Sony X800E 4K HDR Ultra HD TV Review (XBR43X800E, XBR49X800E, XBR55X800E)
- Very good color delivery in HDR and SDR content
- Good SDR peak brightness (without HDR programming being watched)
- Decently priced
- Great motion handling for fast-paced video entertainment
- Broad gaming format support despite high input lag for game playing.
- IPS display creates really bad contrast
- Weak black levels
- Very poor contrast
- No local dimming to compensate
The Bottom Line
Sony’s X800E 4K HDR TV is decent overall, with some strong performance features like motion handling and color in particular mixed in with some pretty bad specs like its contrast ratio and black level delivery. We can definitely think of other better 4K HDR TVs that are priced similarly but this model isn’t a bad start TV choice if you’re more of a Sony fan.
Sony’s X800E is definitively in the category of Sony’s budget 4K HDR TVs for 2017. Despite this, it manages to deliver a decent level of overall performance with good picture quality, reasonably good motion handling specs and some very solid color performance. The X800E also comes with IPS display technology options which allow for excellent wide viewing angles, though these come at the sacrifice of the high contrast that we’ve seen in most of Sony’s other 4K LCD TVs with Vertical Alignment display panel technology. That said, the X800E is a decent starter 4K TV model as well as a good choice for console gamers and users who want a 4K television to use as a giant 4K UHD PC display. All in all, we mostly like the X800E and especially at the prices it sells for in its three different sizes. However, there are better 4K televisions on the market with even better specs for cheaper prices and this is something that consumers who aren’t dedicated Sony fans should keep in mind. Furthermore, the XBRX800E is not a Sony model we recommend if you want some real premium and cutting-edge 4K HDR home entertainment technology.
Despite its budget status, the Sony X800E delivers a number of solidly good features that most consumers and especially price-conscious buyers without experience with really high-end premium HDR ultra HD TVs could appreciate. This is not an extraordinarily good 4K TV and it’s not even a really good 4K HDR TV but the X800E is a decent, solid budget 4K TV with some reasonably acceptable HDR functionality. Given its price and target market (definitely not people looking for a premium ultra HD home theater experience), the X800E performs well and we definitely recommend it as a solid starter 4K TV or a good bedroom/den model for people who want a cheaper second television to accompany their main model while still keeping 4K resolution and other cutting-edge display specs like wide color gamut (yes the X800E supports it). Here’s a breakdown of our favorite aspects of this model:
Sony’s X800E isn’t exactly beautiful to look at but it’s also not an ugly 4K TV by any means. We’ve certainly seen worse looking models. More importantly, the X800E is sturdy, stable and well-built despite the lack of some more premium-looking metal or other types of trimmings that you’ll find in Sony’s pricier premium televisions. Overall, the X800E has an extremely close resemblance to its slightly more expensive and much better cousin the X850E, which we reviewed here recently. However, the display bezel along the bottom of the X800E is thicker and the model has a slightly cheaper feel overall. Once again though, this is a sturdy TV whose stand is nicely narrow enough to fit even on surfaces that are a lot narrower than the TV itself. It can also be wall-mounted through its VESA support holes and while its backside is thick enough for the X800E to stick out of the wall more than is strictly elegant, it looks good enough against a wall.
Quite possibly the single most powerful feature in Sony’s X800E 4K TV display is this model’s color performance. Surprisingly for such a low-budget Sony 4K HDR TV, the X800E offers not only 10-bit color but also wide color gamut, though its WCG coverage of the DCI-P3 color space is not quite as high and rich as it is in Sony’s pricier and much better performing HDR 4K TVs like the X900E, X930E or X940E top-shelf 4K HDR LCD TV (which we consider to be the best LCD 4K TV of 2017 so far). These two color performance specs in the X800E also combine well with this model’s generally solid color accuracy for both HDR and SDR content and its color volume as fairly decent for such a relatively affordable Sony 4K television. The X800E will deliver fairly robust color performance for any kind of decently created movie, TV, streaming and media player content but its HDR color performance shines especially well if you use this model to watch real ultra HD high dynamic range content sources.
While the Sony X800E packs little or no wow factor in terms of its HDR brightness capacity (something we’ll go into more down below in our “Bad” and “Key Display Specs” sections), this 4K TV does perform surprisingly well when it comes to its brightness levels for normal standard dynamic range content. HDR brightness is higher in the X800E but the SDR brightness levels are remarkably good by budget 4K TV standards and solid enough for good viewing quality even in a daylight-lit room. In fact, Many LG and Samsung 4K HDR TVs with the same sorts of prices lack wide color gamut, so the X800E has a bit of an edge here over some comparable rival models.
In case any of this is a bit confusing, peak and sustained brightness measurements are crucial aspects of high dynamic range in a 4K TV and important specs for making any type of video shine more realistically and in greater detail.
Sony’s X800E also handles motion really well for a low-cost 4K television. This is typical of all Sony 4K TVs including budget models we’ve reviewed over the last couple of years and it’s nice to see the trend continue in the XBR49X800E model and its two 43 and 55 inch cousins. Motion blur is very low in this television and backlight flicker is virtually non-existent. Furthermore, content interpolates smoothly onto this TV’s native 60Hz display panel. There are some judder issues with movie content sources such as cable boxes but this is a minor problem that most consumers aren’t likely to even notice. The X800E essentially handles motion nearly as well as some of its much more expensive Sony cousins.
Gaming Support and PC Monitor Usability
Like all of Sony’s 2016 and 2017 4K HDR TVs, the Sony X800E models support all of the usual inputs for HDMI, USB, and with the codecs necessary for playing back a broad range of different content options form different sources. That’s pretty much standard with today’s 4K TVs but what the X800E does a bit better than some other older or even newer 4K ultra HD TVs we’ve seen is offer full support for a broad range of console gaming resolutions and color formats, along with numerous PC monitor resolutions and display formats. We’ll cover many of these further down in our “Connectivity” section but in basic terms buyers of the X800E can at least relax in knowing that this TV supports 4K gaming, 1080p gaming and also both of these resolutions in multiple configurations of refresh rate, color management and even with HDR. For use as a PC monitor, the X800E is also a fine performer due to compatibility with 4K at 60Hz and in assorted color sampling formats.
Android TV Smart Platform
One final highlight of the Sony XBR-X800E televisions is the Sony Android TV platform in its 2017 version that all of this brand’s 4K TVs come with. We really like it. Not only does it provide an excellent range of media and other apps thanks to the fairly unique inclusion of Google Play. Other new 2017 features include a home button on the remote for opening a task switching menu for quickly moving between apps even as they’re running and Sony has also given Android TV a Picture in Picture feature for running video from HDMI or tuner sources to run inside a little box while you navigate the Android TV interface as a whole. Android TV is still a bit tricky to navigate but it’s definitely better in the 2017 Sony models like this one. The remote itself even in this low cost Sony 4K TV comes with the same voice search and microphone that you’d find in the pricier television models.
4.7 – 4 Reviews
As a budget 4K high dynamic range TV, the X800E is also far from excellent and it has its share of things we particularly didn’t like, some of them bad enough to almost be deal breakers for anyone who isn’t a particular fan of the Sony brand in their electronics. The following are the biggest issues we noticed, from worst to least serious:
IPS Panel technology
IPS screens in 4K TVs offer one main benefit. This is in the wide viewing angles they provide compared to alternative LCD TV screen technologies like VA (Vertical alignment) panels. But aside from this one good characteristic, IPS isn’t that great in other more important ways. Most important among them being the really bad black levels and contrast ratios that it creates. Since deep, rich black levels and high contrast rare crucial to picture quality and especially to HDR TV picture quality, the IPS screen of the X800E does a lot to spoil their potential. All three models of this TV, the XBR-43X800E, XBR-49X800E and XBR-55X800E, come with IPS display.
Black Levels, Contrast and Black Uniformity
As we mentioned just above, IPS can really ruin contrast, black levels and black uniformity and it definitely does this in the X800E. In all of these crucial display specs, this 4K TV delivers really badly. Black uniformity is really weak, the contrast ratio is simply disappointing and is this bad because the X800E TVs really screw up on black depth. We’ve seen IPS 4K TVs that can deliver some very good contrast for these kinds of screens. LG’s 2016 UH8500 that we reviewed last year, and 2017 LG SJ8500, are great examples, but the X800E fails here and badly.
The X800E is an HDR television and it does indeed offer HDR color performance that’s pretty good but after seeing how badly it does at delivering deep contrast, we were even more disappointed to see its weak HDR peak and sustained brightness. We’ll give the specific measurements for these further down in our display specs section but simply put, the brightness this TV can do with HDR activated is considerably lower than even most modest HDR brightness levels in many other high dynamic range televisions.
Overall HDR Performance
Because of the above HDR brightness problem and this TV’s generally terrible black level performance, the X800E is just barely able to earn its title as an HDR 4K TV. It pulls this off only because of its rich 10-bit color and wide color gamut capabilities, as well as its support for playback of HDR10 mastering in 4K video.
We said further above in the “good” section that the X800E is very gamer friendly in how well it supports different formats, resolutions, refresh rates and color sampling types for console gaming on this TV. These things are all true but the X800E does a little bit at delivering low input lag in these different formats. Average input lag rarely goes below 30 ms even in game mode and this is disappointing to see in the X800E model. We’ve seen much better performance on input lag for console gaming in Samsung’s entire great mid-range 4K TV lineup, Vizio’s 4K UHD TVs and most of all in TCL’s excellent P-Series 4K high dynamic range TV.
We do like the Sony X800E in certain ways and it isn’t a bad basic 4K HDR TV. Its motion handling and color performance are both great and it’s priced fairly reasonably by Sony standards but the low quality IPS display really helps spoil some of this television’s appeal, which is a shame, because IPS display can be done right. LG has certainly pulled it off and so has Sony with other model’s we’ve seen. Thus, if we were to recommend a starter TV or a budget HDR television, we’d probably go for another model such as Vizio’s P-Series or even better, TCL’s P607 2017 model. They’re similarly priced but offer much better display performance and HDR quality.
Key TV Specs
- Screen size: 43 diagonal inches (XBR-49X800E), 49 diagonal inches (XBR-55X800E), 55 diagonal inches (XBR-55X800E)
- 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
- HDR Support: Yes, HDR10
- Refresh Rate: 60Hz 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 button remote with voice recognition
- Connectivity: 4 HDMI (all of them 2.0a with HDCP 2.2) ports, 3 USB ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 Digital Audio Out,
- Sound: 10 W+10 W Bass Reflex Speakers with Dolby™ Digital, Dolby™ Digital Plus, Dolby™ Pulse and DTS Digital Surround
- Contrast Ratio: 989 : 1 (native, real contrast)
- TV dimensions (55 inch model): 48 5/8 x 28 1/4 x 2 1/4″ (1,232 x 716 x 57 mm)
- TV weight (55 inch model): 38.8 lb (16.9 kg) w/ Stand, 41 lb (18.1 kg)
- Processor: 4K X-Reality™ PRO
4.7 – 4 Reviews
Key Display Specs
The following are the key display performance metrics of the Sony X800E in all of its versions. They’re based off the 49 inch model and barring slight variations between individual televisions, the following specs will stay close to these exact numbers across most functioning units.
To briefly give a summary of how well the X800E performs, this is an IPS LCD LED 4K HDR TV and as we described earlier on in this review, it offers good color performance with the major HDR color specs covered but suffers from extremely bad contrast ratio, black uniformity and overall black level. These severely weaken the X800E’s claim to being an HDR TV and they spoil overall display performance. IPS display can be done much better than this and Sony dropped the ball in this model’s case.
Black Level, Local Dimming and Contrast:
Black levels in the X800E are downright poor and as a result this model suffers from a really low quality (by 4K HDR TV standards) contrast ratio of just 989:1. This is not the worst we’ve seen in a 4K TV we reviewed but it’s not far off from being there. Local dimming in the X800E doesn’t exist and it’s too bad that it doesn’t because it could have definitely improved this model’s contrast ratio and performance. Even worse, we’ve seen cheaper 4K HDR TVs than this which do indeed include local dimming technology and offer much better black levels and contrast.
The following are the brightness specs for the Sony X800E 2017 HDR TV measured at different percentages of the display illuminated to full power briefly or for a sustained period. They apply equally or almost equally to the rest of the 2017 X800E models. There’s also a measurement for overall average brightness for ordinary viewing of both SDR and HDR content. As you can clearly see the X800E delivers decent SDR brightness levels while dropping the ball badly on its HDR peak brightness, which is mediocre at best.
Also, to clarify, peak brightness is the maximum possible spot HDR or SDR luminosity of the display or a section of it measured in nits (or cd/m2, which is the same measurement unit) under different conditions. Sustained brightness is the highest possible sustained HDR or SDR brightness that the TV screen can manage over different conditions or areas of illuminated display.
- Overall SDR peak brightness for normal movie/TV content: 347 nits
- Peak 2% display area display SDR brightness: 355 nits
- Peak 10% display area SDR brightness: 389 nits
- Peak 100% display area SDR brightness: 399 nits
- Sustained 10% SDR Brightness: 392 nits
- Sustained 100% SDR brightness: 390 nits
- Overall HDR peak brightness for normal movie/TV content: 400 nits
- Peak 2% display area display HDR brightness: 401 nits
- Peak 10% display area HDR brightness: 409 nits
- Peak 50% display area HDR brightness: 429 nits
- Peak 100% display area HDR brightness: 431 nits
- Sustained 10% HDR Brightness: 429 nits
- Sustained 100% HDR brightness: 428 nits
The Sony XBR-X800E’s saving grace is this 4K HDR TV’s capability of rendering high quality color across the board, both for SDR content and HDR content. The television comes with both 10-bit color for 1.07 billion RGB values for a smooth gradation between colors and with wide color gamut at 90.8% of the DCI-P3 color space. The X800E however doesn’t offer the best color volume. Bright colors render vibrantly because the TV in any case never gets nearly bright enough to fade them as can happen in exceptionally bright 4K LCD TVs but darker colors render poorly or look too washed out thanks to this 4K TV’s very low black depth and contrast ratio.
We should also mention that the overall SDR and HDR color accuracy of the X800E are both very good, with a post-calibration wide balance delta E (inaccuracy of grey tones) of just 0.29, a color delta E of only 1.75 and a gamma rating of 2.15. These are all very good figures and the color delta E (inaccuracy of rendered colors).
Motion Handling & Upscaling:
Finally, for motion handling, the Sony XBR-X800E 4K TV works quite well and we’d definitely consider its second strongest area of display performance after this model’s color rendering ability. Motion blur is very low in the X800E with a response time of a remarkably good 8.3 milliseconds. This essentially means that the X800E is a solid performer when it comes to smooth, blur-reduced handling of fast-paced action on the TV. It plays back 24p movie content from streaming media and Blu-ray disc sources nicely and without noticeable judder and even when it comes to motion interpolation of lower frame rate content on its native 60Hz screen, the X800E does a decent if not extremely good job of playing back such video sources without artefacts and other picture defects. In basic terms, the Sony X800E handles motion very well for its price and otherwise lower ranking.
The connectivity specs of the Sony X800E OLED 4K TV lineup are fairly standard and the same as those of all other Sony TVs we’ve reviewed for this year, this TV comes with full [email protected] pass-through with HDR10 and HEVC supported in HDMI ports 2 and 3, and HDCP 2.2 along with HEVC and VP9 in all of its four HDMI ports.
In terms of gaming connectivity, the Sony X800E is a good but not excellent 4K TV, with decently low input lag for 4K resolution under game mode, with support for multiple color, HDR and resolution settings. Input lag for console gaming is however rather weak, as can be seen below. Here are some key input lag metrics under different settings, we should mention here that Samsung, Vizio’s and especially TCL’s 4K HDR TVs for 2017 do a better job in this area of TV performance:
- 4k @ 60Hz: 35 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz: 34.6 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz + HDR: 32 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz + HDR: 31.5 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode : 33.2 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4: 33.6 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4: 31.9 ms
- HDMI : 4 (All come with HDCP 2.2 and 2,3 come with full HDMI 2.0a capacity)
- USB : 3 (USB 3.0)
- Digital Optical Audio Out : 1
- Analog Audio Out 3.5mm : 1
- Tuner (Cable/Ant) : 1
- Ethernet : 1
The XBR-X800E models also offer audio connectivity in the following audio types
- 5.1 Passthrough ARC Dolby Digital
- 5.1 Passthrough ARC DTS
- 5.1 Passthrough Optical Dolby Digital
- 5.1 Passthrough Optical DTS
Sony is selling the X800E lineup of 2017 TVs for the following prices 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 link(s) for real-time pricing and all available discounts on this excellent 4K HDR television model.
Sony XBR43X800E: $748.00
Sony XBR49X800E: $798.00
Sony XBR55X800E: $898.00
4.7 – 4 Reviews