What is the Sony KD-55XD9305?
Connections & Control
Features & Specs
Sony KD-55XD9305 Picture Settings
Picture Settings – Out-of-the-box
As we can see from the charts below, Cinema Pro is by no means perfect; the RGB Balance graph reveals there’s an excess of green energy in the greyscale, throughout, and that’s the least desirable of errors as it’s the easiest to spot with the naked eye. There’s also too much blue, near white and gamma I some way off our target for night time viewing.
Picture Settings Calibrated
There is no dedicated colour management system available on the 55XD93, which is a shortcoming Sony really needs to address when you consider that all their main competitors provide one in their high-end TVs. Still, when you can get results like the below from merely tidying up the greyscale perhaps it’s a bit churlish to complain.
Picture Settings - High Dynamic Range
Black Levels and Contrast RatiosEven without its (auto) local dimming feature switched on, the Sony KD-55XD93 produces very good black levels for an LED LCD TV, although we see very little reason not to use it as Sony has clearly made great strides with the processing in its 2016 edge-lit sets. For the record, without dimming on with an SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) signal being sent to the TV we measured the black level at 0.029 nits but with auto dimming switched on to the ‘Mid’ position, this dropped to 0.0019 nits, which is more or less totally black. Inevitably, when there was a mixture of bright and dark on-screen, the black floor lifted to around 0.032 nits but this still produced a calibrated (SDR) ANSI contrast ratio of 4,400:1 while the HDR contrast ratio was a stunning 19,000:1, or thereabouts – you don’t get an option to switch off the dimming with HDR signals.
Screen UniformitySony has made a stunning job of producing an edge-lit TV with outstanding screen uniformity on both dark and brightly lit content. I am undoubtedly AVForums’ biggest sports addict and it is with great pleasure, and no small amount of surprise, that I can report the XD93 showed not even a suggestion of a dirty screen effect or any panel banding on panning shots, making the footy – or whatever your sporting poison is – an absolute pleasure to watch. After viewing LCD TVs for more than 10 years and reviewing them for nearly half of that, I wasn’t sure whether those words would ever make it to print via my fingertips. We can’t guarantee this will be the case for all the XD9305’s in circulation but we can tell you that this was a sample provided by a retailer and not a cherry picked unit directly sent from Sony. Similarly, on dark scenes, there was no undue backlight bleed, clouding, flash-lighting or any other video nasties to spoil the immersion and this is also highly unusual. Whatever Sony has done with their Slim Backlight Drive, with regards to screen uniformity, appears to be working.
Local Dimming and Viewing AnglesAs we alluded to above, the Auto backlight dimming feature of the Sony KD-55XD9305 is effective; it’s not perfect but definitely worth using. We would sometimes see it caught out when large bright objects were set against a very dark background but that’s not something that happens all that often in video content. You could 100% trip it up with film credits or device menus, including ironically the submenus in the TV, but that didn’t overly bother us. There were, however, instances when the dimming system just couldn’t cope; topically, at the time of writing, the sixth season of Game of Thrones had just hit the screens and the opening few scenes where lighting is provided by torches and fire, the XD93 could be seen to pulse its backlight in a frequent, distracting manner in areas of the screen it shouldn’t have been doing so. The only solution was to disable the dimming entirely but, for most of the time, we would recommend having it engaged.
In terms of viewing angles, these are much more generous on the horizontal plane than they are on the vertical. While the colour saturation and contrast performance would degrade from anything over 20 degrees off-centre, it wasn’t ever to the point where the picture would look genuinely washed out. If we stood up and watched the TV – and why would you – then there was more apparent loss of contrast but we can’t really hold this as a negative against the XD93 as only a giant would be affected when sat down.
Motion HandlingWe have long regarded Sony’s MotionFlow processing as the best of, admittedly, not a great bunch and the XD93 shows no sign of relinquishing that superiority. This area more than any other is a highly subjective call, however, so we’ll leave it down to the user on whether they should use it and then to what degree. What we will say is that we are all highly anti the soap opera effect – i.e. overly smooth looking motion – and the XD93 exhibited none of this in the default ‘Clear’ mode – or matching ‘Custom’ settings so if you do start seeing heavy blur with fast panning shots, you should be able to engage MotionFlow with confidence. Impressively, the Clear setting revealed the full 1080 (there’s no 4K pattern, yet) lines of resolution on the Spears & Munsil test but owing to the fact it uses a black frame insertion technique it does dim the picture meaning you’ll need to up the Brightness (backlight) setting if you’re going to use it. In short, like much of the rest of the tested performance criteria, the Sony XD93 is a cut above the rest of the LED LCD TV pack.
Standard and High DefinitionSony’s video processing know-how is again evident in the scaling of sub UHD resolutions to match the 3840x2160 panel with even a good quality DVD looking more than watchable on the XD93. We’re not really in the habit of watching standard definition, any more, but provided the source material is of a decent bitrate the Sony will make a great job of displaying it; as ever, animated DVDs from the likes of Disney and Pixar are amongst the best you’ll get with a UHD panel. There is very little that can be done with some of the utter SD tosh our TV providers squeeze down the pipes but that’s true for just about any TV, not only Ultra HD ones.
As you would naturally expect, the higher the resolution (and bitrate) you feed the XD93, the better it looks and anything high quality from 720p, and up, is going to look great. The Sony is also blessed with excellent deinterlacing capability so broadcast HD also looks great and the KDL-55XD93 has no issues in locking on to film cadences and displaying them without judder so Blu-rays looked utterly splendid on it, despite the fact they’re ‘only’ 1080p. We’ll say this very quietly, as we’re not usually ones for extraneous processing trickery but if you did want to have a play around with the Live Colour and X-tended Dynamic Range settings, we wouldn’t blame you as they can look extremely good and provide a surprisingly effective faux HDR effect without looking unnatural; proceed with caution and use in moderation, of course.
High Dynamic RangeThere’s a scene towards the beginning of Kingsman: The Secret Service where one of the Eastern European henchmen hands his kidnap victim a glass of very fine whisky and utters the words, “You will sit,” or something sounding very like that, in relation to how good it tastes. Well, when you see HDR video presented with 1000+ nits for the first time, you may very well feel the same. Our Ultra HD Blu-ray collection has grown a little since the Panasonic 58DX700 review, so we now have Wild and Mad Max: Fury Road to salivate over as well, and whilst the former isn’t an in-yer-face visual extravaganza it does show the benefits of HDR in terms of providing incredibly natural looking light. Mad Max, on the other hand, is a sheer visceral showcase for the format with the wider colour gamut and bright highlights easily distinguishing it from the original, standard Blu-ray release and, whatever you feel about the film – I’m not the biggest fan – it is undoubtedly spectacular in HDR. We were also able to check out the Netflix Original, Marco Polo, in HDR and while it wasn’t quite such a visual leap over the SDR version, which already looks incredible, the enhanced specular highlights especially noticeable in the lavish clothing of some of the protagonists, were a joy to behold. This format has legs and the Sony KD-55XD93 certainly has the weapons necessary to show it off beautifully.
Sony KD-55XD9305 Video Review
Input Lag & Energy Consumption
The energy consumption of the XD93 was impressively low, on a full window 50% white pattern we measured 72W in its default Standard picture mode and just 62W in our calibrated Cinema Pro mode. This increased significantly in HDR mode, of course, with the XD93 consuming 185W at the default settings.
How future-proof is this TV?
|4K Ultra HD Resolution|
|Colour Space (percentage of Rec.2020 - 100% best)||64.5%|
|HDMI 2.0a Inputs|
|HDCP 2.2 Support|
|4K Streaming Services|
|Smart TV Platform|
|Picture Accuracy Out-of-the-Box (score out of 10)||8|
|What do these mean?|
- Excellent colour accuracy
- Superb video processing
- Almost faultless screen uniformity
- Gorgeous design and superior build quality
- Cutting edge connectivity
- All the video services you could want
- HDR performance is spectacular
- Dimming system is mostly good
- Dimming system can be caught out sometimes
- Menu system is fragmented
Sony XD93 (KD-55XD9305) Ultra HD 4K TV Review
Should I buy one?The Sony KD-55XD9305 is a great piece of engineering with superior build quality and a few design flourishes that make it a very desirable television based on looks alone. The chassis is incredibly slender at the top, measuring just 12mm, with this increasing to 36mm lower done with the need to accommodate the speaker system and connections. Speaking of which, the XD93 is blessed with all the latest connectivity, including 4 HDMI 2.0a inputs with HDCP 2.2 compatibility and 3 USB ports, one of which is v3.0. Sony has redesigned their remote control for 2016 and the result is a handset which looks good, with a tactile, soft finish and it’s also well designed with easy to find buttons, the most used of which are placed near the centre where your thumb naturally comes to rest.
The menu system is still somewhat fragmented – there are two Settings entries, for instance, but the Android TV platform seems far more stable this year. The Smart TV interface has been rejigged a little, to good effect, and the Recommendations Bar now carries content you might genuinely be interested in with integration from video streaming apps including Netflix, BBC iPlayer and YouTube. There are also now more available Android apps that play nice with a TV remote and the XD93 has just about every video service you’ll want; there’s also integration with YouView meaning all the major UK catch-up services are covered.
When it comes to delivering where it counts, the Sony XD93 produced the goods with mostly stunning pictures hitting the screen. We must make special mention of the screen uniformity which, very unusually for LED LCD tech, was near flawless on both dark screens and bright. This has a major positive impact for sports lovers who won’t be plagued with panel banding or dirty screen effect issues on fast panning shots. The 55XD9305 also looked great in dark scenes with the impressive native black levels and contrast usually complemented by a surprisingly effective edge-lit dimming system. There were times when it was caught out – occasionally in spectacular fashion – but for the most part it’s well worth using and a big improvement on Sony’s efforts in 2015.
The KD-55XD9305 was nice and accurate right out of the box in the Cinema modes and the calibration controls onboard allowed it to shine even more. In terms of hitting its straps as an HDR TV, the Sony would make the grade as an Ultra HD Premium certified TV with 1000+ nits of peak brightness, 0.03 nit black level and 90% plus of the DCI colour space; Sony has decided not to submit the XD93 to the UHD Premium Alliance for certification, however, but it’s good to know it would have made the grade. Resultantly, the Sony 55XD93 looked utterly spectacular with HDR content, both streamed and from Ultra HD Blu-ray.
While the marketing focus is undoubtedly on 4K and HDR, for the time being it’s far more important how a TV handles Full HD, 1080p content and, again, the Sony delivers in spades. The video processing is of the highest quality, with great scaling, deinterlacing and cadence detection producing pictures straight from the top drawer. This is one seriously impressive TV and well deserving of an AVForums Highly Recommended Award.
What else is there?At this early stage of HDR proceedings where the high-end TVs are only just emerging, choices are a little limited but we have reviewed one other that can go toe-to-toe with the XD9305. The Panasonic DX902 is also a TV with incredible picture quality and the scores on the doors are so even that we couldn’t easily chose between the two. Looking later in to 2016, the Samsung KS9500 is sure to be another contender as are the family of HDR OLEDs incoming from LG.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box
Picture Quality Calibrated
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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