Let’s cut to the chase: the daddy of Sony’s 2016 TV line-up is a movie lover’s dream come true.
The flagship KD-75XD9405 is a lounge-dominating 75in flat, LED back-lit TV that supports Ultra HD and HDR through streaming and physical formats, as well as active 3D. If that isn’t enough to lose you in AV-centric reverie, perhaps the fact that it looks stunning will be.
Sony has opted out of the UHD Alliance’s UHD Premium certification scheme announced earlier this year, instead running with its own 4K HDR logo.
But the company claims the KD-75XD9405 still meets the organisation’s stringent specifications, which focus on the colour depth, brightness range and black level required to display HDR content to its full potential.
The company also claims that with the help of X-tended Dynamic Range PRO – processing that guides light towards specific areas of the screen – the KD-74XD9405 achieves three times the brightness gamut of a conventional LED-backlit set.
While Sony’s XD93 range exclusively features Slim Backlight Drive – its attempt to deliver the desirable contrast of full-array local dimming in a slimmer design – the flagship goes all-out with full and even LED backlighting in a deeper TV design.
But that doesn’t mean it’s piled on the pounds – far from it. The top is only the width of three or four beer mats and the bottom, where all the brainpower is crammed, only sticks out a few extra centimetres.
The streamlined aesthetic features across Sony's entire line-up, a move away from the flanked speakers and wedge design of some 2015 models (the KD-75X9405C, for one).
It can be wall-mounted, if you feel your plasterwork will hold the telly’s 39kg weight, but plonk it on a tabletop and it won’t go anywhere thanks to a sturdy base plate stand, which is slightly raised and has a removable back cover so cables can feed discreetly underneath it and be hidden from sight.
That’s handy if you plan to trail wires between the TV and your games console, Sky box, disc player and soundbar, which is possible through a HDMI connection as the telly has four inputs.
It’s win-win for those already investing in an Ultra HD Blu-ray player, as all four are 4K-ready with 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 certification.
The KD-75XD9405 has three USB inputs, but now there’s much more streaming 4K content available, we make more use of its LAN socket – a more stable way of getting online than using wi-fi.
We’re pleased Android’s smart platform returns to Sony TVs in much the same form for a second year running – even if it doesn’t quite have the simplistic charm of rival systems such as Panasonic’s Mozilla Firefox OS and LG’s WebOS.
Menus are generally comprehensive and easy to follow, with the home page comprising a neat list of sections, headed by recommended content and followed by apps, inputs, games and settings.
Like all of Sony’s 2016 Android-powered TVs, the KD-75XD9405 features YouView, which, like Freeview Play, is an all-inclusive platform that amalgamates all of the UK’s catch-up TV services (BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, All 4 and Demand 5) with a seven-day rollback EPG.
It’s not compulsory as there’s also a Freeview HD tuner and separate catch-up apps on the home page, but we like the idea of having it all under one umbrella.
More after the break
Because it’s Sony, there’s also the PlayStation Video store for buying and renting movies and TV shows, and PlayStation Now for disc-free game playing. And because it’s Android, there’s Google Cast and Google Play at your service too.
A shortcut for the latter has appeared on the remote, joining the existing Netflix one, but while the layout is familiar, we aren’t big fans of the soft edgeless buttons.
We’re pleased to see it operates the Panasonic DMP-UB900 Ultra HD Blu-ray player, though, and this is very much where our journey into picture performance begins.
After completing a full THX Optimization test, we watch the tray close on San Andreas, and even by the menu title we know that the Sony has some magic to work. There’s as much sense-shattering devastation as you expect from a Dwayne Johnson-starring blockbuster, and the Sony is a magnifying glass into each still and panorama that depicts San Francisco’s remains.
Crumbling buildings bask in texture, and household furniture floating down the river in the background can be made out as clearly as if you were looking at it in an IKEA catalogue.
The Sony’s colour pallet is on the rich, enthusiastic side of neutral, with the benefits of HDR flagged by the variants of shading in explosions and building fires, and how intensely car lights punch through the dark underground garage.
HDR may not hit you in the face as immediately as 4K does, but you hardly have to pore over the picture to see that faces, trees and pavements are filled with subtler, more nuanced colour gradations.
A fiddle with contrast and black level soon gets the Sony’s black depth to a standard an OLED – famous for its light-off blacks – wouldn’t sniff at.
The stability of the picture is pleasantly surprising as the speedboat tears through the water and the tsunami crashes over the city, especially when motion smoothness and clarity is bumped up a tad in the picture settings. It’s just the telly you need to witness a cargo ship crushing the Golden Gate Bridge.
Crispness and stability is brought down a notch as we head over to a 4K, HDR stream of Marco Polo on Netflix, but that’s down to the intrinsically inferior nature of streaming. It’s still a picture a newcomer would raise an eyebrow to; the empresses’ metallic clothes and the gold armoury shine brightly, while the yellow leaves and red temples pop eagerly through the pixels.
The Sony’s stark clarity and dark detail means you don’t miss so much as a corner of a frame in candle-lit scenes, too.
Native material is undisputedly the KD-75X9405’s speciality, but it fancies itself a savvy upscaler too, as keen to sharply etch the uniforms in a Blu-ray of X-Men: The Last Stand as it is the players’ sharp attire in a high-definition broadcast of the World Championship Snooker.
The contrast of the green table and red floor is punchy and solid. As we switch over to standard-def BBC Two, snooker balls are, as expected, a little softer, losing their crisp outline and shine. But it’s acceptable enough to keep watching.
Even a dated DVD copy of Dirty Harry holds up pretty well; colours and contrast don’t lose their spark, and you aren’t forced to look away as Eastwood pans his surroundings through binoculars. Visible picture noise is the biggest giveaway, but it’s not too damning.
It would be home cinema sacrilege to spend this much on a TV without having a good sound system to go with it, so if there’s pennies left in the pot we’d plump for a decent surround package.
If you’re wondering, however, whether it sounds good enough to tide you over until you can afford one, then the answer is yes.
There’s detail, clarity, and most importantly balance, with enough weight and body behind the presentation for casual viewing.
MORE: Best soundbars 2016
So with the lower-ranging KD-55XD9305 also bagging five stars, it’s two out of two for Sony. After a mediocre run with TVs last year, the company appears to have raised its game for 2016.
The KD-75XD9405 isn’t cheap (albeit cheaper than its £6000 predecessor), but it embraces the industry’s cutting-edge technologies and shows how valuable they are. If not for the fact that 3D glasses aren’t included, we’d be more than ready to ask ‘what more could you want?’
We’ll have to sit tight to see what Samsung, Panasonic and LG bring to the table, but for now the Sony KD-75X9405 is the big-screen flagship to beat.
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