If you are a TV enthusiast, you have undoubtedly heard of the new Sony XBR-84X900 LED TV. If you haven’t, this new television from Sony was just announced at IFA and we’ve covered the launch as it was announced. It has a 4K (3840 x 2160) resolution, which is exactly four times as many pixels as today’s 1080p standard.
Tradeshows are not always a great place to look at these TVs since the lighting is so over-the-top, if not outright weird. So instead, we headed for the Sony Store in Palo Alto, where we where the Sony XBR-84X900 is currently on display. Phil Molyneux, Sony Electronics USA’s COO was very proud to show us the capabilities of this TV set. Here’s a photo of him next to the television so that you can have a sense for how big 84″ is.
Unbelievable image quality
We’ve been able to look at the TV from up close, and in lighting conditions (mostly natural light) that could be close to what you have at home. To put it simply, the image quality is amazing. You should keep in mind that the video demo was shot with a 4K camera, and that it has been selected and tuned to show great details, but the point is that the visual quality is just stunning and that 4K native content is already creeping up in movies and even TV shows.
While non-4K TVs would simply “stretch” a 1080p (1920×1080) image to 65″, 70″ or 84″, the Sony XBR-84X900 is comparable to having four 42″ 1080p TVs side by side. You keep all the pixel details of a 42″ 1080p TV, but on a 82″ diagonal.
Great audio out of the box
What was more surprising with the Sony XBR-84X900 was the quality if the audio. It often happens that TV of this size are sold with the idea that the customers will invest in a separate audio setup anyway. But the Sony XBR-84X900 audio setup stands on its own I think: it comes with a 10-speaker 50W setup that sounded really good on site. If the customer has a better sound setup, the speakers are completely removable.
4K Kicks the pants out of “3D”
While we’ve said that “3d” was a bit overhyped and that it would not generate the high-margins that TV makers were expecting, 4K really adds a lot of value, especially for large TVs. It’s really hard to tell when 4K absolutely makes sense without seeing it on the ground, but it is clear that even a 15″ screen like the Macbook Pro’s Retina display can benefit from ultra-high resolution.
To most people that I’ve talked with at the venue, 4K seems more “3D” than (stereo) “3D”. It’s funny, because there is actually no “depth” effect, but being able to see details that would normally not show up on a 1080p screen is immediately perceptible.
Yet, “3D” is still there and Phil Molyneux assured us that Sony was still committed to that technology. While most (if not all) Sony products use active glasses, this TV uses passive glasses. Some may poke at Sony for selecting this because in terms of absolute quality, “active” performs a bit better. However, such a large TV will probably entertain quite a number of people, so equipping with (and charging) many pair of active glasses may not be so convenient. Again, I don’t really care for 3D – but drop a comment if you feel that passive glasses is not good enough.
What about broadcasting 4k?
I have to admit that 1080p movies and Blu-Ray were not enough to get me onto a 1080p movies. It’s when regular TV and cable TV switched to HD that I thought it was time to switch. The same may be true for a lot of you (and probably me as well) when it comes to 4K.
Right now, the cable companies don’t seem to have a clear plan when it comes to 4K, and web streaming seems to be the temporary fix. Of course, this requires a fast internet connection, and this means that as long as the “broadcast” (cable, dish) companies don’t select a course of action, 4K will not become mainstream.
It is also not clear if Blu-Ray will see some kind of upgrade to support 4K movies. I was a bit surprised that Sony didn’t have something to announce along those lines.
We’ve seen a fair number of large 4K TVs as prototypes, but it’s nice to finally see products that are going to hit the market. 4K is here to stay, and if you have a chance, go experience it for yourself. [Official product page]
Obviously, this TV is pretty awesome but it won’t be within financial reach for most people, so the real question is: how fast can this technology go down to the $4000-$2000 price level? It’s hard to tell, but we are just about sure this will go much faster than the original flat TV transition. I personally give it about four years.
The second obvious question is pricing… Unfortunately, Sony is not ready to reveal the price yet. However, you can guess that it won’t be cheap. The amount of pain is really the real unknown here… The good news is that this pricing should be revealed at the CEDIA expo next week.
What do you think? Is 84″ something that you dream of? Do you think that this is practical for your home or usage? What do you want to see from Sony TVs?