Review: Sony 55-inch 4K Android TV
The next best alternative to the giant Samsung 4K Curved Smart TV, but can be just as good.
If you are looking for an excellent high-end TV, the Samsung SUHD 4K Curved Smart TV KS9000 is undoubtedly the best choice, but if you want comparable performance at half the price, the Sony Bravia 55X9300D HDR 4K LED TV is a brilliant alternative.
The Sony is capable of beautifully rich colour and bright, focused highlights – two areas where edge-lit TVs don’t usually do well.
We played a Blu-ray of Mad Max: Fury Road on the KD-55X9350D and it looked excellent. The letterbox bars could have been darker, but the TV still has pleasing contrast from one scene to another, adding a little pop to the otherwise flat desert.
The TV did very well with motion too. It played the motion-heavy Mad Max while preserving details very well and showed very minimal blurring.
The KD-55X9350D had rather accurate colours and neutral tones, although red was a problem. The TV can match standard HDTV colours, but offers more because of its “Triluminous” colour system, which is employed by default.
This was especially evident in Mad Max: Fury Road, where the desert was richer and browner, and there was a very intense blue haze in the movie’s night scenes. The leafy greens were vibrant and though all this might seem slightly over the top for a regular TV show, these can be dialled back in the menu.
That said, red was a problem though. The appearance of red everywhere, from the IV line between Max and Nux to the edges of the many exploding cars the movie features to the Doof Warrior’s hastily assembled attire, it was all searingly bright and had painful saturation. It could be the Blu-ray’s mastering but it is most likely from the Sony itself. However, it may not be a bad thing, although purist viewers will find this distracting. In any case, the combination of 4K and HDR does tend to make colours look enhanced, and in the case of Sony, it was only the reds and oranges that looked this way.
The Sony Bravia KD-55X9350D definitely stands out in its ability to upscale. The TV stretches 1080p film across its 4K resolution with no trouble at all, and the improved resolution even adds more richness to some scenes (especially the long shot of Max face down in the sand).
We tried Netflix 4K as well, streaming a few episodes of House of Cards, and we must admit, it looked very impressive. The sharpness and detail were subtly visible in some areas, like faces and fine fabric textures.
We wanted to check the black levels again, and this time, played a scene from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. In the Room of Requirement scenes that are mostly dark, the Sony did show us better contrast than the first time we tried with Mad Max: Fury Road. The brighter parts of the scene remained bright against dark objects – for instance, when the face of Voldemort overlooks Hogwarts, we did see superior contrast and pop. Shadow details were also very good, without visible crushing and made better, more natural-looking shadows.
The 3D performance left a lot to be desired, especially for a TV of this level.
The ghostly double image of crosstalk was very disturbing. We watched Hugo, and there were outlines on the sleeve Méliès right before Hugo approaches to swipe the mouse and Hugo’s hand in the scene. The Sony’s solid colour and good blacks were very good in 3D, and the glasses were comfortable, but the crosstalk was still a deal-breaker.
Most built-in speakers can be pitifully underpowered, but the Sony KD-53X9350D is not so. In fact, it might just be one of the best sounding TVs out there right now, and even better than Sony’s own sound bars.
We tested the sound with jazz music, and found the sound beautifully captured, with no part of the spectrum poking out. The sound was supple, with wonderful bass, nuanced vocals and sparkled where it was required.
The Cinema mode in its default settings was convincing with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 , resulting in crisp-sounding dialogues, wide stereo effects and booming explosions.
While we were a little sceptical at the beginning about the built-in speakers, by the end of the test, we were sure you do not need to invest in any additional sound bar unless you are an absolute audiophile.
The Sony 55X9500D is a smart TV, powered by Google’s Android TV software. It borrows heavily from the smartphone OS to power an experience that should be familiar to Android users. The Android TV launcher is quite different from regular Android, with an easy-to-navigate side scrolling. The use of Android means that you can connect your Google account to the TV to access Google’s services and apps.
The Google Play Store for Android TV does not show the full selection of apps and games that you would see on your smartphone, but the platform is still quite sufficient.
Among the supported apps are Netflix and Google Play Movies (both of which come pre-installed and with quick launch buttons on the remote), YouTube, BigFlix, Pandora, TED and more.
Connectivity could have some issues, but overall, it is among the best Smart TV platforms around right now.
The Sony 55X9500D has a 55-inch 3840×2160-pixel LED-LCD screen. The TV has 3D capabilities with active 3D technology, and there are 2 3D glasses in the package. There are four HDMI ports (one with ARC), three USB ports, and it has wi-fi capability.
The USB port supports multi-format play, with a number of different codecs supported, so you can play music, watch videos and see photos after plugging in.
The viewing angle for the TV is 178 degrees on both the horizontal and the vertical viewing plane, making the Sony retain viewability even when you move around the room.
The sound of the TV is enhanced by Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus andDolby Pulse sound system that makes the TV have wonderful balance in bass and treble. ClearAudio+ fine-tunes TV sound for an immersive experience that seems to surround you. S-Force Front Surround PRO technology processes audio signals using sophisticated delays and phase shifts to create an immersive, finely detailed soundstage that pulls you right into the heart of the action. Direct multi-channel processing ensures a realistically clear and powerful surround sound. Front-facing woofers and subwoofers reproduce clear, powerful full-range sound, with a damperless design that cuts distortion for pure, crisp mids and highs.
The Smart TV has a host of other features like a subtle content bar, and an excellent set of available apps that make it a great purchase.
The Sony 55X9350D is as stylish as you can imagine it to be. It is slim at the top with a full flush surface, a shape that Sony says is uniquely designed for a large speaker capacity, so you can enjoy enhanced audio from a smaller, more stable footprint. . The wedge design is quite iconic, and blends aesthetics nicely with the functional beauty of the set.
The stands can be adjusted to be as narrow or as wide as your decor demands. The stand itself has a mirror/silver finish that contrasts nicely with the black frame of the TV, while not being a distraction. The stand is aluminium so it is sturdy for the TV’s weight.
The speakers use a magnetic fluid instead of dampers so the TV is energy efficient and can produce sound with minimal distortion, in order to fit into the otherwise slim design.
The remote has a number of touch functions. The Infra-red (IR) Blaster lets you control other devices in your home from your Sony TV remote. You can use it to control your set-top box (cable box). Once connected, you can control your streaming box by using one remote controller.
Advanced protection shields your TV against electrical surges, while a primary capacitor protects against unstable electricity. An anti-humidity coating on the circuit board prevents short-circuits caused by high moisture.
The Sony is Google Cast™ ready so you can easily cast your favourite entertainment like YouTube from your personal device on to the screen. You can cast from Android, iOS or your laptop.
The Sony is loaded with features that are easy to use. The unobtrusive Content Bar quickly lets you find the movie, TV show or video you’re looking for. Call up the Content Bar and you can keep watching while you scan through live TV, videos on demand, downloaded TV shows and much more. You can even customise the content bar to show you the content you go to most often first.
Voice search on Android TV™ provides you with the power of Google search, allowing you to find content across different services without the hassle of time-consuming text entry. You can also get recommendations; asking for “romantic comedies” for example, brings up a list of suitable options.
You can also watch your favourite TV shows anytime from a wide variety of regional and national channels, with the catch-up TV app. Intuitive navigation lets you easily create personalised playlists, assign favourites and organise shows by channel, episode or language.
The Good: Decent black level, excellent sound features
The Bad: Too much saturation in reds and oranges that can be distracting for some viewers. Consistent Wifi connectivity may be an issue.
The Verdict: This TV delivers a winning trio of looks, features, and picture quality, and it does so for a very fair price.
Picture Quality: 8/10
Prices (as on date of publishing)
Amazon: Rs. 2,68,900.
Flipkart: Rs. 2,79,990
Croma: Rs. 2,79,990
Sony India Website: Rs. 2,84,900
1-year warranty provided by the manufacturer from date of purchase. Extended warranty offered.