For quite some time, the debate about which TV set will take the battle to the current kings of picture quality, LG OLED has grown hot. Then out of the blue comes Sony with their new 2016 Flagship Z series that really got what it takes to claim the throne.
Unveiled at an event in Los Angeles last week, the Z series lineup now sits ahead of Sony’s X series in terms of picture quality and also incorporates the company’s latest 4K processor and HDR. When Sony first unveiled its XBR-D series at CES 2016, everyone thought that the D series would be company’s flagship models for 2016. It turns out that Sony was saving its next flagship announcements for the middle of the year.
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The Z series takes the HDR and other premium display specs of their D cousin to a whole new level. Sony has also pegged the price tag of the upcoming flagships at a level that matches with the OLED. Speaking at a press conference after the official announcement, Mike Fusalo-Sony’s electronics president and COO claimed that the Z series is a generational advancement in TV technology, which brings the 4K HDR experience to a whole new level.
“The Z series is a generational advance in TV technology, which brings the 4K HDR viewing experience to a whole new level,” Mike Fasulo, Sony Electronics president and chief operating officer, said in a statement. “With expertise in both the creative and the technical aspects of 4K HDR shooting, editing, recording, transmission, and display, Sony understands 4K HDR like no other company. The Z series is a direct result of that unique partnership between our engineering and creative teams.”
Sony has a long history in display technology, and if they say the new Z lineup is a generational advance, you better take them at their word. But one thing is certain: if it doesn’t beat OLED in the “near perfect black” department, which is less likely, then it will excel over OLED in brightness and color accuracy.
LED Local Dimming Gets a Huge Upgrade
So how could a LED backlit panel beat the legendary OLED displays? Sony has come up with a way of optimizing the LED backlights for near perfect blacks instead of going the more expensive OLED way. The best LED TV’s on the market today employs local dimming technology to achieve the inky black levels. Using the local dimming technology, a group of LEDs that comprise the backlight can be dimmed, brightened, or turned off independently of one another. Generally, the more dimming zones a TV have the better the image quality.
Unlike other LCD panels, the Z series will have a new backlight algorithm that will allow specific pixel clusters to be turned on and off independently which is closely related to the OLED self-lighting pixels. In theory, this should give the 2016 models better contrast and deep black levels. This algorithm will also help to reduce blur that has plagued other local dimming displays. Sony’s 2016 Z series will also come with a customized Android operating system but they will not have the “UHD Premium” certification; it appears Sony is not fond of outside validation.
It will come in 3 flavors; the 65” XBR65Z9D which will cost $6,999, the 75-Inch XBR75Z9D which goes for $9,999 and a crazy 100-inch XBR100Z9D whose price is yet to be determined. The sets are available for pre-sale in some of the leading online stores.