Sony used to be the king of TVs in Australia — back in the days of Trinitron and WEGA, rear projection and CRT. The LCD era has been a little rocky, but with the advent of 4K the Japanese powerhouse is making strides again.
The current Sony 4K BRAVIA line-up consists of three TVs — a 55-inch, 65-inch and 84-inch. We’re taking a look at the 55-inch KD-55X9004A to see how it stacks up; it’s the first Ultra HD TV we’ve seen that’s not an outrageous size, meaning it actually might fit into an average Australian home.
Sony X Series BRAVIA: Design and setup
The X Series BRAVIA carries on some of the design trends that Sony’s slowly developed over the past few years. It’s got a single, sheer sheet of glass across its face, with a simple black bezel behind. The LCD itself is close to that glass, so whatever image you’re viewing is as crisp and vibrant as you’d expect from a $5,999 TV.
What’s notable is the fact that the speakers built into the X Series aren’t the hidden-away, downward-firing kind that most TVs have. They’re built into the bezel in either side of the screen, with two woofers and a tweeter firing forward towards the viewer. This mid-tweeter-mid design is used by some of the world’s best loudspeakers, and we happen to think that these particular speakers are the best we’ve heard from any TV.
This isn’t much use if you plan to use the X Series TV with a home theatre system — in fact, they’d look a bit odd just sitting there not being used — but as an all-in-one, wall-mounted screen we think the 55-inch X Series would look great. Good sound and good looks aren’t usually two things that go hand in hand, but Sony’s hit the right note here.
Sony X Series BRAVIA: Picture quality and performance
The Sony X Series BRAVIA TVs all have ‘4K’ LCD panels — that’s a resolution of 3840x2160 pixels, four times as many as a 1080p TV has. This means, as long as you’re watching the right source material, you’ll be able to see four times the detail. There aren’t many movies at all that come in this Ultra HD resolution, though — we’ve got hold of TimeScapes for our testing — so your investment in a Ultra HD TV is likely to be a long-term one.
The X Series has all of the picture quality enhancements and features that Sony’s best TVs in the past have had, with the inclusion of a new 4K-capable version of its X-Reality Pro picture processing engine. We’ve had a short session of watching some Blu-ray and other 1080p video content on the X Series, and so far it looks excellent.
Our initial testing shows that the X Series isn’t actually able to play a 4K compressed video file off a USB flash drive or over its network connection, so you’ll need a player like the Oppo BDP-103 or Sony’s own BDP-S790. We’ll be hooking our Oppo up to the X Series to see how it handles a true high-quality 4K video file.
Sony X Series BRAVIA: Conclusion
Sony’s most reasonably-priced Ultra HD BRAVIA — although still very expensive for its size — looks to be one of the cheapest ways to watch Ultra HD video. Its speakers deserve special mention, too. We’ll have a complete review of the X Series up soon.