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Sony XBR-75X940C

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Product Description

Sony has been making Full Array Local Dimming LED LCDs for several years, and I'm glad to see their flagships continue to get bigger and better. Cleveland A/V owner Chris Majoros pointed out that even though owning the big Sony does require a lot of cash, it's a good value in comparison to it's direct competition from Samsung, the slightly larger but much more expensive UN78JS9500.

The 75X940C scoffs at the ultra thin bezel design of other high end displays, instead featuring a partly retro yet somewhat futuristic looking design with speaker drivers mounted on thick side panels. It's a design choice that works, giving the impression that Sony isn't skimping on quality in an effort to make things ever sleeker and slimmer. And speaking of slim, you'd better be willing to sacrifice it if you want to enjoy the picture quality the 75X940C provides. That's OK by me, but the thing that did bother me about the 75X940C's design was it's slant backwards. Yes, despite the fact that most people will be looking up slightly at the 75X940C, it had a slight backward tilt when mounted on it's two legged stand. At least the legs can be mounted either near the screen edges or closer together to accommodate different table or support widths, which owner Frank found to be very handy when setting up his new 75X940C.

Sony refers to the 75X940C's screen technology as TRILUMINOS Display, which, like Quantum Dot technology, is intended to reproduce deeper, more saturated colors than before. However, reproducing deep enough colors isn't much of a problem for most LED LCDs, since all current HDTV and UHD formats utilize the long standing and relatively easy to reproduce Rec 709 color standard. So one has to consider if the deeper color saturation of Quantum Dot and TRILUMINOS technology is really any benefit for currently available sources. For the 75X940C in comparison to previous Sony FALD flagships like the HX929, the color of blue is measurably more accurate on the 75X940C, but ironically the color of red is a little too pure. The increased color saturation will become much more important if a new, wider color standard is adapted for UHD.

So while color saturation may be of debatable importance at the moment, one other distinct aspect of the 75X940C that will be appreciated by some owners is it's blazingly bright picture capability. If you watch TV in a very bright room or if you just happen to like to shock your senses into submission, the 75X940C is your ticket. I have never documented a brighter picture than what the 75X940C reproduced; in fact, with the ambient light sensor turned off, it was about twice as bright as the next brightest LED LCDs I've measured.

Couple that incredible brightness capability with the Full Array Local Dimming backlight, and the result is incredible dynamic range: the blacks can be truly black with some content, and the highlights can give a convincing reproduction of a clear, sunny day if desired. That does not mean the 75X940C is going to transform most home theaters with it's bright disposition, because most enthusiasts would find that extreme light output excessive and will value the deep blacks much more. Just take comfort in knowing that, if you really, really want to, you can enjoy your TV with all the lights on and sunglasses in place.

Like most flagship TVs, the 75X940C picks up clear, sharp reflections in it's glossy screen, though it does retain commendable contrast in moderate ambient light. Taking care to reduce reflections will pay big dividends even with a light output powerhouse like the 75X940C.

Viewing angle seemed to be noticeably better than on most LED LCDs, with minimal visible change for any position on a normal couch at typical distances.

Before calibration:

In Standard picture mode, the 75X940C produced a smooth image with a convincing sense of depth. Colors were rich and vibrant, and the overall picture was very bright and punchy. Dark objects, however, tended to sink down into the black background, and blues seemed emphasized. Brightly lit faces had a trace of a caked on makeup look despite a tendency toward chronic sunburn, and fine detail in hair was slightly etched and unnaturally detailed. Motion had the unnaturally smoothed over Soap Opera Effect, despite occasional glitches and blurps where motion would jump or stutter. I was very pleased to note that, most of the time, black bars were so dark that they blended in with the bezel in a relatively dark environment. Overall, Standard was impressive, especially at first glance, though hardly realistic.

In Custom mode, I was surprised to see that black bars were now visible, though thankfully they were neutral toned with no obnoxious cloudiness or tinting. There was good motion with hockey and sports, though it could be a bit choppy at times with some content. Depth and contrast were only moderate, and colors looked pale with jaundice skin tones. In most ways, Custom mode was the polar opposite of Standard.

Cinema Home mode showed excellent contrast with good depth and pop. However, picture highlights seemed unnatural, and motion looked blurry and too choppy.

Game mode was dark and greenish with unnatural highlights.

Thankfully, there seemed to be no signs of the Dirty Screen Effect even with demanding material like hockey. This is an important improvement over Sony's previous FALD models.

Calibration:

All measurements, both before and after calibration, were made with light sensor off.

Unusually, the tint control impacted the primary colors as much as the secondary colors. Skin tone simulations measured best with the tint set to R3, though overall color accuracy suffered at any tint setting other than 0. That frustrated me, because in order to have most colors accurate, skin tone simulations measured too yellowish.

The 75X940C had very good screen uniformity, showing no problems with full gray screens. Motion resolution with a 1080P/60 input appeared to be around 330 lines with Motionflow off, 640 with it on Standard or Smooth, and a full 1080 in Clear.

Contrast ratio was measured with 10% size, 22% APL windows. The native panel contrast ratio measured 4232:1 (57.9 fL white, .0137 fL black) without the aid of the local dimming. With local dimming on high or medium, the contrast ratio was so good it was unmeasurable. With the local dimming on low, it was 86363:1 (57.69 fL, .00067fL). This is extremely impressive performance. Setting the local dimming to high compressed highlights in some test patterns, but everything looked great with it set to medium, with even dark images showing outstanding contrast.

I measured 14 horizontal and 6 vertical dimming zones, which is much less than the Samsung UN65JS9500, though the 75X940C had significantly better native panel contrast. Weighing the Samsung's more plentiful local dimming zones against the Sony's greater contrast almost seems to be a toss up, though I slightly prefer the latter.

Sony added 10 point white balance controls to the 75X940C, leading to a welcome increase in calibration flexibility. However, the alignment of those 10 points was all over the map; in other words, the intervals didn't adjust the brightness range they were intended to. With contrast set to maximum, things tracked pretty well at the brighter range of the scale, but things deteriorated with lower levels; interval 4 adjusted 30% and interval 2 adjusted 13%. Not surprisingly, the contrast control really was not optimal at maximum, and reducing it greatly increased the 10 point displacement. The gamma preset also had an impact, with less displacement with gamma set to minimum - which again was not the best position for the gamma control. All of these comments applied when local dimming is turned off; with it turned on, control displacement was even more severe. In addition to displacement, I also observed buggy behavior in the 10 point menu. It was necessary to partially back out and reenter after each interval or settings would improperly carry over from one interval to the other. Also, when completely reentering the menu, going to an interval showed all controls at 0; but going to different interval and then back showed the adjustments. All of this backing out and reentering seemed to be more than the 75X940C could handle at times, causing occasional lockups. This doesn't mean the 10 point control was useless; it just means it's difficult and tricky to calibrate well.

With contrast set to maximum, turning local dimming on compressed the measured gamma slightly, but with the contrast backed off several clicks the 75X940C's local dimming did not change or deteriorate the measurements to any significant degree except for slightly darkening shadow detail.

Switching the XDR on just made everything about twice as bright with minimal to no change in overall picture quality or measurements.

The before and after calibration measurements are attached.

After calibration:

Dark room viewing of 1080i cable, 1080P/24 Blu Ray, and some UHD clips Frank had on an external hard drive showed that the 75X940C does indeed live up to Sony's flagship XBR standards.

The image showed excellent pop, with just mild blooming in certain situations. The contrast looked very impressive even in challenging, dark movie scenes.

Color was good, though a step below the best. Skin tones, especially on a variety of HD cable stations, were more variable than expected, with some looking slightly yellowish and jaundice. However, other color shades were appropriately vibrant and natural.

The 75X940C showed excellent depth. Movie scenes had a convincing sense of dimensionality. Shadow detail was balanced a bit dark, due at least in part to the local dimming slightly darkening shadow detail.

The overall quality and neutrality of the blacks were excellent. I saw none of the bluish or purplish blacks that plague some LED LCD displays.

Stability was very good with the exception of black bars, which, if focused on, could be seen to fluctuate depending on the brightness of content bordering it. It didn't draw attention to itself, but when I looked for it I could see it.

Resolution and detail were impressive. Blu Ray and UHD showed excellent fine detail with few artifacts, and no annoying distractions or "effects" got in the way of the picture.

All sources, but especially UHD, looked commendably grain free with a photorealistic smoothness. Motion was natural and crisp, both with movies and sports.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 75X940C's picture; it's pop, vibrancy, detail, and naturalness were top notch. With more color accuracy and local dimming zones it would have been just too good to be true. As it stands, though, it's strengths vastly outweigh it's imperfections, making it one of, if not the, best LED LCD I've seen.

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