How long does it take your brain to process an image? No, it’s faster than that – it’s around 13 milliseconds. In the time it took you to read that sentence, you can process 185 different images. Congratulations.
But since most people watch 4.3 hours of video per day (which equates to over one million images) you don’t want to waste that processing power on sub-standard television.
The Sony KD-49XE9005 is not a sub-standard television.
We set the black levels and contrast for our testing rooms using a THX disc, turn local dimming and dynamic contrast to ‘low’ so that we get a little more detail in darker scenes without the flickering that’s apparent with the ‘medium’ or ‘high’ options, and disable many of the processing modes, such as ‘Reality Creation’ (a joint upscaling and noise-reduction mode for standard-definition sources), ‘Motionflow’ (motion smoothing), and ‘X-tended Dynamic Range’.
Although it might take a while to set up, once it’s ready the picture you get is well worth writing about. We start it off with Deadpool through our reference Oppo UDP-203 4K Blu-ray player, to test how well this television can handle high-resolution content.
Immediately the depth of the image strikes us. When the titular hero is sitting on the side of the overpass the XE9005’s handling of subtle detailing and colours distinctly, but not jarringly, separates the foreground from the background to render a layered picture.
And when Deadpool jumps from the overpass into a car of villains, he moves without any judder – no small feat when dealing with scenes that quickly switch between exaggerated, high-speed fight scenes and slow-mo shots.
Changing down a gear – in terms of image resolution – we feed the Sony a 1080p Blu-ray of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the XE9005 doesn’t let us down in its dark detailing.
The level of black this television can achieve really helps capture the menace of Supreme Leader Snoke, while still keeping the stone-like etches and markings in his throne.
Similarly, give it the bright, arid Mad Max: Fury Road and this television responds with a punchy picture that revels in exploding cars and flaming guitars. The yellows and oranges pop yet don’t look overbearing, and the red dust on Furiosa’s face remains natural against her skin.
These characteristics stay with it whether you’re playing DVDs or even watching an upscaled standard-definition broadcast; it’s a surprisingly sophisticated image, especially when you remember the television is creating 95% of it.
A TV cannot rely on its visuals alone, though – it needs a solid sound performance to back it up. Happily the speakers built into the XE9005, powered by 20W of amplification, do their job well.
It has crisp, clear sound that relays the hiss of moving sand and the crackle of lightsabre battles with a good deal of detail; when Rey and Kylo clash, each swipe and parry is precise and measured.
Big booms come across with suitable scale and respectable dynamism, and the midrange has a good amount of body to it - capturing the chants of the War Boys and the gritty growl in Immortan Joe’s voice without wavering.
It’s still not going to replace your sound system anytime soon, and we would ultimately recommend pairing this TV with a decent soundbar or array of speakers, but for casual listening you won’t be disappointed.
The XE9005’s Android operating system means that you get a lot of content to play with. There’s the staple range of catch-up apps such as BBC iPlayer, ITV, All 4, and Demand 5, as well as streaming services from Netflix and Amazon Video.
While the design of Android OS might not make for the most intuitive system (the single bar of Samsung’s Tizen operating system is a little cleaner) it’s still smooth and responsive on this Sony, and will certainly meet the needs of people who want access to every option.
On the physical side, there are four HDMI 2.2 ports to connect up Blu-ray players and games consoles, and three USB ports – two that are USB 2.0, and one 3.0.
Alongside those connections is a coaxial for broadcast television, satellite inputs, a 3.5mm jack and a digital optical output, as well as analogue video inputs for older devices.
For those interested in the specs, this TV boasts a 4K, HDR screen, 10-bit colour depth and supports the BT.2020 colour space.
However, those that want to watch broadcast HDR content in the future will need the TV to support Hybrid Log Gamma. At the time of writing, Sony said there’s an update coming soon, but were unable to specify when.
With regards to the hardware, Sony’s decision to go with a ‘cable-less design – by having the cables tuck into the back of the stand – does stop tangling and keeps the front of the television looking neat.
While the television’s form might be universally liked, the same can’t be said of the remote. The buttons are tactile and the layout is logical (the dedicated Google Play and Netflix buttons are certainly appreciated), but the rubbery texture might not be to everyone’s tastes.
Also, while there’s a microphone at the top for Google’s voice control, it’s not particularly user-friendly. We’ll stick to the traditional buttons for now.
At this point in home cinema’s evolution, there’s little more the Sony XE9005 could offer us at its price.
Its UHD picture quality is superb, there’s a range of streaming apps to keep us content, and it’s got good sound. We’ll have this TV round for our next Netflix binge anytime.
See all our Sony reviews