After LG's new OLEDs in March, Sony is the second big TV brand with new models out the door for 2016. And the new TVs, with 4K HDR support and twice the brightness of the OLED screens Sony is competing with, will be out in Australia quite quickly, and at surprisingly affordable prices too.
Sony's aggressive strategy for its 2016 Bravia TVs hinges on their 4K HDR capabilities. Sony is unique amongst the TV brands in that it's the only company with credibility in digital cinema cameras, movie production, projection and TVs all in 4K, and we all know 2016 is the year of HDR — but one thing you need to do HDR well is a diverse range of brightness, with a high maximum and low minimum luminance level helping display detail in both shadow and highlight scenes.
And it's Sony's calling card that its top Bravias can produce up to 1000 nits of brightness at maximum luminance — twice that of a LG OLED — while still keeping minimum blacks relatively low with local dimming switching off sections of the display when no content is being shown. That's what you'll see on the X9300D Bravia TV, which has the company's new Slim Backlight Drive grid-array edge-lit LEDs using both a light source and a polarising filter to accurate channel that brightness to specific parts of the display. On the more expensive X9400D, the screen is lit by a full backlight array of LEDs — slightly thicker, but producing a somewhat superior picture.
And just like last year, Sony is betting big on Google's Android TV operating system and all the advantages that it brings, like the Play Store's massive range of catch-up and subscription video on demand apps like Netflix and Presto and ABC iView, as well as integrated Google Cast support — negating the need for a standalone Chromecast. New for this year is a Netflix button on the remote control, giving Sony's Bravias a reason to be a Netflix recommended TV.
With screens from 55 to 85 inches, but with only three different new model ranges, Sony's line-up is quite straightforward. In the more affordable X8500D range, a 55-inch Bravia will set you back just $2999 while there are also 65-, 75- and 85-inch screens for $4499, $7499 and $14999 respectively, with the smaller screens out in late April and the larger two being released in early May and late June. The step-up X9300D has both a $3999 55-inch and a $5999 65-inch, both out in late April, while the top-spec X9400D is only available as a 75-inch $8999 panel hitting shores in early June.
Sony also has Full HD screens already out in the market — W750D, W650D and W600D in 32-, 43-, 49- and 55-inch screen sizes, but we'd almost be reluctant to recommend them when 4K HDR is such a significant upgrade in potential picture quality. We're expecting Full HD to die a quick death; don't be surprised if you don't see any on store shelves in 2017. [Sony]