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Sony KDL-55W950B LED TV Review

55 in.

Sony's top-of-the-line LED TV is dressed to impress.

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Behind the Screens

We put the Sony KDL-55W950B through the usual obstacle course of tests in our lab, which involves measurements of dynamic and color performance as well as a full ISF calibration. We walked away very impressed with this TV's abilities.

Per home theater viewing specifications, the W950B requires literally no tweaking or adjusting to get it looking great. The only flaws we discovered were an imperfect uniformity owing to the TV's edge-lit LED backlight, and a contrast ratio that's more narrow than some of this Sony's competition.

Calibration

Calibrating this Sony took almost no time. Why? Simply put, it doesn't need to be calibrated. While I did increase the Backlight from 5 to 7 (in Cinema 1 mode), and decrease the Gamma from -2 to the minimum amount, all other settings—including the 2-point white balance sliders—were left alone.

Sony-KDL55W950B-Calibration.jpg
We changed almost nothing during calibration, only the Gamma and Backlight settings.
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Contrast Ratio

A display's contrast ratio is determined by dividing 100 IRE (peak white) by 0 IRE (black). In all cases, a larger number is considered better. The W950B's contrast ratio is one of its weaker performance areas. Simply put, without post-processing assistance like dynamic LED control or artificial contrast enhancement, it's neither notably dark or very bright.

In the default Cinema 1 mode, we tested an acceptable 0 IRE measurement of 0.085 cd/m2 against a 100 IRE measurement of 111.20 cd/m2. While this is a dimmer output than the competition, it does mean that the W950B is already set up perfectly for use in a dim or dark room. The total contrast ratio of 1308:1 is nevertheless disappointing.

Sony-KDL55W950B-Contrast-Ratio.jpg
One of this Sony's less exciting traits is its contrast ratio. Compared to the competition, it's simply not very wide, which detracts from the immersiveness of the picture.

Viewing Angle

When it comes to horizontal viewing angle, the W950B is an average performer. Viewing angle refers to how far you can sit from the center of a TV's screen before the picture begins to visually degrade. Often, televisions viewed at extreme off angles will show color shifting, or graying of black/white elements.

We tested a total viewing angle of 77°, or ±38.5° from the center to either side of the screen. This Sony offers more generous viewing than the Samsung, Vizio, and Panasonic we compared it to, but you still won't be able to watch it from a massive off angle. Still, this is a solid result, especially if you're planning on wall-mounting this TV.

Sony-KDL55W950B-Viewing-Angle.jpg
The W950B tested with a decent viewing angle. This is nothing outstanding, but it's perfectly acceptable.

Color Gamut

The KDL-55W950B tested with very accurate colors. While its primary red and green points are both slightly more colorful than they should be (as specified by the international standard for TV color), the overall result is very commendable.

Sony also includes a toggle called Live Color that can be set to Low, Medium, or High. This setting boosts the vivacity and saturation of colors on screen—but if you'd rather go au naturel, just leave it off.

We were unable to adjust this Sony's colors—nor did we need to—during calibration, as the TV does not have a color management system (CMS).

Sony-KDL55W950B-Color-Gamut.jpg
The W950B tested with very accurate colors in both the primary and secondary channels.

Other Tests

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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