What to Expect From Sony’s Premium 2017 HDR 4K UHD TVs
Stephan Jukic – February 6, 2017
The 2017 Sony HDR ultra HD TV lineup for 2017 is not only diverse and impressive, it also contains some 2016 technology that still swings plenty of cutting edge quality in terms of display performance. For this year, the company has revealed several improved direct successors to the 2016 XBR-D HDR models, an OLED 4K TV that is the first of its kind from Sony and a few HDR Full HD TVs that are also worth mentioning. Then of course we also have the superb Z9D 4K HDR TV line from late 2016, which can effectively be considered a fundamental part of the 2017 lineup as well.
Sony’s 2017 4K TVs will start selling very soon (with the exception of the Z9D HDR TV, which has been available since late 2016) and for the first part of 2016 at least, many of the new 2017 models will be found on store shelves right next to their also excellent 2016 cousins.
Overall, (with the exception of the Sony A1E OLED TV, which is a major leap forward) the new 2017 televisions offer modest improvements in peak brightness and backlight precision (especially the stunning Z9D TVs) along with new HDR suppor levels and improved internal computing power for more effective picture processing. Their smart TV OS will remain largely the same as it did with the 2016 version of Android TV. However, going for either the 2016 or 2017 premium TVs is pretty much guaranteed to give you some fantastic display performance and top-shelf HDR specs, so don’t necessarily feel that a 2017 Sony TV is a huge improvement over last year’s models despite some of the hype surrounding these new televisions.
Now, without further delay, here’s a look at all the new releases.
Sony’s OLED TV, the A1E.
This is the one truly unique new Sony development among the 2017 4K TVs from the company. The A1E is Sony’s first OLED 4K TV and while it uses LG display panel technology to deliver its OLED-perfect levels of blackness and local dimming, the rest of this model is pure Sony design. Thus, if you ever loved the sort of picture quality you saw in LG’s OLED models but were always more of a Sony fan, here’s your chance for the best of both worlds.
The A1E promises superb levels of peak brightness for an OLED TV of about 800 nits and combines this with perfect total OLED black levels and color display quality. It will of course also offer the individual pixel-level local dimming precision that OLED is famous for. The A1E will also support both HDR10 and Dolby Vision high dynamic range standards.
Sony is releasing three sizes of A1E, consisting of 55 inch, 65 inch and 77 inch options. We don’t have prices for any of them but they will without a doubt be expensive as hell by LCD TV standards.
One thing we should say about the A1E is that while its overall picture quality will likely be the best we see among all Sony 4K TVs for this year, this model will come nowhere close to matching Sony’s Z9D or X-940E HDR televisions in terms of sheer peak brightness. Both model types can reach as high as 1500+ nits and this makes a difference in certain key ways.
The Sony Z9D HDR TVs
The Z9D lineup, which comes in 65 inch, 75 inch and 100 inch display sizes, was first unveiled and released on sale as of late 2016 and we absolutely love these TVs. While we’re expecting Samsung’s new QLED TV models to possibly outperform the Z9D TVs (we can’t be sure yet), so far at least, these full-array LED backlit TVs are the best LCD 4K HDR television models we’ve ever laid eyes on for review hands down.
They offer a stunning amount of individual LED backlights and as a result manage to deliver the most precise, richest local dimming we’ve ever seen to-date in non-OLED display technology. This is combined with Sony’s excellent Triluminous Display color management and other technologies to deliver a level of HDR punch that even Sony itself claims is better than that found in the A1E OLED television. Finally, the Z9D models were in fact the first ever 4K LCD TVs to reach close to the 2000 nit mark for peak brightness, beating all their 2016 competitors at this particular measure of display performance.
Of course the Z9D Series of TVs is expensive with the 65 inch mod costing over $5000 and the 75 inch version selling for more than $8000. Then there’s the monster 100 inch version, which Sony offers for over $60,000! On the other hand, we’re fairly sure that Sony’s Z9D models will offer some of the best picture quality of any existing LCD 4K HDR TV even for 2017. Even Samsung’s known QLED models don’t offer full-array LED backlighting like these models do, so at least the Z9D’s backlighting is sure to outperform QLED.
Sony XBR-X940E 4K HDR TV
This television is the direct successor to the X940D TV that was the 2016 flagship Sony model until the Z9D editions came out at the end of the year and like its 2016 predecessor, the X940E comes in only one size, 75 inches. However, this TV offers the same full-array LED backlight spec as the 2016 model did but with some cool new tweaks which include a much cleaner cable management layout, a neater overall design and a higher level of peak brightness and backlight control than was the case in the 2016 X940D. Basically, the X940E borrowed a bit of the newer backlight control technology that was placed into the Z9D TVs to improve its performance over that of its 2016 cousin.
The X940E also comes with the ultra-premium X1 Extreme Processor technology that’s only found in Sony’s A1E and Z9D TVs and like the other 2017 Sony models, this television supports HDR10, Dolby Vision HDR specs and HLG broadcast HDR support (for whenever broadcast HDR TV content even emerges). We should note that while the X-940E looks and seems very similar to the Z9D 75 inch TV from late 2016, it actually doesn’t come with as many backlight LEDs or local dimming zones and is thus a weaker performer at contrast and local dimming than its older cousin. We don’t yet know what the 75 inch Sony XBR-X940E TV will sell for but don’t expect it to be too cheap. The 2016 model retails for $3,799.99 now so this 2017 successor will likely cost at least several hundred dollars more than that.
Sony XBR-X930E 4K HDR TV
The Sony XBR-X930E is the direct successor to the 2016 X930D TV and offers more or less the same design essentials and specs but with some added tweaks. Like its 2016 cousins, this models comes in 65 inch and 55 inch sizes and instead of a full-array LED backlight system, it features edge-lit backlighting, resulting in a weaker quality of local dimming and contrast than that found in the 75 inch X940E. However, this isn’t to say that the X930E is a low-performing 4K TV. Far from it.
The 2016 D-Series version was a stunning piece of premium HDR TV technology for a reasonable price and we have absolutely no reason to expect different from this 2017 model. Quite the contrary in fact. The X930E is likely to outperform its 2016 cousin due to new technologies like Sony’s Slim Backlight Drive+ (a more space-friendly and powerful distribution of LEDs behind the TV’s LCD panel), the inclusion of Dolby Vision HDR support and the inclusion of the newer, more powerful X1 Extreme Processor system found in the Z9D, A1E and X940D flagship 4K TVs.
The X930E is a cheaper alternative to the X940E but with a performance that’s almost as good as that of its full-array cousin. We can probably expect the 65 inch model to retail for a little over $2,000 since the 2016 X930D sells for a couple hundred dollars below $2000.
Other Upcoming Sony 2017 TVs
Sony is also likely releasing new mid-range 4K HDR TVs a bit later in 2017. However we don’t yet have enough information on these TVs to give a decent accounting of what to expect from them. We do know that the wonderfully affordable and remarkably powerful 2016 X800D, X750D and X700D HDR 4K TVs of 2016 were fantastic choices for consumers who wanted a budget HDR TV experience. We’re expecting to see 2017 replacements for some of these also get unveiled by Sony at some point in 2017 but with Dolby Vision support and other new display specs.
Then of course there are also Sony’s interesting new HDR Full HD TVs which are going to be coming out this year. We’ll be covering these in more detail with another post but they will offer an exciting and very low-priced HDR option for consumers who aren’t yet ready to jump into 4K display technology.
Story by 4k.com