First Look: Top LED picture of 2012, tough to love
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First Look: Top LED picture of 2012, tough to love

3:17 /

Although it's priced higher and performs worse than the best plasmas, the Sony XBR-HX950 is still one of the top-performing LED TVs ever.

-Hello. I'm David Katzmaier from CNET, and this is the Sony XBR-HX950. This is a 55-inch LED based LCD TV. There is also a 65-inch member of the series. This is Sony's most expensive flagship TV for 2012, all the bells and whistle. We'll get into that in a little bit, but let's take a look styling on this TV. I really like the external design of the Sony. It's a beautiful look. Sony calls it monolithic display like a lot of the other previous high end Sony TV. This one is a little bit different with the stand that actually has the sort of circular stand on the bottom here. You can see it's chrome plated, kind of encircles the platform that it's on and it really makes a nice accent to the TV itself. It seems to float above the stand of course like the other monolithic sets that also has black vessel, looks like a black slab when turned completely off and one pane of glass along the front completes the really nice design. Sony's remote on the other hand isn't quite as nice as on previous years. It looks a little bit cheaper such a high end TV, but of course we expect to replace it with a universal clicker. Sony's feature doesn't include the gesture recognition or fancy remotes found on other high end TVs, but it does plenty of smart TV content. The built in WiFi can access whole bunch of different content suppliers including Netflix, Amazon Instant and a host of smaller niche services. They're little bit more difficult to get to. Sony did layer all that content among 3 different menus. So, it can be little bit difficult to navigate, but all told there's plenty of content there's plenty of content there once you can find it. Sony's picture settings are not quite as advanced as some of other high end TVs out there, but it does include a whole host of picture presets. Of course adjusting between them can be a little bit confusing, but least you can make those adjustments, not have to worry about dialing a whole bunch of different picture settings. The default picture settings on this TV are also quite accurate. Of course the stand out feature on this high end TV is its back light. This TV has an LED full array back light, which means that unlike most the edge lit TVs you'll find, those LEDs are arranged behind the panel. That back light can also be dimmed individual sections of the screen, which can really improve black level performance, and all the HX950 produces some of the deepest blacks we've ever seen, and the best we've seen this year from any LED or plasma TV. The set's blacks are inky especially when you turn out the light and watch a dark scene. It really goes pop, plenty of contrast on this TV. The downside of the local dimming though is that you do get a little bit of blooming artifacts. If you have like a lighter image on the screen in a dark background, you might see a little cloud there. Of course, that is a little bit subtle compared to a lot of the other artifacts we've seen. We'll take any day for the improved black levels. The set also has excellent color and very good video processing. On the downside, it doesn't really maintain its image from off angle as well as we'd like to see especially for TV that gets this dark. All told, however, the 2D picture quality in the Sony is excellent and still among the best we've ever seen from and LED TV. In terms of 3D performance, the HX950 suffers from a lack of 3D glasses including the box. There's also couple of artifacts including the intolerance to head tilt and a little bit of flicker that we notice. So, all told, 3D is a lot more disappointing than 2D, and the Sony's back side, this is packed as you'd expect from flagship TV. There're 4 HDMI inputs, a component video input, a PC input, and 2 USB ports for photos video and music. That's a quick look at Sony's XBR-HX950. It's high stand TV for 2012. I'm David Katzmaier for CNET.

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