Sony KDL-55W802A Review (KDL55W802A Bravia)
55 Inch, Edge Lit LED-LCD TV, Smart TV, Passive 3D
by Jack Burden, Senior Editor
With the KDL-55W802A Sony departs from its standard active 3D viewing which is available on the model above the KDL-55W900A. This 2nd Tier model in the lineup also includes the X-Reality Pro engine, screen mirroring with your smart phone or Tablet. It has Wifi and the Sony Entertainment Network as well, but not the top picture features.
Picture Quality Rating: 8.9/10
This second tier model has a great processing engine called the X-reality Pro which is a step up from the X-Reality engine from last years KDL-55HX750. Sony's color performance on this TV is very accurate and realistic with good saturation levels.
This shot is all about detail. Bright areas see plenty of detail without being washed out. That's something to be appreciated for every type of content
Once calibrations are made the picture quality on the W802A is very good from both HD and standard definition sources, though not as strong as those top units with a clear coat screen or top plasma TVs. The light-flow through the screen is not quite as pronounced. However, accuracy is not a problem for the TV.
Side viewing angles contrast and saturation degrade pretty quickly at 20 to 25 degrees off center and get worse the further to the side one goes. This is the case with all matte-screen LCD TVs that we have tested. Front and center, you will see a very good colorful and accurate picture, but from the sides you will be disappointed. Light output is good, as are black levels and shadow detail.
Standard Definition Up-conversion - StellarThe W802A does a very nice job of converting and processing lower end signals to the native 1080p resolution. This is a strength of Sony in general and this TV in particular. Since there is still plenty of lower end signals coming in (think Netflix streaming), you still need a TV that will up-convert well and not overlook this important area.
3D Viewing Passive - Impressive
This is the first foray into passive 3D for Sony (the model this one is replacing had active 3D last year). Taking cues from LG will not be difficult though and this unit performs well with depth and there is no flicker from the passive 3D glasses. We have become converts of late, enjoying the passive 3D performance more than the flickering active 3D of many TVs. Crosstalk is also not an issue and even without 1080p to each eye the 3D picture looked very defined. 4 pairs of glasses are included so keep that in mind as an added savings. Plus, the passive glasses are cheap if you need more.
Preset Picture Mode Options
Vivid: Blows up the picture on the W802A with too much blue, image enhancement and all kinds of false features.
Standard: Still too much blue push but definitely a saturated picture and OK for bright rooms if you turn off the other settings which interfere with picture quality (see Picture Settings).
Custom: Comes set near D6500 right out of the box for a cinematic, film like picture. It's unusual to find one this close out of the box.
Motionflow XR 480 and Other Settings
The KDL55W802A has an ambient light sensor included which automatically adjusts the TVs light output to in-room lighting. These days LED TVs use so little power we recommend leaving the feature turned off. Or rather, finding it and turning it off. The picture can turn dark on you before you know what happened.
Cinemotion: Off, Auto 1 and 2. Feature does not distort background blur too much.
Motionflow: We recommend turning this feature off for film and normal content and leaving on for live sports action or 3D programming. The Standard or Clear settings are good when on. The feature does decrease judder and jerky camera panning somewhat and this may be especially useful for sports programming. Fluidity in the picture during fast action or camera panning is the objective of the Motionflow XR 480 feature. The 480 specification is to alert you to the fact that the backlight is helping to make the native 240Hz panel process faster. Results are usually quite mixed on these features with fast action sports looking great and movies and other film based material having some unwanted complications.
There are so many other picture adjustments like an Auto Light Limiter, Clear White adjustment, Live Color, Advanced Contrast Enhancer (automatically adjusts contrast) and an Auto Light Emitter (adjusts backlighting for bright scenes. There is a ton of picture technology in this TV. Most, unfortunately are better left off, from our testing experience.
Side Viewing Angle
This is typically a problem area for LED edge lit LCDs and is no different on the KDL55W802A. There is loss of black depth and color at side angles starting around 30 degrees off center.
Take a look at the depth and color reproduction seen in this shot of the W802A. The feeling of depth in this 2D image really adds a lot to the overall picture quality. Color speaks for itself with a realistic rendition
Features Rating: 8.4/10
Sony Smart TV Options/ Sony Entertainment Network
The KDL-55W802A has the Sony Entertainment Network. The menu and options are cumbersome and difficult to use. There is a dedicated button on the remote thankfully, for accessing most premium style Apps which include Netflix, Pandora, HuluPlus, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube, Slacker Internet Radio, Crackle and social networking through Facebook and Twitter as well as others. Sony claims Yahoo! Broadcast Interactivity Widgets as well. This new platform allows one-click access to TV Apps which are related to the content you are watching on the TV. In other words, it's a convenient way for Sony to market their Apps to you if you are so inclined to use the feature. On the other hand, it does make it easy for you to know which Apps you might like. Following is a run-down of a few of the Apps selection:
Yahoo!: Widgets Internet Apps Button on remote takes you there.
Blinkx: quirky videos, funny shorts videos rating 2.5 out of 5
Dr. Oz: Short tips on better health. One minute videos. Rating 3 out of 5.
Crackle: Has 220 free movies (with ads) but some pretty good choices 4 out of 5.
Slacker: Personal radio with lots of music choice. It gives some commentary on the tunes and you can set it to a genre and just let it roll – providing background music if you want 4.5 out of 5.
Sony Digital Concert Series: A limited selection of 7 live concert recordings from Creed, ThirdEyeBlind, and Chickenfoot – at least that's all they have at the time of this writing. Recording quality is average and is of the whole concert. Rating 3 out of 5.
Sony Video Unlimited: Paid movie service $5.99 for HD Movies
Bilabong: Poor quality Surfing and island clips. Rating 2 out of 5.
The Sony Entertainment Network lets you search for and watch On Demand TV shows and Movies. Sony has been taking steps to ramp up the connectivity with mobile devices this year
What is MHL-ready Screen Mirroring?
This new feature on the W802A allows you to display on screen what is displayed on your NFC compatible Smart phone (sorry no Apple at this juncture). In other words it's a convenient way to take a look at pictures and videos from your Smart phone.
The speakers in the Sony KDL55W802A do a reasonable job with plenty of treble and volume although it gets a bit muddy with some DVDs at higher volume. Listening to Gavin Degraw's Not over You from the Sweeter Album, the W802A did a nice job with everything but bass, which is understandable from this size speakers. The speakers and sound quality are better than most we've tested lately with the exception of LG.
Appearance and Design
This year's 2nd tier Sony KDL-55W802A gets an upgraded appearance with a very thin width black matte finish frame of only about .3 inches. It's also slightly thinner than last years model. Nice, classic looks.
The Sony Entertainment Network remote is slim and lightweight. It's very simple and puts emphasis on the important buttons like channel and volume. The home and SEN buttons are also just as big and will come in handy often
Value Rating: 8.5/10
This is a nicely priced model thanks to the passive 3D which helps keep the costs down yet still provides a great 3D picture. Sony fans will not be disappointed with most features of this TV. There is also some savings from not having the more expensive Triluminous panel of the top models. At $1799 it competes very well in its space. Though there is lots of competition from Samsung with the UN55F7100 and the LG 55LA7400, this model should do well.
Overall Rating: 8.6/10
|Jack Burden joined the review staff of CEAG Inc. in May 2003 after finishing his graduate work at Harvard University. He has been reporting on consumer electronics and conducting product reviews for more than seven years... Read more about Jack|