Sony XBR-55X850A Review (XBR55X850A)
55 inch 120 Hz 4K TV UHD
by Jack Burden
Consider the XBR-55X850A the cousin of the more expensive 4K LED TVs in Sony's lineup this year. The price tag difference between this one and the 55X900A is about $500. So what is lost? The lack of the side speakers is the most obvious thing missing. The sound is less than half as powerful and down firing vs front facing. We really like the sound performance on the other models, so that is a hit. Though, if your home theater is ready to go when it comes to sound this may be a good way to save a few dollars on a 4K screen. That's really the biggest difference and it's hard to justify the extra money for speakers. Plus the X850A looks a lot more sleek and attractive without the large side speakers. The price ends up at around $3,500. This means the price drop in 4K technology is coming a lot faster than anticipated. They are still expensive, but prices are moving in the right direction.
The picture quality here is quite amazing, as we have seen in the other Sony 4K TVs. Actually seeing the picture makes all the difference. It is bright, details are incredibly sharp, and colors are reproduced beautifully. The 55X850A is powered by two of Sony's excellent picture engines, the Triluminous Display and the X-Reality Pro processing. The Triluminous display really does perform as promised in presenting truer colors, especially reds, and greens which tend to be more difficult. Side angle viewing is a weak point as usual for LED TVs of any resolution.
The Sony Advantage in 4K
Sony has some advantages in 4K technology after having produced the first commercial 4K projector for movie theaters, the first professional 4K camera, and now a 4K content delivery system. I feel like Sony is the manufacturer that understands the importance of available content driving the success of 4K. And they are investing in bringing you 4K content. And Sony has plans for a 4K content distribution network.
Active 3D Playback
This is somewhat of a unique feature for this TV in the Sony lineup this year as they have divided their offerings between active and passive technology. The X900A 4K TVs and the other top tier models feature passive 3D playback. We really like what we are seeing and are happy that Sony is venturing into passive. The 55X850A switches things up with active. Advantages include taking full advantage of the resolution instead of cutting it down. Images also tend to darken up a bit and flicker is still around if there is a good amount of in room light. The glasses can be more expensive, but 4 pairs are included in the box. That should be fine for most occasions.
Upconversion and 4K Content
The key to this TV and any 4K TV is how well it up-converts a 1080p signal or a 480p signal to 4K resolution – 4 times or approximately 8 times. This is very important due to the limited content available for 4K TVs in that native resolution – almost non-existent at this point. But, that will change with Sony's dedicated 4K content media player. It's an added expense, but one of the benefits of choosing 4K sides with Sony.
Smart TV Features
The Sony Entertainment Network is included – not so great in our opinion after a thorough review of it. The See our review of the SEN for details. The normal premium Internet choices are fairly easy to access and 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.
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
Appearance and Design - Unique
The XBR-55X850A has a very similar look to the X900A series above it. Just take away the speakers and there you have it. The silver round stand is very unobtrusive and different enough to make it appealing. The profile and bezels are both equally thin and really make this a great looking TV.
Dimensions and Design
- No Stand: 49 5/8" x 29 1/4" x 2 3/8"
- With Stand: 49 5/8" x 30 3/8" x 16"
- Weight without Stand: 59.1 lbs
- Weight with Stand: 62.2 lbs
Display and Picture Features
- 4K (3840x2160)
- Screen Size (measured diagonally): 54.6"
- 4K X-Reality PRO
- Local Dimming
- 24p True Cinema Technology
- 3D Comb Filter
- Advanced Contrast Enhancer (ACE)
- Clear Mode
- Deep Color
- Intelligent MPEG Noise Reduction
- Intelligent Picture Optimizer
- MPEG Noise Reduction
- Motionflow XR 960
- Picture Modes – Vivid, Standard, Custom, Photo-Vivid, Photo-Standard, Photo-Original, Photo-Custom, Cinema1, Cinema2, Game-Standard, Game-Original, Graphics, Sports, Animation
- Super-resolution for Game Mode
- USB Play Formats - MPEG1/ MPEG2PS/ MPEG2TS/ AVCHD/ MP4Part10/ MP4Part2/ AVI(XVID)/ AVI(MotinJpeg)/ MOV/ WMV/ MKV/ WEBM/ 3GPP/ MP3/ WMA/ WAV/ JPEG/ MPO/ RAW(ARW)
Internet and Connectivity Features
- DLNA Content Formats - MPEG1/ MPEG2PS/ MPEG2TS/ AVCHD/ MP4Part10/ MP4Part2/ AVI(XVID)/ AVI(MotinJpeg)/ MOV/ WMV/ MKV/ WEBM/ 3GPP/ MP3/ WMA/ LPCM/ JPEG/ MPO
- Google TV Sync (US/CA/MX)
- Internet Browser - Opera
- One-touch mirroring
- Skype Ready
- Sony Entertainment Network
- b/g/n Wireless LAN
- Active 3D
- 3D Super-resolution
- Auto 3D Depth Adjustment
- Simulated 3D (2K-only)
- Output : 10W+10W+10W
- Down Firing Speaker Configuration : 2.1ch, Tweeter(20x40mm)x2, Woofer(57mm)x2, Assist Woofer(60mm)
- Invisible Speaker : Yes
- Signal-to-Sound Architecture
- Simulated Stereo
- S-Force Front Surround
- Sound Booster
- Sound Enhancer
- Sound Modes – Standard, Cinema, Sports, Music, Game, Compressed Audio
- 4 HDMI
- 3 USB 2.0
- 1 Component Video
- 1 Digital Audio out
- 1 Headphone out
- 1 Ethernet
|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. Focusing on the audio-visual segment of the electronics market... Read more about Jack|