Sony X850C Review – 4K Ultra HD 120Hz 3D Smart LED TV – (XBR55X850C, XBR65X850C, XBR75X850C Series)
Definitely one of Sony’s better 2014/2015 4K ultra HD TVs, the X850C may not have the sheer power of higher-end Sony TVs like the X900B and the even more prestigious X950B but it still does deliver the goods in home entertainment wonderfully. As far as major 4K TVs go, this particular model offers a comprehensive, powerful connectivity and visual technology package that will give your home entertainment center a powerful boost without breaking your budget.
While the X850C lacks certain newer Sony 4K TV features like Extended Dynamic Range and an upgraded panel, it still offers Triluminous Display, the new Android TV smart TV platform and full connectivity to a wide range of UHD content choices as well as a whole plethora of web apps for other entertainment media.
Overall while nowhere near the very best in the Sony lineup, the X850C delivers everything you need for a complete 4K home entertainment package and it does so at a very reasonable price. This is definitely one of the better choices among more economy minded ultra HD TVs.
The finer features of the X850C are numerous despite the lack of a few key advanced specs that only Sony’s latest TVs offer and overall this particular model is a thoroughly fleshed out package.
For starters, you get the benefit of the full deal in terms of connectivity. The XBR55X850C comes with full 4K connectivity that includes HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2 compatibility, USB 3.0, HEVC/VP9 codec calibration and full internet access via WiFi and Ethernet. In this regard, Sony pretty much never fails its customers, whether the TVs in question are budget models or the latest and most advanced ultra HD TVs.
Additional digital interactivity features that come included in the X850C include the already mentioned Android TV, out-of-the-box access to Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video 4K content and complete compatibility with Sony’s own 4K media player, the FMP-X10. This last currently offers the world’s single largest library of premium UHD content for purchase or rent.
In terms of visual specs, the X850C is no slouch either. While it lacks some of the more razor fine detail of higher end models (particularly for darker scenes) and isn’t as vibrant in terms of contrast, the X850C does give you the benefit of Triluminous Display for much more varied color shades. Furthermore, both the 65 and 75 inch models include the beauty of full-array LED backlighting, though the 55 inch model only comes with Sony's edge-lit display illumination.
Furthermore, it includes Sony’s well known and very high quality X-Reality PRO upscaling engine for taking any sort of HD, Full HD and even SD content and turning it into something much closer to native 4K in terms of overall quality. In this regard, Sony has the experience of 10 years in developing upscaling technology going for them and it definitely shows.
Finally, the peripheral extras of the Sony XBR65X850C are pretty cool considering its price. These include a Voice search and control feature which lets you make essential commands by speaking to the TV and a connection to PlayStation Now, which let’s you bring PlayStation 3 games for streaming directly to the TV, where you can play them as long as you get your hands on a DUALSHOCK 4 controller which is unfortunately sold separately.
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So what’s bad about the Sony XBR55X850C 4K TV? Quite frankly, not too much. Sony is no slouch when it comes to making 4K UHD TVs and even its more economical models pack plenty of punch. Thus, we can say with confidence that the X850C isn’t a bad TV by any conventional measure, it’s only inferior when compared to even better models that also cost a lot more.
For starters, the picture quality of the X850C doesn’t compare to what you’ll get with a Sony X950C or even an X900B. However, both of these are a bit or more pricey.
Furthermore, the contrast ratio of the X850C could use some more refinement and especially now that HDR content is on the way and ready to put all first generation 4K displays and content sources in the garbage bin in terms of visible quality.
Finally, we should also mention that this TV only offers an edge-lit LED backlight system. Our recently reviewed Vizio M-Series and P-Series 4K TVs cost a lot less than their Sony counterparts and even they can manage effective full-array LED backlighting. There’s no reason why Sony can’t start doing the same and offering a bit more real value to customers.
The Sony XBR65X850C is an excellent choice for a slightly more economical 4K TV that still offers all the fundamental connectivity and visual display technologies that will leave you mostly or possibly even completely satisfied. While truly awesome contrast range and display sharpness aren’t as good as they could be in the X850C, you’re still getting a great package that’s mostly worth its $1500 price tag.
• Screen size: 55 inch - XBR55X850C, 65 inch - XBR65X850C, 75 inch - XBR75X850C
• Smart TV: Yes
• HEVC (H.265) Included: Yes
• HD to UHD upscaling: Yes, X-Reality PRO upscaling engine
• HDCP 2.2 Compliance: Yes
• Refresh Rate: 120Hz
• Screen Lighting: edge-lit LED backlighting (with full-array backlighting on 65 and 75 inch models)
• Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels UHD
• Wireless Connectivity: Yes, includes WiFi, Blue Tooth, NFC and Ethernet port
• Remotes: One-flick remote, classical button remote
• Connectivity: 4 HDMI 2.0 ports, 1 MHL port 3 USB 2.0, component, Digital Audio out, Composite, Ethernet
• Dynamic Contrast Ratio: Over 1 million
• Audio: 10W + 10W down firing 2 channel speakers with S-Force Front Surround sound
• TV weight with/without stand: 46.3 lbs/43.9 lbs
• Dimensions: TV without stand: 48 3/4 x 28 1/2 x 2 3/8(13/16) in, TV with Stand: 48 3/4 x 30 x 8 3/4 in
• Processor: 4K Processor X1 Engine
For starters, we can appreciate the fact that Sony hasn’t gone crazy over the curved screen design of many newer 4K TVs from Samsung and LG in particular. The absence of this is a highlight of the X850C. Off-angle viewing on this 4K TV is already only okay, so why make it worse by adding a concave curve?
Furthermore, as far as curved screen design goes in general, the biggest question when seeing it is “what’s the point?” It adds nothing serious in terms of visual quality on anything less than a truly enormous screen and more than anything it seems like an excuse to charge more for what are already fairly expensive ultra HD TVs. Luckily, Sony avoided this and stuck with the effective simplicity of flat screen technology.
Then there is the touch pad remote of the X850C, also called the one-flick remote. It’s nice, responsive as heck and very efficient for scrolling through the apps on the Android TV smart interface if you can get a grip of using the touch pad. Considering that there are over 100 apps on the Android TV interface, learning that touch pad will definitely come in handy. Furthermore, the remote control makes using the on-screen search keypad a lot easier than it would otherwise be.
Now, let’s cover an aspect of the X850C that’s both refreshingly new and wonderful in its functionality. This is the Android TV platform of the TV. Not only is it highly intuitive and well designed in terms of overall functionality, it also has what might be one of the best Voice Search capabilities we’ve heard of yet among newer 4K TVs.
This voice search works almost without any errors even in trying conditions that involve surrounding noise and the responsiveness of delivery of results is both excellent and highly accurate.
Additionally, the App and Smart TV functions of the Android TV system are generally great performers, especially when compared to the older Smart TV that Sony itself tried to develop and use on 2014 4K models. In this switch the company chose wisely. Google is definitely the better tech giant when it comes to intelligent content interaction systems and in the new TV OS, they have added interesting aspects like a menu loaded with Google Play options, easy access to other online Google-based accounts and the addition of Google Cast, which lets you show movies, shows, images and general programming from any iOS or Android device to the X850C’s much larger screen.
For those who also prefer the more classical approach to using their TV, the XBR55X850C also includes a typical button remote.
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Sony TV visual specs are as excellent as you could expect from a company so experienced in home entertainment technology. This applies almost equally to its highest end TVs and the more budget minded options. In this regard the X850C is no exception and its overall specs offer an excellent collection of visual technologies.
First of all, we have the obvious and usual 4K ultra HD resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, which while the same in most TVs in terms of pixel count can vary in terms of delivery quality. In the X850C, delivery of 4K is great, not superb because models like Sony’s own X950B give you even sharper UHD clarity but the X850C performs with typical Sony aplomb.
Next up, there is the Sony classic known as Triluminous Display. This technology has been in the company’s 4K TVs for some time and it basically offers a wider than average color gamut that comes from the same quantum dot nanocrystal technology that’s finally being put into Samsung and LG TVs. Sony has expertise in this and Triluminous-delivered wide color gamuts look fantastic in all of Sony’s 4K TVs. The addition to realism that Triluminous Display offers is wonderful to behold.
Finally, in terms of how well 4K content and regular HD content render on the X850C, Sony does a good job overall. The TV comes with a solid 120Hz native refresh rate, a dynamic contrast ratio of over 1 million and the internal X1 video processing engine guarantees that 4K content lows smoothly while HD and Full HD content gets upconverted superbly and without too much in the way of even light distortions. This upconversion of HD to something that looks like 4K resolution is a task Sony is better than anyone else on the market at delivering, so you won’t be disappointed.
The connectivity of the Sony X850C is up to the usual standards set by Sony in all of its 2014 and especially its 2015 UHD TVs.
You get the standard package of physical connectivity that includes 4 HDMI 2.0 ports, full HDCP 2.2 copy protection compatibility on all four of them, 3 USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet and WiFi internet connectivity to finish things off. There is also a MHL port and the X850C’s HDMI connections let you hook it up to a 4K PC at UHD resolution but only at 30Hz for most PCs.
As for virtual connectivity, the entire TV is one giant PC-like operating system/ smartphone interface thanks to its excellent Android TV platform. This gives you access to the entire TV compatible app landscape of Google Play, a full web browsing capability and streaming connections to all the best sources of free and pay-to-view streaming 4K content from Ultraflix, Netflix and Amazon Prime, among others. Because the X850C is HEVC and VP9 compression codec compatible, there won’t be any problems with any source of compressed streamed 4K content.
The X850C is a well-priced piece of home entertainment technology for such a new and generally robust 4K TV with a very decently sized screen. The 55 inch XBR55X850C version is retailing for $1,395.00, 65 inch XBR65X850C is retailing for $2,198.00 and the 75 inch XBR75X850C is selling for $3,498.00.
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To briefly summarize the very few less than ideal aspects of the XBR75X850C, it could definitely do better by also adding in Extended Dynamic Range technology like that found in more expensive and complete Sony 4K TVs. This would lead to a much sharper contrast and consequently better sharpness in darker scenes on the screen, which could definitely use a bit of improvement.
Most damning of all though is the fact that Sony still can’t bring itself to include full-array LED backlighting in even this newer, better 2015 4K TV. Vizio has been offering this much better backlighting technology since late 2014 in even its most affordable 4K TVs but for some reason a giant like Sony keeps going with edge-lid LED lighting for its lower-priced TVs. On this the Sony XBR65X850C fails.
• Excellent refresh rate
• Triluminous Display for excellent color rendering
• Great price
• Full connectivity package
• Wonderful access to 4K content
• Full array LED backlighting on 65 and 75 inch models
This TV also now comes with HDR enabled
• No full-array LED backlighting on 55 inch model
• Somewhat poor contrast ratio
• Could easily be $200 cheaper