Sony drives 4K HDR prices low for top 2016 TVs, introduces innovative Slim Backlight Drive technology

posted on Wednesday, 17th February 2016 by Steve May

4K  HDR  Sony 

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Sony has released range details and pricing for some of its 2016 4K UHD TV range. The line up expands its HDR ready screen options, and introduces Slim Backlight Drive technology which deepens black level performance. Combined with X-tended DynamicRange PRO, the company says contrast is three times higher than conventional LEDS.

The Slim Backlight Drive, featured on its XD93 models, utilises two side mounted LED modules paired with dual light guides which ingeniously split screen coverage between them, for more controllable local dimming. While one half of the screen is backlighting objects, the other can effectively be switched off. Sony says the technique “concentrates light more accurately.”

This year, the company has adopted a conventional, thin bezel look (no more forward facing speakers). To differentiate the top tier sets, there’s accents of champagne gold or silver. The ultra thin XD93s can be hung just 3.7cm from the wall, and feature a new cable management system. 

Pricing is competitive. The range topping 65-inch Sony KD-65XD9305 will retail for £2,800, and the KD-55XD9305 for £2,000. The supporting XD85 line comprises the 75-inch KD-75XD8505 at £4,000, 65-inch KD-65XD8505 at £2,300 and the 55-inch KD-55XD8505 at £1,500. As yet, there’s no retail price for the 75-inch KD-75XD9405, which is the company’s only full-array backlight panel.

Sony will continue to offer a curved 4K TV, in the shape of the KD-SD8505, in 65- and 55-inch screen sizes. There will also be a low-cost 4K offering, the X83 which drops sizes down to 43-inches. There’s no price information on these models either.

HDR Branding

Both the XD93/94 and XD85 models support HDR10 (High Dynamic Range) content, as used on 4K UHD Blu-ray, although the company is coy with specifications. It has confirmed that it will not be using the Ultra HD Premium certification introduced by the UHD Alliance at CES, preferring to stick with its own branding. It says that both the XD93 and XD94 TVs comply with the certification when it comes to brightness, contrast and colour. The brand is sticking with the Google Android smart platform for 2016, with Catch-up TV delivered by YouView.

Sony UK and Ireland country head John Anderson told Inside CI that the brand was now “a clear no 2 in the TV market in terms of value. We’re particularly strong in 55- and 65-inch screens.”  He predicted strong growth in the over 65-inch screen sector.

“Maybe a few years ago Sony lost its way, now we realise if we’re to prosper in this market, we have to do things that are uniquely Sony and different,” he added.  “There’s a new level of confidence throughout the company. I think for the industry it’s good to have Japanese manufacturers there to counterbalance the offers, it’s good to have more competition.”

When it comes to TV availability, Anderson noted: “Everyone will have their line-ups out for the Euros. We just need to make sure we sell as much as we can during the three weeks that England is in the competition!”

Steve May

Steve is a veteran of the UK consumer electronics industry, having covered it for
various media outlets for more than 20 years.

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