(Pocket-lint) - We know what you're thinking about the X94C: "A 75-inch TV? Seriously? Who apart from maybe the occasional Russian oil tycoon could even think about buying a TV as big as that?”
Well, at the risk of sounding pushy, we really think you should apply at least a few minutes of thought to where you might be able to fit a Sony 75X9405C, and how you might be able to afford its (actually not unreasonable) £6,000 cost of entry. Why? Because at the risk of showing our hand too early, it's quite possibly the finest LCD TV we've ever tested.
Right away you know the X94C means business, far more so than the X93C little brother we've also reviewed. The way its already gargantuan screen is housed in a frame that's also much bigger than most due to the presence of a monumentally powerful six-speaker audio system screams no compromise so loudly it blows your hair back. Even the TV's rear sticks out further than usual, at least over its bottom half, to give those speakers more room for manoeuvre.
Of course, none of this exactly makes the Bravia 75X9405C easier for your living room to accommodate. But it does help make it one heck of a home entertainment device.
For heaven's sake, don't let yourself be put off the X94C by its minor issues, nor its significant scale. Ok, so that second point might be an unavoidable issue: with its 75-inch screen and built-in speakers the X94C is undeniably huge, but as its little brother X93C (available in a 65-inch screen size) can't live up to the same performance levels, we can't help but love the 75X9405C.
Such minor issues are nothing more than the classic molehill next to the mountain of stuff that Sony's flagship TV gets right. What you really want to be thinking about, as we suggested at the start of this review, is which bits of furniture you can sell to make the space and money you need to get a 75X9405C in your lives. Or maybe it's time to get that living room extension? As 4K TVs go, the Sony Bravia X94C is hugely impressive.
Sony Bravia X94C 4K TV
- Arguably this year’s best TV picture quality
- Definitely this year’s best TV sound quality
- Plenty of smart apps
- Proof if it were needed that bigger is always better - at least where 4K is concerned
- It's a huge piece of kit once you’ve added in its large speaker wings
- The new Android TV system is cumbersome and sluggish
- A couple of key features are still waiting on a firmware update
Sony X94C review: Stunning sound
Those strikingly large speakers, for starters, are so powerful they even manage to earn the TV a Hi-Res Audio badge - the sort usually only earned by high-end hi-fi equipment.
And they really do sound spectacular, bringing action movies to life with levels of bass, volume, detail, attack and soundstage scale that you just don't usually get with integrated TV audio systems. You can even add an optional wireless subwoofer for more bass, but it's unlikely many people will feel this necessary.
Sony's monster X94C also justifies that Hi-Res Audio badge by sounding genuinely hi-fi if you play music through it, even to the extent that it's capable of revealing the difference in quality between "normal" digital music and high-resolution formats like Flac. No other brand of TV can even recognise high-resolution audio formats, much less play them convincingly.
Sony 75X9405C review: Yes, it's 4K
Awesome though the 75X9405C's sound is, though, it's far from the set's main attraction. Nor is the set's Android TV operating system, which is rather cumbersome and unfocused - despite the significant boost in app numbers. No, the main reason AV fans will likely be drawn to the 75X9405C like moths to a flame is the pictures produced by its monumental 75-inch screen. Especially given the lengths Sony has gone to in trying to ensure that this screen has plenty of quality to go with its imposing quantity.
For instance, as you would expect these days, the screen contains the 3840 x 2160 pixels associated with 4K UHD technology. The sheer size of the 75X9405C's screen should provide a great starting point in unlocking 4K's potential, but Sony hasn't left things there.
The X94C also boasts Sony's new X1 processing chip, with its new algorithms for eking out the maximum quality from 4K sources like Netflix and Amazon. Then there's Sony's Triluminos Colour technology, with its massively expanded colour range and 4K-friendly ability to render more subtle tonal differentiations. In fact, Sony claims that the combination of the X1 processor and Triluminos enables the 75X9405C to produce 150 times as many colour shades as even last year's already excellent high-end Sony 4K TVs.
The X1 system also claims to improve the way the 75X9405C converts non-4K sources to the screen's 4K resolution, as well as delivering enhanced motion handling, noise reduction and shadow detailing in dark areas. Although if you're upgrading compressed standard definition from your set-top box then really don't expect miracles at this scale, given the source material.
Sony Bravia X94C review: It's all in the lighting
It's promising to find that the X94C's monster screen is using a direct LED lighting system (where the LEDs sit directly behind the screen) driven by a local dimming system that can cause different clusters of the LEDs to emit different light levels (that's entirely different to the 65-inch X93C, despite both models appearing alongside one another in marketing). This sort of LED set up typically delivers far more satisfying, contrast-rich results than the less precise edge LED lighting used by most current LCD TVs.
Any TV with a screen as big as 75-inches leaves no hiding room for any weaknesses it might have in its picture technology. So the fact that the 75X9405C can deliver pictures that for much of the time look pretty much flawless is a stunning achievement.
Sony 75X9405C review: Big show off
As hoped, for instance, the vastness of the X94C proves an extraordinarily effective forum for bathing in the extra picture quality 4K Ultra HD resolution brings to the party. There's no hint of pixel structure in the image from any sort of sensible viewing distance, and the amount of detail and texture on show leaves HD for dead.
Add this detail and flawless finish to the scale of the action and the ability of 4K to look more like a window on the world than a mere TV picture has never been more apparent.
The precision of Sony's colour handling has a huge part to play in this incredible sense of realism too, helping to create the feeling that each of those 8.3-million pixels is getting its own individual colour shade independent of those around it. There's none of the colour banding or blocking on show, at least with native 4K content, that you might see on TVs with less fine colour handling.
Sony X94C review: Poetry in motion
The gorgeous clarity and detail of the 75X9405C's 4K pictures have the potential to highlight any shortcomings in the screen's motion handling. After all, any significant blur or judder over moving objects would stand out like a sore thumb against the purity of more static elements.
So it's great to find that the 75X9405C's motion handling is first rate. Even with no motion processing in play the picture is pretty clean, especially where blurring is concerned. But you can use Sony's MotionFlow processing system - at least on one of its less powerful modes - to resolve almost all blur and judder without it causing much in the way of unwanted side effects or making the picture look unnatural.
It's exciting to see, too, that the immaculate sense of detail in the 75X9405C's pictures remains largely intact during dark scenes. Exceptional handling of the direct backlighting combines with the screen's ability to render remarkable degrees of greyscaling to let you make out superb amounts of detail in even the darkest scenes, ensuring that such scenes look as rich in depth and natural as bright ones. This makes for a much more consistent, immersive viewing experience than you usually get with LCD technology.
Sony 75X9405C review: Contrast fortunes
Dark scenes on the X94C also reveal a highly impressive black level performance, one that's free of almost all of the greyness that's been evident on some of Sony's edge-lit LCD TVs this year.
What's more, provided you're not watching the TV from much of an angle (more on this presently) these inky blacks are delivered with minimal evidence of the light haloing around bright objects that can affect direct LED technology during dark scenes.
The 75X9405C's talents serve it well with 3D too, helping it create beautifully detailed, depth-rich but still natural looking 3D worlds that you become effortlessly immersed in. Especially given that the size of the screen means it fills your field of vision, while Sony's once considerable problems with crosstalk ghosting noise are here reduced to minimal levels.
Sony Bravia X94C review: Problems - for what they're worth
Finding problems with the 75X9405C requires a serious effort, but here's what we've been able to come up with. First, as well as being cumbersome in its presentation, the Android TV implementation appears to make the TV run rather slowly - as well as causing a few crashes. Android doesn't offer many of the key UK catch-up services either, though this is going to be rectified in no uncertain terms by the imminent addition via a firmware update of the YouView platform (it's due 4 November 2015).
Where pictures are concerned, while they look amazing from directly opposite the screen, you only have to move to a viewing angle of around 20-25 degrees before colours start to slide off key and you start to see quite noticeable haloes around bright objects.
The screen can be quite reflective of bright objects in your room, too, so try and limit ambient light levels as much as possible when watching something serious.
Next, while shadow detail levels are actually very good by the standards of most LCD TVs, Panasonic's CX802 TVs have shown recently that it is possible to eke out even more subtle information in dark areas. Not forgetting LG's OLED competition.
Finally, a well setup 75X9405C isn't quite as fearsomely bright in its approach as some of Sony's other TVs - including the recently tested, edge-LED 65X9305C. But anyone with a remotely serious interest in picture quality will see the 75X9405C's much superior black level performance as more than ample compensation for a bit less brightness.
What you really want to be thinking about, as we suggested at the start of this review, is which bits of furniture you can sell to make the space and money you need to get a 75X9405C in your lives. Or maybe it's time to get that living room extension? As 4K TVs go, the Sony Bravia X94C is hugely impressive.