TECH

Sony XD93 Review: This Isn't Art, It's Full-Scale Architecture

When does a TV become too big?

15/09/2016 11:01
The Huffington Post UK

One could make the argument that TVs have become too large. It’s a reasonable argument when you consider that living rooms aren’t getting any bigger and well, purses aren’t getting any deeper. 

Yet despite all this companies are still making these gargantuan slabs of metal and glass, thinner than a magazine yet larger than most living rooms. They cost thousands of pounds, more than any other modern gadget and yet we still buy them in the thousands, every single year.

Take the Sony XD93 for example, it’s 65-inches big. That’s a truly absurd size for a TV when you think about it. It’s effectively a third the size of an entire living room wall. TVs this size have a dual-role to fulfill then, they not only have to provide a picture quality that’s good enough to justify the enormous cost, they also need to be beautiful enough to justify the enormous size.

Sony as a brand have always created products that are designed to be quietly brilliant. Their earlier AV equipment was always stunningly good and yet to look at it was a slab of black brushed metal with three minuscule buttons on it.

Sony

The company has continued this approach to technology but realised that there’s no reason why doing so little can’t look great too.

Take a look at the Xperia range of devices, while they’re not perfect smartphones they are immaculate pieces of design. The XD93 embodies this entire ethos.

It’s vastly wide, yet incredibly thin body seemingly floats above the TV’s angled stand; a sheet of thick brushed aluminum. Putting the TV together the illusion is of course ruined but for anyone who comes to visit the XD93 really does look like one of those impossibly balanced sculptures you’ll find on the desks of architects.

Surrounding the bezel is a thin streak of brushed gold; a small reminder that this is Sony’s pinnacle gadget. On the back you will find every connection known to exist which can then all be safely tucked away behind a removable plastic cover. The last thing Sony will let you do is ruin its design with the hundreds of wildly different HDMI cables you’ve accumulated over the years.

The XD93 comes in two sizes, a 55-inch and 65-inch. The screen has a resolution of 4K and then also supports High Dynamic Range (HDR). Almost all new TVs support 4K resolution now so that’s nothing new, what is worth noting is the support of HDR.

Sony

This is a new picture standard for displays that goes beyond our obsession with having more pixels. HDR is about improving the picture quality and to do that a TV needs to accomplish a number of things.

For HDR content to look it’s absolute best a HDR TV needs to be able to achieve a brightness that’s above normal TVs, it then also needs to be able to darken a screen with equal degree and precision. The result of which is a contrast between dark and light that hasn’t been seen before on a TV. Next up is the range of colors that the TV can show, it needs to be far far greater than current TVs and so has to reach an industry standard called wide colour gamut.

The XD93 accomplishes both of these requirements with an ease that will frankly take your breath away the first time you put on a piece of 4K content. Sony know how to make good screens, and the XD93 is in every respect their masterpiece.

Playing Netflix in 4K on this TV you get the feeling that rather than simply showing what’s being streamed the XD93 has to physically restrain the content from pushing through into reality. This rather mystifying effect is thanks to a combination of spectacular contrast ratios and vibrant colours.

Sony

Where the XD93 comes into its own however is in motion processing. We spent a considerable amount of our time with the TV using a PlayStation 4. Games are notoriously hard task masters for a TV due to their high refresh rate requirements and the simple fact that things are moving in games, a lot.

We’ve seen this level of motion processing before on Sony’s TVs and it’s reassuring to see that not only has their reputation remained intact but has in fact been cemented further.

Where the XD93 stumbles however is the user interface and in many ways this is both entirely Sony’s fault and yet at the same time not even slightly. It runs Android TV.

We have yet to find a TV experience coupled with Android TV that hasn’t felt even the slightest bit clunky and sadly the XD93 suffers in this regard too. Instructions given by the remote are finally carried through after some delay while navigating menus can be an arduous task requiring a not inconsiderable amount of patience. As we said before; it’s Sony’s fault for choosing Android TV and it’s Google’s fault for creating an OS that clearly needs some work.

Who should buy the Sony XD93?

True gaming/home cinema fanatics. The XD93 will set you back £1,999 in its cheapest form and while that is an enormous sum of money you get exactly what you pay for. This is quite simply one of the best TVs for gaming we’ve ever used.

Who shouldn’t buy the Sony XD93?

If the finer details like motion smoothness aren’t to your taste then there are plenty of TVs which will cost half the price and perform to a lesser, but still highly impressive degree. You have to remember also that this TV is 55-inches, which is enormous, and any good quality TV at that size is going to start at around the £1,000 mark anyway.

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