Great 4K display from Sony that exhibits their know how in making a fully integrated smart tv packed with features with unique designs. One of the best Edge Lit LCD's I've seen. Not quite as good as yesterday's high end plasma displays but one of the best displays available on the market today you can buy.
Various content available with unified SEN account
Vibrant picture with lots of pop
Great bright room and dim room viewing
Very accurate color reproduction
Black levels could be better
Well after having recently caught that nasty upgrade itch, I was able to cure my ailment with my most recent purchase. Having found a very good deal, you know the kind that just doesn’t happen. Like ever. Part sale, part pricing error, no tax etc. I was able to scratch my itch with a purchase of a XBR-65X900B.
Now I have owned many high end displays some of which are argued to be some of the best made at the time and some of which are still held in high regard which I still own. Displays I have owned range from LCD (full array), to plasmas. Pioneers, Panasonics, LG’s, Samsungs, etc.
I haven’t owned a LCD in a long time and it’s been even longer since I owned a Sony (WEGA HDTV days circa 2003/2004 hell maybe even 2002) So with this purchase I wanted to 1. Get a 4K panel to play with and 2. Own a LCD. So the X900B joined my humble little family and its new siblings my 65ZT60 and KRP-500M.
So before I get into it I might as well get this out of the way now for those that want to know. Does it beat out a ZT60 or 500M. No not even close. Not even a little. Not saying it’s a bad display, because it is actually very nice. I’m definitely not mad or upset owning one. Though when it comes to blacks, color accuracy and saturation, motion, viewing angles. It just doesn’t have what it takes to compete with those two. It’s also a harsh reminder of why I gravitated towards plasma for so long and a very, very harsh reminder that those days are gone until I can buy a 65” 4K OLED. (Please do not take this as I am a plasma fanboy, or faithful. I just like good PQ and plasma just happened to be the flavor it was delivered to me in.)
*Please forgive the picture quality I couldn't find my camera so these were taking with an iPhone 5S*
*Note, The pictures that are doubles are of cinema 1 and 2. Many also mimic pictures that were posted in my ZT review for comparison.*
There are a fair amount of features packed into this display. Many of which I admittedly will never use though nice to know they are there if I’m ever so inclined to use them. The biggest feature is undoubtedly the massive speakers. The speakers are a love it or hate it bag. It’s subjective as some will love them design and sound wise, while others will hate them. I find myself curiously in the middle. I love the look of the entire display when it is off. Once the display is turned on they are an eyesore when I notice them. They also add a pretty large footprint to the width of the display as well.
Sound wise they actually sound pretty decent. Similar to a nice soundbar. Overall if they had a model that didn’t have them I would have opted for that as I don’t use TV speakers in the living room. I haven’t for years and don’t plan on starting.
Other features are a built in camera in the upper left corner of the display (upper left if facing display), Social View which allows you to skype and watch TV, view tweets, etc.
Twin View which is your basic PIP (cannot use 2 HDMI sources), discover mode which pulls up a small strip towards the bottom of the screen which allows you to browse various content.
The one thing I really love though is the 5Ghz wifi signal support.
Smart TV Functionality:
This is where Sony stands out a little bit imho. They have integrated the (insert name here) Unlimited services into the display. Have it be Movies, Music, Photos you have access to various content. Where it all starts to come together though is that it uses a unified account for SEN (Sony Entertainment Network). This is also the same account you would use for PSN (PlayStation Network). So you can probably see where this is going. Add in PlayStation Now and you have a lot of content at your disposal.
A perfect example are things I purchased on the playstation store long ago are in my account for access. Have it be a show I downloaded, movie, etc. I can watch it on my display. I can add funds to my account using playstation network cards, if I wanted. Overall it’s pretty well thought out.
Apps could be better though. There is soooo much trash. Sooo sooo much trash it’s silly. Outside of your standard downloads like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc. There isn’t really a whole lot special here. Even though the app selection was more limited on SmartViera I preferred their apps more. A few apps I would like to see would be HBO GO, Crunchyroll, and some type of integration for PSN.
Whats in the box:
Once you get the big box opened you will find the standard additions. The stand/feet for the display. Booklet, 2 pair of battery operated active 3D glasses, standard no frills remote, touch remote, a Port Replicator, mounting screws (since the display has the “Wedge” design there are specific length screws for mounting that must be attached first so the display is flat). Lastly you will find the IR blaster for use with cable boxes and AVR’s
The display itself has is glossy and reflective with massive speakers on the sides. With the glossy finish so it will pick up finger prints. The weight of the display is actually rather light when you consider the size of the speakers. It actually weighs less than my 65VT30. The design is Sony’s new wedge. The wedge when viewing from the side is all chrome. On the back of the display the ports are hidden with a removable cover. Subwoofer ports are positioned at the bottom of the display on each side. You also have the option to add an optional wireless subwoofer.
The top of the display is actually curved so the camera is not positioned on the top center of the display like many other displays that have cameras built in. It is positioned in the upper left corner of the display. Rounding it all out is the LED notification at the bottom center of the displays front.
The setup process is fairly painless. Nothing too special here. You will be prompted to select source for TV, cable or ANT, setting time, connecting to the internet. Though at the end of the process you will be prompted to set up the use of cable and AVR with the IR blaster that is included with the display. Which you will need to have connected in order to set this up.
Immediately after the set up process is complete you will be prompted for a firmware update.
The entire process will probably take you about 10 mins.
Out of the box picture quality left much to be desired. I was not impressed at all. Not even a little bit. None of the scenes or picture modes out of the box gave a good picture in the way a Panasonic out of the box ever did. It also exhibited various picture abnormalities that I have never seen before and it made me wonder if my display was defective. I actually went as far as going to a Sony Store and MAV to test these things out and found it in their models as well. So that was a relief in the sense that my unit was not defective.
Some of the things I saw were flickering blacks if they were by the edge. Blown out shadows, then your normal edge lit LCD picture issues blacklight bleeding, etc. It actually made me not want to even watch the display. I figured calibration would fix most if not all of the issues so that was first thing on my list. Which I unfortunately had to do a few days later just due to a busy schedule.
I at first thought I was just being over critical until my wife who was watching it said “Can I be honest with you? This doesn’t look nowhere near as good as the Panasonic. Why is the picture so bad? The Panasonic was perfect.” *Accompanied by a sad face*
Now with this being said once it was calibrated it came into its own and it was actually putting out a pretty damn good picture. I’m honestly going to do another calibration in a few days to try and improve it.
A few things to note about the picture quality is of course as expected Scene plays a great deal into brightness, as does the motion flow setting you use. Some motion flow settings are darker than others. So I advise going through them first and setting each then moving forward with tweaking the picture. Also depending on what settings you use here will determine what you should set the LED Dynamic control to (Local Dimming) as Standard can give you flicker blacks and you may need low. (When I say flickering blacks think of the floating blacks that Panasonic had in the VT25, VT30’s, this only happened though on the X900B if the black was near the edge of the display)
As of right now I am happy with all aspects of the picture quality except cable. It is hit or miss. The wife also feels the same. She stated yesterday everything looks good now but cable sometimes. We tend to DVR a lot of shows so I tend to look at various scenes on the X900B, ZT60 and 500M and cable (AT&T Uverse) just looks better on others. Some stations look the same others look worse. I really think it depends on the compression of the network, but so far that really is the only downside as of right now to the picture quality.
Blacks could be better needless to say but for an edge lit led it is pretty damn good. If I hadn’t of come from a ZT or 500M I probably wouldn’t be as critical of it. It’s just hard to adjust too for me. I notice it most when I turn on my Oppo 103D and you have the Oppo logo and the small blue sparkles at the bottom. You can just tell the black level is not there. Also on letter box movies you can see it as well.
I luckily was able to calibrate out all the flickering blacks, and minimized the backlight bleeding.
Motion is hit or miss at times. A good example is when the wife and I were watching the latest The Leftovers episode and the scene switched to the grandfather beating up the police officer. Lots of artifacts, though on the ZT smooth as butter though again this really exhibits itself more on cable TV then on actual HD and 4K content.
Color accuracy is actually very impressive considering Sony doesn’t have a CMS it is pretty spot on. They really did a good job here.
Grayscale is something I want to work on more which is why I’m doing another calibration since I have a better understanding of how everything works with one another on the display. Not bad though. I would like to have a 10pt W/B though. Considering it does not have any advanced controls for WB, Gamma, and CMS. They really did a good job, and the display can be dialed in nicely with what they give you.
Viewing angle is pretty bad. Once again spoiled by my plasmas. The viewing angle is horrible in my eyes. It does not take much for it to begin to degrade in PQ. This is probably the weakest link of this display. After about 70 degrees it’s noticeable. 90 definitely noticeable, and anything past 90 is pretty much trash. Now I’m not saying that you cannot see the picture but coming from plasma…it’s definitely not up to what I’m accustomed to.
A few things I did appreciate though that I realize I was missing out on with plasma is no ABL. ABL never really bothered me. It’s one of those things that I can see but doesn’t really get to me. With this no ABL so that’s nice. Also the whites are WHITE. Not saying they weren’t white on my other displays but the brightness of the white is insane.
This display gets bright…damn bright. I couldn’t even imagine how bright the X950B would get. It would definitely go unused on me but wow. This thing is spotlight bright.
4K content is needless to say absolutely gorgeous!
Flicker black area prior to calibration on cable (Uverse) source.
Preloaded 4K images and various 4K demo content.
LG 4K demo story of the world
4K Ink Drops
PS4 Valiant Hearts
PS4 Infamous Second Son
Setup & Calibration:
For set up I inspected for dead pixels and it was flawless. I found no vertical banding. Or see no excessive clouding.
For calibration I used ChromaPure, and Display3 Pro, as well as various test disc such as Spears and Munsil 2nd edition, DVE, AVSHD709, WOW and several calibration disc. Gamma tracks at about 2.4 on the higher end 80, 90 and 100 IRE and 2.3 at 70 and below.
I calibrated Cinema 1 as my night mode and Cinema 2 as my day mode. The settings between the two are very similar. I have my Cinema 1 set at about 34fL using Impulse and Cinema 2 is much brighter using True Cinema. Cinema 2 is also used for my TV viewing of cable. Late night viewing and gaming is done on cinema 1.
One thing that I am not a fan of with this display is how it handles the WB settings. Essentially WB settings are universal for selected scenes picture modes. Meaning Cinema scene has 2 sub settings. Cinema 1 and Cinema 2. They share the same WB settings even though you can have the other settings in each different. I do not like this at all. Ideally I would want to have each with their own settings but nope not possible.
Another handy feature is that you can have it set for either current input or common input so the settings carry across all sources. I would like the ability to copy settings to a specific input though again something that just cannot be done.
You have the ability to lock settings which is nice but the drawback is that if you wanted to go into your advanced settings just to see what was selected you cannot when it is locked. These are minor inconveniences but until I get it dialed in the way I want it’s annoying. Once it’s dialed in I won’t care as much.
Overall the display calibrates fairly quickly. Great whites, no clipping. Good shadow detail. Seems to have an excess of blue overall but no huge errors. Secondary’s track very well also. I admittedly haven’t done much with 3D. I’m still actually trying to see if I can get my Panasonic 3D glasses to work on the display.
I’m personally not 100% happy with my results so I will be recalibrating.
Calibration Report *note I will do a new calibration soon and post chart and settings
*Note 8/24/2014 The below report and settings are from recalibration. the pictures in thread are from first calibration.
Picture Mode: Cinema 1
Color Temp: Warm 2
Noise Reduction: Off
MPEG Noise Reduction: Off
Dot Noise Reduction: Off
Reality Creation: Auto
Mastered in 4K: On
Smooth Gradation: Low
MotionFlow: Impulse (or Clear, Clear Plus. Impulse is darkest, followed by clear plus, and clear being brightest of the 3. Use Clear for day)
Black Corrector: Off
Adv. Contrast Enhancer: Low
LED Dynamic Control: Standard
Auto light Limiter: Off
Clear White: Off
Live Color: Off
Detail Enhancer: Off
Edge Enhancer: Off
Skin Naturalizer: Off
Avengers Cinema 1
Avengers Cinema 2
Avengers Cinema 1
Avengers Cinema 2
Brave Cinema 1
Brave Cinema 2
Brave Cinema 1
Brave Cinema 2
Avengers Cinema 1
Avengers Cinema 2
Avengers Cinema 1
Avengers Cinema 2
Many will probably see a lot of what I wrote as bashing the X900B or LCD. In all honesty that truly isn’t the case. I just like good PQ and the things that I look for in displaying good PQ has always been provided to me in plasma. I don’t care what gives it to me, have it be LCD, Plasma, OLED. Doesn’t matter to me. Just make it 65”+ and affordable and I’m happy. That being said for an Edge Lit LED display I have to say it is one of the best looking Edge Lit LCD displays I have seen after it was calibrated.
I realize that the blacks I’m missing I could probably get with the X950B but the difference in price is not something I’m willing to spend when I would still have issues with viewing angle etc.
For the money and the current sale price of the X900B I would definitely say it is more than worth it if you are looking for a 4K display or a newer high end LCD. Plus you have access to 4K content with Sony which is another big draw. This is the first display that Sony has made in a long time that has made me consider them again for future purchases.
If I didn’t have the ZT60 or 500M as a benchmark I would think this display was the dopest thing to hit the street since crack, but I do have the 2 aforementioned displays, so it had a lot to live up to and it fell short. No display is perfect and by no means am I asking for that.
It’s not perfect nor is it a Panasonic or Pioneer caliber display, but it is a damn fine display. I will probably be upgrading again in about a year or year and a half and I’ll be selling the X900B and getting hopefully OLED 4K if the AV gods choose to bless us with its presence.
If you own one (X900B), enjoy it’s a beautiful display. If you are considering one and you find a good price grab it. In terms of just performance with 4K, BluRay, and console games you’ll be pleased, you may have better luck on the cable front then I have. It delivers a clear, accurate, bright picture with pop. Plenty of video processing options to tailor it to your taste. Great picture in brightly lit rooms and dimly lit rooms.
If I were to give it a score. I would say if the ZT60 were a 10 this would be like a 7.75 or an 8.