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Sony’s 2016 flagship televisions, the Sony 65ZD9 and X930D, were two respectable big screens this past year and were among well known TVs in the company’s AV arsenal. And even though these were fantastic to stare at, the challenge with Sony’s flagships were their exorbitant prices.
Sony continues to be offering pricey screens this season in the sort of the A1E OLED and X930E, however it’s also offering great budget sets just like the X850E series aswell.
Just how does Sony’s budget series build up to its more costly competition? Surprisingly well, actually.
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The XBR-65X850E cuts a fairly nice dash in your living room. Its bezel is trim, its desktop stand is mounted at the heart for easy seating on even narrow items of furniture, and the stand’s open frame design gives it a ‘barely there’ look that leaves you absolve to give attention to the on-screen action.
The black frame features an attractive sliver of silver running right through its centre too, and the chassis is pretty slim across the back for this affordable model – especially over its top six inches roughly.
Connections are pleasingly numerous for this affordable TV, with highlights of four HDMIs, three USBs, and both Wi-Fi and wired network options. It’s great, too, to find Sony providing an efficient cable management system included in the desktop stand.
The only problem with the look is that it’s somewhat flimsy. The TV’s bodywork actually is a lot more lightweight and plasticky than it looks, as the stand flexes quite alarmingly before TV has been fully mounted on it. I will stress, though, that it isn’t wobbly or unstable once it’s all come up with. Also, the flimsy build isn’t really noticeable from an average viewing distance.
Screen sizes available: 65, 75 inches | 4K: Yes | HDR: Yes | Panel technology: VA LCD with frame dimming | Smart TV: Yes, Android TV | Curved: No | Dimensions: 1232 x 717 x 57mm (W x H x D) | 3D: No | Inputs: Four HDMIs, three USB, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, headphone jack
Design TL;DR: The X850E series is of interest, trim, and distinctively Sony, nevertheless, you can’t help notice when you’re putting it together that its construction is nothing to send a letter home about.
Smart TV (Android TV)
The X850E series uses Google’s Android TV service, which continues to strike us as virtually completely the wrong method of smart TV design. Its full-screen home screen is cluttered and messy, and shows little if any evidence that it understands where TV user (instead of smartphone user) priorities lie.
You can’t customize it much either, and its own suggestions system is approximately as intelligent as a brick. It’s also susceptible to crashing and runs sluggishly – along with seeming to slow the TV’s general procedure menus down.
That said, Sony has additionally ensured that the X850E’s Netflix and Amazon Video software both support 4K and HDR – simply perfect for demonstrating the performance of the set.
Smart TV TL;DR: While Android TV certainly isn’t short on apps, it’s questionable just how many of these are of much use to TV users.
The 65X850E’s shift to a contrast-rich VA panel from the low-contrast IPS panels found in last year’s X85 models combines with Sony’s X1 video processing to provide an outstanding HD and standard dynamic range performance.
The X1’s upscaling engine for remapping HD images to the screen’s 4K resolution works ridiculously well for this affordable TV. It adds a lot of sharpness without making the image become gritty or creating thin lines and edges to look stressy, looked after does an uncanny job of calculating the very best color tones for every single of the an incredible number of extra pixels it’s creating.
There’s no sense of smearing over motion with the upscaled pictures either. Actually, they don’t look processed at all.
It’s worth pointing out that step-up Sony TVs that utilize the X1 Extreme processing chipset deliver a lot more insight and purity within their upscaled HD images. Compared more fairly with other TVs in its price, though, the X850E’s upscaling efforts are exemplary.
Due to the fact the screen copes (as we’ll see) pretty much with high dynamic range sources, it’s no real surprise to think it is doing brilliantly with the relatively narrow demands of standard dynamic range images. Dark scenes reveal deeper blacks than we’d be prepared to find for $1,599, and impressively little distraction from backlight clouding or striping issues.
Colors with SDR content look both punchy and natural – not least for the reason that occurrence of Sony’s Triluminos processing helps the screen offer a fantastically nuanced selection of tones that provides you a fresh appreciation for what SDR is with the capacity of.
HD/SDR TL;DR: Thanks in no small part to its X1 processing system, the 65X850E can be an outstanding performer with the HD/SDR content which will still occupy nearly all your viewing time.
The 65X850E does a genuinely spectacular job of maximizing the impact of its native 4K/UHD resolution. Thanks again in no small to measure to the countless different regions of expertise included in the X1 chipset, no pixel in a high-quality 4K source feels as though it’s being wasted or ‘lost’ behind such common affordable LCD issues as softness, noise or poor color resolution. That all-important ‘window on the world’ effect we search for with 4K screens is delivered on in spades.
A lot more impressively for the 65X850E’s $1,599 price, the native 4K crispness hardly reduces at all when there’s a whole lot of motion in the frame.
Sony’s Motionflow processing isn’t quite as accomplished in the X1 version here as the X1 Extreme version that kicks in with Sony TVs from the X930E on up, nevertheless, you can still make make use of it on its Standard setting to lessen judder without it creating many unnecessary side effects.
For anyone who is a devout motion processing hater, though, fear not; the X850E Series still looks more natural and clean with motion than most rivals despite having Motionflow turned off.
Sadly, the problem is a little more technical in terms of the 65X850E’s handling of high dynamic range images from Ultra HD Blu-rays, Netflix and Amazon (and something or two other streaming services if you’re in america).
Looking at the bad news first, the 65X850E isn’t very bright by HDR TV standards. We measured slightly below 450 nits of light output from the screen when feeding it a 10% white HDR window. That’s barely a third as bright as Sony’s own X930E TVs, and only over half as bright as Sony’s A1 OLED TVs.
While that is probably to be likely at the 65X850E’s price, such a brightness level can’t deliver that ‘real world’ intensity of light that HDR really was intended to reproduce (see THE WORLD II specifically). Most HDR content, in the end, is mastered to a peak brightness degree of 1000 nits or 4000 nits.
The 65X850E’s brightness limitation also prevents it from delivering HDR’s lovely peak light highlights and further shadow detail refinements in dark areas.
The X850E additionally doesn’t have sufficient brightness to give the type of color volumes (the word used to spell it out the impact of different degrees of light on color tones) we’re increasingly needs to search for with HDR TVs. And there’s without doubt at all that the 65X850E’s relatively low brightness could make watching HDR – or, at least, dark HDR scenes – in a bright room problematic.
Despite all of this, the 65X850E is obviously no HDR disaster. Its HDR brightness levels remain roughly double those of its SDR ones, and that means you certainly get yourself a genuine sense of extra impact from HDR sources.
The X850E maximizes the impact of its available brightness, too, by giving really impressive black levels for this affordable TV. There’s less general greyness over elements of the picture which should look black than we’d expected, plus, better still, there’s seldom any significant backlight clouding over dark areas – even though a bright object appears against a dark backdrop.
The 65X850E also gives greater than a sense of the wide color ranges linked to the the greater part of HDR content. That is thanks in no small measure to the prowess of Sony’s Triluminos processing technology, which here manages to accomplish tonal saturations, intensities but also, crucially, subtleties that elude most similarly priced rivals. Including some sets that in some recoverable format at least look like brighter.
One last performance factor to cover is its input lag, i.e. the volume of time a screen takes to render its images is of critical importance to gamers, so it’s great to find Sony’s set only suffering just over 20ms of lag typically. It’s worth pointing out that mean figure is averaged from fluctuating measurements that go only 10ms but also (rarely) as high as 50ms.
UHD/HDR Performance TL;DR: The 65X850E showcases every pixel of an excellent native 4K image beautifully – even during action scenes. Too little brightness limits its HDR abilities, but excellent color and light management means that HDR pictures often look much better than those of some, if few, brighter rivals.
Using its plasticky build and slender design it’s hardly surprising that the X850E Series is hardly a stand-out music performer. Its speakers appear way short of the type of bass depth good film soundtracks prefer to deliver, leaving action sequences sounding thin and trebles maintaining hit the ear rather harshly.
Before you all start adding the expense of a soundbar to the 65X850E’s aggressive price, though, it’s definately not an music disaster. It’s with the capacity of a good amount of volume without the speakers wearing down into distortions or crackles, it handles daily non-movie audio tracks tracks cleanly and crisply, and it manages to make a wide, deep and immersive sound stage regardless of the minimal bass.
Sound performance TL;DR: Bass is thin during action movies, but otherwise the 65X850E sounds much better than expected.
Other panels to ponder
In conditions of 2017 TVs, Samsung may very well be Sony’s biggest rival in the mid-range 4K HDR space, particularly with the 55-inch UN55MU7000 – an assessment we desire to have for you personally sooner instead of later.
Regarding rival sets we’ve already tested, your very best wager is to check out star 2016 TVs currently enjoying serious price cuts. The LG OLED55B6 and OLED55C6 are outstanding performers – at least for dark room movie viewing – currently retailing at under $1,200 on some websites on the internet.
By introducing its exceptional video processing further down its TV range than previously and being brave enough to dial down the brightness somewhat to deliver a far more even, immersive backlight experience, Sony’s struck mid-range gold with the X850E Series.
Sure, in an excellent world we’d get a lttle bit more brightness to go using its impressive, even black level response. And we’d also get yourself a better, effective smart TV engine than Android TV. Ideal worlds, though, are tricky to find.