Sony 75X940D 4K TV

This New Flagship TV Is Worth the Extra Money and Space

The Sony X940D 4K TV. Pic: Sony
The Sony X940D 4K TV.

Even though the 75X940D is the biggest, most expensive 4K UHD TV in Sony's 2016 TV range, the brand doesn’t see it as its ‘hero’ TV for the year. That honor belongs to the step-down, ultra-slim X930D TVs I’ve reported on previously. For me, though, having now had the chance to see the 75X940D in action, my feeling is that the extra money and space you’ll have to find to accommodate the bigger screen could be well worth it.

The 75-inch X940D is actually the only size that’s going to be available in Sony’s new flagship TV series. This seems a shame, as it will doubtless greatly limit the series’ potential market. However, before you automatically write the 75X940D off as simply being too big for you, I should stress that it doesn’t take up nearly as much of your living room as last year’s equivalent model, the superb 75X940C (reviewed here). This is because for better or for worse, it doesn’t sport the huge speaker-bearing ‘wings’ of its predecessor. 

Wherefore art thou speaker wings?

There’s certainly a part of me that will miss the speakers contained in those 75X940C wings, as they delivered the best sound quality I’ve ever heard from an integrated TV audio system. But there’s no doubt that removing them from the 75X940D makes the new model vastly more manageable and easy to accommodate.

The 75X940D’s trimness versus last year’s equivalent model continues to its rear - despite the fact that the 75X940D’s most important step-up feature over the X930D range is that it uses a direct LED lighting system (where the LEDs are placed directly behind the screen) rather than arranging its LEDs around the screen’s edges.

As with the direct LED system on last year’s 75X940C, the one inside the 75X940D is driven by a local dimming engine, meaning that sections of the lighting can have their light outputs controlled individually. This direct LED/local dimming combination has consistently over the years delivered better picture quality than edge-based lighting systems - and from my recent hands-on with the 75X940D this trend seems set to continue. With knobs on.

Clearly the superior option

It was obvious almost immediately that the 75X940D outguns the X930D series in terms of both its color saturations and its brightness - two areas that have become especially important with the arrival of High Dynamic Range (HDR) picture technology

I got the chance to see a 75X940D running right alongside a 65X930D, and the direct-lit model’s colors when showing footage of a spectacular beach scene were clearly richer in saturation, as well as being propelled from the screen with more intensity thanks to the extra brightness made possible by the direct lighting approach.

While Sony’s demo didn’t contain as many dark scenes as I would have liked it too, there were still enough shots containing a mix of dark and light image content to see a third advantage of the 75X940D over the X930D series - an advantage that’s actually for me the most significant. For while the X930D models exhibit quite alarming amounts of light haloing and ‘blocking’ around bright parts of the picture when they appear against a dark backdrop, the same extreme contrast shots looked vastly more convincing on the 75X940D. There’s far less light ‘seepage’ around the brightest objects - even though these brightest objects look punchier than they do on the X930D TVs while the dark parts of the picture also look darker. This instantly makes dark scenes look far more natural and immersive.

HDR-friendly pictures

While the footage I was shown during the 75X940D demo was in 4K, it wasn’t also in HDR. But I feel pretty confident from what I’ve seen that the 75X940D will be far better equipped to display HDR successfully than the X930D models - especially when it comes to handling convincingly HDR’s extra luminance.

I’m a little concerned about just how much of a drop in sound quality the 75X940D may suffer versus the 75X940C, and also can’t help but feel slightly disappointed - if hardly surprised - to find Sony persevering with the clunky Android TV smart system rather than aiming for something more suited to a TV environment. 

Where picture quality is concerned, though, I’m feeling at least hopeful that the 75X940D will follow in the footsteps of its illustrious predecessor and become one of 2016’s most outstanding performers. 

Keep an eye on my TV feed for a full review when the TV is launched in the next few weeks.