Sony KDL-55W800B Bravia Review (KDL55W800B)
55 Inch, Edge Lit LED-LCD TV, Smart TV, Active 3D
by Jack Burden, Senior Editor
The Sony KDL-55W800B is a feature packed mid level LED TV for 2014. The X-Reality PRO processing engine and the 120Hz native refresh rate are the star features here. You get top quality images associated with the Sony brand as well as great refresh rates for live sports programming, gaming, and fast action. Sony went with active 3D technology on this one. We've really been loving passive 3D lately so it's a shame to go back to active here. The 50-inch size starts at a reasonable $1,299.
- Active 3D performance produces strong depth and little crosstalk, 2 glasses included
- Powerful edge LEDs produce a bright and colorful picture from front and center
- 120Hz native refresh rate reduces motion blur and judder
- Excellent upconversion of standard def content
- Improvements to Sony Entertainment Network make it a better overall experience
- Social viewing is a great implementation of smart TV connections
- The Photoshare feature is good fun for Android and iOS devices when sharing photos with a group
- 4 HDMI and 2 USB inputs
- Subwoofer Out on the TV is a very interesting feature that could make up for weak on-board bass performance
- Side angle viewing has contrast and color loss
- Camera for Skype is an additional purchase
- Motionflow 480 feature over-clarifies the background picture for film but is great for sports
- Spare 3D glasses are expensive
- Web Browser still difficult to find and slow to use
- Built-in sound quality needs more high and low range to be useful
Picture Quality Rating: 89/100
This model gets the excellent processing engine, dubbed the X-reality PRO by Sony. The similar W802A from last year had the same image processor under the hood and we are happy to see it here. This really pushes top tier picture quality on the display in terms of detail, clarity, upconversion, and color reproduction. Color performance on this TV is very accurate and realistic with good saturation levels. Only the 4K TVs in the lineup have a stronger image processing engine.
This shot really displays strong contrast and color rendition. Clarity and detial from the X Reality PRO picture engine are seen here too
Once calibrations are made the picture quality on the 55W800B 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 4K 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.
Active 3D Viewing
Sony has gone back to active 3D tech. Sony TVs from last year saw a lot of passive 3D, and we thought they did an excellent job. The clear benefit of active 3D is full HD resolution going to each eye. You are going to get a more detailed picture thanks to that, and it looks great on the W800B. 2 pairs of 3D glasses are included in the box, but if you need more they are going to cost a pretty penny. We noted some crosstalk and flicker when watching in a brightly lit room.
Standard Definition Up-conversion
The 55W800B 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 streaming content), you still need a TV that will up-convert well and not overlook this important area.
Features Rating: 84/100
Sony Entertainment Network
The new layout of the Sony Entertainment Network contains category separations for Movies, Apps, Music, and Albums. It's a very attractive and easy to use layout. The biggest plus is that it operates much better than 2013's SEN. The Apps selections are more interesting than in the past as well and we see lots of improvement from Sony in this area.
This is the Apps section of the Sony Entertainment Network hub. You can see plenty of video, news, and social apps
All of the standard go-to apps are here: Netflix, Hulu Plus, Crackle, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon Instant Video, and more. You'll also find your fill of news and sports apps. We did notice that apps can be slow loading and small frustations with sign-up forms. When I tried to load the NHL Vault App, the menu prompts me to go online from a computer to register for the service.
Social Viewing Feature
One of the most interesting features on Sony TVs for 2014 and beyond is Social Viewing. You can turn on the Twitter scrolling feed feature to find out what people are tweeting about the programing you are viewing. For many shows like The Voice or The Bachelor or many reality TV shows that creates some fun.
But perhaps the best part about this feature from my perspective is to be able to Skype with a split screen and talk to someone about what you are watching. Keep in mind that your company on Skype will also need to have this functionality in their TV either a Sony with Split screen Skyping or something similar from another brand. The compatible camera for this feature is sold seperately.
This is the layout of the Soical View feature for the KDL-50X800B. The program in the largest window with a webcam feed on the left and live Twitter updates on the bottom of the screen
For example, imagine watching that intense college football game while talking to your best buddy about it on Skype right there on the same screen. Fun. Or imagine talking to your friend while watching one of your co-favorite reality shows. You can see where this would definitely add a social aspect aspect to watching TV. In our view of the feature it worked very well.
Built-in Speakers and Sound Quality
The KDL-55W800B features (2) 10 watt speakers that can achieve good levels of sound to fill medium sized rooms. They aren't going to pump out entertainment center quality, but they get the job done. There are plenty of presets to get the best out of the source material as well. We really liked having those options. Bass seems to be the biggest problem with these on-board speakers, but that is understandable. We reccomend a sound bar or home theater setup for those looking to get the best sound for their movies and sports programming.
Design and Appearance
The KDL-55W800B doesn't have the Wedge design like the higher tier models, but the thin profile and sleek stand keep this one looking good
The W800B has a similar appearance to the W600B series below it. The main difference is the depth of the screen. The W800B is much thinner in profile. However, the part of the cabinet that houses the speakers still protrudes out. So it isn't a completely super thin TV. Take that into account when you are deciding on where this TV is going to go in the house. The thin black bezels and chrome wire stand are very minimal and don't take attention away from the screen.
Value Rating: 91/100
The KDL-55W800B aims to be a strong value in the mid tier realm for Sony in 2014. Some of the best picture quality features are packed into it without any extras driving up the cost. On board sound quality is probably the only thing that doesn't fare so well, but that can be easily fixed. The Samsung UN55H6400 stands as direct competition. It sells for more, but offers an excellent Smart TV platform with a Smart Touch remote to sweeten the deal.
Overall Rating: 88/100
- Screen Size (measured diagonally) : 54.6"
- Brilliant Full HD (1080p) picture quality
- X-Reality PRO picture processing creates vibrant images
- Motionflow XR 480
- ClearAudio+ Digital Sound Processing (DSP) with S-Force Front Surround projects clear vocals and wide sound range (optional subwoofer SWF-BR100)
- Built-in Wi-Fi for streaming connectivity for Sony Entertainment Network
- Active 3D capable with 2 pairs of glasses included
- Follow tweets, Skype with friends (optional camera) and watch TV simultaneously
- TV with Stand (W x H x D): 48 5/8 x 28 1/2 x 2 5/8 in
- TV without stand: 48 5/8 x 30 1/8 x 7 7/8 in
- Weight with stand: 39.7 lbs
- Weight without stand: 37.9 lbs
|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|