Sony KD-65X9005B 4K smart TV review

Sony KD-65X9005B

For its first foray into 4K, Sony bucked the trend for wimpy TV audio by introducing a panel flanked by forward-firing drivers and unapologetic amplification. See Best Smart TVs: what is the best Smart TV of 2014.

For this second iteration, the Sony KD-65X9005B, Sony has similarly snubbed cookie-cutter flatness, using its new signature wedge cabinet to enhance audio. The result is unquestionably the best sounding flatscreen we've ever heard.

Thankfully, the rest of TV is worth making a noise about too. And if a 65-incher is too much for you, you can go smaller with the 55-inch KD-55X9005B – or live it even larger with the 79-inch KD-79X9005B.

Connections include four HDMI, between them supporting ARC, MHL and HDMI 2.0 4K 60Hz. There are also three USB, ethernet, SCART, component/composite video and stereo audio inputs. There's also integrated Wi-Fi and a digital audio optical output.

A port replicator is supplied to help with wall-mounting.
This PTR-BR100 port box requires its own power supply and has satellite and RF tuner inputs, plus USB and three HDMI sources. A tethered chord routes everything to a dedicated back-panel connection.

The set hides a Skype camera in the bezel, but this can be capped if you don't like the idea of the all-seeing eye recording you in your lounge. Less intrusive is an integrated HEVC decoder, which makes the set compliant with Netflix 4K.

Sony provides both a standard lightweight IR remote and a fiddly Bluetooth controller.

Sony has changed its panel supplier since last year, which has resulted in the return of Active Shutter 3D. Although not as comfortable or flicker-free as last year's Passive 4K offerings, 3D depth and clarity remains excellent. The set appears to work particularly well with side-by-side 3D broadcasts from the likes of Sky. Read: Best World Cup 2014 TV deals: Cashback offers and free tablets

Sony KD-65X9005B

Sony KD-65X9005B review: Performance

Overall image quality is squarely on the right side of sensational. The set offers bold contrast, a result of the brand's X-tended Dynamic range image processing.

It also has extraordinarily rich colours. Reds in particular throb with a plasma-like lusciousness. It's worth noting that Sony's vaguely defined Triluminos colour-image processing is also compatible with extended x.y.color information included on its Mastered in 4K Blu-ray releases, although this only works on the Cinema preset.

4K performance was accessed both with Netflix 4K programming and a dedicated 4K media player (actually the Sony POP-FMPA60) which was loaned preloaded with native 3840 x 2160-pixel resolution sequences, some of which were in high framerate 60Hz.

The detail and fluidity of sports footage shot at this faster frame rate proves to be a revelation. Sky's announcement of a dedicated UHD channel for native 4K content, certain to offer high-frame rate sport, may not be too far away. We really want to see more of this 4K/60Hz material.

The KD-65X9005B also does a sterling job with full-HD sources. X-Reality Pro image enhancement does a remarkable job extrapolating fine detail from 1920 x 1080 sources.

Motion handling is fine provided you stick with the Motionflow Clear or Clear Plus settings, which offer the best combination of detail and artefact-free movement.

We've covered Sony's Smart TV platform at length before. Suffice to say here it offers a fair, but not comprehensive, selection of catch-up TV and streaming VoD services, including BBC iPlayer, Demand 5, YouTube, Netflix, Mubi and Sony's own movie streaming channel.

The TV also includes screen mirroring with compatible Miracast-enabled Google and Microsoft smartphones. One neat new addition to the roster is Photo Share which allows up to ten users to share and save JPEGs in a single session.

On the debit side, the UI can be sluggish to react and is certainly feels more lethargic in than some of the quad-core competition. (See all Digital Home reviews.)

Sony KD-65X9005B

Sony KD-65X9005B: Specs

  • 65-inch LCD TV
  • 3840 x 2160 pixels
  • Freeview HD, 2x satellite tuner
  • 65 W total (2 x 12.5 W + 2 x 20 W) amplifiers
  • 4 x HDMI 2.0, SCART, component (YPbPr)/composite
  • stereo phono audio input
  • digital optical audio output, 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • 10/100 ethernet, 2.4 / 5.0 GHz 11n Wi-Fi
  • Wi-Fi Direct
  • Miracast screen mirroring
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • HEVC decoder
  • 180 W specified on-mode power consumption/ 75 W measured 100 percent red field power consumption
  • 1494 x 95 x 790 mm (whd, w/o stand)
  • 45.9 kg
  • 65-inch LCD TV
  • 3840 x 2160 pixels
  • Freeview HD, 2x satellite tuner
  • 65 W total (2 x 12.5 W + 2 x 20 W) amplifiers
  • 4 x HDMI 2.0, SCART, component (YPbPr)/composite
  • stereo phono audio input
  • digital optical audio output, 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • 10/100 ethernet, 2.4 / 5.0 GHz 11n Wi-Fi
  • Wi-Fi Direct
  • Miracast screen mirroring
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • HEVC decoder
  • 180 W specified on-mode power consumption/ 75 W measured 100 percent red field power consumption
  • 1494 x 95 x 790 mm (whd, w/o stand)
  • 45.9 kg

OUR VERDICT

Overall, the KD-65X8005B is a barnstormer of a 4K bigscreen television. We've seen some great Ultra HD performers this year, but none are so comprehensively satisfying as this new X9, and our caveats remain minor. From design to AV performance, the KD-65X9005B impresses. Pleasingly, it's also priced for the new format. Now if only Sony could sign-up those missing catch-up TV providers for its Smart portal.

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