You don’t always need to sell your kidneys or first-born to buy a 4K TV. The fanciest, skinniest or sometimes curviest flagship models might have hefty price tags, but that doesn’t totally preclude the prospect of lighting your living room with 8.3 million pixels.
Enter the KD-65X8505C, the mid-range series of Sony’s Ultra HD TVs for 2015. Prices begin at £1800. It comes in 55in, 65in and 75in options, all with edge-lit LED panels.
Design and build
For the money, Sony offers a solid proposition. Solid, but not brilliant. Though aesthetically pleasing, the X85C doesn’t have the eye-catching, concept-car quality of pricier models. The design is more functional: a sensibly sized stand that doesn’t demand a park bench to perch on, with a profile slim enough to sensibly wall mount without worry.
It comes in black or silver, both of which are subtle enough to blend in with your furniture. The only flourish is a band of light under the Sony logo, which you can turn up (why?) or switch off entirely.
The design may be spartan, but connections are plentiful. They include four HDMI inputs and three USB ports, with a composite/component hybrid and Scart for legacy kit. Wi-fi is built-in and an ethernet socket allows for a more stable connection.
One thing is clear: we like the colours. In the past, Sony’s pictures could be accused of looking a little anaemic, but that’s no longer the case. Daredevil has a difficult picture (a muted palette, with a lot of dark scenes) but the Sony makes the most of it.
The cerulean of a silk tie, the crimson of dripping blood, the green of an exit sign flickering in the hallway – they pop, but not like the retina-searing stuff you get on showroom floors. Though not necessarily true to life, the effect is bold and attractive, yet subtle enough to seem natural.
Elsewhere, it’s a sharp picture. It’s clean and well defined, without looking artificial. We’ve seen sharper, but you’ll have no problem picking out individual crumbs of parmesan on Chef’s Table.
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More after the break
The contrast could be better. Dark scenes are convincing enough, but they’re not quite to the ink-black standard we’re looking for. It gets worse when we step down from Ultra HD to a Blu-ray (1080p) of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Some blacks look closer to grey. Processing modes help to a degree, but they end up affecting detail levels. It’s all a clear step down from the Samsung UE65JU7000, which offers a more dynamic and refined picture.
Upscaling is strong though. Full HD looks sharp enough (with a bit of noise), while standard-def appears as solid as we could reasonably expect. Tuner performance is consistent with disc performance, only with an inevitable dose of extra fizz. Overall it’s a strong picture with lovely colours, but some areas need work.
A note on 3D: this Sony supports active-shutter 3D, but you don’t get glasses in the box. Those are sold separately for £50 a pair.
The biggest change in Sony’s line-up in 2015 is the inclusion of Android TV. This operating system is a mixed bag. We like the clean, attractive look, but it certainly needs further development.
You still get a ‘home’ hub, separate from whatever content you’re watching. It’s far from LG’s seamless WebOS interface, or even Samsung’s similar Tizen offering, both of which have an intuitive multi-tasking system.
Content is another issue: you get Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, but none of the UK’s main catch-up apps. Thankfully an update is coming in ‘summer 2015’, which will bring those to the party along with a fully integrated YouView service.
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