Sony XBR55X850D 55-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV Review
3840 x 2160
48.5"W x 30.4"H x 10.4"D (with stand) | 48.5"W x 28.3"H x 1.8"D (without stand)
4K HDR, great video processing with color accuracy, minimalist design, Android apps
Poor contrast, lackluster image quality
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Design:The design of Sony’s XBR55X850D is extremely sharp. The thin jet black frame has sharp angles, giving a very sophisticated, sleek look. From the side, the entire set looks even more amazing, the sharp slimness reminiscent of the X930D. At its thinnest it measures 7/16-inch and at 1.73 inches at it’s thickest.
Like the other TVs released by Sony in 2016, the edges are sealed with a thin metallic band, except it is chrome this time instead of the gold strip on the pricier models. The angles of the silver stand base tilt upwards for a weird yet attractive alternative to the standard pedestal. We like single stands more than the splayed leg stands that come with some of the other sets on the market.
There are no complaints with the remote, although it is quite regular than some of the models which come with advanced clickers. The face is completely rubberized and not only the buttons, which are elevated instead. This does not feel odd at all due to the outstanding layout and arrangement of the buttons by Sony. The remote comes with a dedicated voice search button which eliminates the need for the user to strictly aim the remote at the television in order to make it work. This is quite nifty as obviously most people are unlikely to hold the remote anywhere else than near their mouths.
The remote itself performs well without any setbacks but it could have been improved in a few ways; it is quite large, has too many buttons, and isn’t backlit.
UI and Display:We are immensely happy by the fact that the interface of the XBR55X850D is similar to the X850C of 2015, with a few upgrades. One of the key differences being the attention to HDR (high dynamic range) for the latest device. HDR is essentially a camera feature, which to fully enjoy on a TV, will require filming content in HDR. So basically, what is produced by HDR is higher contrast and luminosity, which is what enhances the details in darker areas like shadows, and even sun highlights.
Sony is renowned for its rendition of its true to life colors, equipped in all of its TV models. The colors appear the right amount of saturated and the picture is very smooth due to the grayscale uniformity. Contrast and color saturation begin becoming poor at approximately 15 degrees, and do not become significant until it reaches 20 degrees. It is quite rare to see an LED TV backlit with such balanced uniformity; the blacks don’t appear cloudy and dark shadows are absent on the semi-gray screen, doing a great job at not allowing reflection of light. Only the flow of light is not as bright or vibrant as other sets but honestly, this has more to do with the content being played. It is an absolute treat to watch this TV at night in a room with low light ambiance.
The color technology which Sony has been using has worked wonders for them in the past few years. It produces such stunningly realistic color renditions, which really sets Sony apart from the competition. It overall requires minimum calibration effort in order to output a picture setup that exceeds expectations. But this does not mean that it looks like color vomit all over the screen, it is more like pop of colors executed brilliantly!
Up-scaling and conversion is probably the best trait of the X850D and something which Sony excels at. The 4K X-Reality Pro engine is phenomenal at smoothing and up-converting HD signals to the resolution required by the panel. At the moment, there isn’t much 4K content to go around, making up-scaling an essential when considering a set to buy.
Picture ModesIf you have no idea what these modes mean, just don’t try to make any adjustments and try out the Cinema Pro mode for night viewing and for daytime viewing, opt for the Cinema Home. Other than this just stick to your preferred custom picture settings.
- Vivid – Outrageously overblown color and unreal picture
- Standard- Unnatural color sections with too much blue in the neutral temp preset, contrast set to 100
- Custom- preferred mode which gets closest to D65 and is highly recommended by us. The features include reality creation, digital noise reduction, and random noise reduction. All of these come factory set.
- Cinema Pro- This is an excellent mode for dark rooms or low light conditions- suitable especially for movies.
- Cinema Home- the higher Gamma setting increases the light on the pictures and also moderately somewhat by setting Live Color to high. This mode is great as an all-purpose setting and even for bright rooms.
- Sports- This mode really didn’t appeal to us as it has nothing special to offer, and instead, worked the opposite way and created a lot of unnecessary additions and conflict on the screen, motion artifacts, over-hyped color and strobe effects. This mode has the Film Mode set to high for an appropriate soap opera like effect which is of course, adjustable.
- Animation– We were unable to test this one out, but as the name suggests, it is engineered to work best with animated movies.
The TV menu interface looks clean even though slightly confusing, and comes with many preset picture options to select from. You may begin using the Cinema Home and Cinema Pro settings straight out of the box as they require no adjusting. Unfortunately, menu operation is glitchy and sometimes difficult due to certain mistitled functions such as brightness written instead of backlight. The commands were also not handled by the processor smoothly and took its time with rendering.
The Smart TV layout is accessed easily via the Home Button on the remote control. It brings up the whole Smart TV Apps and Google Play options.
Sound:The X850D comes equipped with the ClearAudio+ feature enabled. This creates a lot of unwanted side effects to the sounds which includes an echoing hollow effect. It is best if you turn this feature off immediately otherwise you may end up thinking something is wrong with the hardware. This is all that is needed to get the sound quality to sound respectable. The noise and music is distinguishable and voices were separate. Each was independent without weighing down the other. The volume is adequate but needs improvement as 50% volume is needed to blare through a large room.
Smart Side:Sony’s TVs run Google’s smart TV system, beating the competition poised by LG and Samsung out of the water with respects to one of the most important features: app coverage.
Unlike external Android TV boxes like the Xiaomi Mi Box, Sony TVs come with a full Amazon Video app complete with a dedicated library of HDR and 4K content. This is also the same for X850D’s Netflix app. Sony’s very own Ultra app is also thrown in the mix, offering HDR and 4K movies exclusively by Sony Pictures for a nominal fee. The Vudu app and UltraFlix apps are also present with some 4K content.
Other apps include, but are not limited to: Playstation Vue, CNNGo, HBO Now, Plex to PBS Kids, Sling TV, Watch ESPN, CBS All Access, MLB.TV, Spotify, and of course numerous lesser apps and games are available via the Google Play Store (although don’t be too excited, it’s limited to the Android TV, much less extensive than the one on your phone). As long as we are on the subject of phones, the app range can be further expanded using the built-in Google Cast functionality to cast to Sony. This works just like a Chromecast.
While it does lack some of the cool features of Samsung like the universal remote control or the motion remote control offered by LG, Android TV is better on Sony as compared to the former two overall thanks to the variety of apps. This system works so flawlessly, along with Roku TV, you probably won’t need to connect an external streamer.
- 4x HDMI inputs with HDMI 2.0a, HDCP 2.2
- 1x component video input (another shared with component)
- 1x composite video input
- 3x USB ports
- Ethernet (LAN) port
- Optical digital audio output
- Stereo audio output (minijack)
- RF (antenna) input
Sony’s specifications for the input are pretty solid, with four HDMI inputs included (all being HDMI 2.0a with HDCP 2.2) along with assorted jacks that should have you covered. The Wi-Fi takes between 5 to 10 minutes to connect the very first time, after which there are no problems and the connectivity is seamless. Our TV set was a good 40 feet away from the main router and still received rapid responses once connected. Just requires some patience at startup. Every now and then an update will be needed of the software after connecting. It is highly recommended that you do this right away.
Sony’s X850D is overall a great set with decent picture quality that is great for watching sports or video games due to its fantastic motion handling. The viewing angles are great too and despite a few limitations here and there, the experience shared by everyone will overall be great. The positives about this TV set outweigh the cons for sure, and this is by no means a bad TV set. Sony has another great addition to its line of televisions and is a superb all-rounder.