A Review of the Sony X850G 4K HDR IPS TV (XBR55X850G, XBR65X850G, XBR75X850G, XBR85X850G)
Stephan Jukic – January 20, 2020
Sony’s X850G is one of the company’s IPS 4K TV models (except for the 85 inch edition which has a VA display). These usually get offered by Sony as mid-range or budget editions and the X850G is basically mid-range but with a few premium specs for display. As a result, while the X850G offers superb viewing angles, its contrast ratio and black rendering are both extremely weak. That said, in most ways this is a good 4K UHD TV as long as some of its IPS display limitations and tradeoffs are kept in mind. Its color performance is good, motion handling is excellent and the X850G has some of the most responsive gaming connectivity we’ve ever seen from Sony.
• Excellent viewing angles
• Great color performance
• Good gaming connectivity
• Very decent peak and sustained screen brightness
• Excellent content upscaling for all video sources
• Great motion handling
• Terrible black rendering and contrast
• No local dimming
• Native Audio is poor
The bottom line for the X850G from Sony is that while it’s not at all bad in most regards, its black rendering and contrast are bad enough even by IPS TV standards that unless you have a really good reason for choosing a Sony brand TV, we definitely recommend LG alternatives more than this edition.
Our comprehensive review of the best IPS TV we’ve ever reviewed, LG’s powerful new SM9000 4K HDR edition
What We Liked about the X850G
As we said above, there are actually numerous good characteristics to the Sony X850G. This TV performs quite decently in most regards and these characteristics aren’t marred by the problems its IPS display panel causes. Let’s cover the highlights:
Superb viewing angles
First of all, there are the viewing angles. These are the biggest reason most people have for buying an IPS 4K TV and tolerating its weak black level performance. In the X850G, those viewing angles are as broad and good as you could expect, and especially useful for situations in which you want as many people as possible roughly in front of your TV to enjoy the picture quality.
Great color delivery in HDR and SDR
Sony’s 4K UHD TVs have a long history of great color performance regardless of whether they’re cheap or pricey and the X850G is no exception. This 4K TV offers full HDR color performance, with both 10-bit color and wide color gamut, and its color accuracy for all color rendering in general is great after a bit of calibration. In other words, for both normal SDR content and dynamic, vibrant HDR video, the X850G can output some great colors.
Very decent motion handling
Motion handling is crucial for both gaming and movie or TV show watching in any 4K TV and good motion handling makes a huge difference for comfortable viewing. Fortunately, the X850G delivers good to great motion performance almost across the board on all the essentials. Its motion blur control is excellent due to a very fast pixel response time and its delivery of motion interpolation is very good along with its control of judder from 24p content sources via disc media, streaming or other HDMI-connected devices.
Good gaming connectivity
The overall gaming connectivity of the X850G is wonderfully responsive. It has some limitations because this 4K TV can’t output 1080p or 1440p gameplay with a console or PC hookup at more than 60Hz for some odd reason (its display panel is natively 120Hz), but input lag on the gaming specs it does support in game mode is among the best we’ve ever seen in a Sony TV.
Very decent peak and sustained screen brightness
The Sony X850G doesn’t deliver very good black rendering or HDR contrast but it does at least get nicely bright for its price and specs. In both HDR and SDR modes (for ordinary non-HDR content) this television is quite luminous. The effect isn’t spectacular but it is really good.
Our comprehensive review of the best IPS TV we’ve ever reviewed, LG’s powerful new SM9000 4K HDR edition
What We Didn’t Like
Along with its range of good qualities, the Sony X850G also comes with a number of mediocre or downright crappy characteristics. At least one of These Makes it difficult to even recommend this 4K UHD TV. Here are the things to most watch for:
Contrast and black rendering
Note: the description below does not apply to the 85 inch X850 edition with a VA display panel. Its performance at these specs is far better.
The single worst aspect of the Sony X850G’s performance is its combination of black rendering and contrast ratio. On both of these crucial specs, this particular 4K TV is just damn awful even by IPS television standards. The contrast ratio of the X850G is among the lowest we’ve seen in years, black uniformity is simply abysmal and the TV’s overall black level is obviously crap because of the above.
The strange thing is that even Sony’s own X800G model, which is also an IPS edition but cheaper than the X850G, comes with better black performance. Any of LG’s IPS TVs for this year pull off better performance too. This TV’s crappy black performance won’t really be noticeable in a well-lit room but if you watch a movie with this TV in the dark, you’ll definitely see the problem. Additionally, such low black rendering specs really weaken the X850G’s overall HDR performance.
No local dimming
Related to the above issue with black rendering in the X850G is this TV’s lack of local dimming. More mid-range/budget 4K HDR TV models than ever come with local dimming these days (it used to be an ultra-premium feature of select 4K TVs) but Sony didn’t see fit to include it in this edition. This is a shame because even weak local dimming definitely helps a 4K TV with the quality of its contrast and its black uniformity. The X850G could absolutely use both of these.
really poor native audio
On a final note, the X850G comes with internal speakers whose audio delivery is mediocre even at its very best. This TV’s sound system will be okay for casual news or TV watching at night or in the kitchen but if you want to enjoy your favorite movie or sports event with some serious sound power, you’ll definitely need to hook up am external sound system.
Value for Price & Bottom Line
The Sony X850G is very good in many ways, enough so that it can perform really well as long as its limits are kept in mind. However, because its black levels and contrast are so poor even by IPS TV standards, there are several other IPS 4K TVs we recommend more. The LG SM8070 and the SM9000 are all better choices if you absolutely need a 4K TV with IPS display.
Key Sony X850G Specs
• Screen sizes: 55 inch XBR55X850G, 65 inch XBR65X850G, 75 inch XBR75X850G, XBR85X850G (TV being reviewed is 55 inches)
• Smart TV: Android TV 2019 Edition
• HEVC (H.265) Included: Yes
• VP9 Included. Yes
• HD to UHD to 4K upscaling: Yes
• HDCP 2.2 Compliance: Yes
• HDR Support: Yes, HDR10, Dolby Vision, Hybrid Log Gamma
• Refresh Rate: 120Hz native refresh rate
• Screen Lighting: LCD Display with edge-lit backlighting, no local dimming
• Resolution: 3840 × 2160 pixels 4K UHD
• Wireless Connectivity: Yes, includes both built-in WiFi and Ethernet port
• Remotes: Sony smart Remote
• Connectivity: 4 HDMI ports (all of them 2.0a and with HDCP 2.2, 3 USB ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 Digital Audio Out
• Contrast Ratio: 780:1 (native, real maximum contrast)
• Absolute Maximum Peak Brightness: 589 nits (cd/m2)
• 3D Technology: N/A
Display Performance Metrics
The detailed performance measurements for the most important specs and features of the X850G 4K HDR TV from Sony are what we’re going to cover in the following technical sections. These are what really show if this TV can perform (or not). These are the metrics that really, genuinely count for demonstrating how well this or any other 4K TV handles movies, TV content, games and anything else you’d usually use a 4K HDR TV for. Here we take aside all the fluff, marketing jargon and anything that doesn’t really matter to explain how well this TV delivers on the real goods.
We’ve based the following on the unit we reviewed here, but their accuracy is exact enough to reflect what they should be like for any normally functioning editions of the Sony X850G. Slight variations for some of the specs in the sections below might be the case with editions of different sizes.
NOTE: The Sony X850G 85 inch edition will have very different (much better) specs for black rendering, contrast and possibly color performance because of its VA display panel. We didn’t review that model however.
Black Level, uniformity, Local Dimming and Contrast:
All editions of the Sony X850G except the 85 inch version come with an IPS display. This means that they have screens in which pixels have much greater horizontal width. This IPS (In-plane Switching) pixel design causes a lot more LED backlight to bleed through to the display surface than is the case in a TV with VA display (Vertical Alignment of pixels). The result is really weak contrast and crappy black levels that both become especially noticeable in a dark room. The tradeoff benefit of IPS is that it also happens to let a TV offer very wide viewing angles, but only some users will care about this more than they do about their 4K TV having great contrast and deep black tone capability
As an IPS 4K TV, the X850G however offers the worst contrast level and black performance we’ve seen in years. Its contrast ratio hovers around 780:1 and its overall black uniformity and black level are thus both extremely weak, with lots of clouding on a largely darkened screen. Both of these are unfortunate qualities simply because both contrast and black level are crucial aspects of good HDR video and good picture performance in general.
Thus, yes, if you want wide viewing angles on a budget, IPS is the way to go but the X850G delivers the worst example of it that you could find in a new-release ultra HD TV. What also annoys us is that the X850G also lacks local dimming. This technology -which selectively dims LEDs behind the screen for better dark levels- would have gone a long way towards making an IPS TV like the X850G deliver much better picture performance. Sony didn’t bother to include the feature though.
The display brightness of this particular Sony 4K HDR TV is really good, thankfully. The X850G renders relatively, respectably high peak and sustained display brightness when its set to show both normal TV or movie content and when turned on for HDR video sources. This goes a long way towards making this model’s HDR performance decent and it also helps with color vibrancy. The Sony X850G also delivers remarkably consistent brightness levels despite variable areas of luminosity, as you’ll see below.
In other words, for the vast majority of content, the X850G is very decently luminous. Most users using it to casually watch their favorite movies or TV shows will be reasonably happy with this TV’s brightness even if they notice the crappy black rendering and weak contrast that the X850G also produces, especially in a darkened room.
The measurements below bear out exactly what we mean about both HDR and SDR brightness in the Sony X850G.
Sony X850G SDR Brightness
- Overall SDR peak brightness for normal content: 432 nits
- Peak 2% display area display SDR brightness: 451 nits
- Peak 10% display area SDR brightness: 450 nits
- Peak 100% display area SDR brightness: 450 nits
- Sustained 10% SDR brightness: 450 nits
- Sustained 100% SDR brightness: 449 nits
Sony X850G TV HDR Brightness
- Overall HDR peak brightness for normal content: 512 nits
- Peak 2% display area display HDR brightness: 589 nits
- Peak 10% display area HDR brightness: 589 nits
- Peak 100% display area HDR brightness: 588 nits
- Sustained 10% HDR brightness: 589 nits
- Sustained 100% HDR brightness: 587 nits
Good color performance is something we’ve come to expect from Sony’s 4K UHD and HDR TVs and the X850G is no exception. This edition doesn’t blow the eyes away with sheer color realism or vibrancy but it deliver perfectly solid HDR and general color rendering.
To begin with, this Sony UHD TV supports full HDR color delivery specs in terms of both wide color gamut and 10-bit color. It also offers excellent color accuracy after a bit of calibration even though its out-of-the-box color metrics are only mediocre, and definitely need a bit of adjustment.
On a final note, the X850G is bright enough for its color saturation to be quite vibrant and though it delivers less than stellar color accuracy during extremely bright content playback, it usually doesn’t even get bright enough for this to be a problem.
Below are its color accuracy and WCG settings both before and after calibration in the X850G’s picture settings menu options:
- Pre-calibration White Balance delta-E: 4.41
- Pre-calibration Color delta-E: 3.58
- Pre-calibration Gamma: 2.20
- Post-calibration White Balance delta-E: 0.25
- Post-calibration Color delta-E: 1.9
- Post-calibration Gamma: 2.11
- Wide Color Gamut: 90.8%
Motion Handling & Upscaling:
The Sony X850G television delivers very good, robust motion handling almost across the board. Its motion blur control is really strong due to a superbly fast pixel response time of just 4.3 milliseconds (the speed at which pixels change color and brightness as (content shifts across the screen), and the X850 also renders great motion interpolation on its native 120Hz display panel. Furthermore, its handling of 24p movies from disc, streaming or external media device sources is good because of solid judder control. On the other hand, the black frame insertion technology for even smoother motion interpolation in the X850G is not the best we’ve seen in a 4K TV with this technology.
Input Performance for Gaming and PC:
In terms of gaming connectivity, the Sony X850G HDR TV is a bit of a split deal. On the one hand, it has the absolute best input lag responsiveness we’ve seen in any Sony 4K TV in 2019 and early 2020. This applies in game mode for all supported display resolutions, HDR formats, color formats and frame rates that this TV is capable of during console or PC gaming. On the other hand though, the scope of frame rate support for the X850G isn’t great: despite its native 120Hz display refresh, this television doesn’t allow for gaming at 120Hz or even 60Hz in 1440p and it won’t support 120Hz gaming in 1080p resolution. It also lacks variable refresh rate technologies like FreeSync or G-Sync.
- 4k @ 60Hz: 32.9 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz: 33 ms
- 1080p @ 120Hz: N/A
- 1080p @ 60Hz outside Game Mode: 98 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz + HDR: 14.5 ms
- 1440p @ 60Hz: N/A
- 4k @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode : 87.2 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4: 14.5 ms
- 4K @ 120Hz: N/A
- 1440p @ 120Hz: N/A
- 1080p with FreeSync: N/A
- 4K with interpolation activated: 88.7 ms
PC Gaming Input Support
- 1080p @ 120Hz: No
- 1080p @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4: Yes
- 4k @ 60Hz + 4:4:4: Yes
- 1440p @ 60Hz: No
- 4k @ 120Hz : No
- 4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4: Yes
The Sony X850G 4K HDR IPS TV comes with all the essential connectivity ports you’d find in most of today’s 4K UHD TVs. These include 4 HDMI ports, 3 USB ports and connectivity for internet via WiFi or Ethernet. One negative aspects of its connectivity specs is that this TV doesn’t come with HDMI 2.1 (unlike some of Sony’s more advanced 4K TVs) but to balance things out a bit, the X850G does include one USB 3.0 fast charging port, which is something that most 4K UHD TVs lack.
The following are the Sony X850G’s ports and their specifications:
- HDMI : 4 (HDCP 2.2 & full HDMI 2.0a capacity)
- HDMI 2.1 : N/A
- USB : 3 (USB 2.0 x 2, USB 3.0 X 1)
- Digital Optical Audio Out : 1
- Analog Audio Out 3.5 mm : 1
- Tuner (Cable/Ant) : 1
- Ethernet : 1
- HDR10 support: Yes
- HDR10+ support: No
- Dolby Vision HDR support: No
- Hybrid Log Gamma HDR support: Yes
- Dolby Vision HDR: No
The Sony X850G TV models also offer audio connectivity in the following types.
- 1 Passthrough ARC Dolby Digital
- 1 Passthrough Optical Dolby Digital
- 1 Passthrough ARC
- 1 Passthrough DTS Via Optical
- 1 Passthrough Dolby Atmos via TrueHD via eARC
- 1 Passthrough DTS:X via DTS-HD MA via eARC
Sony is selling the X850G 4K ultra HD HDR LCD Smart TV models in four different sizes. All of them largish, with no smaller models available. Thus, you can choose a good-sized 55 or 65 inch model, a giant 75 inch version or a huge 85 inch model that would be especially ideal for home theater fans who want a deeply immersive experience and exceptionally wide viewing space.
These editions all sell for the following prices, found in the link below at the time of this writing. Bear in mind that these are subject to sometimes frequent downward change and it’s a good idea to click the following Amazon links for real-time pricing and all available discounts on this model.