A Review of the Sony XBR65X950B 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD 120Hz 3D Smart LED TV (2014 Model)
Sony’s 2014 Bravia TVs were major sellers and highly acclaimed 4K TV models when they first came out last year and even though new ultra HD TVs are now on the scene and just over the horizon, these older models still hold their own wonderfully. This is partly thanks to some absolutely awesome technology that was ahead of its time being added to them and partly due to a generally robust design process that led to some excellent quality.
The Sony XBR65X950B is one of the top models in the 2014 lineup and despite no longer being one of Sony’s flagship TVs, it’s still an incredibly powerful and well equipped piece of technology. A wide combination of top notch connectivity specs, superb display quality and still advanced technologies like Triluminous Display and X-tended Dynamic Range Pro not only make sure that the XBR65X950B stays modern, they actually still ensure that the TV is at the forefront of 4K TV display technology, despite being from last year.
This model is still not a highly affordable TV but it has gone down in price considerably from the $8,000 it cost in 2014.
The Sony X950B comes pretty much loaded with good features. This is not a low end TV or an outdated model by any means and the manufacturer has managed to make it stay cutting edge even now. In fact, atest-edition 4K TVs like Samsung’s SUHD models are only now reaching the level of some technologies found in the older X950B series.
First among these features would have to be the X950B’s display innovations. They’re no longer unique in the world of 4K TVs but in 2014 they were exclusive to Sony’s TVs: Triluminous Display is built into the TV and is essentially another name for the quantum dot technology of Samsung’s latest TVs, providing a dramatically extended range of colors and color tones. On top of this, there’s also the X950B’s X-tended Dynamic Range PRO technology powered by full-array LED backlighting, which gives the TV a superb level of peak brightness that serves to heavily enhance contrast and almost make this an HDR TV.
Next up is Sony’s 4K X-Reality™ PRO picture engine for upscaling Full HD, HD and SD content to new levels of picture clarity and sharpness. While many upscaling engines deliver average or even mediocre results, the version found in the XBR65X950B and its Bravia cousins is genuinely excellent and genuinely does one of the best jobs you’ll find on the current market at making normal resolutions look sharper on the TV’s 4K ultra HD screen. Full HD content upscaled superbly on this model and Blu-ray Full HD actually looks even better than native 4K content that has been streamed from a source like Netflix. 720p HD and SD content also manages to look better than it normally would, though SD video’s can look a little blurry on the XBR65X950B’s 65 inch TV screen and its 8.2 million pixels.
Finally, we should mention that the XBR65X950B offers a truly comprehensive and completely up to date connectivity package as part of its hardware. This includes several HDMI 2.0 ports with full HDCP 2.2 integration, HEVC and VP9 video compression codec compatibility and a range of MHL and USB ports for connecting external devices like smart phones, tablets and PC monitors. The X950B also comes with full smart TV features and a complete web browsing experience.
3.3 - 21 Reviews
Sony’s XBR65X950B is mainly deficient in defects, more than anything else. If we measure this TV by 2015 standards, it’s still an excellent and cutting edge model and by the standards of last year, it was downright fantastic. Triluminous Display and X-tended Dynamic Range were both ahead of their time to some extent and the connectivity of the XBR65X950B is as good as anything offered in mid-2015.
The two major defects we can name for this model are that it’s definitely on the expensive side and that it doesn’t offer the sound of cheaper Sony Bravias.
While it’s price has been sheared down by a couple thousand dollars in the last year, it still costs more than $5,000 and that’s steep considering the current competitive environment with Samsung’s numerous more affordable SUHD 4K TVs with their own version of quantum dot color enhancing technology and extended contrast range for HDR movies and shows.
As for the sound system, it’s decent in the X950B but ultimately, it’s not as good as we’d expect from a Sony TV. The X900B, for example, costs nearly $1700 less and offers much more robust speaker power than the X950B. On the one hand, this is a deliberate design tradeoff. The former, cheaper TV’s side-mounted speakers are famously huge and consequently the whole device is thick and bulky while the X950B went for a leaner, more traditionally minimalist 4K TV look and thus had to sacrifice some of that audio system bulk. Nonetheless, if you want Sony’s best in 4K TV audio, this is not the model of choice.
Except for its steep price, which isn’t really competitive anymore, the Sony XBR65X950B has plenty to recommend it. This is an advanced, well-crafted 4K TV model that’s still ready to handle some of the best and latest 4K video content encoding available today.
Screen size: 65 diagonal inches
Smart TV: Yes
HEVC (H.265) Included: Yes
HD to UHD upscaling: Yes
HDCP 2.2 Compliance: Yes
Refresh Rate: 120Hz native refresh rate
Screen Lighting: full-array LED backlighting with Local Dimming
Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels UHD
Wireless Connectivity: Yes, includes both built-in WiFi and Ethernet port
Remotes: Sony touch pad remote, conventional button remote and iPhone App remote
Connectivity: 4 x HDMI 2.0 ports with MHL and HDCP 2.2, 3 x USB ports, Ethernet, HDMI PC Input, WiFi, 2 x Analog audio inputs, Subwoofer out, Audio Out, Composite Video
Sound: 10W+10W+10W 2.1ch full range speakers with S-Force Surround, Dolby Digital sound
Dynamic Contrast Ratio: over 1 million
Other Display Features: Triluminos Display with frame dimming, X-tended Dynamic Range PRO
TV weight with stand: 96.7 lbs/ Without stand: 92.6 lbs
Dimensions: 58 3/4 x 35 3/8 x 4 1/4(2 3/4) in inches w/o stand/ with stand: 58 7/8 x 37 1/2 x 13 3/4 inches
The most prominent highlights of the XBR65X950B are its visual features. In these, the TV still excels now as few 2015 4K TVs can even manage.
For starters, the XBR65X950B basically offers what could be called HDR-capability thanks to its built-in X-tended Dynamic Range Pro technology. This feature delivers maximal levels of brightness thanks to a full-array LED backlight array that creates enhanced contrast by maximizing brightness. Select local dimming and precision shading technologies work to also enhance the darker tones on the screen. The resulting visuals are genuinely spectacular and viewing 4K video, especially 4K video with room for noticing sharp contrast is very impressive indeed.
In addition to the extended contrast of the X950B’s dynamic range technology, we come back once again to the Triluminous Display. Its ability to render more vibrant colors and also to throw more diverse, hard to mix colors into the visuals on the screen is truly impressive. Aqua blue, emerald green and assorted complex shades or red render particularly well with Triluminous Display’s quantum dot filter technology. We’ll cover the details of this a bit more under “Visual Specs”.
Finally, we get down to some of the interactive features of the XBR65X950B. These are definite highlights and include the 3D conversion engine, design appearance and the Sony Entertainment Network Smart TV platform.
The 3D conversion engine on the X950B is a definite winner. It works particularly well with Blu-ray HD and as a general rule, the better the resolution of the content you’re watching and trying to convert, the better the quality of the 3D visuals you’ll experience. Many 4K TVs come with 3D conversion built into them but Sony’s are some of the few that come with a version of this feature worth using, especially with kids while watching lighter fare and cartoons in Blu-ray HD and 4K UHD resolution. While the 3D isn’t quite what you might expect if you’re used to movie theater 3D technology, it certainly creates a rich level of depth that’s much more engaging than ordinary 2D. The only downside here is having to wear the silly glasses.
The design of this model is nowhere near as bulky and heavy looking as that found in a number of other Sony 4K models. The X900B, for example. This more affordable TV offers better sound but completely disregards the thin body and minimalist design that are common to 4K TVs. The X950B on the other hand stick to the reduced look. It offer smaller speakers but the bezel is much sleeker and the overall body goes in the same direction.
Next, we come down to the Sony Entertainment Network smart TV platform of the XBR65X950B. Since this is a 2014 TV, it doesn’t include Sony’s newest and most advanced Android TV smart platform. Instead, the SEN system from 2014 delivers your content, access to apps and web browsing experience. Luckily however, SEN is still a great smart platform and it combines ease of use with a superbly accessible layout. Furthermore, the selection of apps that’s available to the XBR65X950B through its smart platform is very broad: aside from the obvious Netflix and Amazon Prime 4K and HD streaming video apps, there are also hundreds of others available for accessing other media and web browsing content.
A Social Viewing feature in the SEN platform is also very interesting. It lets you activate a Twitter scrolling feed which will inform you of what others think of any given piece of content you happen to be viewing in real time if possible. Social viewing also offers the ability to open a split screen in which one side of the TV display lets you hold Skype conversation while watching video at the same time.
Finally, we should also mention the awesome inclusion of a Sony Media Player Streaming box with all 65 inch or larger models of the X950B. This extra toy comes free with the model we’re reviewing here and offers rented or purchased access to hundreds of hours of 4K content that has been licensed or produced by the media arm of Sony. Currently, there are more than 140 4K movies available for viewing in the FMP X10 Sony 4K media player, all part of the growing Sony Entertainment Network.
Thanks to the above mentioned X-tended Dynamic Range PRO technology and a full-array LED backlighting hardware inside the screen, the XBR65X950B delivers some of the best contrast on the market today. Only Sony’s 2015 HDR-ready X850C 4K TVs, Samsung’s SUHD JS8500 TVs and LG’s OLED 4K TVs deliver as good or better contrast levels. The brightness of the screen in this model is truly superb and as a result, the dark tones look deep, rich and very realistic. Full-array Local dimming and a Deep Black Panel technology work to further augment the darkness levels of obscure areas on the screen.
As for the Triluminous Display. As we’d already mentioned, it’s basically quantum dot technology by another name and the color accuracy, realism and vibrancy it creates is almost overwhelmingly good. Quantum dots consist of molecular-sized semiconducting crystals laid across a film which itself overlays a 4K TV’s LED backlight. As the phosphor-modified light of the LEDs in the TV passes through the quantum dots on the film, it’s then polarized into different colors and tones depending on QD crystal size (which affects how they change the color of the light). The resulting mix of colors then further augments and expands the primary color filters that already exist in the individual pixels of the XBR65X950B’s outer screen.
The result of all this is a level of color accuracy that’s matched only by Samsung’s SUHD TVs with their own quantum dot nanocrystal technology, and possibly by LG’s OLED TVs.
Finally, the XBR65X950B offers decent but not better than average off-angle viewing. This is after all an LCD TV and as such, regardless of how spectacular its display looks when viewing from dead center, color and contrast degrade sharply at angles of more than 50 to 60 degrees from center. So far only LG’s OLED TVs offer perfect clarity at all angles.
Connectivity in the XBR65X950B is about as solid and modern as it gets. To summarize: The TV offers four HDMI 2.0 ports with HEVC, VP9 and HDCP 2.2 integrated into their functionality. This means that these ports will let you view content from external studio media players and Blu-ray devices in full 4K at 60 frames per second without any problems.
Furthermore, 3 USB 2.0 ports and MHL functionality in a couple of the HDMO ports offer even more enhanced connectivity to third party media devices like smartphones, 4K monitors and tablets or laptops. PCs can also be connected to the XBR65X950B via these ports.
A for web connectivity, the X950B offers an Ethernet port, the best WiFi on the market in the form of 802.11 ac with full wireless LAN connectivity. Thus, assuming your internet connection to the home delivers at least 20Mbps, viewing streaming 4K content from the Netflix, Amazon and Ultraflix aps on the X950B shouldn’t be a problem as long as you have subscriptions to these services.
The XBR65X950B from Sony is not a cheap TV even now, a year after it was first unveiled. The 65 inch model we’re reviewing here sells for $5,498 on Amazon.com. Alternatively, you can check out the Samsung UN50JS7000 or the Sony XBR43X830C.
3.3 - 21 Reviews
To summarize briefly (and particularly briefly in the case of this fantastic 4K TV), the XBR65X950B suffers from very few defects. Its main weaknesses are a sound system that’s subpar in comparison to those of other Sony models like the X900B, and a price tag that could be reduced by at least $1000 in order to be competitive.
• Superb color rendering
• Excellent contrast levels, almost on par with HDR
• Full connectivity features
• Extremely bright screen
• Full-array LED backlighting
• Somewhat weak sound system for a Sony 4K