It’s the middle of the year, and by now the TV manufacturers should have their wares in stores for you to buy, and for us to review. Sony appears to be last, though, but is finally showing off one impressive little TV.
Sorry, did we say little? We meant big. We get those words mixed up all the time.
This is Sony’s flagship for the year, the X9400C, a big whopper of a TV that arrives in a 75 inch model only, though there is a slightly smaller model available, the X9300C, which will be 65 inches and feature one less major feature.
Features are a big part of what is being offered in this end of the market, in these two “X” models, with 4K Ultra HD support, 802.11ac wireless networking (WiFi), active 3D technology with two pairs of glasses, motion smoothing (which you can turn off), and the latest version of Sony’s 4K X-Reality Pro upscaling technology.
By now, you’re probably aware of Ultra HD’s biggest problem on TVs, and that’s the lack of content: there is absolutely nothing to watch.
That’s not solely a flippant remark, but rather a point that there is no 4K media in Australia, short of the stuff you can make yourself with the few 4K cameras and 4K capable smartphone cameras available.
Blu-rays will be released supporting the higher definition 4K format soon, but you’ll see these late this year and early next, and so right now, the majority of things you’ll play back will be upscaled or streamed in 4K.
Streaming in 4K is relatively easy, with Netflix in Australia supporting a few TV shows and movies in the 4K format, though you have to have a pretty fast internet connection to make it happen. YouTube is also a possibility, though this is mostly trailers, and this just helps you to realise the pickings are a little slim in regards to finding Ultra HD content.
So what’s the solution?
For now, it is upscaling, as it has been since 4K Ultra HD was first unveiled a few years ago, though this year, the solution is better than it has been.
While every other 4K TV manufacturer has an upscaler, Sony’s latest version of the technology relies on its “X1” processor, a proprietary bit of technology that together with algorithms analyses every pixel and frame and compares it to a database to reproduce the pixel and frame quickly as it upscales, interpolating the image and making it appear bigger.
There will be some dotting and some floral patterns, but by and large, when sitting a metre from the TV, Sony hopes its X-Reality Pro technology does its job and makes Blu-rays look like 4K, or close to it.
Triluminos and its quantum dot technology remains, however, and in this iteration, Sony tells us its the best yet, with the technology appearing on a few more models, but it working best on this very large TV, the X9400.
Helping make it better is the “Xtended Dynamic Range Pro” technology, which features a full array of LEDs sitting under the panel and lighting up the pixels in a grid when they’re needed, shining bright and pushing the colour range when needed, and switching it off when there should be black.
This is different from most of the other TVs with the standard “Xtended Dynamic Range” tech from Sony, which just uses edge lighting to highlight areas, making the pro version the one to get if you need a big screen with a level of colour accuracy. As a point of difference, the smaller X9300C — identical in almost every other way — uses the standard “Xtended Dynamic Range” tech.
Testing the X9400C out this week, we found it to be simply lovely, with some of the best blacks we’ve seen from a non-OLED display.
Viewing the infinite space that was seen in “Interstellar”, the black of outer space draws you in, and is hard to tell the difference between the black on screen and the black of the frame, what is essentially the chassis of the X9400, with the side sections that house the speakers.
That’s another section that has received some work, with Sony getting its magnetic fluid speakers back in a high-end TV to provide high levels of sound without excess distortion and noise.