Hands on: Sony KD-84X9005 4K TV review

Mon, 8 Oct 2012, 7:49pm

One of the biggest news stories to emerge over recent weeks, quite literally, has been Sony’s launch of the KD-84X9005, an 84 inch 4K, 3D, LCD TV.  

We had the chance to take a sneak peak during the recent IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin. Thankfully, Sony has been kind enough to lend us one of only two sets currently in the UK, so we can spend some quality time with the set and bring you our initial impressions in the form of a hands-on review.

MORE: Sony KD-65X9005A 4K TV review

Just to recap, the KD-84X9005 is due to be go on sale during the second week of December and you can be the proud owner of one if your bank balance or overdraft can stretch to the £25,000 price tag.

Sony Bravia KD-84X9005

Sony KD-84X9005: Tech specs
It sports 3840 x 2160 resolution, and edge-lit LED backlight with local dimming, and uses three picture processing chips: two of the company’s standard X-Reality Pro engines and an additional one dedicated to handle 4K content.

The sample we’re looking at is close to production quality, although we’ve been told a few tweaks are still being planned before it officially goes into production.

Sony provided us with a small selection of 4K content to check out: 3D trailers for The Amazing Spiderman, and the animated comedy, Hotel Transylvania. Sony also preloaded an external PC with purpose-made, longer 4K clips including some busy cityscapes shots and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

Sony has since announced that the US model of the TV will ship with the world's first 4k content delivery system, filled with native 4K content. We can only hope that the UK TV will come with 4K native video, too.
 

Sony Bravia KD-84X9005

The Sony arrives in a VERY large packing crate!

Sony 4K TV: Picture quality 4K/3D
And, looking at the 4K footage stored on the PC, we can’t help but hope 4K goes mainstream sooner rather than later.

Viewed from just over 4m from the screen, the picture appears hugely impressive. Clairty, detail and definition all appear startlingly good. We moved in for a closer look (standing around 1.5m away) and still couldn’t see any pixels or blocking.

The KD-84X9005 is a 3D TV, but doesn’t use the active technology that exists in current sets such as the Sony KDL-46HX853.

Sony Bravia KD-84X9005

We just managed to squeeze it into our test room

This model is the first Sony one in the UK to use passive 3D tech (passive screens are already available in Japan). The glasses are lightweight and look reasonably stylish with subtle Sony branding along either arm.

They seem a pretty comfortable fit too, and appeared to fit over a pair of normal glasses without any trouble. As the TV is 4K but uses passive 3D tech, the actual resolution of the overall image is halved, which means what you’re actually seeing is half 4K (3840 x 2160) i.e 1080p resolution.

Pictures appeared very impressive. Watching the Spiderman clip the texture and sheen on the Spideysuit seemed extremely realistic. The colourful CGI of Hotel Transylvania seemed to suit the Sony too, with a good sense of depth.

Sony Bravia KD-84X9005
 

And behold! The Sony KD-84X9005 is revealed

Sony 4K TV: 2D Blu-ray
Next, we jumped to a normal 2D Blu-ray. Bond is almost back with the imminent release of Skyfall, so we reached for a copy of Casino Royale to get us in the mood.

The chase scene through the construction site can be a bit of a blur on standard Full HD screens, never mind a TV forced to upscale from 1080p to 4K resolution.

But the Sony seemed to handle it with only the slightest hint of flicker. The company’s Motionflow technology is one of the best we’ve experienced so we hope the final production sample is up to scratch.

Fully installed and ready to roll

Sony 4K TV: DVD picture quality
High-def content is always going to favour a HD TV, so to put the Sony under some pressure we fed it a standard-definition DVD. But even upscaling the disc's native 576i resolution to 4K the Sony doesn’t seem to struggle.

As you’d probably expect, the general image appeared a little soft, but it didn’t irk us during prolonged viewing. Chances are if you’re lucky enough to be in the market for one of these, then SD content will be the last thing on the menu. And so it should be.

Sony Bravia KD-84X9005

The Sony in action

Sony 4K TV: Sound quality
Instead of trying to squeeze sound out of the frame, the Sony KD-84X9005 comes with detachable speakers. They fit along the left and right edges of the screen and each one holds five drive units.

It’s not the most subtle or stylish solution, but given the poor level of sound we’ve come to expect from flatscreens, the Sony sounds very promising indeed. They produce a decent amount of weight, so fingers crossed.

Tomorrow we’ll bring you part two of this in-depth hands-on where we’ll be taking a look the Sony’s off-air performance, smart functionality and how it handles gaming.

 

Sony 4K TV review: Part 2

OK, I’ve spent another day in the company of this 84in beast and I’ve thrown Freeview HD, internet content and gaming in its direction. Here are a few more observations before it’s sent packing…

Sony 4K TV: Tuner quality
The UK verison of this set sports a Freeview HD tuner as standard. And, given the lowly resolution of your average standard-def channel, the Sony seems to cope extremely well.

I’m not sure what it says about my lunchtime viewing habits, but Loose Women didn’t appear too grainy or weathered (although the same can’t be said for the presenters).

The jump to ITV1 HD appeared to bring with it the usual benefits in terms of clarity and resolution. Moving nearer the screen for a closer look, we liked the way the picture seems to keep its composure.

There’s a good chance any potential owners will connect one of these to the likes of Virgin’s TiVo box or the Sky+ HD service, but it’s nice to know the picture seems to be perfectly watchable if you don’t.

Sony 4K TV: Gaming
In the interests of fairness I hooked up a PlayStation 3 and an Xbox 360 Slim to see how the Sony shapes up. I’m more used to gaming on screens half the size so I was intrigued to see how the likes of Call Of Duty, Modern Warfare 3 (COD MW3) and Gran Turismo 5 would look scaled up to 4K.

So, I switched the TV to ‘Game’ mode through the menus and reached for a controller…

COD appears very impressive, again the Sony doesn’t seem to have any trouble upscaling content to match its resolution. The cut scenes appeared suitably film-like and the action was intense to say the least.

There appeared to be some flicker and blocking along the edges of weapons from the first person perspective, and the high-rise skyscrapers of New York City appeared to flicker a little, but the effects was nothing above and beyond what you’d see on smaller screen.

Lag time seemed minimal at worse. The game’s cut scenes give more opportunity to see a completely black screen and I did notice it highlighted patchy areas where the backlight appeared to be intruding ever so slightly.

Trying two player spit-screen of Gran Turismo 5 was enjoyable enough – having the larger screen estate means it doesn’t appear to feel as cramped or claustrophobic as when playing on a smaller TV.

We liked the look of the game in 2D, but the 3D didn’t seem quite as inviting. We think this is more down to the fact that PS3 games are limited to 720p in 3D, so on a passive 3D system the resolution is being halved again.

Sony 4K TV: Smart functionality
The Sony KD-84X9005 gets the smart treatment of Sony’s other ranges. Apps such as BBC’s iPlayer and 4oD are all accessible from the menus. The layout doesn’t have the smart tile-based appearance you get with the company’s HX range of sets, but Sony assure us this will be available with the finished production samples.

Watching BBC iPlayer’s HD version of Nigella Lawson’s cookery programme, Nigellissima, the Sony appeared to do a fine job at keeping noise levels down.

Considering it was being beamed over the internet it seemed more than watchable and there seemed to be minimal noise and judder which we’ve seen when using iPlayer on some smaller screens.

So that’s it, we’d better start boxing it back up as this screen’s going to be taking pride of place in Harrods over the next few weeks. We’re not sure if we’ll ever see a full production sample, but the initial signs look very promising. Good news for those with £25,000 to spare!

MORE: Sony KDL-55W905A TV unboxing video

 

Written by Andy Madden

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Is 4K going to succeed where 3D has failed in revitalising the worldwide TV industry? Consulting Editor Andrew Everard has his doubts...

 

Comments

Sony Products should NOT be purchased until we get the same 4K TV package as USA.

Why should we subsidize the Americans getting; a server and ten 4K films etcetera?

 

There isn't much point carrying out a review unless it is done properly, which includes comparing the best; new and old TVs' Technologies.

For example comparing the; advantages and disadvantages of the best; 4K, OLED, LED, LCD, Laser, Holographics PC Monitors and Plasma televisions.

 

The reason why 3D failed was probably because it wasn't proper; 3D and it may cause a health risk, which holographics' TVs should prevent.

 

Like so many people went to an IMAX Cinema expecting to see Avatar in 3D and was disappointed.

What I expected (years ago):

1: Went to Alton Tower Park and saw proper 3D - It was excellent!

2: In Bristol years ago saw proper 3D film clips which included American Astronauts - It was excellent!

3: London Eye; first time saw 3D clips and the second time experienced 4D - It was excellent!

Verified that people aren't dumb enough to allow; journalists and manufacturers etcetera to con us.

It is like the king wearing the perfect suit, but somebody forgot to tell a boy in the crowed who realized that the king was wearing a birthday suit (naked).

 

This reminds me; 84" 4K TV the hype is that it is 4K= 3840x2160 but the resolution is probably the equivalent 40" 1920x1080P TV - two 40" or 42" stacked next to and above each other and also placed into the 84" TV space.

What is the purpose of reducing the resolution (picture) quality by using passive instead of active spectacles when the highest selling point of 4K TV should be resolution (picture) quality?

It is best to wait for preferably an affordable at least 84" 4K OLED TV.

With the apparent war between the Japanese (Sony and Panasonic) and South Koreon (Samsung and LG) there should be a price war.

Andrew … stop binarising the arguments, its not 4K v 3D, if people are going to adopt passive 3D en masse then it sneeds to be full resolution HD passive 3D, Wake me up when there is some middle ground between 720p passive 3D (ie not LG's fudged honest its Full HD3D) and £25,000 worth of television, im looking at this article, not because I want 4k, but what I want is Passive 3D at full HD no fudging, (And I dont want active 3D) and only want to pay a couple of hundred more than a standard passive 3D 720p model. Any overpaid footballer t***s reading this go buy one so the price comes down for the rest of us.

Also I think you forgot to append to your strapline "THE WORLD MOST TRUSTED TECH REVIEWS" with the words 'for people who dont question anything', REVENGE: I was once on the What Hi Fi Couch, and it left me permanently scarred as to how print journalism was done, I certainly think at What Hi Fi, your major bias in reviewing is in an attempt to increase the scale of the industry(admirable but should be noted), therefore reviews are never harsh on the basis you want more review models or something. The meaning of the words I gave as a reviewer on the couch, were twisted to the opposite of my intention for the review printed in that issue, in other words the team at what hi fi, had made there mindup  as to how the review was going to go, long before getting the public people on the couch in, it was a head to head between a Linn Karik system and a Beo minimalist system, neither of which I was impressed with greatly, but then the review dungeon you have, as i like to think of it, is an abnormal environment to review hifi in ? But having been on the couch I personally know … never to trust your reviews, now that we live in the internet age you can delete my comment, but at least you cant re-write my actual words !

Why no star rating and/or good points and bad points? I'd be interested to see how the Sony stacks up (in WHF's opinion) against the LG 4K TV you reviewed.

There's no star rating as this was not a final production model, so it's more of a first impression rather than a definitive review.

"Loose Women didn’t appear too grainy or weathered (although the same can’t be said for the presenters)."

Ah, dear Denise was on that day then.

Thanks for bringing us this first look at this 4K sony set.

TV looks fantastic all set up and in place, although I bet even you had a shock when you opened the door seeing the size of that delivery crate! I am a great fan of 3D and watch quite a lot of 3D content, but I can`t help thinking what a great set this is with the 4K resolution but why have they opted for the passive 3D which as you rightly say halves the resolution 3D content to 1080

I have a 2012 55"VT50 Panasonic with the Active 3D system for just over £2000 so what I watch in 3D is also at 1080P the same as this fantastic sony set, I have never had any problems with Active 3D, and just wondered why there is all this effort to move forward with technology to bring us fantastic 4K resolution, and then (in my opinion) go backwards with 3D  technology (which is already in place) using passive 3D giving only giving us a resolution of 1080? when they could have delivered 4K3D when it becomes available.

p.s. laughed at you piece on loose women! my TV has the same problem

Great review thanks

This all looks very nice, but it pays to study a bit of history of TV here:

Think of how long we have been enjoying HD broadcasts in the UK - Not for very long is it? 1080p capabilities didn't arrive with flat screen TVs. We've had high definition capability since the late 80s. We were all ready to start HD broadcasts in the late 80s until Sky got its grubby hands on BSB who had the capability to start HD broadcasts using their D2-MAC system. But Sky saw the opportunity for more channels of lower bandwidth lower quality SD broadcasts and that was the end of that until we finally came back to square 1 in 2009.

Now consider the quality of our HD broadcasts. There are no 1080p broadcasts in the UK. Everything is 1080i or 720p. Now consider the bitrates used. All broadcasters are guilty of using 'more efficient codecs'. That's marketing slang for more compression and lower quality and certainly BBC HD is a shadow of what it was when it first started broadcasting.

Now consider the source material. We have 3 possible sources:

1. Material committed to film remastered at higher resolution. Only the very best big budget 70mm film is ever going to benefit from such a high resolution, although I have to say when I saw bits of 'The Sound of Music' remastered to 4K recently (which was originally filmed on 70mm film) it looked awesome.

2. Digitally shot material to current standards (i.e. 2K) upscaled - Little to no benefit

3. New material shot in 4K+ - Pretty thin on the ground at the moment although that will change in time.

But then in addition to this, as far as broadcast TV is concerned, even if you have a 4K source, you won't be broadcasting that without any data reduction - There will just never be the bandwidth available to do it.

So in summary, if you want good 4K then it has to come from a PC, which means of course you have to download it. Is your broadband up to these sort of filesizes? I know mine isn't - Unless the BluRay spec gets extended to incorporate 4K - The bandwidth isn't 4x what you need for 2K when it comes to H.264 compression. We really don't want ANOTHER disc format do we?

All in all, we're a GOOD few years away from 4K becoming an everyday possibility, and when you look at how most people watch TV/movies these days you have to ask the question, how many people actually care?

£25k for a TV?  You're 'avin a giraffe mate.

What worries me most is just how black the black are. Can you tell me the exact blackness? I would fully expect a blackness rating of 445 for it to be worth my twenty five thousand pounds.

 

 

now thats cool super cool...

Great to see 4K making its progress into the consumer market - I think this tech is likely to have a much greater impact on home cinema enjoyment than 3D ever has.

@ the WHF Reviewers - was there a noticable improvement in 2D blu-ray image quality when upscaled to 4K compared to a similar size standard 1080p image on a comparable 1080p screen?