Sony XBR65X900E 4K HDR Ultra HD TV Review
65″ X900E 120Hz Smart LED TV
The 2017 television models are beginning to hit big box stores and online retailers. And what better way to kick off my 2017 review season than with Sony’s new 65″ XBR900E… and as a prelude to the performance section of this review, I will reveal to you that this TV’s picture quality did not disappoint. More on this later.
The 900E is also available in 49, 55 and 75 inch screen sizes.
Sony’s 900E features a sleek and slim panel design with very thin borders (bezel) measuring approximately 5/16″ surrounding the TV’s screen which contains a semi-gloss finish. Panel depth is also quite thin sizing up at just over 2-1/4″ at its thickest point.
Sony has redesigned its TV stands for its 2017 XBR lineup, and the 900E’s stand is much more streamlined and even more attractive than last year’s design in my opinion. It also provides very good stability for this models large 65″ screen size.
As with last year’s XBR940D and this year’s new XBR940E, Sony has intoduced full-array LED backlighting with local dimming to its less expensive 900E. This feature allows the XBR65X900E to deliver impressive contrast range and very deep black levels. More on this later.
The supplied remote control has carried over from last year’s XBR models which is a standard type wand design with a conventional button layout for easy operation of the TVs many functions. The remote features a built-in mic for voice recognition and allows for voice control of certain Android TV functions. The remote is not backlit.
Sony’s 900E is loaded with many of the brands top performance features that enable this display to deliver top-notch picture quality. These features include:
- Sony’s new X1 4K HDR Processor with Object-based HDR remaster (analyzes images in each scene and corrects the color and contrast of each object individually, making colors and contrast appear more realistic) and Super Bit Mapping 4K HDR technology (with 14-bit signal processing – creates a smooth natural picture without image banding). The 4K HDR Processor X1 reproduces more depth, textures, and natural colors than its predecessor, the 4K Processor X1.
- 4K X-Reality Pro Upscaler enhances clarity of all image sources and delivers refined picture quality with more perceived detail. Also, all non-4K sources are upscaled to near 4K quality. In addition, noise reduction techniques used in this processor allow for clearer, smoother and more natural images.
- X-tended Dynamic Range PRO 5x makes darker areas darker and brighter scenes brighter by precisely balancing the light output across the screen, dimming some areas and boosting others, X-tended Dynamic Range PRO reveals a brightness range 5x greater than a conventional LED-LCD TV. Furthermore, this processing proves very beneficial when combined with a 4K HDR signal by delivering even greater contrast range in the form of peak brightness (highlights) and black levels, in addition to better picture detail and more vibrant colors.
- TRILUMINOS Display technology creates incredibly true, natural shades of colors that are rich and vibrant and brings you closer than ever to real-world colors.
- Full-array LED backlighting with local dimming provides very good picture contrast and black levels.
Other features include:
- Google Android smart TV platform with Google Play – The XBR900E uses Android’s Marshmallow (6.0.1) operating system and incorporates Android TV with access to a variety of apps available for download from the Google Play store Android TV gives you access to movie, music, sports, and other entertainment apps
- HDR or High Dynamic Range (HDR10) provides increased contrast with a greater range of peak brightness (highlights) and black levels, in addition to better picture detail and more vibrant colors
- HDR Remaster improves color and contrast for SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) content
- 10-bit panel displays more colors with finer step of gradation for greater color reproduction with HDR sources
- HEVC/VP9 decoding for watching streamed 4K video sources like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and YouTube
- DIRECTV 4K Ready – DIRECTV subscribers with the Genie Whole-Home HD DVR can enjoy 4K service and full DVR features without an additional receiver
- Motionflow XR 960 for blur reduction
- Netflix Recommended TV – This certification makes it easier for consumers to know which manufacturers HDTV’s work best with its streaming video service
- Chromecast built-in allows content to be cast from a smartphone or tablet directly to the TV
- 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct capability
- Opera Web Browser
- Two 10 watt built-in down-firing speakers
- 4 HDMI 2.0a inputs (HDCP 2.2 compliant)
- 1 Component video input (shared)
- 2 Composite video input (shared)
- 3 USB inputs
- 1 Ethernet input
- 1 RF input for antenna/cable/satellite
- 1 Digital optical audio output
- 1 Analog audio output 3.5 mm
Overall the XBR65X900E delivered very impressive picture quality from all the 4K sources I viewed on it including HDR and non-HDR content as well as 4K Blu-ray discs. 1080p content was also presented very good on this display. Even one of my sample 480p (non-HD) demo clips I use for picture evaluation looked decent.
HDR content provided the best image quality from the 900E, displaying images that were visually brilliant, delivering exceptional peak highlights which added more natural realism to the onscreen images. And as expected, nighttime outdoor scenes really came to life with much more presence, clarity and detail. Colors were also more vivid containing a solid and natural richness you just don’t see in non-HDR content. HDR is definitely the real deal on the 900E.
In general, all 4K content, regardless of the sources of which I used to evaluate the 900E, delivered outstanding picture quality – picture attributes such as image depth and transparency, detail and clarity were all presented in satisfying amounts, all of which attributed to a very three dimensional image presentation that was a pleasure to watch.
Watching high quality 1080p content revealed a similar viewing experience as mentioned above, yet to a lesser degree with the exception of 4K HDR content, which still maintained a very notable difference over 1080p content. Viewing distance also played a part in the differences I could discern between standard 4K and 1080p content.
Sony’s 4K X-Reality Pro processing is highly regarded in the TV industry for providing some of the best -if not the best- 4K upcaling available, and I must say the XBR900E didn’t disappoint. After this processing, 1080p images looked every bit of 4K quality – revealing more refined sharpness, clarity and image texture.
The XBR65X900E did a very good job with color presentation. Colors were nicely rendered with accurate tones and shading, in addition to being quite vibrant while maintaining a very natural appearance. These attributes were even more apparent with high quality HDR content. The 900E has wide color gamut capability for greater color volume, which matters for HDR content.
Since all 900E models use full-array LED backlighting with local dimming, they are able to produce better contrast and deeper black levels when implemented correctly, as is the case with the XBR65X900E. Black levels were impressively deep on this TV, delivering rich deep blacks in all content that required such performance. The contrast ratio was also very good on this display which heightened its excellent black levels.
I’d like to point out the settings I used for TVs ‘X-tended Dynamic Range PRO’ and ‘Auto Local Dimming’ functions which aide in its contrast range and black level performance. My preference and setting for X-tended Dynamic Range PRO was ‘Low’; setting it to ‘High’ was a bit too aggressive for my taste. I also set Auto Local Dimming to ‘Low’.
When viewing HDR content however, the 900E has X-tended Dynamic Range PRO set to ‘High’ by default which worked well for HDR content.
These settings gave me the best image balance for the wide range of content I viewed on this TV that contained dark images. However of course, your preferences may or will vary depending on how you prefer your picture images to appear.
Shadow details in dark scenes with low light were rendered very good on this display. I could easily see and discern objects in these scenes that were cast in shadowed areas of the image without any doubt of what those objects were suppose to be.
Black screen uniformity was great on this TV. I did not see any light bleed along any of the screens edges, nor could I detect any clouding or flash-lighting effects.
Motion handling was very good on the 900E. While viewing my test footage of a basketball game shot in 4K, court action revealed very smooth and artifact free images during this fast passed event. Motion judder wasn’t a problem either while watching my demo movie (24p) clips. However this can be an issue when watching movies from cable TV sources that have 60p/60i signals. In this case, set the TVs ‘Motionflow’ to ‘True Cinema’ and set Cinemotion to ‘High’ to eliminate judder.
Side angle viewing was an expected short coming on this display since it uses a VA panel. With that said, I experienced typical color saturation and contrast loss when viewing this TV from wide angles starting at around 15 degrees. This is always something to consider if you will use this TV in a setup with room seating placed at wide angles from the screen.
Sound quality from the TV’s two speakers was slighty above average when compared to what I normally hear from most flat panel TVs. Now don’t get me wrong, the sound quality was not great, yet still decent sounding for this type of design. The sound was somewhat full-bodied and delivered a sense of spaciousness that made listening a bit more enjoyable. The sound was also clear which made dialogue easy to understand.
Bass output, although minimal, had a small amount of punch behind it, which made action scenes in movies a bit more enjoyable. I do however, still recommend a soundbar to obtain a much better audio presentation.
Gaming input lag – According to my source, input lag is quite good on this display measuring 32 ms, which makes it a good choice for video gaming.
I chose the ‘Custom’ picture mode when setting up the 900E for evaluation.
Brightness: 35 defaults to ‘Max’ with HDR signal
Black level: 48
Black adjustment: Off – use at your own discretion
Adv. contrast enhancer: Off – use at your own discretion
Auto local dimming: Low
X-tended Dynamic Range: Low
Color temperature: Expert 1
Live Color: Off
Motionflow: Off – use at your own discretion or as needed
Cinemotion: Off – use at your own discretion or as needed
Sony has delivered a very fine performer with its XBR65X900E. Its overall picture quality is very good with all picture sources, thanks in part to its top-notch picture enhancement technologies, especially while viewing HDR content. It has great built-in features including Chromecast and its Google Android smart TV platform which provides a variety of entertainment options via the Google Play store.
There isn’t much I have to say against the 900E other than its side angle viewing picture quality which starts to diminish when viewed at wide angles which is typical of all LED based TVs with VA panels. There is also no 3D capability if you are still interested in this feature. Furthermore, some consumers may find it to be a bit pricey – but the good news is, prices will fall very soon.
Sony is off to a good start with its 2017 TV lineup as is evident in the XBR65X900E. So if you’re starting your search for a 4K Ultra HD TV, put this one on your list of TVs to check out.
HDTVs and More recommended.