Sony X800D Review – 4K HDR TV – (XBR49X800D, XBR43X800D)
Sony’s line of 2016 4K HDR TVs has turned out to be quite extensive and varied in its prices and qualities. After first releasing their initial series of high-priced (but not exorbitantly expensive) XBR-D TVs in the beginnings of 2016 in the form of the X930D, X900D, X850 D and “flagship” X940D models, which all featured high dynamic range, wide color gamut and a fresh new design, the company then further surprised tech watchers and consumers with their more economical but still HDR-capable mid 2016 releases of the X800D, X750D and X700D 4K models, which came out in a more limited range of sizes but at considerably more budget-oriented prices.
The X800D model we’re about to cover is essentially the top-shelf model among these new and more affordable 4K TVs, and while it’s not quite as good as its early 2016 predecessors, this fairly reasonably priced and rather smallish 4K TV model does come with some great display specs, very decent motion control and what we’d call an above-average overall performance for a lower range 4K TV from Sony. In a way, the X800D could be considered a successor to the excellent 2015 budget Sony 4K TV the X810C but in this model’s case you also get the benefit of powerful premium and new Sony technologies like HDR and Triluminos Display, both of which were absent in the budget 2015 4K home entertainment offerings from this brand.
Quite simply, for a budget 4K model, the X800D is most surprising in how close it comes to offering the same picture quality and performance caliber as its pricier premium cousins from the early 2016 Sony TV releases. For this, we respect the new model quite a lot.
We should also mention that the 49 inch version of the X800D comes with an IPS display panel instead of a VA panel. This shouldn't mean much difference in motion handling or color performance specs but it will mean a major difference in black levels and contrast, both of which will be about one third to 50% lower than they are in the VA model we're primarily referring to in the review below.
Despite being one of the cheaper TVs in Sony’s 2016 line of 4K televisions, the X800D is in general a very good compact home theater display and this is its single biggest benefit as a potential consumer choice. Basically, you won’t get shoddy quality for it despite the lower-tier status relative to its 4K Sony cousins. While that may seem like par for the course for a name brand TV it surprisingly enough isn’t quite so since both LG and Samsung have been known to put out lower-priced 4K models for both 2015 and 2016 which were not such good 4K TVs when compare to their pricier cousins in each respective brand. In the case of Sony, the discrepancy is basically much smaller and when compared to its counterparts from Samsung and LG in the same price range, the X800D outshines them almost across the board, particularly when compared to LG’s rarely very good LCD 4K TVs.
Secondly, we love the fact that despite its compact size and lower price, the X800D is in fact a near premium 4K TV in its specs and features, especially by the standards of Sony’s early 2016 4K HDR models and the company’s 2015 line of 4K HDR TVs. Not only does this TV offer a certain very decent (though partially limited but more on that further down) constellation of high dynamic range specs, it also offers formers more premium 4K television technologies for Sony models such as Triluminos Display color enhancement technology and status as a “Netflix Recommended” 4K UHD TV for viewing of the streaming service’s 4K high dynamic range and regular 4K UHD content sources. In fact, all of these are features which put the X800D well above the X810C, which was more or less this TV’s 2015 counterpart and which lacked even Triluminos Display and definitely didn’t offer wide color gamut or high dynamic range. In other words, for more or less the same price that the X810C sold at in 2015 (slightly less in fact) the X800D of 2016 offers an even more robust range of features and superior overall quality.
More specifically, the X800D is a superb performer when it comes to motion control specs in particular and we consider these to be its very strongest specs overall. The TV is excellent at handling motion blur despite a native refresh rate of only 60Hz, largely because Sony in general is talented at developing 4K TVs which perform admirably at motion specs even when they’re 60Hz models. In addition to the very good motion blur handling, with a very nicely fast response time of 13 milliseconds, the X800D also delivers decent (though not superb) 24p content playback for movie and other video sources which have been formatted at 24p. This applies to DVDs, Blu-rays, 4K Blu-rays and streaming content as well. There is some judder but it’s mild enough to be ignored after a bit of visual adjustment.
Finally, we love Sony’s design, connectivity and smart TV setup for the X800D and the rest of their 2016 TV models in general. This model offers a slim, fairly sleek and elegant looking built which, though a bit on the sharp-bodied side (as is common in Sony TVs) still manages to look nice in any living room. It’s a handsome looking TV for its size even if it doesn’t exactly have a real “Wow factor” to it. As for connectivity features, they consist of what are pretty much the standard and well-represented essentials of 4K TV connectivity in all modern 4K television models, with HDMI 2.0A, USB 3.0, LAN, WiFi connectivity and both digital and analog audio connections all present and accounted for. In other words, the X800D delivers what you’ll need and plenty of it, with no unpleasant surprises like a limited selection of HDMI ports (something we’ve noted in some LG TVs and Samsung’s 2016 KU-Series 4K TV models).
Android TV is installed in the X800D in its latest 2016 version and it’s as good as it ever was. In fact, we’d say that the smart platform performs even better than its 2015 version with a bit more functionality, ease-of-use and refinement. Furthermore, the selection of apps included in the smart OS right out of the box is robust and further improved by the possibility of selecting from many more media apps of all kinds through the Google Play store. The X800D comes with 4K content access through all the best apps like Netflix, Amazon Prie and Ultraflix while also offering special Sony TV-only 4K content offerings through the new Sony “Ultra” 4K content app which is only available to the company’s 2016 HDR TVs for now. As a final bonus of its Android TV smart platform, the X800D is fully Google Cast compatible, meaning that it lets you stream content from all compatible Android or iOS devices without special hardware. We should also note that Google Cast will soon be coming out with 4K content functionality and this will only serve to benefit owners of the X800D and other Sony 4K TVs even more.
4.3 - 32 Reviews
As we said, the X800D is what we consider to be a very decent to great overall performer of a 4K TV but it does also come with its range of minor to moderate defect. However, considering its price and other benefits, we don’t consider any of these to be deal breakers in any way.
First of all and most notable, there is the black level performance of the X800D. It’s not terrible and nowhere near as bad as the black performance of LG’s 2014, 2015 and 2016 4K LCD TVS (even the HDR models!!) but it’s not nearly as good as the black performance we’ve seen in any of the 2016 Samsung 4K TVs, and this includes Samsung’s budget models in the entire KU-Series. Furthermore, when compared to any of its 2015 counterparts in Sony’s own line of 4K TVs (except the generally terrible X830C from last year, which was a display crapfest of a 4K TV) the X800D delivers notably inferior black levels. Specifically speaking, this model’s black uniformity could use a bit more smoothing out due to some minor clouding and the depth of maximum black level darkness is not as good as we’d like. It sits at about 0.028 cd/m2 and for an HDR TV the maximum permissible black level should be at least 0.020 cd/m2. for example, almost all offer black levels of 0.018 or lower for some truly deep, rich blacksSamsung’s 4K TVs, . That said, the X800D still delivers a very respectable contrast ratio when compared to some competitors, especially LG’s 4K TVs in the LCD ranges.
Secondly, the X800D offers no 3D technology of any kind. For many users this won’t be a problem at all if they’re not interested in 3D to begin with, but for those of you who do like playing around with 3D viewing, the lack of either active or even passive 3D in the X800D will possibly be a deal-breaker.
Additionally, the X800D messes up a bit on a couple of other core performance specs, though it only does so very slightly on some of them. These are its motion interpolation, local dimming and brightness capacities. As far as the motion interpolation is concerned, the X800D works quite well but in terms of judder control for 24p content, it could use a bit of improvement. Since it’s only a 60Hz 4K television, enhanced motion technology is rather limited and motion enhancement of particularly high-frame rate content in the 60Hz range is a bit problematic in this model. However, as we said, the X800D does generally handle motion blur and judder well, so the motion interpolation problem it has will be mostly minor except in cases where you’re viewing high-speed action sports content in native or upscaled 4K and want the smoothest, sharpest looking possible movements to appear on the screen.
Local dimming and peak brightness in the X800D are both on the weak side. In fact, the X800D offers no local dimming at all and this will affect the precision with which bright or dark objects are delineated in content. As for the TV’s peak brightness, it’s simply not that great and especially so for a so-called HDR 4K TV. Even in a 10% window of display space, peak brightness never breaks the 400 nit barrier and falls far below the minimums set out in HDR10 standards for high quality HDR TV display.
Finally, to close of our complaints section, we definitely recommend you buy an external sound system for the X800D if you want some robust audio power for your movies. The speakers on this 4K TV are okay for regular TV viewing at normal volumes but they distort badly at high volumes which you might want for some movies, and more complex sound technologies for surround sensation are totally absent.
Don’t’ be turned off by our largish listing of negative characteristics that the X800D suffers from. Most of them won’t at all be an issue for a majority of users and overall, for its price and size, the X800D is one very good and very robust 4K UHD HDR TV. It offers plenty of value for its price and at least in its size range, we’d recommend it more than any LG LCD 4K TV or any of Samsung’s non-SUHD TV models, without a doubt. We like the X800D on the whole.
• Screen size: 49 diagonal inches and 43 diagonal inches
• Smart TV: Android TV with Apps and Full Web Browser
• HEVC (H.265) Included: Yes
• VP9 Included. Yes
• HD to UHD upscaling: Yes
• HDCP 2.2 Compliance: Yes
• Refresh Rate: 60Hz native refresh rate
• Screen Lighting: Edge-lit LED backlighting
• Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels UHD
• Wireless Connectivity: Yes, includes both built-in WiFi and Ethernet port
• Remotes: Sony button remote with voice recognition
• Connectivity: 4 HDMI 2.0a ports, 3 USB ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 Component, 1 composite, 1 Audio Out, 1 Digital Audio Out
• Sound: 10 W+10 W
• Contrast Ratio: 3,882:1
• Black Level maximum: 0.028 cd/m2
• 3D Technology: none
• TV dimensions (box):
• 43 inch: 27.76 x 42.44 x 6.22 inches.
• 49 inch: 30.71 x 47.76 x 6.65 inches
• Processor: 4K Processor X1 Quad Core
We partly love Sony’s X-tended Dynamic Range, or HDR capabilities. Colors are brilliant and the brightness levels are impressive. When this is coupled with Sony’s Triluminos technology, the result is even richer colors and unbelievable textures for a very natural picture. No, the HDR of the X800D isn’t up to par with HDR10 standards and it doesn’t match the high dynamic range specs of the more premium X900D, X930D and X940D 4K premium TVs or much less the specs of the new Z-Series Sony models (from what we’ve heard since we haven’t had a chance to review them yet) but for a TV in its price and size range, the X800D offers some superb color performance which at least covers a certain part of the display technology spectrum that falls under HDR. This alone is the most noteworthy highlight of this particular model.
4K X-Reality PRO is another highlight of the X800D. It analyses each pixel, and using an image database, adds contrast, detail and texture to every single frame of your content, whether the source is broadcast TV to low quality video streaming.
Google’s Android operating system also features as a feather in the X800D’s cap. It gives you unparalleled connectivity and access to content. It allows you to connect to the TV from mobile devices, stream content from Amazon Prime – with Netflix, Sony Ultra and with Google Cast coming soon – and functions as a gaming platform. The user-friendly platform also has a number of fun and useful tricks up its sleeve including advanced voice control. The remote control of the X800D is a basic button remote but it does come with voice recognition technology as a sort of nice added smart-tech touch. Furthermore, we note that in our overall analysis of smart TV platforms, we consider the Android TV platform of the Sony 4K TV line for 2016 and 2015 to be one of the best we’ve seen to-date. This is something we still consider to be the case for Android in the X800D, especially in terms of content access and assorted Google features for apps and web browsing support.
Finally, the X800D is a solid performer as a 4K TV for gaming and PC display use. We’ve seen superior performance from Samsung and Viziio models for 2016 but the X800D still gives them a run for their money in terms of its fairly low input lag of 33 milliseconds and its support for 1080p @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4, 4k @ 30Hz @ 4:4:4, 4k @ 60Hz and 4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4.
4.3 - 32 Reviews
The visual specs of the X800D are generally very good even if they don’t stun like those of the Samsung 2016 SUHD TVs or Sony’s best 2016 models like the X940D or even more so, the new Z-Series top-shelf 4K TVs which are coming out in late 2016. In other words, this model delivers solid performance even though it comes with a few display flaws which are worth mentioning as well.
Starting with the essentials, the 43 inch X800D we're reviewing here is a Vertical Alignment (VA) panel 4K TV with moderate viewing angles and mid-level brightness that reaches up to a peak level of 381 cd/m2 or 381 nits. This is far below the peak brightness of the Samsung SUHD HDR TVs for 2016 and even for 2015 and it’s also far below the peak brightness of the best Sony HDR TVs for 2016 but it’s also not a bad brightness level for a 4K TV. However, by premium HDR standards of any kind, it’s severely lacking, especially when compared to a majority of 2016 4K TVs, most of which do come with some level of high dynamic range contrast built into their displays. On the other hand, the black level of the X800D is also not spectacular even though it’s fairly decent. Black level brightness sits at about 0.028 cd/m2 and while this is well above the maximum allowed by HDR10 standards (0.02 nits), it’s also respectable and better than what we’ve seen in LG’s HDR LCD TVs for this year, which deliver twice that level of brightness in their black level readings.
We should also mention that the 49 inch version of the X800D comes with an IPS display panel instead of a VA panel. This shouldn't mean much difference in motion handling or color performance specs but it will mean a major difference in black levels and contrast, both of which will be about one third to 50% lower than they are in the VA model we're refering to above.
Nonetheless, despite middling brightness and slightly over-bright black levels (by HDR standards), the X800D delivers a generally respectable contrast ratio of 3,882:1 and while we’ve seen far better in other LCD TVs like Samsung’s KS8000, KS9500 or any of the other 2016 SUHD models, the contrast of the X800D is perfectly good for dark room viewing and for most regular uses. We should however note that the X800d doesn’t offer local dimming of any kind and thus its precision coordination of zone specific brightening and darkening in onscreen content is definitely not that great and far inferior to what you’d find in a full-array 4K TV like the X940D from Sony.
As for color support, Sony’s X800D, X750D and X700D budget 4K HDR TV models come with HDR-quality 10-bit color support and it’s pretty much just as good as the color offered in the more pricey X850D – X940D 4K TVs which cost a fair bit more. The X800D also also offers very robust wide color gamut support for a DCI-P3 color space coverage of 96%. On top of this, due to this TV's 10-bit color, the model delivers 1.07 billion different color values. However, the colors on the X800D do look a bit more saturated than some might like (we suspect that this is due to the Triluminos Display working on the model) a bit of calibration of color settings can create a superb display performance in this area for movies, T shows and even assorted sources of upscaled non-HDR content.
Finally, arriving at the X800D’s motion handling capabilities, we can say that with very little exception, this model is a great performer. This is generally typical of all the Sony 4K TV’s we’ve reviewed between 2015 and 2016 and we even noticed great motion performance in the 2014 models which were some of this brand’s first 4K UHD TVs.
In any case, for a 4K TV with a native refresh rate of only 60Hz instead of the more usual 120Hz, the X800D delivers a small amount of judder instability on 4K UHD movie content in the 24p format but even here, the effect is minor and unless you’re sensitive to the movement, it shouldn’t affect movie viewing performance. Other key movie and TV viewing specs like motion blur control are superb and all the more impressive for being this good in a 60Hz TV. With a response time of 13 milliseconds, the X800D delivers very low motion blur and this can be further reduced by activating Sony’s MotionFlow technology though a slight soap opera effect is created by doing this (however it’s lesser than we’ve seen it in many 120Hz TVs of a higher price range). Motion interpolation technology in the X800D is also very robust and offers motion enhancement for content that flows at both 30Hz up to 60Hz, for the obvious reason that this is a 60Hz TV. However, since the X800D does deliver great motion blur control, the lack of high level motion interpolation shouldn’t be a problem.
Finally, as for the upscaling engine in the X800D, it’s as good as we’ve seen it in all other major Sony 4K TVs. This spec pretty much seems to stay solid across the spectrum of Sony TVs regardless of pricing and is quite superb, with particularly grat upscaling of Full HD content and streamed 4K content sources. It also upscales 720p video sources wonderfully in most cases.
Connectivity-wise, the Sony X800D offers all of the same robust and modern specs that the rest of the Sony 2016 4K TVs come with. These include both WiFi and the usual component of:
• 4 HDMI 2.0/2.0a ports
• 3 USB 3.0 ports
• 1 Digital Optical Audio Port
• 1 Analog audio port for 3.5mm jacks
• 2 component In ports
• 1 composite in Port
• 1 Tuner
• I Ethernet slot
• 1 IR In port
The 49 inch model of the X800D sells on Amazon for a retail price of $798.00 as of this writing and the X800D 43 inch model is even more reasonable priced at $648.00. We consider both of these to be great prices for a 4K TV of such decent general specs and robust HDR support.
4.3 - 32 Reviews
To summarize briefly the rather mild defects of the X800D. We argue that its worst attributes come in the form of its poor internal audio support, it’s weak peak brightness, a lack of high performance motion interpolation and the fact that this 4K TV doesn’t come in larger sizes. The small dimensions make it a great budget TV with serious kick but We’d love to see a reasonably priced 55 inch model on offer at least. The X750D, which is the next down in this series of budget HDR TVs is still more affordable and similar and does come in larger versions, but it has certain key defects which the X800D lacks.
• Very good motion handling specs
• Superb color performance
• Excellent, content-rich Android TV platform
• Affordably priced
• Decent HDR color specs
• Fast performance
• Not the best peak brightness
• Refresh rate capped at 60Hz
• Weak audio performance
• No larger size models beyond 49 inches
• VA display technology produces weak viewing angles