Sony X930D / X940D 4K HDR Ultra HD TV Review (XBR55X930D, XBR65X930D, XBR75X940D)
The X930D/40D is an impressive combination of technologies, delivered in a particularly attractive design. Giving you everything you would hope for from a 4K home entertainment-worthy system. Furthermore, this latest and most powerful of the Sony 2016 Bravia TVs is highly capable when it comes to high dynamic range and some spectacularly rich color thanks in part to that same HDR technology and Sony’s own by now classic Triluminos Display color enhancement capacities. In terms of physical appeal, Sony has also delivered some very new and much lighter-bodied design craft for this and all of its 2016 4K TVs, but particularly as far as the X930/40D is concerned, considering the bulky body and massive side-mounted speakers we saw in the 2015 and 2014 cousins of this flagship model.
We should also note that Sony’s 2016 4K TVs and the X930/40D especially, are the company’s first models to come with full UHD Alliance Ultra HD Premium certification. Much like their Samsung 2016 SUHD cousins, the XBR TVs of this year all come with what are arguably the best HDR and color dynamic specs standards to-date integrated into them. Only last year’s X940C was arguably capable of matching this level of quality.
As for the X930D vs. X940D distinction --in case you’re wondering—both the X930D and X940D are essentially the same 4K HDR TV except that the largest in the line comes with full array LED backlighting, a 75 inch display and the very top end in all Sony 4K TV specs. Thus it’s distinct name as the X940D. The same was the case in 2015 with the X930C in its different sizes, with the largest full-array model being called the X940C. The 55 and 65 inch models are denominated as the X930D.
Replicating black truthfully and with near perfect darkness onscreen has been a challenge only LG and Panasonic have been able to successfully take on to date and only with their OLED models. Sony’s X930/40D however comes pretty close. Thanks to new LED backlight technology, the Slim Backlight Drive, which uses a grid-array edge-mounted system rather than a back-lighting system that distributes the back-lighting source precisely to each different region of the screen. As content plays, the screen is able to recognize high contrast areas and dynamically adjust the backlight, highlighting blacks and making other colors comparatively more vivid, a process called ‘local dimming’, but taken to a relatively new degree of precision and light isolation. The larger 75 inch X940D features a slight and somewhat more precise and powerful variation on this backlighting technology with its full array LED backlight, which improves even further on Slim Backlight Drive.
Furthermore, both models have their Ultra HD Premium certification to live up to, thus guaranteeing that the local dimming and black levels achieved by these and other above technologies manage to deliver at least 0.05 nits of darkness, the minimum UHD Alliance amount for LCD 4K TVs with HDR.
Coupled with Sony’s Triluminos technology for optimal color mapping, the result is quite breath-taking. Colors are not only rich and vivid, but incredibly natural, with no dimming, blooming or over saturation of subtle colors - an impressive feat for any LED TV. In our opinion, the only other range that comes close to providing such true colours and contrast is the slightly pricier LG OLED range, more specifically the EF9500 and the 2015 LG G6 OLED 4K TV, the top of the brands current 4K lines.
But the Slim Backlight Drive and Triluminos technology aren’t the only aspects that contribute to the X930D/40D's awesome picture quality. Sony has ingeniously bypassed the troubles with edge-lit HDR through their unique use of quantum dot technology. Where brands like Samsung have often used a ‘film’ of quantum dots over the LED base, like in their SUHD range, especially the JS8500, Sony has placed quantum dots in glass tubes alongside the LEDs in the X930D, which results in the edge-mounted diodes shining directly through them, actually improving luminescence and making the LEDs more efficient, particularly with the display of red and green colors.
Concern that the edge-mounted LEDs could be a problem when viewed from an angle turns out to be unnecessary; and only viewing at extreme angles affected the color levels. That being said, Sony’s X930D 55 and 65 inch models have pulled off the same feat that Samsung’s new 2016 SUHD TVs succeeded at. Namely their capacity for delivering 1100 or more nits of peak brightness for what is currently top-shelf HDR quality while merely being edge-lit televisions. In basic terms, this means that Sony, like Samsung has developed some truly, stunningly bright LED technology for its 2016 models and this flagship series as well. The effect is notable in the peak brightness this TV offers and in the rich deep quality of its black levels, both working to produce some superb contrast.
To enhance the picture quality even further, the X930D/40D is equipped with 4K X-Reality PRO, which uses a reality-creation image database that analyses every pixel in real time to bring stunning texture, contrast and color detail to any content from broadcast TV to video streaming. It’s up-scaling at its finest and in our experience lives up to the hype Sony’s own marketing gives to it. The upscaling engine offered by the X-Reality Pro engine does a fantastic job at sharpening Full HD, 720p content and even manages to usually (though not always) deliver some great 480p video enhancement for content that was originally formatted to a high degree of quality.
Interestingly as well, even native 4K video is upscaled in a way with Sony’s X930D and X940D TVs. Its resolution doesn’t improve but the perception of superior dynamic range certainly does, since the native HDR specs of both TV variants improve the contrast in SDR 4K content sources. This is the effect we noticed when observing the X930D displaying SDR video next to a non-HDR Sony X810C model. This effect in no way compares to the quality of native HDR video on the TV’s HDR display but it’s notable nonetheless.
Going beyond backlighting technology, the X930D/40D has everything that a brilliant 4K TV should have. HDR protocols are fully supported, with Amazon Prime already on board and 4K ultra HD Blu-ray discs definitely looking superb in the TV’s display with their encoded HDR fully on display. Furthermore, Sony’s own “Ultra” streaming 4K HDR movies service can now also be accessed from the X930/40D TV and all other Sony Android TV HDR models, with steep prices per movie but a very decent selection of 4K HDR titles nonetheless. Ultra is only available in Sony 4K TVs for now.
Sony has augmented the hyper-intuitive and user-friendly Android TV operating system for the X930D/40D, giving users unrivaled connectivity and customizable content options as never before. 3D technology is right at home in the X930D/40D too, and you can expect the same levels of impressiveness.
One of the biggest changes the X930D/40D brings is in its design. Sony has moved away from last years’ bulky side mounted speakers like we saw on the XBR-75X940C, to a strikingly sleek and clean look. Razor thin – thanks to the Slim Backlight Drive, the X930D/40D with its 11mm thick bezel can be mounted almost flush on the wall for a super stylish home entertainment system. Framing around the screen is also down to an absolute minimum, further enhancing its looks and viewing experience. Apart from losing the wing-like speakers, the X930D/40D also moves away from last year’s bulky wedge design to a clean minimalistic stand that looks elegant and hides unsightly cables while also weighing a decent amount less.
5.0 -11 Reviews
While axing the side-mounted wing speakers for the X930D/40D does wonders from a looks perspective and helps those of you who have space issues, it doesn’t do anything for the sound quality. Moving to internal speakers takes the viewing experience a step backwards, with less clarity and power. That being said, while some users might find the lightening up in the 2016 edition of the X930/40 TVs to be practical choice on Sony’s part, it is hard not to miss that meaty, robust full surround sound system we saw in 2015. The X930/40C TV easily delivered the best audio we heard in any of last year’s flagship 4K TVs and still does thanks to this particular cutback for 2016. Yes, the newer version of last year’s TV has really suffered in the audio department compared to its predecessor.
Next up, there are the display technology issues we didn’t like with the otherwise excellent X930/40D flagship models. Most fundamentally, there is the quality of the X930D variant’s local dimming technology. It falls a bit flat even by the standards of premium edge-lit 4K TVs. Samsung has managed better than this in its KS9000 edge-lit 2016 SUHD TV and Sony could have done the same considering the caliber of their consumer tech development reputation. However, they apparently didn’t and as a result, the X930D in particular presents too much blooming due to what we think are the large dimming zones and while this effect isn’t so notable for lower lighting situations in the screen, it becomes notable during particular highlights of peak brightness. We should note that the 75 inch X940D variant of this line doesn’t suffer from the local dimming problems in the X930D. Due to its full-array LED backlighting and a larger quantity of better compartmentalized local dimming zones, it definitely shows its superiority in this regard.
Finally, among the few other flaws we could find in the X930C was the quality of its grey uniformity. In an otherwise superb TV as far as display technology goes, the X930/40D offers up a downright poor grey uniformity, with edges that are considerably darker than the center of the display space on the TV. This won’t be a major problem for most display needs and content viewing but it can become visible under the right circumstances and is off-putting enough to be worth a mention.
Sony has definitely raised the bar on quality in its top-shelf 4K TVs for 2016. The X930/40D incorporates all the latest technologies it needs to compete heavily with the best Samsung 2016 LCD 4K HDR TVs for this year and does so with a few unique and welcome additions of its own that go the extra mile to make the TV just about all you need for an impressive home entertainment system. While a few minor flaws are there in the X930D TVs, none of them are in any way deal-breakers. In deciding between these models and Samsung’s flagship 2016 SUHD TVs, the two lines are very closely matched.
• Screen size: 54.6 diagonal inches (XBR55X930D) and 64.5 diagonal inches (XBR65X930D). 75 inches for XRB75X940D
• Smart TV: Android TV with Apps and Full Web Browser
• HEVC (H.265) Included: Yes
• VP9 Included. Yes
• HD to UHD upscaling: Yes
• HDCP 2.2 Compliance: Yes
• Refresh Rate: 120Hz native refresh rate (MotionFlow 960Hz)
• Screen Lighting: Edge-lit LED backlighting in X930D with Full-array in X940D
• Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels UHD
• Wireless Connectivity: Yes, includes both built-in WiFi and Ethernet port
• Remotes: Sony smart remote
• Connectivity: 4 HDMI 2.0a ports, 3 USB ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 Component, 1 composite, 1 Audio Out, 1 Digital Audio Out
X930D: 7.5 W x 4 Audio Power Output
X940D: 7.5 W x 4 Audio Power Output
• Contrast Ratio: 3,640:1
• Black Level maximum: 0.035 cd/m2
• 3D Technology: YES, Active 3D in all models
• TV weight without/with stand:
55 inch: 48.50 lb/54.9 lb.
65 inch: 59.52 lb/66.36 lb.
X940D: 80.69 lb/90.39 LB
• Processor: 4K Processor X1 Quad Core
Our favourite aspects of Sony’s X930D are the Slim Backlight Drive (Full Array LED Backlight for the X940D), coupled with the Triluminos technology, or quantum dots, for optimal color mapping, deeper black levels and dazzling brightness. This is a major improvement for LED TV's, and having numerous regions means that you get much better local dimming performance and really minimal blooming. Being edge-mounted, there are some minor angle-viewing issues but these are extremely minimal and in any case the X930/40D offers much better viewing angles than it’s Samsung SUHD competitors.
The X930D/40D has been created to serve as a home entertainment system for the complete content spectrum; 4K streaming, 4K Blu-Ray, 3D, DVD, HDR broadcast TV as well as of course ordinary non-4K broadcast content. Furthermore, where the X930D really impresses is in its ability to augment even ordinary and lower quality content into something better than what it would be in a normal TV. This it does quite spectacularly. The X930D/40D features 4K X-Reality PRO technology (also seen in the Sony X830C), which delivers some truly superb upscaling. What takes this upscaling trend even further, as we already mentioned, is the addition of UHD Premium level HDR standards in the X930/40D, allowing it to also improve the dynamic range and contrast of non-4K content and even native UHD SDR video sources.
The last highlight we’re going to note here is the X930D/40D’s design. Sony has ditched last year’s bulky wedge design with its unsightly side-mounted speakers and replaced it with internal speakers, and a dazzlingly clean and razor thin look. Almost no framing around the screen adds more elegance than ever to the unit and makes it worthy of being the focal point in any living room.
5.0 -11 Reviews
For starters, let’s go a bit into the motion control technologies of the X930/40D TVs, because they’re downright superb. In terms of judder control, 24p playback and Sony’s version of Motion Interpolation technology, the X930/40D is a truly stunning performer. Judder control is essentially perfect and the motion interpolation technology also delivers essentially flawless performance. Furthermore, the response times of pixels on the screen are superb as well, with low motion blur even during fast action sequences in both native 4K content and non-4K action video during things like sportscasts or action-packed movie scenes.
Then there’s the HDR in the Sony XBR 2016 TVs and the X930/940D in particular. It’s great and considering that it has been certified as “Ultra HD Premium” by the UHD Alliance (Though Sony uses their own label for this, called “4K HDR”), it very much should be. However, certification labels are one thing and seeing actual high performance first hand is another thing, and by the standards of LCD TVs, these particular 4K models excel at what they promise in this regard. 10-bit color is reproduced faithfully with very high precision and realism while peak brightness is optimal enough for some very bright highlights indeed.
In smaller 10% of screen space sections of the display, luminance can go above the 1100 nits required by the UHD Alliance, and the X940D can manage well above 1100+ brightness performance. As for overall contrast for for black levels vs. white performance, 0.054 nits was found to be the case in the X930/40D and even deeper levels of black under some local dimming conditions being achievable while white levels sat at about 105.2 cd/m2 .
Coupled with the smart Slim Backlight Drive (Full Array LED Backlight for the X940D) and 4K X-Reality PRO (also seen in the Sony X830C and X900C), the X930D/40D delivers crisp, clear images, deep true blacks and dazzling whites. At the same time, it revitalizes poorer quality content, filling in millions of additional pixels from its image database to every frame for hyper-realistic on-screen textures and details. Sony have also taken care to avoid oversaturation of subtle colours and the corresponding unnatural look that can be caused by upscaling by introducing a number of regions for local dimming. All in all, the X930D/40D's visuals really impressed with a distinctly natural look and, for those who love it, some truly top-shelf HDR performance which exceeds anything from 2015’s Sony 4K TV models.
4(outside1, center3) - (all models)
COMPOSITE VIDEO INPUT:
XBR-55X930D - 2 (1Rear/1Rear Hybrid w/Component)
XBR-65X930D - 2 (1Rear/1Rear Hybrid w/Component)
XBR-75X940D- 1 side
COMPONENT VIDEO INPUT
XBR-55X930D - 1 rear
XBR-65X930D - 1 rear
XBR-75X940D- 1 rear – Component/composite hybrid
RF CONNECTION INPUT
1 side (all models)
1 side (all models)
3 port (all models)
1 (Side/Hybrid w/HP and Subwoofer Out) (all models)
DIGITAL AUDIO OUTPUT
1 side (all models)
Sony’s 4K UHD TV’s aren’t generally cheap by any means and the XBR-D models from 2016 are no exception. The 55 inch X930D sells for $2,198.00 on Amazon.com, the 65 inch model sells for $3,298 and the flagship 75 inch X940D retails for a very serious $7,998.00, a price that puts it above even most OLED 4K TVs in wallet killing power.
5.0 -11 Reviews
While we love the move away from the bulky, space-hogging side-mounted speakers, what we don’t love is the effect that internal speakers have on the sound quality, and the crisp, true sound of last years’ X940C is greatly missed. Furthermore, as we mentioned above, grey uniformity and some blooming during highlights under local dimming conditions in the X930D in particular are two other not so major defects of the X930D TVs in particular.
• Great black performance
• Local dimming produces exceptional contrast
• Brilliant 4K upscaling
• Superb quality of HDR technology
• Excellent color performance
• Android TV is great
• Sleek and thin design
• Lackluster sound
• Some local dimming blooming in X930D
• Poor grey uniformity in X930D
• Enough with the Motionflow “960Hz”