Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins is a samurai film with plenty of period-accurate scenes that unfold in dark, candle-lit rooms, and it proved to be perfect fodder for testing Sony’s local-dimming LED TV. For example, in a night-time scene where Shinzaemon Shimada and his crew plot their strategy to take down Lord Naritsugu, shadows in the dark quarters of the samurai’s home were a deep, uniform black, as were the letterbox bars at the top and bottom of the screen. And in a subsequent scene where Hanbei arrives to confront Shinzaemon, intricate folds in the samurai’s dark robe could be clearly seen against the black background. Also in this same shot, it was hard to miss that the candles lining the hallway gave off a bright, piercing light that didn’t fade in intensity, even as the set’s local-dimming feature managed to maintain a consistently deep level of black.
The set’s accurate color rendition also worked to its advantage on 13 Assassins. In a scene where the samurai first encounter the clownish Koyata strung up on a high branch in the forest, the layers of trees in the background showed an impressive range of subtle green hues. Even the muted browns and blues of the clothing worn by the samurai showed a wide level of differentiation.
Sony’s Netflix interface has a custom design, with rows of smallish cover art lining the screen. I found these to be relatively easy to navigate and, of course, easy to access given the remote’s dedicated Netflix button. Picture quality with the high-def selections that I checked out was excellent. And the lesser-quality Netflix stuff I watched could be improved to a degree using the set’s extensive noise-reduction adjustments, which include a useful Smooth Gradation function.
I don’t have too much to say about the HX929’s 3D performance other than that its picture looked solid and showed little flicker or crosstalk once I switched on the Standard Motionflow setting. I also found the Sony’s 3D image to be brighter than that of several other 3D sets I’ve tested recently; I didn’t even have to max out the contrast setting to get things to look punchy. The bright, stable picture made a shot of a massive jellyfi sh in the Imax documentary Deep Sea 3D look particularly striking; the image depth made the tendrils appear to fl oat out from the surface of the screen. And in another shot of a school of Mola Mola swimming underneath a raft of kelp, there was a strong sense of layering between the foreground and background fish.
The Sony’s picture uniformity was excellent. Neither test patterns nor regular programs showed any sign of tinting or backlight unevenness. Its picture did lose contrast during off-axis viewing, but things held up pretty well over a 30° arc from the center position — the span of your average couch. The set’s screen also did a good job of reducing reflections when room lights were switched on. De-interlacing performance with both film- and video-sourced material was good, and noise-reduction processing was mostly effective, although picture detail loss could be seen on standard-def material with the Mosquito noise-filter mode at its medium and high settings.
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