Sony XBR-X940E 4K HDR Ultra HD LCD TV Review (XBR-75X940E)
- Fantastic black levels and contrast
- Excellent local dimming performance
- Superb color handling across the board
- Good motion interpolation
- Highly future-proof
- Very high brightness for all content types
- Poor motion blur performance
- Only partial 24p content support
- Less than good native speaker performance
- A bit more expensive than we like
The Bottom Line
We love the Sony XBR-75X940E 4K HDR television. It competes very well on most fronts against comparable premium rival models and delivers a level of performance that’s good across almost all major measurements. Its minor weaknesses on motion handling (see below for details) don’t take away from this model’s overall recommendability. We do think the X940E is a bit expensive but then again, this is a huge 75 inch beast of a television with full, multi-standard HDR support.
Sony’s XBR-75X940E is the direct successor to the company’s 2016 XBR-X930D/75X940D and just as they did in 2016, the company produced this particular premium 4K UHD HDR TV as a single size edition in only the 75 inch range. The X940E is thus loosely like a super-beefed up larger version of the X930E, which itself comes in 55 and 65 inch size ranges. This was also the case with the 2016 models though in actual practice, the X940E is really entirely its own 4K TV with its own highly distinct and, quite frankly far superior performance specs in so many ways.
For the 2017 X940E, Sony has taken design, performance quality and certain features to whole new levels and we can safely say that this particular new model is absolutely worth the hype it has been getting from Sony itself. It quite possibly even surpasses it in certain specific ways that we’ll be getting to shortly. Without a doubt, the X940E is a fantastic 2017 HDR LCD TV and although we liked the 2016 X940D model very much, this year’s edition is a major improvement on the older version. Let’s get down to details.
There are so many excellent aspects to the Sony X940E that it’s hard to know what to mention first. The company has really given this year’s model a boost in certain highly important ways and in a couple of features, the X940E performers better than any LCD we’ve yet laid eyes on to-date. This models strongest points by far are its superb black levels, brightness, contrast ratios and local dimming performance. Close behind these comes the X940E’s excellent color performance, followed by the model’s very robust connectivity specs for use as a gaming TV and PC monitor. The X940E is also one wonderfully designed piece of hardware in general, with a solid build. Here’s a breakdown of the key good features.
Black levels, Local Dimming & Contrast
The single best feature of the X940E is without a doubt its performance at creating solid blacks and a consequently incredible, previously unseen level of contrast for an LCD TV model. That’s right, no 4K HDR TV from any brand we’ve reviewed so far reaches the sorts of contrast levels that this model is capable of. For starters, the full-array LED backlighting of this TV is divided down into a great number of local dimming zones, allowing for an extremely precise level of local dimming precision with extremely minimal edge blooming even when really bright pieces of content are lit up next to dark areas of the screen. The result of this is a contrast ratio with local dimming activated that is simply unprecedented, exceeding 10,000:1 and thus creating fully one third better contrast than even the best we’d previously seen in Sony’s own pricier Z9D 4K HDR LCD TVs, which are supposed to be the absolute kings of local dimming precision and light blockage.
This incredible contrast ratio with local dimming in the X940E activated obviously also means that this model delivers some fantastic deep black purity and an extremely high level of black uniformity cross the display as needed. With local dimming off, the X940E still performs perfectly well with a much more average but still very good contrast ratio that’s comparable to what we’ve seen in most other 2017 and many 2016 LCD RK HDR TV models with VA panel builds.
Directly connected to and complementing the Sony X940E’s superb contrast levels and black performance, as well as its local dimming, we have this model’s brightness capacity. As a full-array LED 4K TV, the X940E is expected to deliver better peak brightness than many edge-lit 4K TVs and for the most part it delivers quite nicely. This model doesn’t quite match the levels of peak and sustained brightness for HDR content that Sony’s flagship Z9D TV is capable of and it also doesn’t quite match the levels of peak brightness that we’ve seen in Samsung’s best 2016 and 2017 4K HDR Premium TVs but it still performs marvelously well and more than exceeds the requirements of HDR10 high dynamic range standards. More importantly still though, the X940E delivers some of the best peak brightness we’ve seen in any 4K TV for non-HDR content and it does so with a very high level of uniformity across different areas of screen illumination (from 2% to 100%). In this Sony has really excelled for this model and the result is rather unique and very impressive to see when you’re watching the vast majority of content on your TV which doesn’t come with HDR mastering built into it.
We absolutely love the color performance of the X940E. In its 2017 HDR TV models, Sony has truly exceled at delivering fantastic color coverage and vibrancy and more importantly still, for the premium models such as the X940E, the level of HDR color delivery for wide color gamut is better than it was in the 2016 cousins of these TVs, by a visible margin. The X940E handles the high dynamic range colors found in both HDR10 and Dolby Vision-mastered sources of HDR content beautifully, vibrantly and with excellent realism. We can honestly say that it competes very effectively with even the best that rivals like Samsung, LG and Vizio have to offer and an HDR movie that you decide to watch on this giant of a 4K TV will blow you away with how much better it looks than it ever did in any theater screen or normal 4K or HDTV display.
Motion Handling & Upscaling
There are some defects with specific motion handling specs in the X940E and we’ll get to these shortly but at least as far as key specs such as motion interpolation, image flicker control and smooth playback of 24p content from disc and native app media sources is concerned, the X940E performs superbly. It’s motion interpolation of lower frame-rare content sources onto this TV’s native 120Hz display panel is essentially perfect and as for the upscaling engine in the X940E, it’s as excellent as we’ve ever seen it in any Sony 4K TV (and Sony’s 4K TVs are particularly good at smooth, high quality non-4K content upscaling) Quite frankly, whether you’re watching a regular TV broadcast, a piece of decently-formatted 480p video, a 720p DVD or any 1080p movie on this model, the image quality will indeed look better than it would on any ordinary non-4K TV.
One interesting aspect of the X940E’s performance is how well it handles gaming in different resolutions, color formats and with HDR enabled from consoles like the Xbox One S or Sony’s own PS4 Pro. Unlike Samsung’s and (now for 2017) LG’s 4K TVs, many of Sony’s 2016 and even 2017 4K TV models seemed to offer a slightly but annoyingly higher input lag for games played through different consoles at different settings, even with these TVs’ gaming modes activated. The X940E doesn’t seem to have this problem and if properly configured for gaming performance, it’s extremely responsive. We’ll cover the specifics of this further down in the connectivity section.
Finally, Sony’s XBR 7X940E is simply a wonderfully designed 4K TV in terms of both aesthetic appeal and functionality. This model has the same essential design as its X930E cousin all around including the plastic “tiled” rear surface look. However, the X940E is both thicker and heavier than the otherwise nearly identical looking X930E due to this model’s full-array LED backlight rig. From the font, the X940E looks pretty much identical to other premium models like the X900E or Sony’s flagship Z9D models. The supporting stand is sturdy, made of metal and has a relatively modest footprint for easy placement on even compact surfaces. Despite the stand’s smaller size, it supports this rather heavy 4K TV quite well. At the back of the X940E, there is a whole series of panels in place for concealment and protection of the X940E’s connectivity ports. Sony has also installed a great cable management setup for minimal unsightly cable clutter.
4.7 – 4 Reviews
For all of its incredibly fine display performance and in some cases exceptionally, surprisingly fine display metrics, the Sony X940E isn’t without a share of flaws. Some of these are very minor things that come with the nature of its technology or would be noted by only a minority of consumers but there are a couple of points on which this otherwise excellent 4K HDR TV falls very unexpectedly flat. Here they are in order from worst to most minor.
First and most glaring we have the strange defect of weak motion blur control in this model. Sony’s 4K TVs have generally shown themselves to be excellent at handling motion ever since we started reviewing these models back in 2014 and this has applied even more so to newer premium models in the X940E’s league. Thus, when we noted that the motion blur handling in the X940E is mediocre and laden with some serious blur during fast-paced content sequences, it came as a serious surprise. None of its 2017 cousins examined so far suffer this defect. The next model down, the X930E delivers nearly perfect motion blur handling by LCD TV standards (as compared to OLED TVs, which leave all LCD models utterly in the dust on handling motion blur) and even considerably cheaper Sony 2017 TVs like the X850E mid-range television or just about any 2016 model from this brand all deliver excellent to nearly perfect motion blur handling during fast 4K or upscaled content sequences. This is the most major and admittedly puzzling weakness we found in this model.
In another aspect of motion handling, the X940E suffers another unusual weakness and this particular little defect is indeed also shared among its 2016 cousins that we’ve reviewed so far. Specifically, judder-free 24p content playback isn’t supported across all formats, only from disc media sources and native content apps in the TV itself. This problem isn’t as serious since many consumers don’t even notice judder in the movies or shows where it appears but for those who are sensitive to this little flaw, it’s partly present in the X940E.
Moving on to much more minor problems, we also consider the audio quality of this Sony TV to be only decent, bordering on mediocre. We don’t consider this to be a major issue simply because very few TVs among even the priciest models really deliver exceptional sound from their built-in speakers but it’s worth mentioning. That said, any halfway decent external soundbar, purchased for less than $200 will take care of this problem nicely.
Lastly, two minor issues for which we can’t blame Sony in any case for different reasons: The first of these is the fact that this is a TV with a VA panel display. On the one hand this means superb capacity for peak brightness, black uniformity and crisp black edges during high contrast scenes (partly thanks to the X940E’s local dimming as well). On the other hand the nature of VA (Vertical Alignment) pixel panels also means that viewing angles in TVs with this display type are weak with considerable contrast and color vibrancy loss beyond about 29 degrees from dead center to either side. This is just the nature of the technology however and the trade-off balances in favor of VA anyhow. Secondly, the Sony X940E, like all of Sony’s 2017 4K TVs from priciest to cheapest, does not support 3D. Sony removed this feature in its televisions so if you’ve got a particularly huge collection of 3D Blu-rays you just love to enjoy, go for another TV brand.
On a final note, the only available model of X940E TV is the 75 incher, so if you want this model, expect to pay a high price. There’s no settling for a smaller, cheaper version here.
The Sony XBR-75X940E 4K HDR TV is one absolutely superb piece of HDR LCD TV technology. It’s easily the best performer we’ve yet seen in the quality of its local dimming-enabled contrast, black levels and in terms of all major display metrics, this model performs superbly. We highly recommend it even if it’s not quite as capable of the really high peak brightness that some rival models from Samsung can manage. The sheer quality of its local dimming compensates nicely for this.
Key TV Specs
- Screen size: 75 diagonal inches (XBR-75X940E)
- 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
- HDR Support: Yes, HDR10, Dolby Vision, Hybrid Log Gamma
- Refresh Rate: 120Hz native refresh rate
- Screen Lighting: Full-array LED backlighting with multi-zone local dimming
- Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels UHD
- Wireless Connectivity: Yes, includes both built-in WiFi and Ethernet port
- Remotes: Sony button remote with voice recognition
- Connectivity: 4 HDMI (all with HDCP 2.2, ports 2 & 3 with HDMI 2.0a) ports, 3 USB ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 Digital Audio Out
- Sound: 10 W + 10 W + 10 W + 10 W + 10 W + 10 Front-face 3-way speakers with Dolby™ Digital, Dolby™ Digital Plus, Dolby™ Pulse and DTS Digital Surround
- Contrast Ratio: 4958 : 1 (native, real contrast) 11,658:1 with local dimming activated
- Black Level maximum: 0.018 cd/m2 without local dimming: 0.0085 with local dimming
- 3D Technology: N/A
- TV dimensions with stand (75 inch model): 65 7/8 x 40 7/8 x 12 7/8″
- TV weight (65 inch model): 71.9 lb (32.6 kg) w/ Stand, 63 lb (28.6 kg) without stand
- Processor: 4K HDR Processor X1™ Extreme
Some Important Highlights
Incredible black level and contrast capacity: As we clearly elaborated above in our description of the X940E’s best features, this television really masters the art of delivering deep, rich blacks, stunning contrast ratios and delivering a remarkably high quality of multi-zone local dimming, which can be notoriously defective as a feature in many 4K TVs. Not so in the X940E’s case. Contrast ratios of a level we’ve never before seen are delivered with aplomb and local dimming performs with marvelous precision to create stunningly deep, rich black levels and shadows as needed.
Stunning color performance: Color enhancement technology through special filters has become the rage in the HDR TVs of last year and this year. Samsung is using it, LG is using it and Sony’s version of it is called Triluminous Display. While the Samsung version depends on quantum dot color filters of the latest type to deliver their televisions’ wide color gamut, Sony claims that Triluminos Display uses a different mechanism, in the X940E and other models. However the company is not elaborating too deeply on the specifics of this. Whatever the case may be, the X940E and its 2017 cousins do indeed offer better-than-ever color performance specs and very high DCI-P3 Wide Color space coverage. This is a measurable improvement from what we saw in some 2016 HDR models from this and other brands.
Android TV improvements: Android TV isn’t our favorite Smart TV platform but it is one of the better options out there. For the 2017 version in the X940E and its cousins, improvements have been made to refine it even further. The new Action Menu is one particular option which enhances usability and access to specific popular settings that a user is frequently visiting. Then there’s the excellent Google Play Store which comes with Android TV and allow for access to a very broad range of apps for extended TV functionality. The X940E also offers up access to Chromecast, for streaming of content from smartphones and tablets right to the TV screen itself. And of course, all the main content streaming apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Spotify and Hulu come pre-installed. The main Android TV platform in the X940E is completely ad-free as far as we could see in our review model.
4.7 – 4 Reviews
Note: Dolby Vision and HLG high Dynamic Range support are both scheduled for a mid to late 2017 firmware update and not available in the X940E at the time of this writing in June of of 2017.
Key Display Specs
The overall display performance of the Sony XBR75X940E is quite simply amazing, with fantastic black levels, extraordinary contrast capacities and some of the best overall black level performance we’ve ever seen from an LCD TV. Even in a bright room, this 4K TV shines and delivers excellent vibrancy due to its very high across-the-board levels of peak brightness for both SDR and HDR content. Only on motion handling do we start to see some moderate flaws but even then these manifest only in highly specific ways that many viewers may not even notice for most of the stuff they watch. Let’s get down to some details.
Black Level, Local Dimming and Contrast: We’ve already waxed enough completely justified polish onto our descriptions of how well this particular Sony TV performs in this category of specs. Here are the specific numbers to give you a solid picture of just what we mean:
In terms of overall black level, with local dimming deactivated, the X940E doesn’t exceed 0.018 nits of luminosity in its darkest areas of display. With local dimming active, the black level takes an excellent nose-dive down to 0.0085 nits or so, which is downright stunning by LCD 4K TV standards. These two amount to a contrast ratio of about 4958 : 1 with local dimming in this TV deactivated and a contrast ratio of about 11,658:1 with local dimming on. Bottom line here: The multi-zone local diming of the XBR75X940E with its 200+ local dimming zones is wonderfully precise and with extremely low bloom by LCD 4K TV standards.
Brightness: Peak brightness in the X940E is very good overall. At its absolute maximum it doesn’t come close to matching the levels we saw in the 2016 and premium 2017 Samsung SUHD TVs and QLED models. Neither does the peak brightness match the nearly 2000 nit levels of the Sony flagship Z9D HDR TV (though oddly, the X940E delivers far better contrast than its superior cousin). However, what the 75X940E does deliver is still very, very bright and well above the levels required by HDR10 high dynamic range standards. Furthermore, it delivers the excellent characteristic of extremely high and surprisingly similar brightness across several different measurements in both SDR and HDR modes. This is unique among many 4K HDR LCD televisions sold today.
Also, to clarify, peak brightness is the maximum possible spot HDR or SDR luminosity of the display or a section of it measured in nits (or cd/m2, which is the same thing) under different conditions. Sustained brightness is the highest possible sustained HDR or SDR brightness that the TV screen can manage over different conditions or areas of illuminated display. Here’s a rundown of key measurements for both below:
- Overall SDR peak brightness for normal content: 670 nits
- Peak 2% display area display SDR brightness: 984 nits
- Peak 10% display area SDR brightness: 1115 nits
- Peak 100% display area SDR brightness: 562 nits
- Sustained 10% SDR Brightness: 1092 nits
- Sustained 100% SDR brightness: 551 nits
- Overall HDR peak brightness for normal content: 1198 nits
- Peak 2% display area display HDR brightness: 1101 nits
- Peak 10% display area HDR brightness: 1181 nits
- Peak 100% display area HDR brightness: 612 nits
- Sustained 10% HDR Brightness: 1165 nits
- Sustained 100% HDR brightness: 578 nits
Color Delivery: As a full premium HDR 4K TV with full delivery of alHDR10 standards as well as support for Dolby Vision and HLG on the way, you can bet that the Sony X940E manages some excellent color delivery of both normal SDR color range and full high dynamic range color. One these it does not at all disappoint.
The X940E delivers full and essentially defect-free 10-bit color for a smooth gradation between over 1.06 billion RGB (Red Green, Blue) color values in its pixels. Furthermore, its support for Wide Color Gamut exceeds what we saw in any of Sony’s 2016 HDR TV models. This model manages a solid 96.1% of the DCI-P3 Wide color gamut space and also delivers 65% of the much bigger Rec.2020 color space that is now considered the color support benchmark of the near future in digital displays. Color volume is also excellent in this model, with high color accuracy and rich, accurate display of both dark and bright colors in the wide color gamut spectrum. This is maintained even when the X940E is outputting extremely high levels of luminance. As for post-calibration color accuracy, it’s also superb, with a color delta E of 1.24 and a Gamma rating of 2.2. Out-of-the-box settings for these two metrics are however much weaker and some manual color calibration in the TV’s picture settings will be necessary.
Motion Handling & Upscaling: Motion handling in the X940E is for the most part excellent, but with two notable flaws, one of which is rather puzzling. Motion interpolation of lower frame-rte content on the TV’s 120Hz native display is handled excellently and smoothly, with high smoothness for both 30fps and 60fps content or anything in between. Additionally, this 4K TV comes with virtually no image flicker and delivers an excellent judder-free experience for 24p content from disc media and native app streaming sources. On the other hand, 24p video from external satellite boxes or broadcast sources does come with some judder. This is something we’ve noticed in several other Sony 2017 TVs and it’s a bit odd but many consumers may not even notice it, so it doesn’t count as a major motion handling defect in our view.
The real motion weakness of the XBR75X940E is its really, really slow response time of 35ms. Most premium 4K HDR TVs can manage between 9 and 12ms so the X940 really fails here, resulting in much more motion blur, especially for fast-pace content, than we expected in such an otherwise excellent 4K television.
Finally, thanks to Sony’s superb picture processing engine, the X940E models all deliver excellent content upscaling, for HD content in particular but also to a high degree of quality for SD and 720p video sources with good formatting.
The following are the connectivity options of all models of the Sony XBR-X940E. All major advanced content connectivity specs are included and this TV is fully capable of console gaming and PC monitor use in all major resolution formats, frame rates and color subsampling modes. Average input lag for 4K content and 4K HDR content in Game Mode sits at between 23 and 24 ms, with support for 4:4:4 subsampling and 60Hz at the same input lag. 4K at 60Hz with 4:4:4 color sampling and 8-bit HDR is also supported at 23ms. 1080p game content from consoles on the other hand comes with a surprisingly bad input lag of 41ms.
- HDMI : 4 (All come with HDCP 2.2 and 2,3 offer full HDMI 2.0a)
- USB : 3 (USB 3.0)
- Digital Optical Audio Out : 1
- Analog Audio Out 3.5mm : 1
- Component In : 1 (shared)
- Composite In : 2 (shared)
- Tuner (Cable/Ant) : 1
- Ethernet : 1
- IR In : 1
The X930E also offers audio connectivity in the following types
- 5.1 Passthrough ARC Dolby Digital
- 5.1 Passthrough ARC DTS
- 5.1 Passthrough Optical Dolby Digital
- 5.1 Passthrough Optical DTS
Sony is selling the X940E for the following price at the time of this writing. Bear in mind that these are subject to sometimes frequent downward change and it’s a good idea to click the following Amazon link(s) for real-time pricing and all available discounts on this excellent 4K HDR television model.
4.7 – 4 Reviews