Saturday, May 10, 2014

XBR-65X900B vs XBR-65X900A; XBR-55X900B vs XBR-55X900A (Sony X900B vs X900A)

The naming of the two UHD series does not reflect the substantial differences between them but the subsequent letter suffix makes them easily distinguishable: the X900A is the 2013 range, while the X900B is one for the 2014. Quite possibly the most significant upgrade in the X900B is the incorporation of a decoder that supports the latest HEVC codec, thus allowing you to use current (and future) 4K streaming services, without the need of an external player. The X900A lacks such support, so you'll need to use an external device if you want to be able to stream TV shows and movies in 4K. This year's series also supports the HDMI 2.0 standard (not full bandwidth, though), thus it's able to accept 3840x2160/60p signals, albeit 8-bit 4:2:0. The same can be achieved with its predecessor, but you'll need to apply a software update first, because it only supports up to 3840x2160/30p out of the box. The new range is compatible with MHL 3.0, meaning the 4K output from mobile devices is now supported.

The X900B retains its predecessor's Triluminos display technology, or at least the name of it, since quantum dots are no longer being used in 2014. The X900A has an optical component consisting of the aforementioned nanoparticles, which is situated in-between the LEDs and the light guide plate. It serves the purpose of converting the blue light emitted by the LEDs into tri-chromatic white light that's optimized to match the color filters, thus a wider color gamut can be achieved, in addition to having pure colors. In order to justify its Triluminos branding, the X900B would probably need tri-color LEDs (since it lacks the optic with quantum dots), and considering that circa 2008 Sony used the RGB LED technology (also under the Triluminos name), it might not be surprising if the X900B uses something similar, albeit modified for its edge-lit panel. Anyhow, you don't have to worry about the colors on the 2014 series being any less pure due to the absence of quantum dots.

While they both employ local dimming, the X900B is equipped with the new X-tended Dynamic Range technique, which boasts two-fold increase in the dynamic range but that is in comparison to a standard LED TV and not to the X900A specifically, so the difference between the two UHD series is more subtle. However, the improved algorithms which are able to dim the LEDs corresponding to the darks areas and, at the same time, allow twice the electric current to be applied to the LEDs corresponding to the bright areas (if necessary), not only lead to an increase in the dynamic range, but also make the X900B more energy efficient than its counterpart, with the maximum power consumption on the newer 65-Inch class model being 314W vs 338W on the 65-Inch X900A. (This may vary once you've calibrated your set).

The X900B has a new form factor, or Wedge design, as Sony calls it. This creates an extra space at the bottom of the TV, which tremendously benefits the two subwoofers in particular, as they now reside inside approximately 50% bigger enclosures compared to last year, which allows for them to be bigger: 80mm vs 70mm on the X900A. Thus, the bass is now deeper compared to last year's model. The front-facing Magnetic Fluid Speakers were first used on X900A, and can be found on its successor as well. That said, they have been improved thanks to the inclusion of the mica-reinforced glass fiber material that further reduces distortion. Additionally, the X900B incorporates the ClearAudio+ technology which utilizes digital processing in order to reproduce a wide range of sound (including vocals) with authentic clarity. Despite the total audio power output being 65 Watts on both, the sound quality on the X900B is improved in comparison to the X900A. There is also an optional wireless subwoofer: SWF-BR100 (sold separately) for this year's model, should you need even more bass.

The X900A uses the passive 3D technology and there are 4 pairs of polarized 3D glasses included. On the other hand, the 55- and 65-Inch models from the X900B series rely on the active variant of this technology, and 2 pairs of active shutter 3D glasses are included. The 79-Inch TV set utilizes passive 3D. Some of the new features that are introduced with the X900B are the built-in camera, the port replicator for easier cable management, and the “One-Flick Remote” which allows you to quickly navigate a variety of content by flicking up and down.

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