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The set that’s won the 2017 TV race for Sony is a potentially important one, too. The 55-inch, $2,300 XBR-55X930E (£2,400 KD-55XE9305 in the united kingdom) is undoubtedly among the Japanese brand’s big hitters because of this year, combining Sony’s X1 Extreme chipset and a much-improved improved version of the Slim Backlight Drive technology it first introduced with 2016’s X930Ds.
The X1 Extreme Chipset was initially introduced on Sony’s ground-breakingly good Z9D TELEVISION (a set that will continue to sit near the top of Sony’s range in most of 2017). It adds a distinctive dual database system for superior handling of resolution and noise during when upscaling HD, and can help you add support for the Dolby Vision dynamic metadata undertake high dynamic range technology (HDR, explained here) via firmware update.
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Sony’s 55X930E may be the first new TV of 2017. (Pic: Sony)
This firmware update won’t be accessible until later this season, therefore i couldn’t test Dolby Vision on the 55X930E. But at least it’s coming. The same applies to another firmware update that may introduce support for Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) broadcast HDR technology.
The Slim Backlight Drive sees Sony cunningly trying to introduce more backlight control to edge-lit displays by inserting two edge LED modules and light guide plates in sequence. This essentially doubles the quantity of local dimming zones the 55X930E could work with pitched against a typical edge-lit LCD, even so that it is possible to provide some light localization in central regions of the screen.
For the X930E range Sony has increased the quantity of separate light zones supported by the Slim Backlight Drive, that will hopefully view it avoid the rather clear backlight “blocks” sometimes seen on the X930Ds.
The 55X930E’s design is nice instead of spectacular, concentrating on minimalism and tidiness (via cable management and a couple of detachable panels on its rear) before shouty glamor.
It’s seriously robustly built, too, weighing a lot more compared to the average 55-inch TV, and does at least feature one design ‘extravagance’ in the condition of a striking cross-hatch pattern engraved into its gold-tinged rear panel. Though I’m bound to indicate that most households I understand spend their time looking at the front end of their TVs, not the trunk.
The 55X930E features Sony’s new improved Slim Backlight Drive technology. (Pic: Sony)
Connections are prodigious, featuring highlights of four HDMIs (all created to the most recent HDCP 2.0-supporting 2.0a specification), Bluetooth connectivity, Googlecast support, three USBs, and the now inevitable Wi-Fi and Ethernet network options.
These network options support both streaming from DLNA-enabled devices on your own network and usage of Sony’s platform of ‘smart’ software and features.
Android TV is back
For better or, for me, worse, these smart features are dominated by Android TV. I’ve discussed my problems with the Android TV platform before, and several of those issues stay in the most recent iteration on show here. The only very good news is that the machine is more stable (though I still experienced a couple of bloopers within my review), runs somewhat quicker (though here too there’s still ample room for improvement) and doesn’t seem to be to slow down the areas of the TV’s functionality as much.
It’s good to see, too, that the 55X930E provides 4K and HDR-capable versions of the Amazon Video and Netflix video streaming apps.
UK 55X930E/55XE9305 owners additionally get yourself a built-in YouView app, providing usage of a sophisticated electronic programme guide and the catch-up software for every one of the UK’s ‘big four’ broadcasters.
The Sony 55X930E could be mounted on an optional swivel wall bracket. (Pic: Sony)
Putting the 55X930E through its paces reveals a TV that increases considerably over its 2016 predecessor to provide often jaw-dropping HDR spectacle, but which still stumbles at a number of key hurdles.
The most immediately clear improvement includes the set’s higher brightness. This can help HDR images look explosive in ways the X930D didn’t even get near (despite the fact that those predecessors were themselves no slouch in the brightness department).
Actually, the 55X930E gives HDR color and light peaks that are actually the most strong I’ve seen on any TV bar Sony’s vastly more costly Z9D flagship sets. And I use in that statement the efforts of Samsung’s outstanding KS9800 (KS9500 in the united kingdom) TVs, which look almost muted in comparison.
The stunningly bold turn to HDR highlights and colors meant it had been no surprise to obtain the 55X930E hitting light peaks of around 1450 nits (as measured by using a 10% white window). This drops to around 1050 nits with a 25% white window and 800 nits with a complete white HDR screen, but they are still impressively high numbers that again advise the value of raw nits to the HDR experience.
It’s good in order to report, too, that the 55X930E manages to retain its brightness well, losing just a few nits of brightness when asked to keep peak HDR white over a five minute period.
The extremely high brightness performance of the 55X930E knocks on into its color performance, delivering tones that look remarkably potent with HDR source material and leaving standard dynamic range versions of the image feeling painfully flat in comparison.
What’s more, since this extra color potency is merely a function of the excess light unlocking more of the colour ‘volume’ we experience in true to life, the incredibly rich palette just looks more natural instead of forced or gaudy. Provided, that’s, you resist the temptation to create the Live Color mode any greater than its Low level.
The 55X930E’s extreme brightness and improved processing also helps it be surprisingly impressive at avoiding clipping (lack of detail and tonal information) in the brightest, most vibrant elements of its pictur