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Best Sony LED TV brings full local dimming

The Sony XBR-HX929 is Sony's flagship television for 2011, and the only one to feature local dimming from a full-array LED backlight.

Sony's XBR-HX929 is the company's best LCD for 2011 and the only to feature a full-array local-dimming LED backlight. Sony

LAS VEGAS--Last year we and our readers were pretty excited to hear about the Sony XBR-HX909, which was the company's first television to include our favorite kind of LED backlight--full array with local dimming--since the excellent KDL-XBR8 from 2008. In our full review the HX909 did a lot of things right, including production of some of the deepest black levels we've seen on any TV, but in the end a couple of flaws kept it out of the top ranks.

For 2011 Sony's flagship television, the XBR-HX929, offers a similar LED backlight and a few improvements. According to the release: "Sony's Intelligent Peak LED Backlight uses full array local dimming for deeper blacks, while also boosting brightness in lighter scenes creating incredible on-screen contrast." It has also added a new video processing system whose description deserves a paragraph of its own (again from the release):

"The X-Reality PRO Engine is a two-chip digital video processor that optimizes high definition content, compressed HD signals, standard definition, and other sources including low resolution Internet content. Utilizing a vast database of 'ideal' signal patterns developed by analyzing and indexing and enormous library of film and video, the X-Reality PRO Engine compares incoming signals pixel-by-pixel with ideal scenes to display vivid and detailed images. Additionally, the engine's multi-frame analysis helps create missing resolution and Sony's Super Bit Mapping technology incorporates 14 bit up-scaling, processing and pixel mapping to smooth gradation and improve the quality of low-tone pictures."

Finally the company says its MotionFlow dejudder processing is improved to reduce artifacts during quick camera movement. Again from the release: "MotionFlow XR 960 features a precise backlight control that is synchronized with the liquid crystal movement from frame to frame creating clearer, sharper moving images." The OptiContrast panel improves image quality in well-lit rooms.

In terms of 3D, Sony says it has beefed up response times to help reduce crosstalk, that ghost double-image around 3D objects, and incorporated 5:5 pull-down that, we assume, delivers correct cadence with 1080p/24 sources. The company has also built the 3D emitters into the TVs (finally).

Beyond its picture quality chops, the HX929's feature set is similar to that of the step-down HX820 series, including the company's Internet video suite, integrated Wi-Fi and Monolithic design. See our write-up of the KDL-NX720 series for more details.

Pricing was not announced, and availability was listed as April (August for the 65-incher).

Sony XBR-HX929 series features:

  • Full-array LED backlight with local dimming
  • 3D compatible
  • X-Reality PRO video processing
  • MotionFlow XR 960 dejudder processing
  • Monolithic design
  • OptiContrast panel with Gorilla Glass
  • Bravia Internet video
  • Built-in Wi-Fi connection

Sony XBR-HX929 series models:

  • Sony XBR-46HX929: 46-inch
  • Sony XBR-55HX929: 55-inch
  • Sony XBR-65HX929: 65-inch

Editors' take: If Sony can address the blooming and color-accuracy issues I saw on the HX909 and keep those awesome black levels, this TV is an early favorite for best LCD picture quality of 2011 (along with flagships from Samsung, LG and, yes, Vizio). I don't expect any miracles from all that fancy-sounding video processing, but there's no way to tell until I get the chance to test it.