Hands On: Sony 65" 4K TV

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When Sony asked if I wanted to test out their 65" ultra-HD telly, I must confess that I leapt at the chance. Having seen it put through its paces in Sony's Wellington showroom, to say I was impressed would have been a definite understatement.

Now having spent some quality time with it in my own lounge, I'm even more taken with its ability to deliver eye popping video and deliver oodles of media goodness.

First Impressions

As far as TVs go, it's big. While I'd previously reviewed its massive 105" sibling in the Sony Store (I'd have needed a forklift to do the review at home), the 65" KD65X9004A which was delivered to my home was huge. I felt particularly sorry for the poor courier who'd had to load it into his van without any help as it nearly killed both of us lugging it inside. Unpacking it and attaching its round base is something you'll definitely need an extra pair of hands and a screw driver for.

Not only does it sport a whopping 3,840x2,160 resolution (that's four times the resolution of the current crop of 1080p HD capable TVs) but it also has a tonne of other built-in smarts too.

Ticking another box, it also makes use of passive 3D (Sony also thoughtfully bundle 4 3D glasses) which when combined with native 4K content, delivered astonishing 3D.

Ultra HD, is it all that?

The standout feature however has to be its whopping screen resolution/image processing. Sporting 4 times the resolution of 1080p, this technology has been branded 4K or Ultra-HD. Watching native 4K content (which was supplied via a small server over) was nothing short of a revelation. Checking out 4K Video was more like looking through a window than watching a TV.

In a typical lounge setting things were sharper than razor sharp, but it wasn't until I got close up with the KD65X9004A's screen that I began to really appreciate just how impressive 4K really is. On a normal HD TV, getting close reveals pixels, and on-screen detail deteriorates into a bunch of coloured blocks. Not so with the KD65X9004A. Pixels were almost impossible to see until I was less than a foot from the screen.

Up-scaling

Waxing lyrical about 4K is one thing, but 4K content unfortunately won't be broadcast or available on disk/streamed online for quite some time in NZ. Thankfully Sony have made sure that there's also some serious up-scaling smarts baked into the KD65X9004A so that even footage from MySky HD or the built in Freeview tuner looked great. Blu-rays looked stunning and several shows streamed via Quickflix also looked surprisingly good too.

A large part of this is due to the KD65X9004A's image processing smarts. Branded X-Reality pro, the video processing hardware not only does an amazing job of up-scaling SD and HD footage into 4K, but also does a great job of cleaning up video compression artefacts. Video compression noise that stood out like dogs bollocks, my smaller 1080p 40" panel were virtually unnoticeable on the KD65X9004A's 65" screen which should have thrown them into ultra-sharp relief. This was especially noticeable around titling or bright objects against dark backgrounds.

Colour/Contrast

Regardless of the resolution of the video being displayed, the KD65X9004A's colour reproduction was superb. LCDs normally struggle with reds and greens, and the result is that skin tones or vegetation tends to look lifeless or artificial. Recalibrating the KD65X9004A from its factory vivid mode setting and applying some colour temperature, contrast, and brightness tweaks (I've got a calibration DVD put aside for this very purpose), saw some impressive improvements on the colour front. Skin tones were life-like, while forests and jungle scenes no longer looked like they were filmed in an artificial Christmas tree showroom. Contrast levels were also pretty decent, although black levels never quite reached that inky dark pitch black level, instead adopting a slight blue tinge. That said, it was barely noticeable under normal viewing conditions.

Smarties

As you'd expect Sony has also put a fair bit of effort into the whole smart TV thing. Hitting a mysteriously named blue "SEN" button on the remote (subsequent investigations revealed this stands for Sony Entertainment Network - who'd have thought?) bought up a network setup option which revealed the KD65X9004A also had 802.11n WiFi built-in (hence its ability to play nice with HD media streamed via my router).

Getting a wireless connection up and running with my router revealed a media player that seemed to handle most video formats with relative ease, also allowing me to view photos and listen to music from a connected network drive. (the KD65X9004A can also take a USB drive, which can do double duty recording content).

One feature I didn't get a chance to test out was screen mirroring. Using one of Sony's recently released high-end/mid-range Xperia smart phones allows you to wirelessly stream your phones screen to the KD65X9004A. Pairing a phone up is as easy as bumping it against the TV's remote. If you're a phone shutterbug and enjoy sharing photos and video, this will be a killer feature.

Connectivity

The rear of the KD65X9004A also reveals a slew of connectivity options ranging from RCA composite and component sockets through to 4 HDMI ports as well as USB and Ethernet connectivity plus the obligatory antenna socket for the integrated Freeview tuner. SPDIF connections were also present as were 2 USB sockets (for viewing USB stored media or adding a USB hard drive to record content. Rounding things out is network connectivity via Ethernet plus WiFi and Bluetooth.

Verdict

There's a hell of a lot to like with the KD65X9004A, Not only is big enough to feel decidedly cinema like in a typical lounge, it also sports a screen resolution that comes pretty close to what most digital cinemas are using. On screen content was nothing short of stunning thanks to the processing capabilities under the KD65X9004A's hood.
Great looking video aside, about the only feature missing from the TV is a kitchen sink (I'm sure if you looked hard enough, it'd be tucked away under one of the many menus available). About the only fly in the ointment was its $9,999 sticker price, but then you do get one hell of a lot of TV bang for your buck.

Tech Specs

RRP: $9,999
Screen Size/ratio: 65"/16:9
Supported colour systems: PAL, SECAM, NTSC 3.58, NTSC 4.43
Supported resolutions: 3840x2160/24p, 3840x2160/25p, 3840x2160/30p, 4096x2160/24p, 1080/24p (HDMI only), 1080/60i, 1080/60p(HDMI / Component), 1080/50i, 1080/50p(HDMI / Component), 480/60i, 480/60p, 576/50i, 576/50p, 720/60p, 720/50p, 1080/30p (HDMI only), 720/30p (HDMI only), 720/24p (HDMI only)
Video Processing: 4K X-Reality™ PRO, Motionflow XR 800
Backlighting: LED
Deep Color: Yes
Viewing Angle: 178° (Right/Left), 178° (Up/Down)
3D: Passive (4x 3D Glasses bundled)
Simulated 3D:Yes
Connectivity: 4x HDMI Connections, 3x USB 2.0, 1x Ethernet, 1x Composite Video Input, 1x Component Video (Y/Pb/Pr) Input(s), antenna, Analog Audio Input(s), Digital Audio Output, Headphone Out

Other Features

USB Play MPEG1/ MPEG2PS/ MPEG2TS/ AVCHD/ MP4Part10/ MP4Part2/ AVI(XVID)/ AVI(MotionJpeg)/ MOV/ WMV/ MKV/ WEBM/ 3GPP/ MP3/ WMA/ LPCM/ JPEG/ MPO (USB viewer supports FAT16, FAT32, exFAT and NTFS file systems)
USB HDD Recording: 32GB to 2TB
DLNA: MPEG1/ MPEG2PS/ MPEG2TS/ AVCHD/ MP4Part10/ MP4Part2/ AVI(XVID)/ AVI(MotionJ peg)/ MOV/ WMV/ MKV/ WEBM/ 3GPP/ MP3/ WMA/ LPCM/ JPEG/ MPO
Parental Control: Yes
Dimensions (mm): without Stand 1682W x 875H x 100D
Weight (with Stand): Approx. 46.4kg

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