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Sony KD-65XH9005 review

What Hi-Fi? Awards 2020 winner. One of the best performance-per-pound TVs you can buy Tested at £1299 / $998 / AU$2295

5 Star Rating
Sony KD-65XH9005 review
(Image: © Sony / Hunters, Amazon Prime)

Our Verdict

Bright, beautiful and effortlessly smooth – this is one of the best LCD TVs around

For

  • Excellent HDR handling
  • Vibrant colours
  • Top notch motion processing

Against

  • Sound lacks weight
  • Not as PS5-ready as claimed

The Sony KD-65XH9005 is the 65in panel size of one of two Sony TVs branded by the company as ‘Ready for PlayStation 5’. The only problem is that it isn’t ready for PlayStation 5 – at least not until it receives a firmware update.

The update will bring 4K@120Hz (often referred to as HFR), VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) and ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) to the XH9005’s HDMI ports, but there's no date for it yet. It’s a bit embarrassing for Sony, given that it’s the company that makes the PlayStation and that rivals such as LG and Samsung already support most of these features across much of their ranges.

Presumably, Sony will deliver on its firmware promise and, Sony being Sony, it may well implement HDMI 2.1 better than anyone else. The Japanese brand is taking it to wire though, with the launch of the PS5 just a matter of weeks away at the time of writing.

But, while it's natural to focus on the XH9005's readiness (or otherwise) for PS5, given Sony's marketing, to do so entirely would be to miss out on what is an excellent overall performance. This is a great TV, with or without the PS5 update.

Features

Sony KD-65XH9005 features

(Image credit: Sony / Hunters, Amazon Prime)

The Sony XH90 TVs don’t have the same ‘Flush Surface' bezel-less design of the more premium XH95 series LCDs, but there’s still little frame to worry about. It’s no work of art, as the top Sonys often are, but it’s a perfectly good-looking TV.

It’s slim enough (7cm at its thickest) and its 22.2kg mass perches easily enough on the two, V-shaped, metal blade feet. They sit rather wide, at around 113cm apart, so check your furniture is up to the task.

You won’t be left wanting for connectivity. There are four HDMIs and three USBs, plus optical and headphone outputs. Bluetooth 4.2 is built in, too.

Sony KD-65XH9005 tech specs

(Image credit: Sony / Hunters, Amazon Prime)

HDR formats HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG

Google Chromecast Yes 

AirPlay Yes

Bluetooth version 4.2

HDMI x4 (inc. 2x HDMI 2.1 with VRR, eARC & ALLM)

Dimensions (hwd) 145 x 90 x 33.8cm (with stand)

Weight 23.2kg (with stand)

The KD-65XH9005 is powered by the 4K HDR Processor X1 – Sony’s second-tier processor for 2020. This is still a full-array LED-backlit TV with local dimming, and it includes support for the HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision HDR standards, and Dolby Atmos for sound. It’s also Netflix Calibrated and IMAX Enhanced.

Android TV continues to be Sony’s TV operating system of choice. It’s well implemented and has a very solid selection of video and audio apps. The TV tuner, seven-day EPG and catch-up services are courtesy of YouView, with over 70 free live TV channels and radio stations, plus a handy curated page of on-demand broadcast content.

With Android TV, of course, comes even more Google, and that’s no bad thing. Chromecast (multi-room, mirroring and more) comes built-in, as does voice control through Google Assistant and Alexa. Those preferring the Apple ecosystem for music and smart home integration won’t feel left out either. The Sony KD-65XH9005 is AirPlay 2- and HomeKit-enabled.

Picture

Sony KD-65XH9005 picture

(Image credit: Sony / Hunters, Amazon Prime)

Sony’s X-Motion Clarity motion processing technology is, as ever, reliably excellent as we watch the action sequences at the beginning of Deadpool in 4K HDR. Set the smoothness to either of the middle two positions for the best effect. One notch on the Clearness slider is worth a shout too and won’t have a deleterious effect on picture brightness.

The base black levels on this TV are excellent for an LCD panel. From there, Sony offers huge scope to choose your preferred trade-off between shadow detail and black depth. Particularly impressive are the Contrast Enhancer, Local dimming, X-tended Dynamic Range and Black Adjust filters. These work by real-time picture analysis, with the TV attempting to optimise the image according to the mixture of light and areas in each frame.

Such processing technology often gets in the way, but they’re remarkably well judged here, and we’d recommend working with them all. Even if you’d rather have it all on auto, though, it’s still an excellent picture.

The Deadpool freeway fight scene is a tour de force of HDR handling. This largely monochrome scene of mixed lighting is rendered with superb balance. The dark cars and black clothes of the henchman are full, deep and textured, but without loss of white detail in the bright cloudy sky, nor over-exposure of the picture. The buildings in the distance have real dimension to them and that’s credit to both the levels of shading and the tight dimming zone control.

When the moments of colour do arrive, this TV is more than ready. Sony’s Live Colour setting gives a saturation kick to the on-screen palette. It’s tempting to jack it up because the results are so stunning and mostly well-judged. Faces rarely become overly orange and foliage hardly stretches beyond the natural. However, a pinkish tinge sets in the higher you go, so ultimately we settle on the Low setting.

Sony KD-65XH9005 picture

(Image credit: Sony / Hunters, Amazon Prime)

Deadpool’s suit is the obvious colour highlight of the sequence. The Live Colour gives it some real zing while keeping a natural texture and hue to the fabric. The grizzled faces of the bad guys are full of good, sharp 4K detail. We have seen even crisper edges from other manufacturers’ processing modes, but what we get here is more than enough.

Even down at Full HD with Ant-man, on Blu-ray, the upscaled detail is decent. Reality creation is best left an Auto, or at least not far off the default position if you want to go Manual. With most 1080p content, there’s hardly any noise to worry about but you’ll need to use the noise filters and drop the sharpness for films with heavier grain, such as Stoker and Bad Times At The El Royale.

No matter the content, the colours from this Sony are just as vivid and enjoyable as at 4K, though we would recommend switching to the Cool colour temperature setting at this resolution and below. Once adjusted, Hank Pym’s tie and Hope’s lipstick show off some excellent reds, while Darren Cross’s suit and the laboratory lighting are vibrant blues.

Dropping down to standard-def, it’s worth axing the Live Colour mode altogether. Many sets can look rather electric for tone when watching live daytime TV, but this Sony calms things down while supplying a perfectly well-scaled image. Watching Lorraine, the guests’ clothes, skin tones and the plants in the background all come across as realistic as this resolution allows.

Sound

Sony KD-65XH9005 sound

(Image credit: Sony)

The KD-65XH9005 is equipped with Sony’s Acoustic Multi-Audio sound technology in the form of a pair of full-range drivers on the underside of the frame, as well as a set of tweeters at roughly ear height on the rear. The aim is to improve audio clarity – something this system achieves.

Listening to Deadpool, there’s a sense that the audio has a far easier journey on the way to the listener. The precision is top notch, with both voices and background effects clear. Even behind his mask there’s no problem picking up Wade Wilson’s dialogue. There’s some brilliant audio detail in the soundtrack and incidental action, such as the scraping of skateboard wheels on the concrete ramps when Wilson goes to report back on his stalker job.

The X-Balanced Speakers are designed to create a good compromise between the stated better sound of rounded drivers and the thin space provided to house them. Combined with the tweeters, they make for some excellent dynamics. The effects in the Deadpool freeway crash are delivered at appropriate scale, and when the action freezes and the noise drops, the silence is absolute.

However, despite all these positive qualities the sonic presentation lacks weight. Even with the equalisers maxed out on the bass frequencies, this TV doesn’t deliver the big hits. Gunshots are timid and body blows never quite land.

The spatial abilities of this TV are also a concern. We push the effects slider almost to the top before getting any sense of sounds moving across our space. There’s less zoom to Ajax’s motorbike whizzing from one side of the freeway to the other than we hear on rival TV sets.

Ultimately, at this end of the market we find that TV's tend to prioritise weight and scale or outright clarity. The Sony goes for the latter, and that's a fine decision for everyday TV. It's less satisfying on movie night, though, and you're well advised to budget for a dedicated sound system if a cinematic experience is what you're after.

Verdict

Whether you’re a next-gen gamer or not, you’ll want to put this TV high up on your wishlist. The sound may be a little limited but the picture is a dream; colours are intense, contrast is killer and the inky deep blacks go way beyond LCD expectations.

It’s stacked with handy features and, when available, the next-gen HDMI features should make this TV future-proofed for some time to come, particularly as good quality 8K source material still seems a long way off.

At this panel size and price point, it’s going to be hard to beat this TV.

SCORES

  • Picture 5
  • Sound 4
  • Features 4

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