Sony KD-65X9005A 4K Ultra HD TV review

Inside CI 5 Rating

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posted on Monday, 26th August 2013 by Steve May

home cinema  4K  Invision UK 

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The Sony KD-65X9005A is a remarkable TV for multiple reasons. It's first and foremost a 65-inch 4K Ultra High Definition TV, potentially the harbinger of a new era of TV image quality. It's also the first relatively affordable super-large 4K display. Last year's 84-inch 4K goliaths from Sony and LG launched with tickets in excess of £20,000, enough to make even a footballer's wife wince. But this newcomer retails at a much more modest £5,999. The KD-65X9005A is also available as the 55-inch KD-65X9005A; both are exclusively available to CI dealers through Invision UK, as part of an extensive array of 4K UHD solutions from the distributor - Invision UK also stocks Samsung's 55- and 65-inch F9000 series and the L9363 range of 58-, 65-, and 84- UHD TVs from Toshiba.

Sony KD-65X9005A: Build quality and features
The design aesthetic of the X9 is sensational. Glossy black with edge-to-edge glass, this screen is a veritable limousine for the lounge. The panel itself is wider than other 65-inch screens, because Sony has put TV loudspeakers back where they belong, on the front of the set rather than beneath or behind, cleverly integrating mid-range drivers and tweeter within the panel itself. There's a purity about the cosmetic design which is downright breathtaking; this is form and function in perfect harmony.

The set boasts both Freeview HD and satellite DVB-S2 tuners. If you have the capacity to plumb in both, it's probably worth doing. The TV's fast-zapping programme guide makes it very easy for users to flit from terrestrial tuner to satellite; useful should they want to check out some regional variations or catch NHK World in HD.

Back panel connectivity includes four HDMI inputs, three USBs, SCART, component/composite video, a digital optical audio output and CI slot. The set also comes with two remote controls, a regular lightweight IR controller and a One Touch RF model with integrated NFC chip, optimised for easy smartphone pairing with Sony's Xperia line of NFC smartphones.

Naturally the set is fully Smart enabled too, with Ethernet and built-in Wi-Fi It shares a common feature set with Sony's Full HD W9 Series. The selection of streaming Internet TV services includes Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Demand 5, LoveFilm, Crackle, YouTube, DailyMotion, Sony Entertainment TV and Sony's own Movies Unlimited rental service, amongst several others. It also has an integrated media player. File support across a network, streaming content from a NAS, and USB is excellent. We had no problem playing MKV, AVI, WMV, MPG, MOV, MKV, MP3 and WMA encoded content. 

Sony KD-65X9005A: performance
This big Sony is a superb display for both Full and Ultra High Definition. The fly in the 4K ointment, of course, is the lack of native content. This will come and soon, as broadcasters and content creators rapidly gear up for production and distribution. In the meantime, to get an idea about just how well this panel performs, we auditioned it with a 4K media server packed with sample 2160p footage. The resulting images were specatcular. Astonishingly detailed pictures allow you to view up close with no pesky pixel grid structure getting in the way. It's worth noting that the extra detail that 4K offers needs to be appreciated up close. The general idea is that you would spec and install a large 4K display in a space that you might previously consider a 50-inch or smaller set. With no visible pixel grid youcan  get extremely close to the image and still feel quite comfortable after prolonged viewing.

In the short term though, the X9's ability to upscale 1080p content is crucial, and here the panel doesn't disappoint. The set's 4K X-Reality PRO picture enhancer does a stunning job remapping HD to 3840 x 2160. Images from its own HD channels look terrific and Blu-ray really shines. We also trialled the TV with the first of Sony's new Mastered in 4K Blu-ray releases, Total Recall (2012) - and the results were phenomenal. This disc has been struck from newly a reminted 4K master and transferred at the highest possible bitrate, with extended colour information. The KD-65X9005A utilises this and also exploits residual high information on the disc for maximum definition. Side by side comparisons between Mastered in 4K Blu-ray on this screen, and the original 4K master file prove to be remarkably close.

It's also worth pointing out to clients that they can also view their own ultra-hi-res content. A 4K UHD display like this Sony is a great way to view digital photography. High resolution JPEGs scaled to fit the screen look beautiful.

The set itself is capable of impressive contrast, with solid blacks and outstanding colour fidelity. There's a zing to reds and blues which is deliciously uncharacteristic of LCD. This panel features a Triluminos Color IQ semiconductor-based filter which further expands the colour gamut of X.V.Color-enabled content, such as that found on Sony's Mastered in 4K BD line. The screen's Passive 3D performance is similarly impressive. Unlike regular Passive panels, stereoscopic images are delivered at 3840 x 1080 resolution. Care needs to be taken with viewing position though, to avoid the double image breakup which happens when viewed off-axis both horizontally and vertically.

It's worth noting that this Sony, as with all current first gen 4K displays, can only deliver Ultra HD up to 30Hz, a limitation of the current HDMI specification. Should 4K 50/60Hz become part of the broadcast 4K standard, as expected from the likes of Sky, some modification may be necessary in order to remain compatible. Sony has assured Inside CI that there will not be an issue in this regard, and its engineers' will provide a solution. For the time being, we'll take that assurance at face value.

Unlike other large thin screens. The set's sound system is excellent. Those two front-facing magnetic fluid stereo speakers offer welcome clarity and a broad dynamic range, bolstered by two rear facing woofers. This is not a TV that requires the help of an outboard sound bar.

Sony KD-65X9005A: Verdict
This 65-inch Sony is a jaw dropping panel with outstanding AV credentials. While it'll take some time before native 4K video becomes commonplace, be it via a new iteration of Blu-ray disc, online streaming or download, or satellite and cable, this set does such a seductive job with Full HD we have no hesitation in brandishing two thumbs skyward. Sold in as simply a best-in-class large screen TV, its 4K compatibility can almost be seen as a bonus. 

The Sony KD-65X9005A 4K TV is available now through Invision UK.
Retail price: £5,999
For more on Invision UK's product portfolio and services, turn to out partner page here

Steve May

Steve is a veteran of the UK consumer electronics industry, having covered it for
various media outlets for more than 20 years.

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