Sony’s new flagship Z series TV just made us believe in LED again

sony z series led tv hands on 6
Sony has always boasted that, unlike its competition, it has an end-to-end solution for movies and TV — from the lens to the living room, they say. Today, at Sony Pictures Studio Lot in Culver City, the company made a strong showing underscoring that point with a global announcement meant to elevate in-home entertainment to a “whole new level,” as Sony Electronics President and COO Mike Fasulo put it.

Introducing the new Sony Z series television.

What makes Sony’s new TV such a big deal is a combination of its backlight system, which the company calls Backlight Master Drive, and its processing, called 4K HDR Processor X1 Extreme. That may sound like a lot of marketing babble, and to an extent it is, but Sony backs up its lavish naming convention with actual performance — and we’re very impressed.

With Backllight Master Drive, Sony has brought its Z series TVs dangerously close to OLED TVs in terms of black level and shadow detail, while exceeding OLEDs brightness capabilities for a 4K HDR experience that you really must see to believe. Sony’s new backlight system works by increasing the number of LED backlights in use by several times (Sony won’t say how many are in use, but it’s apparently a lot), adding individual control to each and every LED in use and finely focusing the light to a very tight set of pixels. The system is so advanced, you can’t even call the Z series a full array local-dimmed TV because it exceeds that.

As a result, black levels are better than any other LED TV we’ve seen, flare/halo effect is all but eliminated, and there is almost no backlight bleeding. Another benefit is considerably higher brightness; because there are so many LEDs at work and the light doesn’t have to be spread out across a large area, brightness is considerably increased. Color volume is also significantly enhanced, thanks to higher brightness levels.

The net result is eye-popping contrast. Having just reviewed the Sony X930D — Sony’s flagship series for TVs up to 65-inches — we can confidently say the Z series absolutely blows it out of the water and represents a quantum leap forward for LED televisions.

Check out our interview with Sony Electronics President and COO, Mike Fasulo, here:

During our brief evaluation times between demonstrations, we got up close and scrutinized the Z series’ performance to the best of our ability, and while we weren’t able to come anywhere near what we would consider a proper evaluation, it was immediately apparent Sony had just issued its best TV to date. The term “game changer” gets tossed around haphazardly these days, but not since the introduction of LG’s OLED TVs has this jaded reviewer been so impressed, and we’re pretty confident OLED is going to get a run for its money. In fact, it’s hard not to see the Z series as a more practical TV in many ways, given its outstanding brightness and HDR capabilities.

One area in which the Z series isn’t especially competitive is price. The 65-inch model will sell for $7,000, the 75-inch for $10,000, and the 100-inch version, well, Sony’s not saying, but you can bet it will be stratospheric. $50,000, anyone?

The new Z series is available for pre-order now at Sony’s website and will be available at other retailers, including Amazon, later this summer.

Product Review

Cut cable and keep quality with TiVo's 4K-friendly Bolt OTA DVR

Free over-the-air programming isn’t available in 4K, so why would you want a 4K OTA DVR? We’ll discuss what makes the new TiVo Bolt OTA a viable choice for cord-cutters with 4K UHD TVs who want to get ahead of the game.
Home Theater

You can get a top-tier Vizio P Series TV for a song this Black Friday

Vizio has announced a slew of Black Friday deals for those interested in new home theater offerings, but none are more enticing than the deals the company is running on its top-tier P-Series and P-Series Quantum TVs.
Home Theater

LG price cuts on C8 OLED TVs for Black Friday are more of a sliver than a slash

LG cut prices on its vaunted C8 series OLED TVs, but the deals aren't as good as last year, and therefore are less compelling. Still, if you're in the market for a new TV this year, we still suggest giving these deals a serious look.
Deals

Here are the best 4K TV deals for November 2018

There's no doubt that a good 4K smart TV is the best way to take your home entertainment setup to the next level to enjoy all your favorite shows, movies, and games in glorious Ultra HD. We've got the best 4K TV deals right here.
Home Theater

Time for a TV upgrade? Here’s what you need to know about 4K Ultra HD TV

Ultra HD 4K has quickly taken over the world of TVs. But what is Ultra HD 4K, how does it work, and most importantly, should you upgrade, or keep your old TV? We explain it all right here.
Home Theater

Looking for a podcast? Pandora’s Podcast Genome Project is just the ticket

Pandora has created a brand new service for podcast listeners. Powered by calls the Podcast Genome Project, the new podcast offering uses an advanced combination of algorithms and human curation to deliver the perfect podcasts for you.
Product Review

Dolby makes the most comfortable headphones ever, and that's only the start

Dolby has taken its first step into product design with the new Dolby Dimension wireless headphones. Offering tons of features, supreme comfort, and a shocking price tag, the Dimension are a unique new take on audio in the home, and out.
Computing

Great PC speakers don't need to break the bank. These are our favorites

Not sure which PC speakers work best with your computer? Here are the best computer speakers on the market, whether you're working with a tight budget or looking to rattle your workstation with top-of-the-line audio components.
Home Theater

Get the most boom for your buck with the best headphones under $100

Everybody wants a bargain, and this list has a bunch. For those looking for a solid set of headphones without spending a big stack of cash, this list is is your starting point. Check out our picks for the best headphones under $100.
Home Theater

5 gorgeous turntables that spin stacks of wax in style for less than $500

Vinyl records are awesome, but they're also finicky. To get the best out of your stacks of wax, it's best to play them on a quality turntable. Here are the best turntables to be had for under $500.
Computing

Don't know what to do with all your old DVDs? Here's how to convert them to MP4

Given today's rapid technological advancements, physical discs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Check out our guide on how to convert a DVD to MP4, so you can ditch discs for digital files.
Home Theater

BassFit wireless in-ear headphones bring low-end fuel to your workout

V-Moda's latest headphone offering is a set of banded Bluetooth in-ears called the BassFit, a sweat-proof, ultra-secure pair of headphones that are designed to bring low-end power to your next workout.
Mobile

Netflix is testing a cheap mobile-only subscription tier in some markets

Netflix is trying to reach potential subscribers in emerging markets. To that end, the company has begun rolling out a cheaper, mobile-only subscription tier, which comes at around $4 per month -- half the price of the Basic subscription…
Home Theater

What is MHL, exactly, and how does it work with your TV?

There are more ways to mirror your smartphone or tablet to your TV than you might think. Check out our rundown of MHL for everything you need to know about the wired protocol and its myriad uses.