Sony’s XBR models are the company’s premium line of HDTV’s. For 2014 they have released nine new models. The XBR950B is their Flagship model followed by the XBR900B.
Sony has gone to great lengths with this year’s lineup to bring you the best possible 4K picture quality available.
The 950B and 900B are both 65″ models featuring a glossy screen (which I prefer) in comparison to the dull matte finish screens many HDTVs have, and a matte black bezel and cabinet. The 950 has an all-around slim bezel design which gives it a sleek appearance. The 950’s bezel is rounded at the top ends to give it a unique appearance. It is also a bit thicker at the base rear panel area to enclose the 2.1 speaker system (2 satellites and 1 woofer).
The 900B has a wedge shape design that is much thicker at the bottom – this has two advantages: it provides space for larger speakers for better sound quality and it gives the TV a lower center of gravity to help prevent tip-overs. Speaking of sound, the 900B features side-mounted speakers consisting of 2 tweeters, 2 woofers and 2 subwoofers. I will speak more about sound quality later.
The 900B also features adjustable mounting feet with two mounting positions – 22″ and 67″. Network features include Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n for connecting to your home’s wireless network.
What sets the 950B and 900B apart from other LED TVs are three key picture quality functions:
- X-tended Dynamic Range Pro (950B) and X-tended Dynamic Range (900B) technologies: This feature gives these HDTVs brighter whites and deeper blacks for outstanding contrast reproduction. The 950B has full-array LED backlighting with local dimming. While the 900B has edge LED backlighting with local dimming.
- OptiContrast Panel with TRILUMINOS: The 950B and 900B both utilize OptiContrast panel technology for improved brightness, deeper blacks, less reflection, and overall better picture accuracy. Sony’s TRILUMINOS display technology creates incredibly true, natural shades of colors that are rich and vibrant.
- 4K X-Reality Pro Engine: The 950B and 900B utilize Sony’s new 4K X-Reality Pro Engine. This enhances Ultra HD, HD, and SD images by analyzing and refining images with natural detail and excellent color. The 4K X-Reality Pro Engine also upscales all non-native 4K images to Ultra HD quality.
HEVC (H.265) and HDMI 2.0
All of Sony’s 2014 4K Ultra HD TVs support the new High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) spec. This codec is needed for optimal compression of video files and is used for 4K video services such as Netflix and other providers.
Sony’s latest 4K models are also HDMI 2.0 complainant which means they can support increased bandwidth for higher resolutions and higher frame rates at 4K/60fps.
The 950B has a built-in top-mounted camera that is Skype capable.
The 950B and 900B feature Active3D Technology and include 2 pairs of 3D glasses.
Both models come with not one but two remotes. The new “One-flick” touchpad has several advantages over the typical button-style remote. First, it operates via Bluetooth instead of IR, so it’s less finicky as far as needing to be precisely aimed at the TV’s remote sensor. And the touchpad makes screen navigation and switching between apps quick and easy. The other remote is a standard IR clicker.
I will get right to the point and profess that the XBR65X950B has the most striking and outstanding 4K LED Ultra HD image I have seen to date. In fact, I will go as far and say it has the best image I have ever seen on any TV, period – in my opinion, and experience.
The 950B’s image was extremely transparent and life-like with a natural-looking tone. This set produced an awesome dynamic range from the brightest whites to the deepest blacks which I contribute in part to this sets full-array LED backlighting w/ local dimming.
Regarding black levels, all I can say is WOW! The black levels were equal to the best plasmas I have seen. This set produced true deep blacks with no grey shadowing that is present on much lesser-performing LED HDTVs. The detail in dark scenes was well resolved, clean and clear.
I could make out all the fine detail in a concert scene of people in the audience. When viewing credits at the end of a particular program with white text laid over a black background, the blacks were dark and inky in nature and what I’m accustomed to seeing in a plasma set.
By comparison, the 900B’s could not match the black level performance of the 950B. Blacks weren’t as deep and shadow detail wasn’t as resolved but was still excellent and better than any other LED HDTV I have seen.
Color and image detail was outstanding on the 950B, with the most intricate detail and clarity being delivered along with extremely vivid and rich color rendition.
The contrast between light and dark areas of the images in the 4K concert footage I viewed was well balanced with the dark areas remaining dark and defined with great shadow detail, while the vocalist on stage was well illuminated with the bright stage lights and none of that brightness caused any blooming into the surrounding dark area of the image which would have given the image a grayish appearance. Excellent performance!
The 900B also did well in this area, and on a scale of 1 thru 10, by comparison, I would give the 900B a solid 8 and the 950B a ten. I contribute these differences to the 950B having the X-tended Dynamic Range Pro and the 900B having the X-tended Dynamic Range (non-Pro).
The 4K X-Reality Pro Engine provides outstanding up-scaling of 1080p content to 4K. I viewed the 1080p Blu-ray version of Avatar on both the 950B and 900B. This was the best up-conversion I have ever seen. The image was sharp and detailed with great image depth with no artifacts to be seen. By comparison, the 950B was notably better than the 900B. The 950B provided better detail, contrast, clarity and shadow detail. Overall the image was more dynamic.
I was able to compare the 950B and 900B 4k up-scaling to a Sony KDL-65W950B 1080p model viewing the same content. The difference was readily apparent with the 4K up-scaled image appearing noticeably better than the standard 1080p image. I was impressed. The KDL-65W950B was no slouch, it’s image quality was still very good by comparison.
Off-angle viewing on the 950B and 900B was good for LED TV and appeared to be slightly better than average.
Sony’s MotionFlow XR960 Technology (120Hz refresh rate plus backlight scanning) is applied to both of these sets to create fluid and blur-free on-screen action. I observed highlights from a soccer game and detected no image blur.
The sound quality of the 900B’s side-mounted speaker configuration was very good. The sound was clean and dynamic with a decent bass extension for TV-mounted speakers. A soundbar is definitely not necessary for this TV.
The 950B’s sound quality in comparison was lean and thin sounding, with very little punch or impact. I suggest using a soundbar with this display.
My Rating – XBR65X950B: 5 out of 5 My Rating – XBR65X900B: 4.5 out of 5
Price:$7,999.00 (Retail) 950B Price:$4,999.00 (Retail) 900B
Warranty: 1-year parts & labor
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Specs for 950B and 900B
- 6 A/V inputs, including:
- 4 HDMI 2.0
- 1 component video (selectable component/composite)
- 1 composite video
- RF input for antenna or cable signals
- optical digital audio output (may only pass 2-channel audio from HDMI-connected sources)
- stereo minijack headphone output — can also be connected to a soundbar or other audio system
- Ethernet port for a wired connection to your home network
- 3 USB inputs for connecting a camera and other USB devices
- detachable stand
- detachable stand (stand “footprint” is 22-5/8″W with stand legs in narrow position) 900B only
- wall-mountable (bracket not included)
- 58-3/4″W x 35-3/8″H x 4-1/4″D (37-1/2″H x 13-3/4″D on stand) 950B
- 67-5/8″W x 34-5/8″H x 4-1/16″D (36-1/8″H x 12-9/16″D on stand) 900B
- weight: 96 lbs. with stand; 92 lbs. without stand – 950B
- weight: 102 lbs. with stand, 101 lbs. without stand – 900B
- Outstanding picture quality
- Excellent 4K up-scaling
- Built-in top-mounted camera
- HDMI 2.0 compliant
- Plasma-like black levels
- Excellent picture quality
- Excellent 4K up-scaling
- HDMI 2.0 compliant
- Excellent black level rendition
- Some may not like the look of the side-mounted speakers
- A bit pricey
Sony’s XBR 950 and 900 4K Ultra-HD TVs produce some of the best images I have ever seen with the edge going to the 950B for overall picture quality. The images produced by these sets are absolutely first-rate; and in addition, the 950B’s performance is virtually second to none in my opinion; however, with the possible exception of OLED-based HDTVs, which I believe will eventually become the new benchmark in display picture quality.
So if LED HDTVs are your preferred choice for display technology, and these Ultra HD TVs’ high price tags aren’t an object, I would definitely put them on your shortlist. Highly recommended!
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Updated on 2/15/2015