Sony launched five new ranges of 4K Ultra HD TVs at CES 2016, but their stand was dominated by one series in particular, the XD93 (or X93D as it's known in the US). Available in either 65in or 55in screen sizes, XD93 showcases Sony's brand new design philosophy, backlight technology and more...
Design and build
New for 2016 is Sony's 'Slice of Living' design. The wedge design which featured on some of Sony's 2015 models has gone in favour of a slimmer, more streamlined look. The base has been redesigned to include cable mangement - wires running out of the back of the set, under a cover and out of sight.
Although not quite as slim as Sony's waif-like KD-65X9005C, the new XD93 isn't exactly what you'd call portly, and the dedicate wall mount means you can place it ridiculously close up to a rear wall.
The new, minimalist design has also resulted in one of the biggest visible differences between Sony's 2015 and 2016 TVs. The magnetic fluid speakers which used to feature along the edges of some premium models have been ditched. Instead, the KD-65XD9305 features more traditional downward-firing speakers built into its chassis.
The big news for the XD93 range is that it's the first to use Sony's brand new Slim Backlight Drive technology. Sony claims this new tech (which uses a grid-array, local dimming backlight structure) allows the set to compete with full-array models when it comes to handling brightness and contrast levels.
The KD-65XD9305 is powered by Sony's 4K Processor X1 chipset and also includes Sony's X-tended Dynamic Range Pro, and Triluminos picture processing technologies.
Like all of Sony's 2016 Ultra HD TVs, the KD-XD9305 is HDR compatible, as indicated by Sony's new '4K HDR' logo. Sony is a member of the UHD Alliance that recently announced its own Ultra HD Premium logo for use on 4K sets that meet the required sepcification.
But, speaking to the Japanese manufacturer, it appears they wanted to create a logo which could be used across their current and future ranges of 4K HDR products across different categories, not just television.
For 2016, Sony's new 4K sets once again use Android TV as their operating system. This, of course, means Google Cast is included for beaming content to the set from a compatible smartphone or tablet. There's also Voice Search and Voice Command both of which featured in 2015 and both of which seemed reasonably intuitive and quick to reply to our requests.
Sony's Content Bar runs along the bottom of the screen wand gives you access to apps, favourites and TV channels at the press of a button. New for 2016 is the addition of a dedicated Netflix row so you can what the streaming service has to offer without leaving the programme you're currently watching.
On the show floor, mainstream 4K content was a little thin on the ground, but there was no shortage of random 4K footage, be it extreme sports, holiday highlights or colourful wildlife.
Motion has always been one of Sony's strengths and even on the showfloor, where you can assume most settings are cranked to their most intense (but not always most natural), the XD93 gave the impression that it was pretty much in control.
Slow panning scenes of a group of hot-air baloons meandering across the sky and the more frenzied movements of a surfer weaving his way in and out of the ocean wake all appeared smooth and stable with no sign of any serious juddering or blurring.
The magnetic fluid speakers found on some older Sony 4K TV models weren't to everyone's taste, but in our experience they sounded great and really gave Sony an edge over many of its competitors. In a world where TV sound quality rarely ventures anywhere north of mediocrity, we're a little sad to see them go.
A noisy (and rather large) CES stand isn't the best environment to put a TVs speakers through their paces, so we'll have to wait until an actual review sample passes through our test rooms.
Our experience of Sony's 2015 TVs was a bit of a mixed bag, but we're excited to see what 2016 has to offer. Initial signs from the KD-65XD9305 are promising, but we'll be in better position to give a definitive verdict when we Sony sends us a proper production sample.