LCD TV Guide - LCD TV Reviews - LED LCD TV Review: Samsung vs. Sony (3)
Review Date: November 24, 2009
 Last Updated: November 1, 2013

Samsung vs. Sony LED LCD TV Sets
A950 vs. XBR8 - Part 2

Which is better - Samsung or Sony?
The Battle of the Giants

Both LED LCD HDTV lineups from Samsung and Sony are solid performers thanks to the latest LED backlighting technology.

So the issue is: Which is better - the Samsung A950 with its white light LED backlight, or the Sony XBR8 series with the so called Sony Triluminos three-LED backlight technology?

And if one is really better than the other, would it be worth the extra expense over standard CCFL-based LCD HDTVs? More information in this LCD HDTV Review article.

Sony W900 with Triluminos technology

Sony's W900A Series LED TV with Triluminous backlight technology

It is all Samsung vs. Sony... Is the more expensive Sony XBR8 series of LED LCD TVs better than the Samsung A950?

It is more than natural that many tend to compare Sony and Samsung HDTVs. These two represent the world's largest TV makers in the LCD TV industry.

Despite the presence of a third contender to the 'BEST' title in LED LCD TVs, yet LG with its 47-inch 47LG90 did not spur much interest - at least among videophiles and home theater communities. It is not because LG is not worth considering. We have already expressed our views on LG in the first part of this article. We believe that the heavyweights in the industry need to keep an open eye on LG as it will surely pose some serious competition in the not so distant future. Rather, this whole interest in Samsung vs. Sony is more a consumer loyalty issue. There is the tendency among Sony and Samsung customers; these generally stick with their brand irrespective of what the other is capable of.

In addition, Samsung and Sony are the two world leaders in the field of HDTV - so it is logical that one would tend to compare products between these two brands. And to continue fuel up this Samsung vs. Sony debate, there happens to be a significant difference in the pricing of their respective LED LCD TV lineups. So... It is more than natural that one would ask if Sony's extremely expensive XBR8 series is better than the cheaper Samsung A950 series of LED LCD TVs?

In other words, is the expensive price tag associated with the Sony LED LCD TV sets a true indication of their picture performance, and does it reflect the difference in picture performance - if any - between the two brands?

And if price reflects performance, is it really worth paying an extra $2000 more for a Sony 46-inch LED LCD TV, or $3000 more for the Sony 55-inch than a Samsung A950 equivalent?

The fact is that here we are dealing with innovative technology and as always, there is a price to pay for the latest and greatest. But to what extent it is the greatest? And does it make sense to enter into this new technology at such an early stage?

Here is what we think...

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The Battle of the Giants: Samsung A950 vs. Sony XBR8

If we were to summarize the performance aspects highlighted in our discussion on these Samsung and Sony LED LCD TVs, it would soon become clear that both HDTV lineups are capable of exceedingly deep levels of black for an LCD TV - something which is so much important for a great picture and rich saturated colors.

The latest Sony XBR8 Series Triluminos LED LCD HDTVs

Also, both LED LCD TVs come with highly accurate colors, solid video processing, loads of picture controls, superb connectivity, an attractive design, and equally important at a time when energy prices are so high, very low power consumption thanks to their LED backlight.

Sony Bravia KDL-46XBR8 46" 1080p 120Hz Triluminos LED LCD HDTV

On the negative side, both LED LCD TVs suffer from similar picture performance issues. Blooming - though subtle - is common to both. In this respect, expert reviews confirm that the Sony can do a slightly better job but the difference becomes noticeable only in a side-by-side comparison.

However in our opinion, this subtle blooming issue is not much of a concern. Instead, what really matters is the deterioration in picture quality with off-angle viewing. These big screen LCD HDTVs are not made just for personal viewing - yet their picture deteriorates considerably just moving some three feet away on either side of the best seat. In other words, it is normal to have your family and friends joining in. The problem here is that anyone not within the optimum viewing position would never enjoy the best picture that these LED LCD TVs may offer.

The hard truth is that some of the latest premium CCFL-based LCD HDTVs can do a better job with off-angle viewing than these cutting-edge LCD TVs! However, if one wants to differentiate between these two giants, the Samsung LED LCD TV takes the upper hand - but just slightly, in that while both sets exhibit discoloration with blacks as one moves away from the center seat, yet colors on the Samsung remain more neutral than those on the Sony.

There are other significant differences as well between the Samsung A950 and the Sony XBR8 LED LCD TVs. The black levels on the Sony are just a bit closer to the absolute black level than those on the Samsung. At the same time, the Samsung video processing is just a bit better than the Sony with fewer artifacts. On the other hand, the noise reduction on the Sony is rated as superb and is a bit better than that on the Samsung...

And this ping pong game may continue forever!

The Sony is not capable of deinterlace 1080i film-based content correctly while its standard definition performance is average for a flagship HDTV from a top brand. The Samsung here pass both tests with flying colors.

In favor of Sony, its matte-screen can do a much better job when viewing takes place in a brightly lit room; the reflective screen surface on the Samsung may turn into a mirror-like surface when viewing dark content under a brightly lit environment - which can turn out to be extremely annoying.

Samsung comes with a host of interactive features which the Sony lacks. In addition, the A950 has better file support over its 'supposedly' DLNA compatible network connection than that available on the Sony. We say 'supposedly' because the Samsung DLNA feature works only with the supplied Samsung DLNA server software. In contrast, that on the Sony is truly DLNA compliant despite its limitations in that one can only use it to retrieve JPG files over the home network from compliant DLNA devices.

Concluding Remarks ...and discussion

Well, the difference in picture performance between the Sony and the Samsung LED LCD TVs is... insignificant. Ultimately, it is the picture that matters most - and in this respect, both Samsung and Sony LED LCD HDTVs are great performers by any standard and irrespective of display technology.

Admittedly, the image deterioration issue with off-angle viewing on both the Samsung and the Sony is preoccupying and should be taken into account when taking your decision. The fact that this is common with both is a clear sign that there are still a few issues which need to be resolved by LED LCD TV makers before one can say that LED backlighting technology is truly the greatest display technological development since color television.  

We are not saying that this is not the right time to buy an LED LCD TV - after all, when it comes to picture quality, LED LCD HDTVs can really deliver exceedingly deep black levels and accurate colors that surpass any CCFL-based LCD HDTV. It is just that these are issues which one needs to be fully aware of before plunging into such a heavy investment.

This just leaves one significant difference between the Samsung and the Sony LED LCD TVs, and that is their price tag.

So... Will you pay $2000 to $3000 more for a Sony XBR8 LED LCD HDTV? Maybe yes if Sony is your brand, otherwise...

And if Sony is not your brand, will you opt for an LED LCD TV like the Samsung A950?

It all depends on what are your requirements. If what you are after is a top-performing LCD HDTV for your home theater, Samsung gives you with a great picture at an expensive but somewhat more affordable price in comparison to the competition.

Would you like to let us know what you think?

We are interested in your opinion, and many others are interested too! All you have to do is to fill in the form below and submit your comments to be include on this page.

Editor's Note: Non-related submissions to the issue under discussion will not be posted on our site. Thank you.

What Others Have Said

Click below to read what others have said on this hotly debated issue.

I will go with Samsung LED TVs! 
I have now a Samsung for over 2 years and I was not completely satisfied with it as my earlier soul brand was Sony but also then like right now the TV's …

Samsung vs. Sony LED TVs: Is Quality a Factor 
On the basis of response from Sony on a 42 inch LCD costing over twenty two hundreds (of dollars) to a Blue Blob manufacturing problem, I say ney to Sony. …

Sony or Samsung - Which LED LCD TV is better? 
I just wanted to thank everybody who worked on this extremely helpful review. This review covers everything that the customer needs to know in a truly …

HDTV Input Lag 
HDTV test mentions that the Samsung has a major amount of input lag. Due to the lack of reviews on the 55x4500/xbr8 I called Sony's help-desk and they …

Click here to write your own.

Sony does not stand behind their Technology  Sony customer support is lacking; rather they are too impressed with themselves! Worst still... products are designed to fail!! See what our readers had to say...

More Readers' Comments on Samsung vs. Sony LED LCD TVs  This Samsung vs. Sony LED LCD TV issue has become a serious controversy; read here to discover more...

Sony is Better!  Sony is the best overall HDTV brand. They make the best LED HDTVs that offer superior picture quality...

Part 2: Sony XBR8 Series of LED LCD TVs

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