Price: $25,000 At A Glance: Stunning resolution • Superb color • Glorious 2D and 3D performance
In most respects, the XBR-84X900 mimics the features found in Sony’s XBR-55HX950. The remote and XMB (XrossMediaBar) menus are similar. There are full White Balance adjustments here for tuning the gray scale but, typical of Sony sets in general, no color management system (CMS) for adjusting the primary or secondary color points from which all the other colors derive.
I’ve got much good to talk about here when it comes to picture quality, but it’s worth noting up front that, surprisingly for such an expensive TV, the Sony failed both our SD (standard definition) and HD (high definition) motion adaptive (MA) deinterlacing tests, producing more rotating bar jaggies than would permit a passing grade. It also failed the 3:2 SD pulldown test and rolled off the highest-frequency burst in our Chroma Resolution test. Then, in attempting to check for how serious the deinterlacing issues might be on real-world 480i material (using the DVD release of Titanic), I discovered a general softening of 480i and 480p sources to a degree that was dependent on the setting of the Sony’s sharpness control. However, even with sharpness at the technically optimum setting, the visible result from letting the Sony do all the upconversion work for standard-definition content was clearly inferior to letting our Oppo BDP-103 Blu-ray player do the 480i/p-to-1080p conversion before handing the signal over to the Sony for the final step up to 4K. This softening was more of a concern to me than the jaggies and in any event would have obscured subtle deinterlacing artifacts on real-world sources. At that point, with my time limited, I elected to chase the 480i issue no further.
As explained in the accompanying sidebar, a server loaded with 4K movies and shorts comes with the XBR-84X900. The quality of this material varied. Among the movies, The Amazing Spider-Man, Battle: Los Angeles, Salt, andTotal Recall (2012) were of reference quality. The Bridge on the River Kwai looked its age, andTaxi Driver was grainy, but that’s likely in the film source. [Ed. Note: Indeed it is; I saw this stunning restoration projected digitally in a theater, and it preserved the hard look that Scorsese effectively used to impart the grittiness of the crime-ridden New York City of the mid-1970s.—RS] The remaining titles (The Other Guys, The Karate Kid, Bad Teacher, and That’s My Boy) looked fine but weren’t up to the level of the other four.
How do you rate the value of a product that has limited competition in its market segment—even if the price is enough for a comfortable down payment on a house? You can’t, particularly if that product excels at what it does. Just how much of the Sony XBR-84X900’s outstanding performance—whether the source is 2K, 4K, or even 3D—is due to its native 4K, and how much can be credited to the extra margin the price gives for the designers to elevate every other aspect of the set’s design to a higher standard? We can’t say as yet for certain, but we can say that 4K certainly doesn’t hurt.
Screen Size (diagonal, inches): 84
Native Resolution: 3840 x 2160
3D: Yes (passive glasses)
HDTV Tuner: OTA
Backlight: LED edge-lit with local dimming
Wall Mount or Stand Included: Floor and tabletop stands
Dimensions (W x H x D, inches): 76 x 44.75 x 3.25 (without stand); 76 x 59.5 x 22.5 (with floor stand)
Weight (pounds): 160.2 (without stand); 215.7 (with floor stand)
Video Inputs: HDMI (4, 4K on HDMI 2 and 3), PC D-sub 15-pin analog RGB (1), component video (1), composite video (2, 1 shared), cable/antenna (1)
Audio Inputs: Stereo analog (2), PC/HDMI (L/R minijack, common with HDMI 3)
Audio Outputs: Optical digital (1), headphones (1, analog)
Additional: USB/DLNA (2), LAN, Audio Return Channel (ARC) on HDMI 1, RS-232C (1)
All of the color results and charts provided here, together with additional data, were obtained using SpectraCal CalMAN, SpectraCal.com
|Picture Mode||Cinema 1||Cinema 1|
|Scene Select||Cinema||Cinema /td>|
|Color Temperature||Warm 2||Warm 2|
|Sharpness||10 (see text)||10 (see text)|
|MPEG Noise Reduction||Off||Off|
|Dot Noise Reduction||Off||Off|
|Video Area Detection||Off||Off|
|CineMotion||Auto 1||Auto 1|
|Advanced Contrast Enhancer||Off||Low|
|Gamma||0 or +1||0|
|LED Dynamic Control||Standard||Standard|
|Auto Light Limiter||Off||N/A|
|i/p Conversion Preference||---||---|
|Screen Display Area||Full Pixel||Full Pixel|
|3D Settings||All Default|
|HDMI Dynamic Range||Auto||Auto|
During our final review fact-check with Sony and after we no longer had access to our test sample of the XBR-84X900, Sony suggested different global Sharpness and Reality Creation control settings that they say would have yielded a crisper image with 480i content and better addressed the softness with 480i/p programming that we observed in our review. Unfortunately, we were not able to experiment with these settings, but they are shown below. Sony did acknowledge that the jaggies we detected on both HD and SD video—an interlacing artifact—were endemic to the set.