CES 2015: Sony launch range of Bravia Ultra HD 4K TVs
It's thinner panels and expanded everything else with Sony's latest models
Unsurprisingly Ultra HD 4K dominated the Sony stand at CES this year.However the Japanese manufacturer still had a few surprises up its sleeve and it was their new X900C TV which took pride of place. Sony have always had a gift for design flair and the X900C is no exception, sporting the thinnest LED/LCD panel ever made. Along most of the panel the X900C is only 4.9mm deep, which makes it thinner than an iPhone 6. Obviously it's deeper at the bottom where the electronics, downward firing speakers and connections reside but even then it's only about 3cm deep. The bonding between the panel and backlight is done along the outside edge, creating a truly bezel-less design.
There are four HDMI inputs behind a removable panel, although Sony couldn't confirm how many are HDMI 2.0 compliant. There are also upward facing air vents and an included bracket that allows the X900C to be mounted flush against the wall. This creates what Sony refer to as their floating design, although you can also stand mount the X900C using the provided feet. As with last year's models, these feet can be moved to reduce the footprint for smaller stands. Overall the build quality looked very good and the design was very attractive with a minimalist and very contemporary feel.
All of Sony's 2015 Ultra HD 4K TVs will include their new X1 processor. This has been created to get the optimal performance from native 4K content, whilst also upscaling lower resolution content as effectively as possible. To achieve this, the processor automatically analyses the signal and then detects the type of 4K content that the TV is receiving. It then uses new 4K look-up tables (essentially a database) to process the signal accordingly. When the content is a lower resolution than 4K, the processor uses X-Reality Pro to accurately scale the images to match the panel.
In addition to X-Reality Pro, the new X1 processor also improves the contrast performance of certain models using Sony's Xtended Dynamic Range technology. This increases the brightness of the panel in order to expand the dynamic range, in much the same way as High Dynamic Range (HDR) technologies like Dolby Vision. However Xtended Dynamic Range isn't compatible with HDR, although Sony are working on full HDR models that will be released later in 2015. The X93C includes XDR and comes in 55- and 65-inch screen sizes, whilst the X94C uses a 75-inch panel and includes XDR Pro which incorporates local dimming.
Sony also use their Triluminos panel to expand the colour gamut of their TVs, which once again reflects a general trend towards wider colour gamuts. Both Dolby Vision, HDR and the standards for Ultra HD Blu-ray will incorporate wider colour gamuts, although Sony couldn't confirm exactly how wide the colour gamut currently is on their TVs. A lot of manufacturers this year are using Quantum Dot technology to create these wider colour gamuts and although Sony were the first manufacturer to use Quantum Dot, they no longer do. Instead they now use a proprietary system which the X1 processor then colour maps.
Sony's X900C combines performance and design with the thinnest LED/LCD panel ever made.Another area that Sony have been working hard to improve is the on-board sound of their TVs and this year both the X93C and X94C support High-Res Audio up to 94/24 FLAC or WAV via USB or DLNA. Since these are TVs they also include Sony's DSE HX upscaling audio engine to give lower resolution sound a boost. Sony has also improved the speakers on these models, adding high-res tweeters and a magnetic fluid woofer to join the magnetic fluid mid-range driver found on last year's models. The wedge shape has been redesigned and now tapers off earlier, thus reducing the size and weight.
Sony has also upgraded their smart platform and this year they have added Android TV. They feel the four direction navigation works well with their remote and the interface is well designed. Sony have included intelligent voice control with the microphone built into the remote and you can use the SideView remote app for both iPhone and Android. Sony has also added Google Cast with streams at 1080p and, because it's built-in, it doesn't take up a port. Thee's also One-Flick Entertainment and support for 4K Netflix, Amazon and Youtube. Finally, Sony will add UK access to Playstation Now on their TVs in 2015, making for a very strong line-up this year.
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