A Review of the Sony XBR55X850B Bravia 4K TV with Triluminous Display
When it comes to Sony’s 4K TVs, the prices are sometimes an obstacle to buying what are in all other respects absolutely top of the line pieces of ultra HD home entertainment technology. However, as far as the Sony XBR55X850B goes, this isn’t any longer the case.
Sony’s delightfully slim 55 inch new 4K UHD Bravia line TV is not only loaded with some of the best features and connectivity options found in a 4K TV, it’s also priced much more competitively than many previous UHD Bravia models.
And for this fairly low price, you do definitely get your hands on a fine piece of technology. The XBR55X850B, comes with full HEVC support, Triluminous Display technology, full Smart TV functionality, HDMI 2.0 and of course also gives you guaranteed compatibility with Sony’s 4K content service and media player, which offer the single largest library of ultra HD shows and movies available to date.
Since this is a Sony 4K TV, there is plenty of great quality to be found all around in the XBR55X850B. For starters, the TV features Sony’s excellent Triluminous Display technology, which is designed to create a much sharper, mire accurate vibrancy than what you’d normally find in many 4K TV models.
Then there is also the upscaling technology of the X850B. Sony has always been particularly skilled in this area and the processing that turns full HD content into something much sharper in the X850B is truly worth commenting on. The TV can not only improve the clarity of Full HD content at 1080p but is also capable of upping the quality of 720p HD and even 480p video, though there will be some variation in quality based on the original source of a given piece of content.
Moving beyond that, the X850B is a fully future-proof TV that can accept 4K signals from a wide range of services thanks to its full HEVC integration and compatibility with Google’s VP9 4K video compression system. It also comes with a full range of connectivity options that include HDMI 2.0, built-in WiFi, NFC technology and 2 USB ports.
Overall, while not the very best in the entire Sony line of TVs, the XBR55X850B offers some truly impressive technology that more than meets basic top-shelf standards for an ultra HD TV.
While the XBR55X850B is an excellent 4K model from Sony, it’s also not the very cream of the crop when it comes to Sony’s Bravia line, thus there are a few deficiencies that are worth noting.
For one thing, it only features an edge-lit LED backlighting system instead of Full-Array LED backlighting. The difference between the two is massive and a full-array setup would be particularly powerful with this model’s Triluminous Display feature. Given that there are currently a number of more affordable 4K TVs from other brands like Vizio which do offer full-array LED backlighting, the absence of the technology in the X850B is a major negative.
Other negative aspects of the X850B include the absence of Extended Dynamic Range for brighter, more accurate colors and a level of screen detail that isn’t as finely detailed as that found in more advanced Sony models. The detail problem applies particularly to darker areas of the screen in certain scenes from shows and movies. Furthermore, there is sometimes a certain degree of haziness and bluish hue to the blacks of video content.
Also, the panel itself isn’t quite as nice as that of Sony’s X950B model 4K TV but then again, the later also comes with full-array LED backlighting and costs quite a bit more.
On the whole, the Sony XBR55X850B is an excellent TV for an excellent Price and while it does lack some useful features, the fact that it costs over $1000 less than it’s 65 inch TV counterpart or the more advanced X950B from Sony is a major selling point.
Furthermore, the extras like improved Smart TV functionality, a top-notch upscaling engine and 2D to 3D conversion that it packs inside its body offer great value for this TV’s price.
• Screen size: 55 diagonal inches
• Smart TV: Yes
• HEVC (H.265) Included: Yes
• HD to UHD upscaling: Yes
• HDCP 2.2 Compliance: Yes
• Refresh Rate: 120Hz native refresh rate
• Screen Lighting: Edge-lit LED backlighting with Local dimming
• Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels UHD
• Wireless Connectivity: Yes, includes both built-in WiFi and Ethernet port
• Remotes: Sony touch pad remote, conventional button remote and iPhone App remote
• Connectivity: 4 HDMI 2.0 ports, 2 USB ports
• Sound: 10W+10W 2ch full range speakers with ClearAudio + digital sound processing
• Dynamic Contrast Ratio: over 1 million
• Other Display Features: Triluminos Display with frame dimming
• TV weight with stand: 53.1 lbs
• Dimensions: 48.6 x 29.25 x 2.6 inches; With stand: 45.6 x 31 x 11.25 inches
The assorted highlights of the X850B cover a number of factors and here we’ll concentrate on the non-visual points.
For starters, this TV is definitely future-proofed, despite not representing the very top of the line in Sony 4K TVs. Just like all 2014 Sony ultra HD TVs, the X850B is fully optimized for support of the latest and most standardized 4K content compression codecs.
This includes support for the nearly ubiquitous HEVC codec that’s used in Netflix, Amazon and other streaming 4K content sources, but it also means support for the VP9 codec that Google is using for its own ultra HD content on YouTube. Thus, whichever of these two codecs becomes more popular down the road, you’re fully covered with the X850B.
Additionally, because the TV comes with HDMI 2.0 ports, it’s completely ready to play the latest 4K content from media players and other connectable devices at a very smooth 60 frames per second instead of the choppy, slower 30 frame speeds of the older HDMI 1.4 standard.
Also, because this is a Sony TV, it automatically gives you compatibility with the Sony Video Unlimited 4K library, which is the world’s single largest selection of ultra HD content with its more than 1,300 different titles. However, in a negative downside, accessing the library means having to also buy the Sony FMP-X10 4K media player, which is sold separately.
Then there is the social viewing feature of the X850B 4K ultra HD TV. With this awesome little technology, you can watch TVV, follow tweets, Skype and browse other social media accounts at the same time. It also allows you to watch sports, TV shows and movies, etc with your family and friends even if you’re physically separated from each other through the same social media connectivity that the Social Viewing feature gives you.
Finally, we have the gamer-friendly highlight called PlayStation Now. This feature is a recent arrival to the Sony 4K family of TVs and it lets you play PlayStation 3 games that get streamed directly to your TV without the need for an external console. With PlayStation Now, you can simply pair a DUALSHOCK 3 controller directly to the X850B and you’re pretty much good to go, assuming your internet connection is powerful enough to handle the game streams.
The superb visual specs of the Sony XBR55X850B start off with the TVs most obvious and powerful visual feature, which is the ultra HD 4K resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. Now while it may seem that 4K resolution is always 4K resolution regardless of TV brand, this often isn’t the case in practice, differing quirks of design across different manufacturer models can indeed produce varied levels of 4K resolution quality.
Luckily though, when it comes to Sony, you’re dealing with a pioneering leader in the industry and the UHD display in this and all of the company’s 2014/2015 TVs come with 4K that really plays out like 4K is supposed to when it comes to native UHD content.
And if you’re not going to be using the TV to watch real native ultra HD shows and movies, no problem. Sony also excels with its TV’s internal content upscaling engine and thanks to this visual feature, you can enjoy HD, Full HD and even 480p content with a powerful extra kick of clarity thanks to the X850B’s 4K X-Reality Pro picture engine analyzing technology. This algorithmic technology works to process every image on the screen, across a variety of resolutions, and refine color, clarity and detail across the board.
Finally, we come down to the unique and by now pretty famous visual technology known as Triluminos Display. In effect, Triluminos Display is the same thing as the recently unveiled Quantum Dot technology of Samsung’s and LG’s latest 2015 4K TVs (which cost a lot more than this Sony model) but it was marketed by Sony under a different name and much earlier in its own 4K televisions.
With Triluminos Display, a fine layer of polarized atomic crystals is spread across the inside of the 4K screen and captures the light of the LED array in such a way that much more realistic, vibrant and natural looking colors are produced. The difference that Triluminos produces in its TVs is genuinely notable when viewed alongside a 4K model without similar technology.
The X850B comes with a multitude of standard and not so standard connectivity features.
First of all, there are the obvious things like WiFi standard in the a/b/g and n categories, then there are WiFi Direct and LAN connectivity along with all the abilities these connection options offer, such as the already mentioned PlayStation Now feature for streamed gaming and the X850B’s Social Viewing technology.
The TV also comes with USB, HDMI 2.0 and all the usual Audio Out, Component, Analog Audio Input and Ethernet connections, the specifics of which you can see below.
• Subwoofer Out : 1 (Side / Hybrid w/ HP and Audio Out)
• Analog Audio Input(s) (Total) : 2 (Rear)
• Component Video (Y/Pb/Pr) Input(s) : 1 (Rear / Hybrid)
• Audio Out : 1 (Side / Hybrid w/ HP)
• USB 2.0 : 3 (Side)
• Composite Video Input(s) : 2 (1 Rear / 1 Rear Hybrid w/ Component)
• AC Power Input : 1 (Rear)
• HDMI™ Connection(s) (Total) : 4 (Side)
• Headphone Output(s) : 1 (Side / Hybrid w/ Audio Out)
• Ethernet Connection(s) : 1 (Rear)
• MHL : Yes
• RF Connection Input(s) : 1 (Side)
• HDMI PC Input Format : [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; 1280x768Hz; 1360x768Hz; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]
• RS-232C Input(s) : 1 (Side / Stereo Mini Jack)
• Digital Audio Output(s) : 1 (Rear)
• HDMI™ PC Input : Yes
If you buy it from either the Sony website itself, Amazon.com or an other major online retailer, the Sony XBR55X850B 55-Inch 4K Ultra HD 120Hz 3D Smart LED TV is currently selling for a recently discounted price of $1,799.00. This is a $1,200 decrease from its original list price of $2,999.
The Sony XBR55X850B is definitely not the very best in 4K TV technology, nor is it the top of the line among Sony 4K TVs, but then, that’s also a benefit of the TV in terms of its much more reasonable price.
However, because it is a lower priced model, some of the more innovative features like full-array LED backlighting and Extended Dynamic Range are lacking and their absence is notable when the X850B is compared to more advanced Sony models like the X950B.
• Triluminos Display for realistic, vibrant colors
• Excellent price for a Sony 4K TV
• Social Viewing feature
• Excellent connectivity options
• Full Smart TV functionality with numerous apps
• Compatible with all major streaming media platforms
• Compatible with Sony Video Unlimited 4K video service
• Edge—lit LED lighting instead of full-array LED backlighting
• Lacks Extended Dynamic Range
• Blacks on screen are bluish and hazy at times
• A bit thick for a 4K TV
• There are cheaper 4K models with the same size and full-array LED backlighting