More details on Sony’s stunning ultra Premium Z9D HDR 4K TVs

by on July 22, 2016

Stephan Jukic – July 22, 2016

We’ve already covered the basic info on Sony’s upcoming XBR-Z Series of 4K TVs, all of which are full HDR models and which come in 65 and 75 inch sizes and then also in one absolutely immense 100 inch size as well. Now however, let’s go into some more details about these new and fantastically pricey TVs.

As we’d already said in our previous article, the smallest 65 inch model of the three new sets will retail for a very hefty $6,999.99 and this is just the starting price for a series of 4K TVs which can be best described as “ultra” premium, considering that Sony had already released its supposedly premium 2016 4K HDR D-Series televisions as replacements for the 2015 C-Series models. These were, at the beginning of 2016, the X850D, X900D and finally the top-shelf X939/X940D combo of 55 and 65 inch X930D and 75 inch X940D (the largest model being identical to the smaller X930D but with the addition of stronger HDR specs and full-array LED backlighting.

These were then followed by the much more affordable X700D, X750D and X800D TVs which also come with HDR but at much lower prices than the three premium models referred to above. However, even the priciest of the so-called premium 2016 Sony 4K HDR TVs up to now, the 75 inch full-array X940D cost a mere $5,999.99. This is a full $1000 less than the retail price of the very cheapest of the new XBR-D models, which is only 65 inches across and still retails for just a penny under $7000. The 75 inch version and the 100 inch behemoth are, needless to say, much pricier still.

The 65 and 75 inch Z9D TVs externally look almost the same as their XBR-D cousins from earlier in 2016

The 65 and 75 inch Z9D TVs externally look almost the same as their XBR-D cousins from earlier in 2016

With these new and much steeper prices we can also assume that the X9D TVs come with some seriously premium specs, and Sony is claiming that they indeed do, offering up the company’s best ever version of HDR technology and an overall quality that’s in a category of its own, even by the standards of the model we all previously thought to be Sony’s 2016 flagship, the X940D 75 incher.

That said, what exactly can we expect in the ultra-pricey, ultra-premium Z9D TV models? Well, to start with, Sony has given them a new core processing engine, called the 4K Processor X1 Extreme edition, it offers 40% more power than the 4K X1 of the most recent previous Sony XBR-D-Series models. This additional power means that Sony has been able to add three entirely new technologies in these three new TV models.

The first of these is the company’s “objects-based HDR remaster”, which promises a whole new quality of dynamic range by scanning each frame of video on the screen and picking out specific individual objects for precise color and contrast correction from a database found only in these Sony TVs. Next, there is “14-bit Super Bit Mapping 4K HDR” in the XBR-Z Series models, which delivers a whole new level of upscaling quality for all non-4K video content and even for lower quality native 4K UHD video sources such as weak streaming media feeds or poorly-formatted disc-based videos in 4K.

Finally, the Z9D TVs are the first in the Sony line with the brand’s Backlight Master Drive technology, which Sony has already shown off as a prototype technology earlier in 2016 during this year’s CES event in Vegas. Backlight Master Drive is apparently a type of local dimming technology on steroids, offering brighter than ever and more energy efficient new LEDs on which the new Backlight technology works individually instead of in whole dimming zones across the back of the TV display. The end result is supposed to be a level of local dimming quality and precision which comes closer than anything yet developed at matching the pixel-perfect precision of local dimming in OLED 4K TV models. As a result Backlight Master Drive is supposed to deliver an “unprecedented dynamic range” in the new Sony flagship TVs, with far better peak brightness and much deeper black levels than anything yet developed by the company.

Sony's Backlight Master Drive promises a whole new level of HDR quality in the new 4K flagship models.

Sony’s Backlight Master Drive promises a whole new level of HDR precision in the new 4K flagship models.

These technologies and the full-array LED backlighting panels with all accessory specs like Triluminos Display, X-tended Dynamic Range™ PRO and full HDR capacity are the same in all three TV models. The three TVs all even have the same levels of speaker power (10 W + 10 W audio power output). In other words, their main difference among each other lies in their display sizes.

Most interestingly, while the XBR-D models from early to mid-2016 have been disappointing in their HDR specs when compared to competing HDR TV models from Samsung, we might see the Z9D televisions fly right past their Samsung SUHD counterparts in terms of high quality peak brightness and black level delivery. So far, the Samsung 2016 SUHD Televisions and the flagship KS9800 in particular, have been the absolute best LCD 4K HDR TV’s we’ve yet managed to review. We’ll have to wait and see if the new Sony Z9D editions outperform even this high bar and what detailed measurement can show us across their specific display metrics.

Finally, in terms of smart TV capability, the Z9D models all use the Google Android TV platform as their base UI foundation, but with some Sony-specific modifications to its superficial design.

Price-wise, the Z9D TVs are, like we said, not at all cheap. The least expensive 65 inch model retails for $6,999.99, the 75 inch version sells for $10,000. Both of these models are going on sale at some point in the next month or so and the monstrous 100 inch model will be released for shipping to pre-order buyers a bit later at a price that Sony hasn’t yet released.

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  • Stefan
    July 25, 2016 at 9:14 am

    Hi friend,

    I got the xd9405 (one reason was your review).

    Now in this article it aounds that it was an underwhelming choce, because of peak brightness. I think my sony is better than ks8000 Samsung


    • Stephen
      July 25, 2016 at 2:28 pm

      Hi there Stefan, if you’re happy with the particular Sony 4K TV model you got your hands on, then I’d say it’s probably not necessary to worry about these even newer “ultra-premium” models from Sony. In a certain way, the sudden releases of still better TVs from the brand at this point in 2016 is part of a marketing game that most consumers really don’t need to play if they like what they’ve already bought. All of the 2015 and 2016 Sony HDR TVs we’ve reiewed so far ar quite good to downright excellent and the X940D (I assume that this is the same as the model you got but with a U.S-denominated SKU number) is actually one particularly great 4K TV in terms of peak brightness and color performance in particular. I’m not sure if it quite beats the 2016 SUHD TVs like the KS8000 but it is possible since the Sony X940D is a full-array backlit model.


      • Stefan
        July 26, 2016 at 8:48 am

        I chose the x940d after reading your article. Probably pek brightness is not 1,000 but can i detect tgat? I am surprised by the black levels and the local dimming.


        • Ryan
          August 1, 2016 at 9:35 am

          1000 nits is actually a strategic ploy by Samsung, as no video records up to 1000 nits, as you would only ever have a rocket or firework that shot in the sky for less than 1 second with the ability to reach 1000 nits. Side by Side, the 940D completely destroys any Samsung TV.

          My source? I work for Best Buy and I’ve seen exact same content feed on both, and the Sony wins by a mile, it’s not even close.


          • Stephen
            August 1, 2016 at 3:39 pm

            Hello Ryan, first, Dolby Vision HDR video is mastered for up to 4000 nits and for HDR10 I believe the maximum is at least over 1000 nits. Secondsly, while I agree with your assessment of the X940D (It is by far the brightest Sony TV so far and goes beyond 1000 nits of brightness), the Samsung SUHD TVs for 2016 are models which we have tested at peak 2% and 10% window brightness levels in excess of 1400 nits. we haven’t compared the two TV types side by side but the KS-Series TVs are excellent performers and again, they do indeed manage to reach well over 1000 nits and would do so with the right sort of HDR content formatted in HDR10.

          • Fazlen
            September 3, 2016 at 6:26 pm

            fuckk off fanboy, 2016 SUHD wins by a mile vs any 2016 Sony Tv except Z9D. not only my words but all the rating sites and experts out there. Who care about a fool boy words like you, he’s saying my source !! IMAO

  • Jeff
    July 25, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    All of these new TV’s sound great, but they won’t look very good on my crappy cable! What do you hear about content? Anything?


  • CloudSan83
    July 28, 2016 at 8:27 am

    The 9800 is the best tv you reviewed? Who paid you to say that. If in not mistaken joel silva and sound and vision did the most in depth review/shoot out with some of the US’s best tv engines. Never did the damsung KS9800 come close to the X940D. The 9800 had a hard time beating the vizio P series. You started this site with great reviews but i think yall are now being paid. As a matter of fact in that shoot out the x940D beat yhe LG G6 in day time usage. Samaung wasnt even close.

    Also every website that was actually there for the Z9D unveiling almost everyone including digital trend & other tv engineers wanted sony to just turn off the KS9800 because it didnt even come close. The shoot out turned in to a Z9D vs LG G6. Even david kashmir from cnet who wasnt there didnt even bring up samsung in his over view so stop it. Samaungs fight is with the x940D not the Z9D. I hate paid review sites man.


    • CloudSan83
      July 28, 2016 at 8:55 am

      Also like the fanboys you areof oled. NO ZONED LED tv can beat a fully array individual/precision LED based tv with at least 50% more LED lights than current LED sets, Is that not the reason you all loved OLED? Its simple science/laws of physics.


  • James m.
    September 27, 2016 at 5:49 am

    Says the Samsung FANBOI 😉 they are both excellent TVs in their respective budgets, Don’t be hypocritically biased; no current premium Samsung TV beats any Sony premium TVs by “A MILE”. The XD94 easily holds its place (and then some) among the KS9000/8000.snap off low quality plastic back panels TVs.
    This years Samsung build quality is not near as good as it should for the prices they are demanding.
    Have a look at the KS8000 repair video on YT. It’s totally unacceptable workmanship, with little substance.
    No doubt you will tell me to F-OFF too, but the truth is the truth.
    Highly likely as though Sony have the best non-OLED TV by some distance, but like everything else you will pay for the premium.


    • Stephen
      September 27, 2016 at 7:57 am

      Hello James, as my article clearly described, the main comparison against the Samsung premium models was with the X Sony X-Series, with a clear emphasis on the possibility that the Z-Series are much better than both and thus more comparable to LG OLED. So no, Samsung isn’t being claimed as the equal of the best from Sony now (The Z-Series). As for Sony X930D or X940D TVs and Samsung SUHD models, specs wise from our own reviews, the TVs are actually highly comparable and the Samsung’s even come out better in display quality on some specs. Superficial plastic trimming is something we don’t take into much consideration in either case.


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