Today I got to take a close look at Sony’s new 84-inch, $25,000, 4K resolution LCD.

It’s big, it’s beautiful, but is it worth it?

Then there’s the local-dimming HX950 HDTV series, a rare breed itself.

All the info after the jump.

Let’s start with the quick part first. The HX950 is the successor to the HX929. With a full-array, local dimming backlight, it’s got some significant performance. The 950 doesn’t change the formula too much. Compared to the 929, the 950 has slightly rounded edges, different stand design, but keeps the Corning Gorilla Glass. A brief demo of the 55-inch looked good, with dark blacks and bright, non-haloed whites. They’re able to shut off the LEDs completely behind the dark parts of the screen for a better contrast ratio.

Both are available this month at $3,499.99 for the 55-inch and $5,499.99 for the 65-inch.


I am skeptical of 4K. To the point I feel 4K TVs are stupid. My opinion on the matter is largely irrelevant 4K TVs are eminent. Sony showed me the XBR-84X900 in a hotel adjacent to the convention center. Presumably to make it easy to dispose of my body if the indoctrination into 4K IS AWESOME didn’t work.

Sony is recommending a viewing distance of 1.5 picture heights away from the screen. In this case that’s about 6 feet away. And indeed, at this distance, the X900 looks pretty amazing. Using a combination of server-stored 4K video content and 4K still images, they gave a convincing demo of the incredible detail of 4K. In the image shown above you could easily make out individual cobblestones, the tiles in the roofs, and even the leaves on the trees.

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However, most people don’t want to sit 6 feet from their TV. Most people sit around 9-10 feet from their TV. At this distance (and I checked), the increased detail is much less apparent. That said, it still looked quite detailed. Without a comparable-sized 1080p TV to compare it to, I can’t say how much more detailed (if it all) it looks at a “normal” distance.

The Real Problem

I’m sure you’re going to read plenty of articles about 4K saying the lack of content is a big issue. I disagree. In the early days of HD there was almost no content. I have faith the content will come, that’s the easy part.

Of slightly more concern is that the current HDMI spec (1.4) only requires 4K at 24 fps, therefore the current HDMI chips can only do 4K/24 (if that). This precludes the possibility of 4K 3D, only 1080p 3D. While future generations of HDMI will surely have the ability to do 4K 3D, it’s likely the current gen TVs won’t be able to. Not unless there’s some sort of 1.4-1.5 upgrade, which would be largely unprecedented in a TV

The real issue that Sony needs to address is that people still sit farther from their TVs than they need to, and still aren’t buying big TVs in serious numbers. 4K in 50-inch sizes is completely unnecessary at 10-feet. Will people move closer or buy bigger TVs? I’m skeptical.

But like I said, it doesn’t matter. I’m sure there are plenty of people who will feel they “need” 4K even if they can’t see it.

And let me say again, up close (or really huge) 4K is impressive.


Geoff Morrison @TechWriterGeoff
Geoff’s book is now in paperback


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