Review: Sony XBR75X940E (X940E)

This is a review of the Sony XBR75X940E, which is the sole member of the X940E series. Just like the model it supersedes, the XBR75X940E comes in the 75-inch class, and features a full-array local dimming backlight. In terms of number of local dimming zones, the XBR75X940E sits between the Z9D and X900E series, albeit closer to the latter.

The XBR75X940E’s front panel consists of two slates. They are staggered vertically at the bottom for the purpose of providing space for the front-facing speakers. The inner slate is black while the outer one has metallic hue. The neutral-colored panel on the back of the XBR75X940E features a geometric pattern. All inputs on the XBR75X940E are on the back of the TV. Since they are either bottom or side-facing, you can conceal them using the removable panel covers. This is an improvement over the last year’s XBR75X940D because the legacy inputs on this model could not be hidden since they were rear-facing. Furthermore, the XBR75X940D didn’t have a geometric pattern on the back panel.

The table-top stand of the XBR75X940E is inclined. Although the angle at which the front portion is joined with the support legs is less steeper than it was on the XBR75X940D, there is slightly more clearance beneath the display owing to the more prominent two support columns, which are visible from the front. In contrast, the XBR75X940D relied on a single, central support for its inclined stand. Both models allow you to conceal cables by running them through the stand, but this is done through the legs of the stand on the XBR75X940E, and the center of the stand on the XBR75X940D.

The XBR75X940E weights 94.3 lb without the table-top stand, which makes it significantly heavier than its predecessor. Regardless of that, the XBR75X940E can be mounted on a wall using any 400×300 VESA compatible wall mount that can support such heavy TV. There is an optional Sony SU-WL830 wall-mount bracket for the XBR75X940E as well. If you use the SU-WL830, the TV appears flush to the wall but this wall-mount bracket is not included so it has to be purchased separately. Furthermore, the SU-WL830 allows you to swivel the TV up to 15 degrees in each direction in order to adjust it to your viewing position, or access the ports on the back of the XBR75X940E.

Both models have a full-array backlight but there is a difference in the level of precision with which local dimming or boosting is carried out on the XBR75X940E vs XBR75X940D. This in turn determines the contrast range. The XBR75X940E has up to 10 times the contrast range of a conventional LED TV without local dimming capabilities while the XBR75X940D had up to 3 times the contrast range of such conventional TV, according to Sony. In a direct comparison between the two models, the XBR75X940E’s use of the X-tended Dynamic Range PRO 10x translates to an approximately 3-fold increase in the range between the darkest shadows and the brightest highlights in comparison to the more conventional X-tended Dynamic Range PRO technology (note the omission of 10x), which was used on the XBR75X940D.

Thanks to the X-tended Dynamic Range PRO 10x technology, the XBR75X940E is able to achieve two things: first, to further minimize blooming artifacts that may be visible as halos around bright objects against a dark background, and second, to resolve more detail in specular highlights in comparison to the XBR75X940D. This is particularly important with High Dynamic Range content since HDR doesn’t attempt to make the entire image brighter, but only a fraction of it, so that the contrast range between the darkest shadows and the brightest highlights is wider. The XBR75X940E’s advantage over the XBR75X940D is not limited only to the quality of HDR content reproduction (particularly when it comes to specular highlights), but also applies to future upgradability for additional HDR format support.

The XBR75X940E is the only one that will receive a firmware update for Dolby Vision. The reason being is that the X1 Extreme processor wasn’t used on the XBR75X940D, so this model cannot be updated to support Dolby Vision. That being said, both the XBR75X940E and XBR75X940D support HDR10, which is another format of HDR content. HDR10 includes only static metadata. One of the values defined in the static metadata is MaxCLL, or maximum content light level. It is usually either 1,000cd/m2 or 4,000cd/m2, depending on what the content has been mastered to, and doesn’t change with the scene. Therefore, HDR10 content is only optimized for scenes with highlights. Considering the XBR75X940D wasn’t capable of reaching 1,000cd/m2 of peak brightness, and the lack of scene-by-scene optimization in the HDR10 format, not only the highlights had to be compressed, but also some of the mid-tones, even in the absence of highlights (for the reasons outlined above).

Although the XBR75X940E is not impervious to unnecessary compression of the dynamic range with HDR10 content, the higher peak brightness means that less tone-mapping have to be done on its part, at least with HDR10 content mastered to 1,000cd/m2. On the other hand, Dolby Vision has dynamic metadata, which makes scene-by-scene optimization possible. Thanks to the Dolby’s mapping unit, which is tuned for the XBR75X940E’s capabilities, Dolby Vision content can be reproduced (once the firmware update is released) without clipping of the highlights, or compression of the mid-tones for scenes with no highlights.

The X1 Extreme processor, which is used on the XBR75X940E, has 40% more processing power in comparison to the conventional X1 processor that can be found on the XBR75X940D. Therefore, the XBR75X940E can perform dual database processing in real time, and achieve better results when upscaling lower resolution content than the XBR75X940D. The reason being is that different textures and objects that are in the source content are cross-referenced with picture patterns in the two propriety Sony databases. Not only does it allow for noise reduction, but also improves the clarity of upscaling.

Both models are capable of displaying over a billion color shades thanks to the utilization of 10-bit panels. However, 8-bit or 10-bit sources are upconverted for 14-bit processing on the XBR75X940E, meaning the chance of exhibiting color banding is further reduced in comparison to the XBR75X940D. One of the reasons contours may be visible in what should be smooth color gradients is rounding errors during the application of contrast and brightness controls. Processing content at a higher bit rate prevents that from happening on the XBR75X940E.

The Triluminos display technology is responsible for the wide color gamut support on the XBR75X940E and XBR75X940D. Although the DCI-P3 color space coverage is identical for most luminosity levels, the XBR75X940E has the upper-hand at the extreme ends, particularly at high luminosity levels, and to a lesser degree: at very low luminosity levels. In other words, mid-tones have identical color saturation on the XBR75X940E vs XBR75X940D, but the XBR75X940E is able to show more saturated colors in specular highlights.

The XBR75X940E omits support for the 3D format. On the other hand, the XBR75X940E was equipped with the active 3D technology, but it didn’t include any active shutter glasses, which are needed for watching 3D content.

The sound capabilities differ significantly between the two models. First, the XBR75X940E has front-facing, 3 way speakers that include tweeter, mid-range and sub-woofer. In contrast, the XBR75X940D didn’t have separate tweeters, so there were two main speakers and two sub-woofers. Furthermore, the speakers were down-firing, rather than front-firing. As a result, voices and dialogues were projected with less clarity on the XBR75X940D in comparison to the XBR75X940E. The total audio power output on the XBR75X940E is 60 Watts (20 Watts of which is attributed to the two sub-woofers). The XBR75X940D had 30 Watts of amplification (the combined output of the two sub-woofers was 15 Watts). The sub-woofer size is 70mm on the XBR75X940E, whereas it was 60mm on the XBR75X940D. As a result, the bass is deeper on the former.

Check availability and pricing on Amazon.com for the XBR75X940E and the XBR75X940D (affiliate links).

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