I presently finished my second round of auditions for the XBR9, having conducted the blu-ray and TV speaker tests.
My first audition was with broadcast HD feeds, mainly from Direct TV.
As a recap, this yielded the following results:
The 52" XBR9 looked slightly better than the 52" XBR7, and Samsung LN52A850 in terms of PQ and black level.
All three of these sets were side by side.
Also was able to compare the XBR9 with the new Samsung UN55B8000 which
was in the same field of view.
The Samsung was clearly BRIGHTER and held it's own against the XBR8 right next to it.
The Sony XBR8, still had the BRIGHTEST whites, but the Samsung was a real contender, especially considering the price difference.
The XBR4 still looks very good, but does NOT have the deep blacks of the XBR9 or the BRIGHTNESS of the new Samsung.
My blu-ray auditions consisted of my new Panasonic BD80, using 24p cinema mode and HDMI connection, with the following titles: Speed Racer (pushes color palette into overdrive) - Baraka ( great live and scenic images) - Celion Dion Live in Las Vegas. ( great closeups and concert footage)
Feeding the XBR9 and Samsung UN55B8000 a 1080p source brought out the BEST in these sets and closed the gap considerably.
First off, the PQ on some of blu-ray scenes looked absolutely STELLAR!
Plenty of 3-D POP and WOW factor.
Were I was somewhat surprised is how well the XBR9 did on this portion, compared to the Samsung.
The Samsung was still noticeably BRIGHTER in the white scenes, but had more of an artificial look about it.
The colors and the overall PQ of the Sony seemed more NATURAL while still maintaining that POP and WOW factor.
Sound testing the sets speakers was as expected.
NOT as good as the XBR6.
The sound from the XBR9 was considerably better than the speakers on the Samsung UN55B8000, but not as directional or dynamic as the XBR6.
The Samsung speakers required more volume and had less dynamic output than the Sony.
The XBR10 & 11 are coming out, but not until this fall and the holiday season.
One or both of these will surely incorporate LED backlight technology, but will it be tri-luminous like the XBR8, or some edge backlight technology similar to the new ultra slim Samsung 55B8000?
There is also the BIG question of PRICE.
Will these new Sony backlight sets be in there own price league similar to the XBR8?
I am almost certain, the performance on the newer Sony LED backlight model will exceed the new LED edge backlight Samsungs, but may not matter if they are priced to high.
Still personally disappointed Sony choose NOT to roll these models out with there initial line up, and instead let Samsung basically take the lead.
Currently Sony is in the position of catchup, instead of being the leader.
At this stage I'm inclined to wait it out, and see what Sony is going to offer on there new backlight model(s).
Also most of the discounts and best pricing occurs later on in the year as well.