This is a first set of impressions on my new 4K set, the brand new Sony XBR-65X850C which is part of the 2015 lineup of Sony 4K televisions. I’ve spent the last week and half with the television and I finally think I’ve seen it enough to give you some feedback. The following topics are thrown in no particular order, but at least you’ll be able to hear about the different aspects of the television.
The 65X850C is using a VA panel with direct LED lightning instead of the edge lit models of last year. This is to me a huge improvement and it is obvious in term of image uniformity and almost complete lack of blooming and clouding from the backlight. The result is an image that is almost completely uniform. The only complain is the four corners of the screen that suffer from a certain level of light loss, so when a very bright image is displayed, you’ll notice some darkness in the corners. Nothing too critical, at least way less annoying than clouding.
In term of colour, we are seeing again the strengths of what Sony can do with their television sets and this is coming from someone who is not a Sony fanboy and never had a Sony CRT television. The viewing angle is also pretty good, there is some washing out happening at very wide angles, but typically for angles you will not use most of the time if you have a regular living room.
Finally, the contrasts and dark level are very good, the television uses frame dimming only, but it well done and fast and works really well.
4K Video Playback
I have tested the TV with as much material available from the limited 4K universe right now. 4K playback from the media player included with the TV has been flawless. I did need to reboot once during playback, but other than that, the TV handled the different formats with grace. I would say that I’m very impressed with the set rendering in 4K, it is very efficient and the television really shine when used as its maximum like this.
Upscaling to 4K
The TV of course upscales everything it displays to 4K and it uses a new chip, the X1, to do so. I have thrown at it most of the typical resolutions used and everything has performed very well. The only thing I noticed is pretty obvious : if you give it something that looks bad, it will clearly bad or worse once upscaled. But anything that has any quality in it, even TV series DVD, were rendered efficiently in 4K. The upscaling of 1080p, which is the most important in my mind, has proven very good and just make any HD content shine.
The set makes a return to Active 3D this year and is compatible with the RF glasses from sony (see below). The set does not come with any glasses, so you do need to purchase them separately. I’ve tested a couple of segments in 3D and I’m impressed with what I’ve seen. There is barely no crosstalk which is a huge difference to last year models and the level of depth is really good. Even if 3D is really not popular right now, you can feel safe that the set will perform. Sadly it does mean buying new glasses if you have the IR ones or passive glasses.
Sony has decided to invest strongly on Android TV in 2015 by making it the core of their smart TVs. This is Google’s second attempt at conquering your television set after the failed GoogleTV devices. I did own a GoogleTV for less 24 hours as I returned it as soon as possible after so many issues. After a week and a half, I can say that the new Android OS for televisions is in a better direction. The menu system works well and the fact that is in fact what the TV is running in its core and not an afterthought is great. Navigation between Google Play apps, TV inputs and channels is well done. The guide features work well and allow you to easily search live content.
The system also comes with voice search and Google Now (or a simplified version of it), both work in tandem to give you additional information on your television and let you search content easily. It is for now working ok, but it is hard to test as the number of compatible applications is limited, thus limiting content.
This is right now the most limiting thing with the TV : the number of Google Play application is very low and most of them have not really been tested on the TV itself, but mostly on the Android TV Nexus Player. Netflix and all of the typical Sony branded apps are absent right now, there is not even a web browser. Sony says that an update will provide those during the month of May, I will update as soon as it changes.
Touchpad Remote Control
The television comes with Sony’s touchpad remote control, which allow you to browse the television interface using gestures on something that is similar to a laptop trackpad. It is functional but lacks a couple of important buttons, which in the end makes you go back to the traditional remote (also included) pretty often.
Please note that the television is compatible with the Asus Gamepad made for the Nexus Player. I did try some games with the controller and for now, it’s hard to be satisfied. It’s obvious that the TV has been released too recently and that most games have not been tested on the platform and only on the Nexus Player. Games are slow and not really responsive. Let’s see how it will be after a couple of months of developers targeting the platform for real. The TV is also compatible with Playstation Now, but the application is not available right now. The Dualshock 4 controller is supposed to be compatible with the device, but it is not possible to test this yet.
Please note finally that the new stand, which is in the center this time and uses a different design is functional and does give a good look to the television. I feel the bezel is also smaller this year than on previous models, but anyway the generic appearance of the TV shows a great attention to details by Sony.
I am very satisfied with what I have seen yet on the TV. A couple of elements are still missing though to define the complete experience. Once more apps (including Netflix and Playstation Now) are available, I’ll report back here on the blog. It will also be interesting to see how Android TV evolve over the next couple of months.
If you have any question on the television, feel free to use the commenting system.