Review: Sony XBR65X930E

The intent of this review is to evaluate the Sony XBR65X930E, which is the 65-inch class model from the X930E series. Given that the XBR65X930E uses the Slim Backlight Drive+, it’d be particularly interesting is to see how this advanced form of edge-array backlight system has evolved since its debut on the XBR65X930E’s predecessor.

The XBR65X930E retains the double-edge LED panel with a quad-edge LED structure that was first used in the last year’s XBR65X930D. The double-edge refers to the panel being illuminated from both sides, whereas the quad-edge structure indicates the total number of LED rows, which is four on both models. However, instead of having two rows of LEDs on each side, the XBR65X930E positions them on the top and the bottom edges of the panel. The number of layers of light guide plates is the same on the XBR65X930E vs XBR65X930D, meaning there are two for each model. The reason why they have two separate layers of light guide plates is because that allows them to achieve a level of precision in controlling individual dimming zones that is comparable to a full-array local dimming design. Nonetheless, both the XBR65X930E and XBR65X930D are edge LED TVs, meaning they have a considerably thinner profile than their full-array counterparts. The XBR65X930E is slightly thicker than the XBR65X930D, but a lot heavier.

The XBR65X930E has the new Slim Backlight Drive+ whereas the original Slim Backlight Drive was used by the XBR65X930D. Besides the aforementioned variation in the LED rows placement, there is a significant difference in the dynamic range. Thanks to the X-tended Dynamic Range PRO 10x, the XBR65X930E has up to ten times the contrast range of a conventional edge LED TV without local dimming capabilities. For comparison, the XBR65X930D had up to three times the dynamic range of such conventional LED TV, according to Sony. This means that the local dimming and boosting on the XBR65X930E is carried out with increased precision, which in turn leads to the XBR65X930E being less susceptible to blooming artifacts (i.e. halos around bright objects against a dark background), depending on how challenging the scene is. Furthermore, the XBR65X930E can resolve more details in specular highlights than the XBR65X930D.

The wider range between the darkest shadows and the brightest highlights on XBR65X930E vs XBR65X930D is particularly important when watching HDR content since it’d keep tone-mapping at minimum, provided the HDR10 content is mastered to 1,000cd/m2. Less tone-mapping means less chance of altering the director’s intended look. Both models support HDR10 content. It needs to be said that only the XBR65X930E has the necessary processor for Dolby Vision, so it’s the only one that will receive a firmware update later this year to enable support for this format. Dolby Vision content is typically mastered to 4,000cd/m2. Although this exceeds the peak brightness capability of the XBR65X930E by approximately 3-fold, the Dolby’s mapping unit ensures that the highlights are not clipped. Furthermore, thanks to the dynamic metadata of Dolby Vision content, the XBR65X930E can avoid unnecessary compression of the dynamic range during scenes with no highlights. On the other hand, the XBR65X930D only supports HDR10, which includes static metadata. The lack of scene-by-scene optimization with HDR10 means that the dynamic range is compressed based on the MaxCLL (maximum content light level) that is set for the entire content duration, regardless if the scene has highlights or not. The XBR65X930E is also prone to this when you watch HDR10 content.

Another major differentiator between the XBR65X930E and XBR65X930D is processing power. The X1 Extreme image processor brings 40% more processing power to the XBR65X930E in comparison to the X1 processor, which was used on the XBR65X930D. The X1 Extreme makes it possible for two separate image databases to be processed in real time. According to Sony, there are tens of thousands picture patterns in each of the two propriety databases: for noise reduction and clarity of upscaling, respectively. By utilizing the provided before and after data from each database, the XBR65X930E can, for example, not only identify image compression noise, but also remove it in an optimal way since the after data instructs the TV what the image should look like. The dual database processing leads to improvement in the clarity of the upscaled content, as well as to image noise reduction.

Both models support wider color gamut through the Triluminos display technology. Although the DCI-P3 gamut coverage is identical for most luminosity levels, the XBR65X930E has an advantage in the extreme ends of the brightness scale, particularly in the specular highlights, where it can show more saturated colors. However, only approximately 15% of the digital code words in the 10-bit HDR10 signal (provided the content is mastered to 4,000cd/m2) are allocated to specular highlights. This means that there isn’t any significant difference in the color volume on XBR65X930E vs XBR65X930D during most scenes that only contain lighter shadows, mid-tones and diffuse white.

Although they have 10-bit panels, the XBR65X930E utilizes Super Bit Mapping in order to further minimize color banding in comparison to the XBR65X930D. 8-bit or 10-bit sources are upconverted for 14-bit signal processing on the XBR65X930E. This ensures that any contrast or brightness adjustments you make can be applied without introducing any rounding errors that may manifest themselves as contours in smooth color gradients.

The XBR65X930E has front-facing, 3-way speakers that include a woofer, a mid-range, and a tweeter. In contrast, the XBR65X930D didn’t have a separate tweeter, meaning the new model is better at reproducing high frequency sounds. Furthermore, the main speakers on the XBR65X930D are not front-facing. Instead, they are down-firing, so dialogues and voices are projected with less clarity in comparison to the XBR65X930E. This model also has a deeper bass due to the sub-woofer size being 70mm (whereas it was 65mm on the XBR65X930D). The total audio power output on the XBR65X930E is 60 Watts (20 Watts of amplification is allocated to the two sub-woofers). On the other hand, the audio power output on the XBR65X930E was 30 Watts (15 Watts of amplification was set aside for the two sub-woofers). Both of them use the ClearAduio+ processing that aims to improve the clarity of dialogues and separation of surround effects. The S-Force Front Surround, as the name suggests, simulates surround sound whereas the Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE) technology attempts to restore frequency components in heavily compressed audio files. Both features can be found on the XBR65X930D and XBR65X930E.

The stand on the XBR65X930E has two legs through which you can channel cables, so that they won’t be visible from the front. The same was possible with the XBR65X930D as well, except that cables were channeled through the center of stand since there were no separate legs. In order to accommodate the front-facing speakers, the XBR65X930E’s front panel consists of two slates that are staggered vertically at the bottom. They have different color, with the inner one being black while the outer one has a metallic hue. Since the XBR65X930D didn’t have front-facing speakers, it had a traditional front panel rather than the two slate design. Both models allow you to conceal cables and inputs behind panels on the back panel. However, the color of the back panel is different on the XBR65X930E vs XBR65X930D. The former has a more neutral color, and features a geometric pattern. On the other hand, the XBR65X930D didn’t have this pattern and the back panel was black.

Check availability and pricing on Amazon.com for the XBR65X930E and XBR65X930D (affiliate links).

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