Sony Z9D Review (XBR65Z9D, XBR75Z9D, XBR100Z9D)
Sony Z9D series is the top model of Sony’s 2016 4K TV lineup. It is also a new series of Sony 4K V lineup where there is no Sony Z9D series in previous years. In the market, this series is available on 3 screen sizes, 65 Inc (XBR65Z9D), 75 Inch (XBR75Z9D), and the biggest screen 100 Inch (XBR100Z9D). It is the best 4K LED TVs that Sony has made. The stunning picture quality produced is undoubtedly but not this that become a question. The real big question of whether its picture quality goes beyond any top models 4K TVs released earlier like that Samsung’s flagship Samsung KS9800 series like have been claimed.
Sony Z9D series depend on the great performance of 4K HDR Processor with dual database called X1 Extreme Engine as its image processors. It is the highest version of image processor behind Sony 4K TV lineup. The other Sony’s most advanced technology behind it is Backlight Master Drive where it controls more than 600 zones of Full Array Local Dimming behind it to delivers darker black level and brighter whites. Additionally, there is also X-Tended Dynamic Range Pro technology that improves the brightness level up to 3 times than conventional LCD TV. That is not less powerful is about TriLuminos Display technology that delivers wide color gamut required by HDR picture quality. And for completing your 4K home entertainment, Z9D features Android TVs as their smart TV platform that provide a lot most useful apps and games.
In the market, its price is very expensive, even with the same screen size, it is much more expensive than LG’s 2016 OLED TV lineup except OLED65G6P series as the flagship. With a huge price, of course, the image quality becomes a bet on reputation, considering most of LG OLED TV models are sold cheaper. But even so, like the price of other electronic devices, of course this price still could change at any time.
Sony Z9D Key Specs
|Resolution||4K (2160 x 3840)|
|Size Available||55” 65”|
|Backlight||Master Backlight Drive (Full Array LED)|
|Image Processor||X1 Extreme Engine|
|X-Tended Dynamic Range||Yes (Pro)|
|4K-X reality Pro||Pro|
|Color Technology||TriLuminos Display|
|Advanced Contrast Enhancer||Yes|
|3D Technology||Yes (active)|
|Motion Control||MotionFlow XR1440 (Native 120 Hz)|
|HDR||HDR 10 (Compliant with Ultra HHD Premium Certification)|
|Key Apps||Opera Browser, Google Cast, PlayStation Now, and more|
|Remote||Voice Remote Control (RMF-TX200U)|
|RF (Terrestrial Cable)||1|
|Composite In (AV)||2|
|Speaker Type||Down Firing w/Bass Reflex|
|Total Audio Output||10 watts x 2|
Performance of Sony Z9D
There are a lot of high quality features and stunning performance in most aspects that offered by Sony Z9D so it is not surprising if it is priced with a huge price, even more expensive than most of LG’s 2016 OLED TV models or nearly doubling of the price of Samsung’s flagship KS9800 series. But is it true the picture quality that offered by Z9D series goes beyond what offered by LG’s OLED TV considering its price is more expensive than most of OLED TV models?
Picture quality is the main consideration where a consumer will not feel to mind spending huge money to get it. So does for Z9D series, its stunning picture quality makes it is sold with a huge price. As we have slightly mentioned above, Sony Z9D delivers absolutely stunning picture quality that never before delivered by top model TVs from other brands. Previously, X930/940 is the top model of Sony 4K TV lineup, but their performance is still inferior to Samsung top model Series 9. With Z9D series, Sony certainly is more confident in competing at the top class.
Compared to X9xxD series, Z9D series comes with Full array LED backlighting with local dimming called Backlight Master Drive that has more than 600 dimming zones and dual data base 4K HDR processor called X1 Extreme engine which becomes its advantage than lower series. And powered by the other Sony’s most advanced technologies like X-Tended Dynamic Range Pro, Advanced contrast Enhancer, and others, it can reach more than 1800 nits of peak brightness where it is brightest luminance that ever reached by a TV, far goes beyond Samsung KS9800 that previously claimed as the brightest TV with about 1500 nits of peak brightness.
In term of black level, what reached by Z9D series when local dimming turned off might not quite enough to match what reached by the competitor like top model Samsung or Vizio, that is only 0.29 nits of black level. But even so, Z9D series has the most precise local dimming control with more than 600 dimming zones. Once the local dimming is activated, it can reach 0.003 nits of black level. This value is much deeper than competitor Samsung KS9800 that can reach about 0.015 nits of black level. But of course, compared to OLED TV, it is not still quite enough to match where they can reach nearly 0 nits of black level.
Moving on color performance, Sony Z9D series is powered by TriLuminos Display technology. It is the Sony’s most advanced technology that becomes a Sony’s mainstay technology for improving color gamut in recent years. The result, Sony Z9D can cover more than 95% of DCI P3 color space. Additionally, it comes with built-in color technology supports 10 bit depth of color for smooth color gradation. As we know, 10 bit depth of color means it can delivers more than 1.07 billion shades of color. As comparison, a TV with 8 bit depth of color can delivers 16 millions shades of color. Unlike on contrast performance where the competitors are far below, color coverage delivered by Sony Z9D is not too exceptionally and also not much different to what delivered by the competitors like Samsung KS9800 or LG OLED TVs. But even so, it is still far above 90% of DCI P3 color space required for Ultra HD Premium Certification set by UHD Alliance.
With display specs delivered by Sony Z9D, it is compliant with Ultra HD Premium Certification where it is required 0.05 nits – 1000 nits range of contrast and 90% of DCI P3 color space with 10 bit color. This means, HDR picture is displayed fully on 4K screen of Z9D. But certainly it is not HDR sources that displayed stunningly on its 4K screen, with X1 extreme engine behind it that comes with Object-Based Remaster technology, Sony Z9D series offers HDR-like contrast, color, and dynamic range from standard / SDR contents. Although the quality is not as good as than native 4K HDR contents, but at least SDR contents that displayed on the screen of Z9D series still looks very impressive and better than what produced by most of top models 4K TVS that available in the market, even OLED TV.
But unfortunately, you can enjoy stunning picture quality displayed on the screen of Z9D series if only when you are watching TV in front and center of the screen. This means the quality of the picture will look to deteriorate from side viewing angle, started at 20 degrees off center and front. Of course, it becomes a big downside of Z9D series considering the competitors LG OLED TVs offer perfect wide viewing angle where the picture doesn’t look deteriorate even from extremely side viewing angle.
Move on motion handling performance, Sony Z9D series can handle motion blur excellently such we expect from premium 4K TV. The response tie of pixel is very quick. This means when it is playing video contents with fast scenes such as sports, video games, fast action movies, and others, motion blur can be minimized or even removed completely. This cannot be separated from great performance of Motion Flow XR1440 technology based on native 120 Hz refresh rate panel. The perfect performance is also offered by Z9D series when it is controlling judder when playing 24p contents via all possible input signals. No matter the input source is 24p such as Blu-ray movies, 24p contents via 60i input signals like Satellite TV or even via 60p signals such as streaming devices, the judder can be removed completely.
Sony has offered excellent performance of 4K up-scaling for lower resolution contents to near 4K quality, even it can be said the best in recent years. But Sony course doesn’t stop just end there. With Z9D series, it even offers more superb performance than previous versions. The combination of 4K X-Reality Pro and X1 Extreme Engine is the main key to great UHD Up-scaling performance that offered by Sony Z9D. This probably is not a major, but considering most of the contents that available in the market still come with lower resolution than 4K, of course this is still important. Now, no matter the resolution of your source, you can enjoy them in 4K quality without loss a lot of detail, even for SD or 480p contents such as DVDs. And of course, the higher resolution of the source, the result is sharper and smoother.
The popularity of 3D TV may be reduced by the presence of HDR technology on TV. This is shown by the lack of enthusiasm of big name TV manufacturers in producing 3D TVs, even Samsung and Vizio have removed 3D technology from their 2016 lineup. But even so, Sony still retains 3D technology for their top model including Z9D series. As we see on specs table above, to bring 3D technology on your home entertainment, Sony Z9D series comes with active 3D technology. The result, 3D image displayed looks very clear and smooth with ton of depth. This may not as comfort as passive 3D technology, but at least crosstalk and flickers can be minimized on the screen of Z9D series, so you will be still comfort to enjoy 3D entertainment on its 4K screen. In other hand, it offers full resolution 3D images for each eye.
Like other model of Sony’s 2016 lineup, Sony Z9D series features Google Android TV. Basically, it is identical to Google android platform on smart phone, but the difference is about their controller where on smart phone use touch screen as the controller while on TV, it uses remote. So, this makes not all apps that provided by Google play on smart phone also provided by Google play on TV. But even so, the most popular video apps like YouTube, Netflix, and other still can be played on Google Android TV. In addition video apps, there are still many apps provided like web browser, video player, games, and many more. The benefits, there are thousands new apps uploaded on Google Play Store every day.
Moving on user interface, the layout of Google Android TV is designed very clear and comfortable to navigate. The main screen is divided on some rows. The top row is contains game and video contents from Google Play Store, YouTube, and Crackle while below it, there is features app row that contains collections of games and apps Sony Suggest. Go to below again, there is a row that contains inputs that you can select according to the where your device connected to your TV. Moving Down, there is a row that contains apps you have installed. And the bottom row, it is contains game hub that allows you to select and play tons of games provided. And as the controller, Sony Z9D is equipped with Smart Remote called IR Blazer that allows you to control not just your TV, but also other devices that connected to your TV.
Sony Z9D series is equipped 2 channels speaker system without built-in sub-woofer as its audio equipment. This certainly looks very strange considering its competitor compete to deliver the best performance in sound quality. And of course this is also not balanced with the stunning performance in picture quality. Without built-in woofer, the low frequency or bass performance is very poor. To get best experience in sound quality, the additional external sound bar is highly recommended.
Inputs / Outputs
As the major connectivity, Sony Z9D is equipped with 4 HDMI ports and 3 USB Ports. This is standard amount of HDM and USB ports of top level 4K TVs that available in the market. In addition HDMI and USB Pots, there are also 2 Composite Video In, 1 Component In, 1 Ethernet port, 1 Digital Audio Output (optical), Audio Output, and 1RF in (Terrestrial). Talking the ability, the input lag of Z9D series is pretty good. With 32 ms input lag, Z9D series is great to use for playing video games or use as a PC monitor. Additionally, it also supports some different resolution at different frame rates with satisfactory performance.
Although peak brightness reached by Sony Z9D series is not quite enough to match what claimed by Sony that is about 4000 nits, but at least peak brightness reached by Z9D series is still the brightest than the competitor like Samsung KS9800 that previously becomes a brightest TV. In other hand, Z9D series is also a premium 4K LED TV with deepest black level. With local dimming activated, it can reach about 0.003 nits of black level. Although it is not as deep as what reached by OLED TV where they can reach nearly 0 nits but it is a remarkable achievement for LED TVs. This cannot be separated from great performance of local dimming technology that has more than 600 dimming zones. And the result, picture quality that produced by Z9D series looks very amazing in HDR and non HDR quality. And stunning HDR picture quality produced by Z9D series is confirmed by labeled with Ultra HD Premium Certification. In addition stunning picture quality, Sony Z9D series also offers great performance in 3D technology, Motion handling and UHD Up-scaling. Additionally, Google android TV as its smart TV platform is also very attractive.
But unfortunately, its price is very expensive. Even with the same screen, it is the second most expensive TV under LG flagship OLED TV G6 series. But even so, it comes with some advantages such as much brighter peak brightness and better UHD Up-scaling performance. So, if Sony Z9D series is claimed quite enough to match OLED TV, this is not entirely wrong, although in term of black level and viewing angle, OLED TV offers much better performance.
Should I buy this TV? Considering its huge price, of course this also depends on your need and budget, As the comparison of 65 Inch, LG E6 series with virtually identical picture quality to G6 series is sold about $1000 cheaper while Samsung KS9800 is sold at half. However, if you want a TV with the most dynamic range and don’t mind to spend extra money, you should try it. But even so, before you decide to buy it, there are a lot of opinions from the real users that you can make as your further consideration.
- Has more than 600 dimming Zones of Local Dimming
- Peak Whites is brightest
- Black level is deepest
- Superior Wide Color Gamut
- Best UHD Up-scaling engine
- Compliant with Ultra HD Premium Certification
- Poor Viewing angle
- Poor Sound Quality
- The price is very expensive