Sony Bravia XBR HX929 Review

Sony HX929 Full Array with Local Dimming

There are only a handful of LED TVs that use full array LED backlights with the ability to provide local dimming on the market today. This is not because the more common edge-lit LED TVs are superior, it is due to the high costs associated with this method. The full array with local dimming is primarily responsible for the stunning visual results that the Sony HX929 produces. The full array works by locating the LEDs directly behind the LCD panel rather than around the perimeter of the display. The LEDs are divided in to many ‘zones’ which can be independently controlled to simultaneously provide different intensities of light in different areas of the display to correspond with the images being displayed.

Available Models

The HX929 is available with 3 different display sizes, other than this they are identical in specification.

Sony Bravia XBR-46HX929 - 46 Inch display

Sony Bravia XBR-55HX929 - 55 Inch display

Sony Bravia XBR-65HX929 - 65 Inch display

Sony Bravia XBR HX929 Review

Sony HX929 Over-all Video Performance

The Sony XBR HX929 is one of the best LED-LCD TVs available today in terms of its picture quality and video performance. The Sony Intelligent Peak LED backlight with local dimming that this TV possesses outperforms edge-lit LED TV models producing superior levels of black and vibrant, accurate colors.

Some instances where on-screen blooming (bright areas that affect the surrounding dark areas) is noticeable as well as some reduction in picture quality when viewed from wider angles (this is an unavoidable characteristic of LCD-based TVs). Neither of the above issues are in any way a big problem because they are hardly ever noticeable during normal usage, but to retain a balanced stance they are worth a mention.

However, as a whole the Sony Bravia HX929 is more than capable of holding it own in terms of video performance when compared to any of its directly comparable LED-LCD rivals as well as most plasma TVs also (other than a select few of the most expensive top-of-the-range models).

The calibration controls for customizing the picture quality are adequate thanks to the balanced image quality the Bravia HX929 produces as standard. Greater control over the color management would have been a nice touch, but because of the HX929’s stunning standard performance which requires little or no tweaking, the ability for more extensive controls isn’t required (or of interest for the average user). Generally speaking the Sony HX929 performance is a big improvement over last years HX909 model which it supersedes.

HX929 Black Levels

The Sony XBR HX929’s local dimming LED backlight means that the ability to display the darkest blacks is an area where the HX929 excels. The levels of blackness produced are more what you would expect from a top plasma TV than an LCD based TV. Its superior performance in this area dramatically enhances the whole cinematic experience produced by the HX929 especially when viewed in dark conditions where its qualities are highlighted.

The blooming effects mentioned above is a problem that occurs when a brightly lit area of a picture affects an adjacent dark area. It is only a very slight problem with the Bravia HX929 and not one which affects normal viewing. If you are intentionally looking out for instances of blooming you will spot them, but for normal usage they go un-noticed.
To a certain degree the Sony HX929’s ability to display such dark blacks is what contributes to the blooming effect, if the black areas weren’t so dark in the first place it wouldn’t be an issue. So from this point of view, it’s a case of having to take the good with the bad (or lots of good for a very little bit of bad). But don’t be put off by this, as already stated it is only under the most extreme circumstances that the blooming is even slightly noticeable, for the vast majority of viewing conditions no blooming effects are present. It is a case of the advantages far, far outweigh this small disadvantage, the Sony is more than a match for most plasmas let alone other LED-LCD TVs when it comes to producing the deepest blacks.

Sony HX929 Video Processing

Many of the video processing related features and adjustments of modern TVs produce results which are subject to personal preference. For some features you will just have to ‘experiment’ with them to establish what works best for you depending on the application and content source. As is the case with many other brands of televisions, whilst some features may be very technically intelligent, sometimes introduce an unnatural processed appearance to the pictures and so many users prefer to leave them disabled or set to low.

One such feature where the Sony XBR-HX929 works well is with its handling of motion picture films, where 24 frames per second content must be converted in to 60 frames per second handling the content without problem. The Sony HX929 comes packed with many video processing features for you play with, the benefits of which are more noticeable with lower quality or older content.

Sony 3D TV Performance

The video processing of Sony’s MotionFlow feature, is what makes the active 3D TV work in this model. Without this MotionFlow the 3D flicker makes for an unpleasant viewing experience, but with it enabled flicker is eliminated. Sony’s MotionFlow may not be a feature that is to everyone’s liking, in standard 2D mode you may prefer it to be disabled because it artificially smoothes out motion films, but for 3D TV it is essential.

The active 3D glasses of the Sony XBRHX929 work well, they exhibit very little crosstalk and are comfortable enough to wear for longer periods of time.

Unlike with plasmas which typically don’t have as bright displays as LED TVs do, the HX929 produces great 3D results in all room lighting. The dimming effect caused by the constant opening and closing of active shutter 3D glasses can cause some plasmas 3D pictures to appear overly dull in bright room conditions thus requiring them to be used in dim/dark lit rooms. This is not the case with the bright LED screen of the Sony HX929 which works well even in brightly lit rooms.

Picture Uniformity

An area where LED-LCD TVs have come in for criticism is with the deficiencies seen in the uniformity of the brightness of backlight levels. The Sony HX929 favours well in this area because of it full array backlight. Whilst it is not quite perfect it fairs better than other LED TVs. The uneven lighting and hotspots that are occasionally visible are not so obvious that they become a distraction. When seated in the ideal viewing position, central to the screen at a medium distance, then the uniformity is close to perfect.

As is typical with LCD-based TVs the wider your viewing angle the greater the unwanted effects become, the darker and black parts of the picture become s little washed out and any blooming becomes more noticeable. However the above issues are only mentioned for the purpose of providing a balanced review, in normal viewing conditions you will have little or no problems with the picture quality of the XBR-HX929. No TV is perfect but the HX929 gets a lot closer to achieving perfection than most other TVs.

Sony TV Design and Styling

 

The Sony HX929 stylistic design satisfies the high standards that a top of the range TV demands. It is manufactured to a high level of quality that you would expect from Sony and in terms of aesthetics only the high-end Samsung LED TV models surpass it. For a full-array backlit LED TV it has a very slim design which is almost as thin as other edge-lit LED TVs. The front of the display consists of a single darkened glass pane bordered at the very edge by a thin metal strip. It has a minimalistic sturdy metal swivel stand.

 

Sony Ease of Use

 

The design of the onscreen menu interface of the Sony HX929 has been given a facelift since last year’s models. The menu options are represented by icon images along the bottom of the display. The name of the menu options are only displayed once an icon is selected, once you do so the menu’s sub-options appear on the right hand side of the display. The bottom and side menus share the screen area with a reduced sized image of the TV content you’re viewing so you don’t miss any action whilst using the menus. The icon design of the menu system can take a little bit of time to get to grips with, but once you become familiar with its layout it works very well.

The remote control is also very well designed, the buttons which are illuminated are well arranged have a certainty to their touch when they are depressed which allows for quick and easy operation. The design of the HX929’s remote control as a whole is logical and you will find yourself using it without having to look at your fingers once you become familiar with its friendly layout.viewing so you don’t miss any action whilst using the menus. The icon design of the menu system can take a little bit of time to get to grips with, but once you become familiar with its layout it works very well.

New Sony HX929 Features

The Sony Bravia XBR HX929 comes with some new features including a nifty built-in camera, and integrated Wi-Fi (which is not an optional accessory as with some other models of TV). The camera can act as a motion sensor which can adjust the sound and picture to suit the distance the viewer is positioned in relation to the TV. Also a ‘distance alert’ feature can be enabled to emit an alarm signal and turn off the picture if a child is detected viewing the TV from too close a distance. Lastly, a more common feature also present in other brands and models of TVs is the ability to power off the TV after the sensor detects that there is no-one present in the room for a pre-configured period of time.

 

Sony Internet TV and Apps

As you would expect from Sony’s Smart TV, the HX929 comes loaded with a range of internet apps to suit all tastes. All the favourites are included – Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Instant, Hulu Plus, Pandora, Skype and Social media apps which come implemented in the form of Yahoo widgets including Facebook and Twitter.

Sony has applied its own ‘standard’ interface for Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu rather than using each of their individual interfaces. If you’ve not used them before, then this will make your life easier because you only have to get familiar with the Sony interface rather than several application specific interfaces. There are also many other, apps and widgets for a wide range of music, video and photo services.

The Sony HX929 does come with a built in web browser. Though it does allow you access the internet, it’s usability is on a par with the web browsers seen in most other brands and models of Smart and Internet TVs. Their operation isn’t particularly slick compared to using a home PC or laptop for browsing the net.

Power Consumption

The Sony HX929 comes out on top of the energy-efficiency ratings thanks to its LED local dimming. The HX929 only consumes 25% of the power that the best big screen plasmas do, and it even out performs most edge-lit models.

The HX929 will save you $50 per year in electricity costs compared to a plasma which should be enough to impress you on its own, but if you consider that the Sony HX929 outperforms the majority of most plasma competitors using a fraction of the power it becomes even more impressive.

Summary – Sony Bravia XBR HX929

Positives – Everything that is good about the performance of the Sony Bravia XBR-HX929 stems from the full array LED backlight with local dimming. The levels of blackness it produces are as good if not better than any other LCD based TV on the market. The local dimming brings out wonderful colors, contrast and fine details even for the most demanding movie scenes. The HX929’s 3D TV performance is solid and produces almost no crosstalk (something which can’t be said about many other brands of active 3D TVs). It has plenty of technical features, integrated Wi-Fi and is loaded with internet apps and widgets. And of course the HX929 has looks to match with a slim and classy design.

Negatives – It’s hard to find much wrong with the Sony HX929. To be hyper-critical, you have to say that it does suffer from a small amount of blooming and wide-angle washout, both of which are minor problems which rarely occur under typical viewing conditions. It is not the cheapest television on the market but you have to remember you are paying for a TV with a full-array locally dimmable backlight, without this it’s superior video performance wouldn’t be possible.

Summary – To say the Sony HX929 is genuine competition for the best plasma TV models is no exaggeration, it is simply one of the very best LED TV models available.

Available Models

The HX929 is available with 3 different display sizes, other than this they are identical in specification.

Sony Bravia XBR-46HX929 – 46 Inch display

Sony Bravia XBR-55HX929 - 55 Inch display

Sony Bravia XBR-65HX929 - 65 Inch display

Sony XBR-HX929 Best Price

The 55 Inch Sony XBR-55HX929 has list price of $3799.99 at Sony