2015 is the first year where there are more 4K TVs being introduced than HDTVs, and Sony is following suit. Sony has just launched their X series TVs, which are 4K Ultra High Definition that are also some of the first sets that come with the Android TV operating system. Sony delivers some of the best technologies to enhance picture quality and have done great things for improving the sound using their innovative wedge design. The X series of 4K UHD TVs has something for everyone.
Sony’s X series of 4K TVs starts with the X830C, while their flagship model is the X950B. I was able to test out two models in between, the X930C and the X850C, and will be able to give you the lowdown on those two displays. The X930C was a 65” wedge design TV and the X850C was a 55” flat panel. Both are fully loaded with more similarities than differences but there are a few features that differentiate them.
Both of these TVs come only in large sizes. The X930C is either a 65” or 75” size, while the X850C does both those sizes plus a 55” model. This is natural for Ultra High Definition TVs, because smaller screens don’t need to be 4K since they already have a high pixel density. The large screens on these TVs make them look very attractive because they have thin bezels that look even thinner because of the massive screen area.
The X930C is even more attractive due to its classic Sony wedge design that is extra wide because of the front facing speakers on each side of the screen. The X850C is not wedge but rather a very thin flat screen profile. Big is beautiful in TVs and these two TVs are no exception.
The best feature of both of these TVs came alive as soon as I turned them on, and that is the picture quality. The clarity and vividness of the picture was so good it was hard to tear myself away. I didn’t really notice any difference in picture quality between the two sets, which wasn’t a big surprise to me because upon closer look they share most of the same picture enhancing technologies.
They both have Sony’s new 4K X-Reality Pro processor, which is specially designed for Ultra High Resolution screens. It upscales all content to approach 4K clarity and the processor by analyzing the picture and matching it to a pre-loaded database in order to enhance the contrast, provide stunning colour, and improve the contrast. Both displays are also Triluminos, which really enriches the colour of the picture. They also both have Sony’s new 4K X1 Processor, which does a great job balancing colour quality, clarity and contrast.
The main difference in technology between these two sets is the X930C has an added contrast enhancing technology, their X-tended Dynamic Pro contrast enhancer. It essentially delivers a larger range of brightness so it can capture darker and lighter shades better for increased contrast. Having said that, because the picture in both sets was so good, I couldn’t really see a noticeable difference in contrast or clarity.
Both of these 4K TVs are some of the first TVs you will find using the new AndroidTV smart platform. In fact, the only TV in the X Series from Sony that doesn’t use Android TV is their flagship X950B model. To get some detail on how it performs as a smart platform have a look at my recent review of AndroidTV.
What I really liked about AndroidTV is the simplicity of the platform making it very easy to use. If you are already an Android user with your Smartphone and/or tablet, this TV will very nicely seamlessly connect with those devices. This makes all your apps instantly available on the TV and screen mirroring on the TV a breeze. Setup of the TV is also about as easy as I have ever seen in a TV.
My favorite feature is Android’s voice recognition search capability, which makes using a smart TV much quicker and easier. The voice recognition is to Android what Siri is to Apple IOS. It is extremely effective as you can search for just about anything. With AndroidTV the search engine stays within the content you have available on the TV rather than searching the entire Internet.
Sony also provides an app, TV Side View, that is free to download on to your Android or IOS phone. I loved using the app as a remote control because it not only acted as a remote, but also as a TV guide and search engine. Having said that both these TVs also come with a couple of remote controls. One is a traditional remote control and the other is a smaller but very effective touch control.
The only issue with the AndroidTV platform is that despite all the Android Apps that are immediately available there is not a lot of content yet available specifically for the TV, especially when compared to other platforms. I am sure this will change relatively quickly, but just don’t expect it to be there right away. The good news is you can mirror your other devices to get extra streaming content.
Both of these TVs are loaded with extra features, which I am starting to expect with most 4K TVs except perhaps the entry level models. They are both 3D TVs, although I wasn’t able to test this out because I couldn’t find any 3D content on the Android platform. The picture is so good on these Sony UHD TVs that I am sure watching them in 3D is equally fine.
One of the unique features of both of these TVs is the extra remote control that they come with. In addition to the traditional remote they come with a much smaller but very functional remote. It is like a mouse track-pad that you can hold in your hand to scroll up and down, right and left, and click on items on the screen. It also has a few handy buttons for changing the channels or volume, doing voice search, home button, on/off button, and a back-button. I loved using this remote as it made use of the Smart features extremely easy. Sony calls it One-Flick Entertainment because you can simply flick the remote to move around your apps and discover new items.
A couple of other noteworthy features include Photo Sharing Plus and PlayStation Now. The Photo Sharing Plus allows easy displaying mobile phone photos on to the TV. The “Plus” allows you to take photos on your TV and deliver them to your mobile device. PlayStation Now gives the capability to play PlayStation games without a PlayStation console. All you need is a game controller.
The sound on the X930C is noticeably better than the X850C, which isn’t surprising given the wedge design, with multiple speakers placed on each side of the screen. It won’t be true surround sound but Sony has added Hi-Res Audio, Clear Audio +, and Magnetic Fluid Speaker technologies to improve the clarity of sound and try to emulate surround effects. You can crank up the volume on the X930C and it sounds so good you won’t likely want to add a sound bar. The sound is powerful, clear, and has very good bass considering it has no subwoofer.
The H850C sounds more like what you expect from a flat-panel TV. It is decent but not a lot of real depth of sound compared to what you will find in a good sound bar or surround system.
Sony has done a good job providing a lot of flexibility in the number and type of connections on these TVs. They both have NFC, WiFi, and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. They also come loaded with 4 HDMI ports, an MHL port, 3 USB ports, and an optical out port. They are ample ports with easy access facing the side of the TV as well as your normal rear facing component, Ethernet, and cable connections. You will have no problem using these sets as the centre of your home entertainment system and connecting all your peripheral devices.
Sony is a solid player in the TV and Home Theatre market and is starting to get their mojo back with these new 4K TVs. Both are excellent models—big and beautiful, with a fantastic picture that will keep you watching.