Thanks in part to its incredibly deep blacks, experts say that the Sony Bravia XBR-HX950 outperforms most current LED TVs. The high price tag poses a value concern, however, and many experts are unimpressed with the lineup of features, at least when compared to competitors' flagship models.
The Sony HX950 series includes two models: the 55-inch Sony Bravia XBR-55HX950 (*Est. $3,500) and the 65-inch Sony Bravia XBR-65HX950 (*Est. $5,200). Both sets share similar specifications save for screen size, and should perform similarly.
Overall a quality performer, though not perfect. When it comes to performance, the Sony HX950 series is at the top of its class, experts say. For example. David Katzmaier at CNET says that the Sony XBR-HX950 outperforms all other LED-based LCD TVs they've reviewed so far, including Sony's previous champ, the KDL-HX850 (*Est. $1,900 and up) .
Thanks to the full-matrix backlight with local dimming, black levels are impressive -- among the deepest of any LCD set, reports say. Color is excellent as well in all respects, with TelevisionInfo.com describing color temperature as "just about perfect." Most agree very little tweaking is needed, even out of the box. Contrast is also quite good, meaning you'll get bright whites to go along with those deep blacks. CNET does say to take Sony's MotionFlow 960 video processing with a grain of salt, but the important thing to know is that the TV has a 240 Hz refresh rate.
The XBR-HX950 does have a few flaws, however. You may find some blooming artifacts in backlighting zones of high contrast, an expected downside to local dimming. The Sony XBR-HX950 also ranks quite poorly in terms of viewing angle: Katzmaier says you can notice colors and dark areas wash out from just a couch cushion beyond direct viewing -- which is quite disappointing, considering the XBR-HX950's high cost.
Audio quality is pretty good for built-in TV sound; the 10-watt subwoofer and two 10-watt speakers can hold their composure even at high volumes.
Lots of features, but competitors have more. Although the XBR-HX950 is technically loaded with extras, it still may disappoint those accustomed to other top-tier sets like the Samsung ES8000 (*Est. $2,000 and up) . Though Sony continues to eschew features like the voice and gesture commands found in that set, it does offer more typical features like 3D and Internet streaming.
The Sony XBR-HX950 offers plenty of streaming content -- including providers like Amazon Instant, Hulu Plus and Netflix -- that is, if you can find it buried among a jumbled user interface. Many have a gripe with Sony's decision to spread content and settings across two separate user interfaces, making it difficult to access features. Connecting to the Internet is fairly easy, and Wi-Fi is built in, though the browser is difficult and slow to use, as is the case with many TV-set browsers.
The XBR-HX950 offers plenty of video processing presets in its Reality Creation menu, along with a handful of dejudder (smoothing) options that seem to work well enough. User content can be input via a USB port or streamed from a computer on the same network (the set is Digital Living Network Alliance-compliant). File support is a little iffy, however. Josh Fields at TelevisionInfo.com notes that while .mp3 files played fine, some video formats like .avi and .mov didn't fare as well.
The 3D feature functions pretty well, sources agree. Fields says there is some minor cross talk at times, especially when white images appear on a gray background, creating a slight ghosting effect. 3D glasses are not included, however, so you'll need to budget extra for them if you care about 3D.
The monolithic design is back, and still stylish. Although the Sony XBR-HX950 may look simple -- with its Gorilla Glass screen resting against a black edge -- it's quite stylish. The new ring-shaped stand is unique and well received by critics. The screen is glossy, but still manages to do a decent job of fighting off room reflections. The remote is functional and sports a Netflix-specific button, yet can be disappointing compared to those of other flagship TVs. Connectivity is on par with that of competitors, with four HDMI inputs and two USB ports. The XBR-HX950 loses the RS-232C port found in previous Sony models. As noted earlier, the user interface is a disappointment.
Expensive, but a top performer. There's no doubt that the pricey Sony XBR-HX950 raises value concerns, especially considering some of its flaws. Performance is certainly top shelf -- you won't find any set at or near its price class that can produce as nice a picture without expanding your search to include plasma sets. On the other hand, the poor viewing angles are a serious concern, and the lack of cutting-edge features, given this set's price tag, is disappointing.
Review Credibility: Excellent CNET performs a hands-on evaluation of the 55-inch Sony Bravia XBR-55HX950, but the review also applies to the 65-inch Sony Bravia XBR-65HX950. The in-depth evaluation is broken down into key segments like performance, design and features. CNET describes the set as being "one of the top-performing LED TVs ever," despite being priced higher and performing worse than the best plasmas.
Review: Top LED Picture of 2012, Tough to Love, David Katzmaier, Nov. 20, 2012
Review Credibility: Excellent This hands-on evaluation of the 55-inch Sony Bravia XBR-55HX950 is long and highly detailed. (The review also applies to the 65-inch model.) Josh Fields says that Sony's flagship TV is a quality performer despite being "pricey." It earns an overall grade of 8.0.
Review: Sony Bravia XBR-55HX950, Josh Fields, Oct. 18, 2012
3. LCDTV Buying Guide.com
Review Credibility: Very Good Jack Burden critiques the Sony HX950 series in a brief article. He describes the set as being "a bang for your buck," as the high price is justified by top-tier performance. However, this report is shorter on details than others found at this site.
Review: Sony XBR55HX950 (XBR-55HX950) Review, Jack Burden, Not Dated
Review Credibility: Very Good The Sony Bravia XBR-55HX950 is among the many sets tested by ConsumerReports.org. The TV is rated and ranked compared to others in its screen size, but reviews are condensed, with less detail than at top review sites.
Review: Sony Bravia XBR-55HX950, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated
Review Credibility: Very Good Reviews for the 55-inch Sony XBR-55HX950 and the 65-inch Sony XBR-65HX950 at Amazon.com are grouped together and can be accessed from this page. The sets garner a user rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars following around 30 user reviews. Most are impressed by the TV's performance, while some negatives such as poor side-viewing angle and a lack of features are noted.
Review: Sony XBR55HX950 55-inch 240HZ 1080p 3D Internet Full-Array LED HDTV, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of February 2013