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The Sony brand is synonymous with style, innovation and quality. Their dedication to brand identity and creative industrial design has been a wildly successful marketing strategy, which companies like Apple and Samsung have adopted over the last decade. Sony has also been an industry leader and innovator when it comes to technology. Sony creations like the Walkman were way ahead of their time and only in the past seven or eight years have other manufacturers caught up. Other Sony technologies, like the Trinitron TV, revolutionized the television industry until their replacement by flat panel LCD screens.
This year, Sony’s continued evolution and innovation should help them maintain their current rank of third among top sellers of flat-panel TVs, worldwide. Sony, along with a host of other manufacturers, took a big step forward and unveiled the first 4K Ultra HD TVs at this year's CES tradeshow in Las Vegas. While not first to release a prototype, Sony has been one of the quickest manufacturers to bring the 4K Ultra HD TV from prototype to retail product. This article will look at Sony’s new X900 Series 4K TVs, as well as their other new LED TVs for 2013.
Since there were several new Sony TVs released this year, let’s start with the least expensive and work our way up. The 32-inch R400 Series LED HDTV is the most affordable of Sony’s 2013 TV lineup. It features an HD 1366 x 768 (720p) LCD panel with a wide 178° viewing angle and Direct LED backlight technology that enhances the contrast ratio to more than 1,000,000:1 by boosting the LCD panel’s brightness. The R400 Series also employs Sony’s Live Color technology, which helps to ensure that images are reproduced with lifelike clarity and vivid color. This model also features a refresh rate of 120 Hz, and Sony’s Motionflow XR 120 technology enhances the TV’s refresh rate so that fast-paced action movies and high-speed sports appear smoother and more natural looking. The TV also features Sony’s Advanced Contrast Enhancer (ACE) and Digital Noise Reduction—both of which further improve image clarity by enhancing contrast and depth.
The R400 Series LED TV provides multiple analog and digital interfaces including dual HDMI inputs, USB connectivity, a digital audio output and more. It’s also equipped with two full-range, 8-Watt stereo speakers that support Dolby Digital, SteadySound automatic volume control and five pre-programmed sound modes. You can also use the R400’s digital audio output to send the TV’s audio signal to your AV receiver for true multi-channel home theater surround sound.
This model has no Ethernet or Wi-Fi connectivity, so there’s no access to the Internet. However, it does support a variety of alternate multimedia connection options. It supports playback of multiple photo, video and audio files via USB. You can also play back content from a compatible camera or camcorder using the USB port. The R400 Series LED TV even offers Mobile High Definition Link (MHL) mirroring, which allows you to transfer video or Internet content displayed on any compatible mobile device to the TV’s large 32-inch screen. MHL supports up to eight channels of audio mirroring as well. Once the MHL connection is established, the TV will even charge your mobile device, and you can use the R400’s remote control to navigate through your smartphone or tablet’s entertainment apps and multimedia lists.
The R400 also offers BRAVIA Sync, which facilitates control of multiple compatible devices from a single remote control. Another unique feature is the R400’s digital picture frame mode. All you have to do is connect a digital camera or USB drive to the TV, and when you’re not watching it, you can enjoy either a single image or a photo slideshow with background music provided by the USB port. The digital picture frame supports clock and calendar display modes as well. Some of the TV’s other prominent features include five preprogrammed picture modes, 24p True Cinema technology, Sony’s LightSensor technology and Audio Return Channel (ARC) via HDMI.
Almost identical to the R400 is Sony’s 40-inch R450 Series LED HDTV. The major improvement over the R400 is the R450’s 40-inch Full HD 1920 x 1080p LCD panel. Everything else is the same as the R400, including the R450’s Direct LED backlighting, Live Color technology, 120 Hz refresh rate and Motionflow XR 120 processing. It also provides the same image-improving Advanced Contrast Enhancer (ACE) and Digital Noise Reduction technology. All the connectivity options are exactly the same as well, including dual HDMI inputs with support for Audio Return Channel (ARC). It also features a USB media player with digital picture frame mode, MHL mobile device mirroring, dual 8-Watt stereo speakers and a digital audio output for true surround sound through your AV receiver.
The next step up is the 32-inch W650 Series Internet LED TV, which features a Full HD 1920 x 1080p LCD panel with Edge LED Backlight technology that provides sharp clarity and an enhanced contrast ratio of more than 1,000,000:1. Unlike the R400 or R450, this model is equipped with built-in Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity for wireless or wired Internet connection. You’ll be able to enjoy a variety of online services including everything that the Sony Entertainment Network has to offer. This includes thousands of movies, TV shows, online videos, games and music, as well as made-for-TV apps like Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, Facebook and more.
The TV also supports DLNA home-network streaming, Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) for compatible smartphone or tablet mirroring, and Miracast wireless mirroring. Miracast technology lets you stream movies, music and apps from any Miracast-enabled mobile device directly to the W650’s TV screen. Another new mobile device option offered by the W650 is the free Sony SideView App—available for either iOS or Android. The SideView App lets you control the TV and browse the channel guide using your mobile device. You can also use the app to learn details about the show you're watching, including cast info, episode facts, etc. The SideView App also lets you search for available/upcoming TV shows or available Internet videos and content from entertainment apps like Netflix. After selecting with your mobile device what you want to watch, you can even tweet about it—all without leaving the SideView App.
Another upgrade to the W650 is its Motionflow XR 240 technology. Although the TV’s refresh rate is still 120 Hz, the upgraded Motionflow XR processing further enhances image clarity when watching fast-paced sports or movies with high-speed action. The TV also employs an X-Reality PRO engine that cleans and refines images to provide even more vibrant colors and higher contrast. It’s also equipped with Sony’s Advanced Contrast Enhancer (ACE), multiple preprogrammed picture modes and an onboard iManual for instant access to the user manual whenever you need it.
The W650 supports a variety of audio enhancing features as well. These include Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Pulse and Simulated Surround from the two 5-Watt stereo speakers. The two-way bass reflex speakers are optimally positioned and designed to deliver extended low bass frequencies and clear high frequencies. Their positioning also makes it easier to hear low-volume TV shows, since the sound is directed toward you. Sony employs their S-Force Front Surround technology on this model as well. This means that no matter where you’re sitting in the room, you’ll enjoy an immersive and detailed soundstage.
For connectivity, the W650 Series is equipped with a variety of analog and digital interfaces including dual HDMI inputs with Audio Return Channel (ARC), a USB media player for enjoying a variety of audio, photo and video files on your TV, and a digital audio output for connecting the TV to an AV receiver for true surround sound. The USB media player can play content from a digital camera or camcorder right on the TV screen as well. Some of the W650’s other notable features include BRAVIA Sync and free Skype video calling, although an optional Skype camera is required.
Another new Internet-equipped TV available from Sony this year is the R520 Series LED Internet TV. It’s available in a 60-inch model or a 70-inch model. The R520 Series features a Full HD 1920 x 1080p LCD panel with Edge LED Backlight technology, built-in Wi-Fi, Ethernet connectivity, Miracast wireless mirroring and Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL). The Wi-Fi connectivity provides access to all the content available through Sony Entertainment Network. It also supports DLNA home network streaming. This model features Motionflow XR 240 and Live Color technology as well.
Another new highlight of the R520 Series is its receiver-less TV option for DIRECTV customers. Basically, DIRECTV customers with a Genie Whole-Home HD DVR can enjoy full DIRECTV service and HD DVR functionality without adding an additional receiver. You can place the Genie in any room of your house and enjoy DIRECTV on the R520 without the setup hassle or extra clutter of a set-top box. The clean look is especially appealing if you plan on mounting your TV to a wall. Other connectivity options include four HDMI inputs, dual USB ports for playing multimedia files from a USB drive, and a digital audio output.
The R520 supports Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Pulse and 5.1-channel output for lifelike surround sound through your AV receiver. You can also connect your Handycam camcorder to the TV and it will pass-through the camera’s 5.1-channel recorded audio track to the TV. Other features include Sony's advanced noise-reduction algorithm, an onboard iManual, a Photo Frame Mode, Dynamic Backlight Control and Skype video calling with the purchase of an optional Skype camera.
Very similar to the R520 Series, the R550 Series 3D LED Internet TV is available in a 50-inch, 60-inch or 70-inch model. The R550 features a Full HD 1920 x 1080p LCD panel with Edge LED Backlight technology, built-in Wi-Fi, Miracast wireless mirroring, Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) and all of the other features available on the R520 Series. The only major difference is that the R550 also supports Passive 3D technology for enjoying 3D content. The TV’s sound profile is enhanced as well, with 3D audio for a more immersive overall viewing/listening experience. For added flexibility, the R550 supports a variety of 3D formats including Simulated 3D, HDMI Frame Packing, HDMI Side-By-Side, HDMI Over-Under, USB/MHL Side-By-Side and USB/MHL Over-Under. Four pairs of 3D glasses are included in the box, so you’re ready to go as soon as you hook up the TV.
Another TV that shares most of the same features as the R550 Series is Sony’s W802 Series 3D LED Internet TV. It’s available in a 47-inch model and a 55-inch model. Like the R550, the W802 features a Full HD 1920 x 1080p LCD panel with Passive 3D technology. However, instead of Edge LED Backlight technology, it features Dynamic Edge LED Backlight technology for more direct backlighting where you need it. It’s also equipped with built-in Wi-Fi, Miracast wireless mirroring, Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL), S-Force Front Surround technology and Sony’s X-Reality Pro picture engine. It provides access to the Sony Entertainment Network and it works with the free SideView App. The TV features four HDMI inputs and USB connectivity as well. Like the R550, it also ships with four pairs of 3D glasses.
The few major differences include the W802’s Motionflow XR 480 technology, 240 Hz native refresh rate, Quartz-Cut design and SimulView gaming function. First, with a faster refresh rate and a Motionflow XR rate of 480, the W802 not only doubles the R550’s refresh rate, but it’s also designed to smooth out the fast-moving images. This results in a more authentic viewing experience with improved clarity when watching fast-paced sports and other high-speed action. The TV’s SimulView is another new and exciting gaming feature, which allows you and a friend to both experience your own big-screen view of the action when using a PlayStation3 gaming console. SimulView works by presenting two separate Full HD pictures that each player watches independently through Sony’s optional SimulView glasses. The last major upgrade over the R550 Series is the W802’s frame design. It features a modern aesthetic that was inspired by the multi-faceted edges and translucent color found in a quartz crystal.
The last LED TV model we’ll look at before we get to the 4K Ultra HD TV is the 55-inch W900 Series 3D LED Internet TV. This model is very similar to the W802. However, it does provide several improved features that are not present on any of the previously discussed models. The W900 features a Full HD 1920 x 1080p LCD panel with Dynamic Edge LED Backlight technology, a 240 Hz native refresh rate, built-in Wi-Fi, Miracast wireless mirroring, Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL), SimulView gaming functionality, S-Force Front Surround technology and Sony’s X-Reality Pro picture engine. It also provides access to the Sony Entertainment Network, and it works with the free SideView App. The W900 is outfitted with four HDMI inputs and three USB ports as well.
The features that help the W900 stand out atop the 2013 Sony LED TV lineup include Active 3D technology for more realistic 3D viewing, Motionflow XR 960 processing, TRILUMINOS screen technology and NFC wireless mirroring. The Full HD Active 3D technology provides a truly immersive 3D experience. Four pairs of Active 3D glasses are included as well. The W900’s Motionflow XR 960 technology still works alongside the TV’s 240 Hz refresh rate, but instead of doubling the effectiveness, it quadruples the refresh rate’s smoothing capabilities. This provides the W900 with Sony’s clearest picture for fast-paced sports and high-speed action.
Another image-enhancing feature unique to the W900 is its TRILUMINOS display. This feature provides a wider color range for extremely accurate color reproduction—even when dealing with the most difficult colors to reproduce. TRILUMINOS screen technology also replicates more natural skin tones and adds a heightened sense of depth to your viewing experience. The last of the W900’s distinctive features is one-touch NFC wireless mirroring. This technology works with any Xperia mobile device. All you have to do is briefly touch or “pair” your compatible smartphone or tablet to the W900’s included one-touch remote control. Almost instantly, you’ll be able to view exactly what’s on your Xperia mobile device’s screen directly on the W900’s large Full HD screen.
Now it’s time to introduce Sony’s X900 Series 4K Ultra HD 3D Internet TV, which is available in either a 55-inch or a 65-inch model. The X900 Series features a 3D LCD panel with 3840 x 2160 Ultra HD 4K resolution. This means that the X900 provides four times the resolution of a traditional Full HD 1080p panel. The X900 also features Dynamic Edge LED Backlight technology, built-in Wi-Fi, Miracast wireless mirroring, Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) connectivity and one-touch NFC wireless mirroring. The TV provides access to the Sony Entertainment Network and you can also use it to stream your DLNA home network content.
The X900 is also equipped with a more advanced 4K X-Reality PRO chip that not only enhances images by analyzing and refining them, but it can actually upscale whatever content you're watching to 4K Ultra HD resolution. Plus, Motionflow XR 960 technology provides Sony’s most advanced smoothing function for high-speed images, sports and action movies. This new model also offers SimulView dual full-screen gaming for Playstaion3 and TRILUMINOS display technology for more lifelike color reproduction and depth.
The TV's audio features include Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Pulse and Simulated Surround. Sony also provides their most advanced S-Force Front Surround 3D technology, which creates a detailed soundstage no matter where you happen to be sitting in the room. The X900's speaker system is also top notch. It provides a 65-Watt, 2.2-channel setup that features dual two-way magnetic fluid speakers and dual subwoofers for improved bass response. For traditional wired connectivity, the X900 is equipped with all the usual suspects, including four HDMI inputs, three USB ports for playing multimedia files, a digital audio output and more. The new X900 even ships with four pairs of Passive 3D glasses to get you started.
The X900’s other notable features include compatibility with Sony’s SideView App, a wide 178-degree viewing angle, an onboard iManual, free Skype calling with Sony's optional Skype camera and a 4K photo viewing mode that allows you to view your 8-megapixel pictures and higher in stunning 3840 x 2160 4K Ultra HD resolution. This means you’ll be able to view, share and edit your photos right on your TV screen using PlayMemories Studio software and your PlayStation3 gaming console. You can even scroll through your photo albums from the comfort of your couch or search for specific images by date, time, location or through previously identified smiling faces.
The X900’s lengthy feature list and amazing 4K resolution will also make this model future-proof for years to come. Your investment will provide you with several years of cutting-edge entertainment before it even begins to become outdated by newer technology.
For more information on any of these Sony TVs, or to view our complete line of new TV models for 2013, be sure to check out the B&H website, stop by our SuperStore in Manhattan or contact a sales professional over the phone at 1-800-606-6969 or online via Live Chat.