Sony Unveils its 2016 4K TV Range

HDR is present and correct too

A Sony X930D in a 'typical' living room environment!.

Sony has used the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to introduce its full 2016 range of 4K/UHD televisions, headed up by a new 75-inch model, the 75X940D. This combines direct LED lighting (where the lights sit directly behind the screen) with Sony’s Triluminos wide colour technology.

The 75X940D is also capable of playing back high dynamic range (HDR) content with Sony’s X-Tended Dynamic Range Pro technology on hand to boost the image’s contrast range by redistributing power from the darkest parts of the image to the brightest parts.

The 75X940C (reviewed here) was arguably the best TV of the 2015, so hopefully Sony will be able to continue that form with its new ‘D’-generation flagship model. In fact, we kind of wish Sony had decided to do a range of smaller X940D models to go alongside the 75-inch one, but there you go. 

Slimline tonics?

For the many people reading this who can’t accommodate a 75-inch screen in their living rooms, the next series down in Sony’s TV range are the new X930Ds. With their strikingly slim designs (they’re just 11mm deep, with frames that look even narrower) and subtle champagne gold trim they enjoy a suitably premier look that echoes 2015’s ground-breakingly slim X90C models. 

The svelte looks of the X930Ds make a stark contrast with the vastly chunkier designs of Sony’s equivalent 2015 models, which stuck out far more around the back and at the sides thanks to their inclusion of forward-firing, six-speaker audio systems. 

Given the outstanding quality of the audio these speakers produced, the AV fan in me is sad to see them disappearing for Sony’s 2016 range. At the same time, though, the much slimmer design of the X930Ds makes them far easier to accommodate in a typical living room environment. And much less of a strain on your back…

Edge LED reinvented

As you’d expect considering how slim their rears are, the X930D TVs use edge rather than direct LED lighting. This is a little surprising considering that direct LED systems (where the LEDs sit directly behind the screen) are generally considered the best approach for showing the high dynamic range (HDR) video that’s set to become a big deal in 2016. But Sony is quick to point out that it’s come up with a new type of edge LED backlight system for the X930D range that lets it control the light output of different segments of the image - even central areas - independently of each other. 

The number of zones of light control delivered by the so-called Slim Backlight Drive doesn’t match up to the number you get with the X940D direct-lit Sony model. But being able to control central areas of the lighting separately from edge areas is certainly a potentially promising new trick for edge LED technology.

The X850Ds

The X850D models that sit below the X930Ds in Sony’s 2016 4K TV range don’t benefit from the Slim Backlight Drive technology; instead their pictures just use what’s known as full-frame dimming, where the TV continually adjusts the whole output of the edge lighting to best suit the overall image content.

These models are similar in design to the X930Ds except that they get a silvery sliver in their design in place of the champagne gold one. 

Looking at features that carry through all three series of Sony’s 4K TVs for 2016, all of them carry Sony’s Triluminos technology for delivering a wider colour range, and all of them support playback of HDR sources. Strangely Sony has opted not to pursue the new ‘Ultra HD Premium’ endorsement (discussed in detail here) for any of its new TVs, despite being a member of the Ultra HD Alliance working group that came up with the Ultra HD Premium specification. This makes it tempting to speculate that Sony’s new TVs can’t actually fulfill the fairly stringent Ultra HD Premium demands - though it could also be down to Sony’s policy of calling its TVs ‘4K’ rather than Ultra HD. 

Look out for reviews of Sony’s 2016 TVs in the coming weeks.