930E, therefore their HDR focus is on the dark end of HDR’s spectrum, not the more eye-catching bright end.
Sony has upped its game atlanta divorce attorneys way with the 55X930E. Its picture processing is way better. Its design is way better. Brightness is substantially higher and does a far greater job of unlocking the entire glory of high dynamic range content than last year’s X930D series. Colors are delivered with a fantastic intensity and richness that’s only being witnessed once before: on Sony’s a lot more expensive ZD9 flagship TVs.
Sharpness levels and detailing are as effective as we’ve observed in the 4K era – especially as Sony’s color processing means that colors look as subtly toned because they are vibrant. Even if you’re watching an HD instead of 4K source.
But, having said that, even a better version of Sony’s Slim B