Last Updated: November 2, 2013
2010 Sony LED TV Product Guide - Part 2
3D LED TVs: XBR-LX900, XBR-HX909, and KDL-HX800
We continue this Sony LED TV product guide by looking at the full 3D LED TV lineup for 2010, comprising the LX900, the HX909, and the HX800 series.
These series will enable Sony to join in the 3D TV game, but not only. Apart from being the most expensive HDTVs within the Sony 2010 line-up, these are the ones that come with the best features, and in the case of the HX909, the best picture.
The reality is that whether you will want a 3D LED TV or a flag-ship LED TV from Sony, you will still get a 3D-enabled LED TV, this in view that Sony has reserved the 3D feature for its top-most LED TVs within the new 2010 lineup. More in this Sony LED HDTV product guide.
A no ordinary HDTV capable of improved color accuracy thanks to the new Triluminous Quantum Dots backlight technology
Introducing Sony's 3D LED TV Series
As with all major TV makers, Sony is joining in the present trend by the TV industry to push 3D TV.
It is clear the industry is hoping the latest 3D TV technology will increase consumer spending at these difficult economic times. We have already expressed our views in this respect, and it still remains to be seen to what extent manufactures will succeed in attaining their 3D TV sales targets. However, what is really interesting in Sony's approach is that if you are after a flagship HDTV from Sony, then you will be buying a 3D-capable LED TV. Why?
Sony reserved all the imaginable bells and whistles and the superior LED backlight technology capable of the best LCD TV picture, to its 3D LED TV series. To a certain extent, this makes sense, after all a 3D TV is nothing more than a premium 2D TV with 3D support. But unlike Samsung - which delivered its first 3D LED TV way back in March, the first four Sony 3D LED TV sets were released only just a few weeks ago. And we still have to wait a few weeks more to see the rest of the Sony 3D LED TVs. Interesting however is that according to the pricing information presently available on the Sony website, the two 52-inch flagship LED TVs are both being priced at an MSRP of $4,000.
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In total, Sony's three 3D TV series will cover seven different 3D LED TVs. Two of these series represent Sony's flagship lines, the XBR-LX900 and the XBR-HX909 Sony LED TVs, while the third series, the KDL-HX800 is Sony's entry-level 3D LED TV line. In terms of features, the HX800 is the edge-lit LED equivalent to the local dimming XBR-HX900 LED TV series, but without the monolithic design.
The two XBR lines represent Sony's flagship series, with each series targeting a specific group of customers - the LX900 edge-lit LED TV line aims to deliver all the imaginable features while the HX900full-array LED local dimming HDTVs aim to deliver the best HDTV picture possible. As expected, these are among the most expensive HDTVs within the 2010 Sony LED TV line.
Editor's Note: On our part, we will be updating this part of the article once more information becomes available. In the meantime, we believe it is still worth taking a preview at what's on offer from one of the leaders in the market, especially if you plan to buy one of the best Sony LED TVs that the latest technology has to offer.
2010 Sony 3D LED TV - Product Review Index:
The Sony XBR-LX900 series is a 1080p 3D HDTV line with edge-lit LED backlight technology. This is the only 3D Sony LED TV series within the full Sony lineup for 2010 that includes two pairs of 3D active shutter glasses and a built-in transmitter.
With the rest of the Sony 3D TV lineup, the 3D glasses have to be bought separately. In fact, Sony is labeling these 3D LED TVs are 3D-Built-in while the rest as 3D-Ready. Screen sizes within the LX900 series include the 60-inch and 52-inch.
As expected from a flagship series by one of the major players, apart from 3D support, these Sony LED TVs incorporate the most advanced and innovative features you will ever find on any TV.
A case in point is the use of an intelligent presence sensor technology. Sony did include a presence sensor on its less expensive KDL-EX700 series but the version used on this flagship series includes face detection capabilities. This means that it will detect not only if you have left the room, in which case, the TV will turn the picture off once you leave the room - leaving only the audio on, but also dim the picture if you are not looking at the TV, e.g. while browsing the playlist on your MP3. It is literally a case where the TV is watching YOU!
After 30 minutes of no motion detection, the presence sensor feature will turn the audio off as well and the TV automatically goes into stand-by mode. The scope is to make these TVs more eco-friendly while saving you a little on your energy bill.
As if this is not enough, part of this presence sensor functionality is a position control feature that can determine the user viewing distance to optimize the video/sound balance accordingly; interesting is a distance alert feature that keep an eye on your child to ensure s/he is not sitting too close to the TV.
This is definitely a nice-to-have feature but one that is mainly there to help justify the expected high price typical of any flagship TV; it would not add anything to the set TV picture quality. But then keep in mind that this is the Sony series that comes with all the bells and whistles!
Sony's XBR-LX900 HDTVs come with the latest refined styling using Sony's new Monolithic design. It is Sony's equivalent to the one sheet of glass design found on similar high-end TVs from other brands.
It consists of a single pane of glass that extends to the very edge of the TV and that covers the otherwise thick black frame underneath; a thin metal edge surrounds the glass panel.
The concealed touch-sensor controls on the front of Sony LED TVs using the monolithic design panel.
All front controls on these Sony LED TVs come as subtle concealed touch sensor controls instead of the traditional buttons. Combine this with the ultra-slim profile afforded by edge-LED lighting and there you have an extremely stylish design.
First time ever, Sony opted for a glossy screen on some of its models; in reality, all HDTVs that come with the new monolithic design - including the LX900 series, have a shiny screen. It is true that Sony incorporates an 'Opticontrast' filter to the glass panel on its monolithic design sets to reduce reflections and glare while helping in maintaining black levels even in a bright environment.
However, it still remains a glossy screen and while a glossy screen is capable of better results under a controlled light environment - mainly thanks to the better perceived contrast and blacks, shiny screens always suffer from reflections under bright light conditions. And if as we expect, the LX900 use the same shiny screen as found on Sony's KDL-NX800 premium line 2D LED TV series, then according to a Cnet review, reflections are still distracting though to a lesser extent than similar TVs from other brands. But the Cnet review adds that when it comes to preserving black levels under bright lighting, the shiny screen on the Samsung UNB7000 does a little bit better than that on the NX800 Sony LED TV under review.
One other first for Sony is the implementation of a swivel stand - something which Sony has never implemented on its LCD TVs. Directly related to the TV stand is a rather innovative feature: these TVs can be tilted back at a six-degrees upward angle for a better viewing position with low TV placements.
These Sony LED TVs include Sony's MotionFlow 240Hz technology to help reduce motion lag and image doubling in 3D. Sony differentiates between the MotionFlow 240Hz technology found on its 3D TV sets labeled as MotionFlow PRO 240Hz, and the 'standard' MotionFlow 240Hz technology found on the KDL-NX800 series; the latter is the only 2D TV Sony series that comes with 240Hz refresh rate technology.
Sony did not clarify what is the actual difference between the two MotionFlow 240Hz technologies; in particular Sony did not clarify if the new MotionFlow Pro as adopted on its 3D TV sets allows for separate control between motion blur reduction (for improved motion resolution) and judder setting (for a smoother action) in a similar manner to what one finds on Samsung HDTVs. Engaging Sony's MotionFlow 240Hz technology on its 2D TV series presents the user with just two strengths - standard and high. In other words, with Sony's MotionFlow 240Hz technology as employed on its 2D TV sets, you cannot enjoy the improvement in motion resolution as resulting from the higher refresh rate without the extra smoothness associated with de-judder implementation. We hope that on the more expensive Sony flagship series, things will be a bit better here.
Other features found on the Sony LX900 series include an improved XMB menu interface that lends itself extremely well to access and control the added functionality and features found on the latest HDTVs - providing the necessary menu complexity while maintaining ease of navigation; the new Bravia Engine 3 video processor helps reduce noise, enhances detail and optimizes contrast; a built-in Wi-Fi helps for easier home network integration; and Bravia Internet Video and widget online service provide access to internet accessible content from Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, YouTube, NPR, Sony Pictures, Sony Music, as well as instant access to up to the minute news, weather, sports scores, stock quotes and more.
You can also control other Bravia Sync equipped devices connected via an HDMI link through Sony's Bravia Sync for an integrated home entertainment experience. Additionally, these sets feature DLNA compliance for easier access to multimedia content across a home network.
Connectivity on these sets is among the most complete, featuring four HDMI 1.4 inputs, one component input, one composite input, one component/composite selectable input, and a PC input (HD15) with PC/TV picture-in-picture.
As indicated in our introduction, this series of 3D Sony LED TVs will be available in the coming weeks; pricing information on the Sony website show the 60-inch XBR-60LX900 with an MSRP of $5,000 while the smaller 52-inch XBR-52LX900 with an MSRP of $4,000.
Sony's second 3D TV flagship series for 2010 promises to deliver the best picture thanks to its superior LED local dimming backlight technology.
As explained in our article on LCD TV technology, full array local dimming LED backlights use hundreds of LEDs behind the LCD panel; these can be individually dimmed or brightened according to picture content. This helps improve contrast and dynamic range, leading to a picture with deeper blacks than that possible on TVs with edge-lit LED backlights.
Referring to local dimming LED backlights, it is important to differentiate between full-array LED backlights with local dimming as found on a number of flagship TVs - including the interesting LG 55LE8500 LED TV and the HX909 Sony LED TV series being reviewed here, and Samsung's edge-lit LED precision dimming backlight technology as adopted on the C6800 and C8000 series. The latter means that the edge LED light is divided into a number of zones around the edge of the LCD panel with each zone being separately dimmed or brightened according to picture content. Edge-lit local dimming do provide some improvement over standard edge-lit LED backlights but it can never approach the superior picture quality afforded by full-array LED backlights with local dimming.
In this respect, the HX900 Sony LED TV series represents the new successor to Sony's excellent and most successful XBR8 full-array local dimming LED TV released by Sony in 2008. The XBR8 Sony LED TV (review available here) did turn out to be one of the best ever released HDTVs irrespective of display technology.
It is therefore more than understandable that the new Sony XBR-HX909 HDTVs are among the most awaited from the full Sony HDTV lineup for 2010.
Feature wise the LX900 and the HX909 Sony LED TVs are very similar. Both share the same monolithic design, Motionflow PRO 240Hz technology, Bravia Internet Video, Bravia Engine 3, extensive HDTV connectivity and DLNA compliance, with the main difference between these two Sony LED TV series being the LED backlight.
However, there are a few other significant differences. The HX909 3D LED TV do not come with the active shutter glasses; the 3D glasses and the emitter are considered as optional and will have to be purchased separately. In a similar manner, Wi-Fi support comes through an optional USB wireless-LAN adapter; in the case of the LX900, this Wi-Fi adapter is built-in.
And you would not get the presence sensor; instead on the HX909 Sony LED TV local dimming series, Sony opted for a less impressive but more appropriate ambient light sensor. We say more appropriate as this is the series that aims to deliver the best Sony picture for 2010. Sony's ambient light sensor adjusts the color and brightness to automatically deliver an optimized picture for your room environment. However, we doubt to what extent the ambient sensor would be of interest to those in the market for the best picture! These are normally the once who would be tweaking every single setting on their TV to get the best image rather than leave the TV itself to automatically adjust the picture settings for their liking.
A final difference between the two 2010 XBR series is that in the case of the HX909 series, the Bravia Engine 3 comes with what Sony defines as Intelligent Image Enhancer; what does this mean in actual terms however is still unknown as the only information available from Sony is that this is a 'sophisticated' detail circuit.
Screen sizes covered by the XBR-HX909 Sony 3D TV series include the 52-inch XBR-52HX909 (MSRP: $4,000) and the 46-inch XBR-46HX909 MSRP: $3,500). However, the only HX909 Sony LED TV presently available is the 52-inch; it is selling at amazon for under $3,400 - more than $600 below its MSRP.
The KDL-HX800 Sony LED TV series represents Sony's 'entry-level' 3D LED TVs. Mind you, this is a 240Hz, 1080p line of Sony Bravia HDTVs that still enjoy many of the features found on the HX900 - including the MotionFlow PRO 240Hz, Bravia Engine 3 video technology, Bravia Internet video, and DLNA compliance, but with a few differences.
Unlike the HX909, the entry-level HX800 uses an edge LED backlight. In addition, it does not come with Sony's monolithic design, nor does it include the Intelligent Image enhancer with the Bravia Engine 3 but then it does come with Sony's ambient light sensor as found on the XBR-HX900 series.
Like the HX909 series, these entry-level 3D Sony LED TV series do not include the 3D glasses and the USB wireless LAN adapter; these are considered as optional and have to be purchased separately.
Screen sizes covered by the KDL-HX800 Sony LED TV series include 55-inch, 46-inch, and 40-inch. The 55-inch KDL-55HX800 (MSRP: $3,400) is expected to be released soon; instead, the other two screen sizes are readily available - with the 46-inch being the one that offers the best bang for your buck. In fact, the 46-inch KDL-46HX800 Sony LED TV is presently selling online at $1,900, approximately $800 below its MSRP; that's just $100 more expensive than the smaller 40-inch KDL-40HX800 within the same series.