Sony has released it’s first 4K LED LCD display the 84″ diagonal $25,000 XBR-84X900. I have to say that the first time I saw this product at CEDIA in 2012 I was very impressed. My wife also happened to be with me at the trade show and she was immediately taken with the product unaware that it was new 4K technology. She said we needed to buy this until I told her the price of the unit. She has lived with a Pioneer 151FD and 1080p Sim2 projector for years and has never expressed a desire for something else in the past.
Needless to say I have been waiting for a client to contact me to calibrate this product. Last week my wish came true when a previous client who owned the Qualia 006 contacted me to work on his new 4K display. The client had the product positioned properly about 10 feet in front of his couch on the factory stand directly in front of us. It was in the middle of the day so ambient light was a factor in this situation.
I have to say that I am even more astounded at the image this product can produce after calibration and viewing it with my reference material. The last time I was this impressed was when the Pioneer 151FD was released. I found both 4K and 1080p image reproduction with this product to be outstanding. I was seeing details on Casino Royal that I had never noticed before. The hidden (7669) resolution pattern found on Sony Blu-Rays has also never looked better. The video processing in this unit turned a Blu-Ray into a much more revealing image. It reminded me of how DVD can be improved by converting it from 480p to 1080p. The difference was not subtle.
The image accuracy of this product was very similar to the current 1080p XBR LED LCD displays. The gamma curve was a near perfect 2.2 along with very good Rec. 709 color after calibration. The color uniformity and white balance were essentially perfect. The LED dimming strategy was similarly best in class with this product. I could not tell it was active like I can with other LED products. The biggest negative to image reproduction with this product is that the panel reflects room light much more than my Pioneer 151FD. The room I was in was too bright to take an accurate black level measurement, but I never felt this was a problem with the image.
Sony also provided a computer with several 4K demo clips. Oddly, it’s video card was not setup correctly and the TV had to be calibrated independently for this input versus the standard Blu-Ray and cable sources. To do this easily it should be connected to a separate HDMI input from the other sources. The performance of this source after calibration was nothing short of outstanding.
Motion handling of this product after calibration was best in class. Some of the 4K clips provided did have some odd motion artifacts, but I assume they were inherent in the source. The 4K movie sources supplied appeared to have excellent motion.
3D is where this product is even more exceptional compared to other flat panels. The fact that this product uses passive 3D glasses and is illuminating each pixel all the time made the image at least 50% brighter than other 3D products. It was nice to be able to see such a bright 3D image at 1080p. Unfortunately, the client did not have a 3D capable Blu-Ray player so I was limited to the 3D material Sony supplied with the display. This is the first 1080p 3D flat panel that I have seen that can deliver a quality 3D image in a room with normal lighting levels instead of a cave environment.
Audio performance of this TV is in another class compared to many other current products. I prefer the audio from my Pioneer 151FD with an external subwoofer, but the sound quality of this product is better than any other flat panel I have worked with.
To summarize this is the first product I have seen that I would consider to replace my Pioneer 151FD which is something I thought might not happen for many years. This is not to say it is without flaws. The anti-glare coatings on this along with the off-axis viewing are much worse than my Pioneer. I am excitedly waiting for the day when the price of these products drop to the point that more consumers can enter the age of 4K.