What is the Sony XD94?
Along with the loss of the large speakers, the XD9405 also uses the same slim and minimalist design as the new XD9305, so despite it’s screen size it remains surprisingly unimposing. Aside from the cosmetic changes the XD94 is very similar to last year’s model with a 10-bit Triluminos panel for a wider colour gamut, X-tended Dynamic Range Pro with support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) and 4K X-Reality Pro. There’s also support for active shutter 3D and Sony’s implementation of the Android Smart TV platform. On paper at least, the KD-75XD9405 looks like a bit of a bargain when you consider the screen size and features but let’s take a closer look.
Connections & Control
The final section is a series of side-facing connections located a mere15cm from the edge, which means there's a good chance that cables will poke out. However these connections are generally inputs that would only be used occasionally, including three USB ports, a headphone socket, a fourth HDMI input, an optical digital output and an Ethernet port, although the XD9405 also has a built-in wireless capability. If you’re wondering where the CI (Custom Interface) slot is, that is situated at the top of the rear section, where the air vents and slots for the wall mount are located. Finally, the connector for the power cable is over on the right hand side as you face the screen. The first and third sections have removable covers for tidier cable management.
Features & Specs
Sony KD-75XD9405 Recommended Settings
Picture Settings – Out-of-the-Box
Picture Settings – Calibrated
Picture Settings – High Dynamic Range
Black Levels and Contrast Ratios
Thanks to its VA panel the XD94 delivered an excellent black level performance and measured 0.024nits, although that dropped to 0.001nits when the local dimming was engaged, even in Low mode. Using our target nighttime viewing brightness of 120nits, that resulted in an on/off contrast ratio of 5,000:1 and an ANSI contrast ratio of 2,471:1. These are impressive numbers for an LCD panel and that's without engaging the highly effective local dimming.
The screen uniformity was as impressive as the black levels and contrast ratio measurements, especially when you consider the sheer size of the panel. There was no obvious clouding, tinting or dirty screen effect and our only negative observation was that on full field test patterns the edges of the screen were slightly darker. However this really wasn't apparent when viewing actual content but what was occasionally visible was slight banding with camera pans across football pitches. This was very minor and we have yet to see a TV with a full array LED backlight that didn't suffer from banding to some degree or another. The XD94 is certainly one of the better performing displays in this area and Sony are clearly doing a good job of minimising the issue.
Local Dimming and Viewing Angles
The combination of excellent black levels and an impressive screen uniformity meant the local dimming had a great base from which to start so, given how good Sony's local dimming implementation is, the results were everything we expected. In fact it worked extremely well at improving the perceived dynamic range, with deep blacks that didn’t unduly crush shadow detail and bright whites that gave images a real depth and impact. The local dimming algorithms were effective at minimising any haloing or brightness fluctuations in the image, even with challenging material such as flickering torches in dark dungeons.
There are four settings for the Auto Local Dimming in the menu – Off, Low, Medium and High. Whilst the high setting resulted in excessive haloing, the Low and Medium settings enhanced the dynamic range of the image without adversely affecting it but the Low setting will probably suffice. Whilst the feature isn't perfect, we generally found that the local dimming delivered excellent results with the majority of material without introducing unwanted artefacts. The viewing angle of the XD94 wasn't bad for a VA panel but as soon as you move off axis by any significant degree then the local dimming haloing becomes more obvious.
The motion handling on Sony TVs is generally very good for LCD and we measured the motion resolution at around 400 lines on the XD94 which is better than average for an LCD TV and obviously this increases to the full 1080 if you engage the Motionflow frame interpolation. This can introduce a certain degree of smoothing, although that won’t necessarily be an issue with sports content, but when it comes to film-based content we prefer using the True Cinema mode which increases the frame rate without introducing interpolation, thus retaining a film-like quality to motion. If motion is a big issue for you then there is always the option to experiment with the Clear and Custom controls to find a setting that you prefer but the Clear mode uses black frame insertion which will make the picture slightly darker, so you might need to increase the brightness of the image and some people may experience flicker.
Standard and High Definition
Last year's X93C delivered one of the best images we tested and this year's version is equally as good, with wonderfully detailed and accurate pictures that demonstrate a marvellous dynamic range. Although standard definition makes up very little of our viewing material these days, the XD9405 did an excellent job of deinterlacing and scaling the images to match the TV's native 4K panel. Of course on a screen this big the limitations of standard definition are all too obvious and the amount of compression used by some channels is terrible but with a good standard definition source like a DVD, the results can be surprisingly watchable.
However, even the best processing can't work miracles and on a 75-inch screen you really need to feed it the highest resolution material possible. As a result, as soon as we moved to decent high definition broadcasts the 75XD94 had a chance to show what it was really capable of and squeezed every last pixel of detail out of the 1080i images. The inherent dynamic range, the excellent local dimming and the image accuracy all came into play and produced some beautiful images. This was even more evident when it came to Blu-rays, with high quality 1080/24p images looking stunning on the big Sony and recent purchases like Zootopia taking our breath away.
The 75XD9405 supports active shutter 3D and although it doesn't come with any glasses included, we should probably be glad that it does 3D at all these days. Since Sony didn't actually provide any 3D glasses with our review sample, we resorted to using our trusty Samsung glasses instead. Sadly the XD94 delivered a very similar performance to the XD93 and was a major disappointment. On a 75-inch screen size, 3D has the potential to totally immerse the viewer, especially if it can produce bright, natural and flicker-free images. However artefacts like crosstalk can seriously diminish the 3D impact and take you out of the experience. Sadly this was the case with the 75XD94, which suffered from excessive crosstalk.
We started by testing with our Spears & Munsil Blu-ray and the level of crosstalk on the various test patterns was immediately apparent. When we watched the demo footage on the disc in 3D we could not only see excessive crosstalk at the top and bottom but there were also artefacts in deep backgrounds that we found annoying. Moving on to our usual test discs like Avatar, the 'seeds of the sacred tree' sequence revealed excessive crosstalk when the floating spores were near the top or the bottom of the image. It was a real shame because there were times when the 3D on discs like Zootopia looked excellent but there were others where it was almost unwatchable. Unfortunately Sony can be very hit-and-miss when it comes to 3D and sadly the XD9405 is a miss.
High Dynamic Range
Despite our reservations about the limited peak brightness of the XD94 and the fact that it clipped our test patterns, the Sony actually delivered a very enjoyable HDR experience. It should be pointed out that when the XD9405 first detects an HDR signal it immediately goes into the HDR Video mode, although it doesn't actually inform you of that fact. You can only tell by the increased brightness or by going into the picture menu, where many options are greyed out, making setup relatively straight forward. The Auto Local Dimming and X-Tended Dynamic Range controls are locked with HDR but the White Balance control is available, so there is the opportunity to calibrate the greyscale
In testing there was no doubt that the image lacked the full impact that TVs with a peak brightness of over 1,000nits can deliver, such as Samsung's KS9500. However the combination of a full array backlight, an effective local dimming system and a lower peak brightness did mean that the 75XD94 could deliver HDR without introducing haloing, thus making the experience more organic and realistic. The first clip that we watched was the 'arriving at Neverland scene' in Pan because this can immediately show up any problems with clipping. As we expected from our test patterns, the sun behind the mountains of Neverland lacked the clearly defined circle that should be visible if the display is correctly mapping the content.
However the limited brightness and clipping aside, the Sony was still able to deliver a decent HDR experience that was made all the more visceral by the size of the screen. The naturalistic photography in Wild was particularly effective on the XD9405 and the epic landscapes in The Revenant were stunning. The larger screen size took full advantage of the native 4K source to deliver breathtaking detail and incredibly realistic colours, whilst highlights had more pop and dark scenes had more detail when compared to the regular Blu-ray. The motion handling was excellent and the wide open skies and desert vistas of Sicario were free of any posterisation, revealing the excellent gradations in the XD94's image.
Sony KD-75XD9405 Video Review
The built-in speakers use four drivers with 7.5W of amplification for each one and they proved more than adequate for normal TV watching. Sony include a number of audio features such as Clear Audio+ and S-Force Front Surround, both of which are intended to provide a more immersive experience. We found that these features tended to make the audio sound rather echoey and preferred the Music sound mode for a more neutral experience. There’s also the DSEE (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) and Clear Phase which are designed to get more from your streaming music sources. Overall the XD9405 proved a competent audio performer but we expect that anyone buying a TV with a 75-inch screen will almost certainly have some form of outboard sound solution.
Input Lag & Energy Consumption
However, you will need to make sure that the local dimming is off because if you turn it on the input lag behaves quite strangely and gradually increasing from 35 and 52ms before cycling back to 35ms and repeating. We’re not sure why it should be doing this but it doesn’t happen when the local dimming is turned off so, if you’re a serious gamer, we would recommend that approach.
In terms of the XD94’s energy consumption it proved to be surprisingly efficient for such a massive TV. Using a full window 50% white pattern we measured the Standard picture mode at 120W and our calibrated Cinema Pro mode at 85W. Of course once we moved on to HDR the level of energy consumption increased, with the XD9405 drawing 170W with our optimal settings.
How future-proof is this TV?
|4K Ultra HD Resolution|
|Colour Space (percentage of Rec.2020 - 100% best)||65%|
|HDMI 2.0a Inputs|
|HDCP 2.2 Support|
|4K Streaming Services|
|Smart TV Platform|
|Picture Accuracy Out-of-the-Box (score out of 10)||9|
|What do these mean?|
- Impressive black levels
- Excellent local dimming
- Superb image accuracy
- Great video processing
- Fantastic sound quality
- Clipping with HDR 10 material
- Smart platform still needs work
- 3D suffers from crosstalk
Sony XD94 (KD-75XD9405) Ultra HD 4K TV Review
Should I buy one?
If you're looking for a really large screen TV then the Sony KD-75XD9405 should definitely be on your list and at £4,999 it might well be the only one on your list. The XD94 isn't only very reasonably priced, it's rather pretty and despite the 75-inch screen and the full array LED backlight, it remains both stylish and surprisingly thin. The unimposing nature of this big screen TV is partly thanks to Sony's minimalist design but also thanks to the manufacturer dropping the big forward-firing speakers found on previous generations. However despite this, the 75XD94 still sounds good, although we would expect anyone buying a screen this large to have an outboard audio solution.
Along with the new look, the XD9405 also includes a comprehensive set of connections, including four HDMI 2.0a inputs with support for HDCP 2.2. There are also twin satellite and terrestrial tuners, three USB ports and built-in WiFi; along with covers and grooves for tidier cable management. The XD94 comes with Sony's newly designed controller, although there's also a free remote app for iOS and Android, and the latest version of Android TV. Whilst the processing power has been improved and the recommendation bar is a nice addition, the platform still feels disjointed and is prone to the occasional glitch. The input lag is a reasonable 35ms and the energy consumption actually quite low considering the sheer size of the screen.
The out-of-the-box image accuracy was excellent before calibration and reference afterwards, with impressive black levels and a highly effective local dimming system. The video processing was also very good, as was the motion handling and the XD94 delivered the goods with both standard and high definition content. Sadly the Sony wasn't as impressive when it came to 3D, with excessive crosstalk ruining an otherwise good image. The HDR performance was largely very good with a great dynamic range and a decent level colour accuracy. However the peak brightness was limited to around 760nits, which would explain why the XD94 doesn't have Ultra HD Premium certification and the display was also clipping test patterns and certain HDR 10 content.
Despite this, the XD94 could still deliver a great picture with HDR content and when combined with the fantastic-looking high definition material, the screen size and the price, the Sony does start to look like a real bargain. So if it's big screen entertainment that you're after, then the Sony KD-75XD9405 is just the ticket.
What are my alternatives?
If you're looking for a TV with a full array LED backlight then you essentially have two choices – the Panasonic TX-65DX902B or the Samsung UE65KS9500. The former can currently be picked up for a very tempting £2,999 and offers a flat 10-bit VA panel with 512 local dimming zones and Ultra HD Premium certification. It supports HDR 10, has a colour gamut of nearly 100% of DCI-P3 and a peak brightness of over 1,000nits. The DX902 also supports 3D, can deliver exceptional colour accuracy and certainly impressed when we reviewed it.
The Samsung UE65KS9500 costs around £3,799 and offers many of the same features as the Panasonic DX902 with a 10-bit VA panel, 150 local dimming zones and Ultra HD Premium certification. The KS9500 uses a curved panel but it also supports HDR 10, has a colour gamut of nearly 100% of DCI-P3 and a peak brightness of over 1,000nits. The KS9500 doesn't support 3D but it has an incredibly low input lag and certainly delivers an impressive level pf performance.
As an alternative to an LED LCD TV, there's also the option of the LG 65E6 OLED TV which costs £4,999, is Ultra HD Premium certified and features support for both HDR 10 and Dolby Vision. The E6 delivers the deep blacks expected of an OLED TV but also includes support for 3D, has a built-in soundbar and uses the excellent WebOS Smart TV platform. However if it's a really big screen that you're looking for then the closest option is the curved 78-inch Samsung UE78KS9500 but that will set you back £8,299, which gives you an idea of the amazing value offered by the Sony KD-75XD9405.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
3D Picture Quality
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box
Picture Quality Calibrated
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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