Sony KD-49X8305C review
|Review: September 2015|
In a nutshell: The Sony KD-49X8305C is Sony's entry-level UHD (4K) TV for 2015, and it leaves us wanting more. Although UHD upscaling is handled well and gives a sharp picture, the screen's native lack of contrast and its slow response rate take the edge off viewing. Android TV is a bonus, but this TV seems over-priced compared with UHD models from other manufacturers.
Design & looks
Sony's X83C models share similar looks to many of the company's other 2015 TVs, in particular the X85C and W85C ranges. The ultra narrow bezel around the screen, and the flat shaft stand give the TV a contemporary, open look, but note that the metal stand doesn't swivel.
The Sony X83C series is available in three models - the KD49X8305C has a black frame and a dark chrome mirror-effect stand. The X8307C and X8309C are the same, but with different colours.
All three colour options are attractive, and will blend into any home, with their contemporary but understated looks. They are very slim televisions, and we like the illuminated Sony logo below the screen, which glows discreetly when TV functions are accessed.
The TV is reasonably energy-efficient, rated A for energy consumption.
The X83C series is Sony's entry-level UHD (4K) range for 2015, and while it has some good features, it's far from being the best 4K TV we've reviewed this year.
Like Sony's more expensive 4K TV's, the X8305C uses the X1 processor to upscale content to 4K resolution, and this does an excellent job. 4K source material is pin-sharp, and Blu-Ray and other HD content is upscaled well too. Standard definition material is less effectively rendered, and when blown up to such a large screen size can sometimes appear pixellated and grainy.
Colour reproduction is reasonably good, and the picture is bright. However, the contrast levels on this screen leave something to be desired, and the screen's motion response isn't as good as we'd like either. That means that images lose sharpness and detail and the benefits of 4K are somewhat lost.
On a more positive note, the viewing angles are nice and wide, so even when seated off-centre, the picture stays bright and retains contrast ratios quite well. This makes it a good option for family viewing.
Note that 3D viewing isn't available on this model.
Although 4K viewing is a headline-grabber and nice to have, in the X83C series it's rather wasted, and we'd opt for the Sony KDL-50W805C Full HD model instead.
Audio quality is rather run-of-the-mill. The Clear Phase stereo speakers have a 10W x 2 power output, which is completely standard for entry-level or mid-range televisions. They're powerful enough to handle dialogue, but they can't produce much bass, and we'd recommend adding a soundbar or subwoofer to accompany the TV, especially if you enjoy watching films, or drama. Usefully, the headphone output doubles up as a subwoofer output, and Sony also makes a wireless subwoofer that can be added to the TV to supply the necessary bass.
One nice feature of Sony's 2015 range is its introduction of Android TV as its Smart TV system. This gives you access to the world of Google Play from your TV, so you can download apps, videos, music and other content. YouTube and Netflix are probably the best ways to access 4K content at present.
Android also provides features such as Google Cast, which lets you mirror content such as videos or photos from an Android phone. The TV SideView app lets you use your phone or tablet to control the TV.
Catch-up TV is provided courtesy of Youview. A user-friendly 7-day windback with content from BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD and Demand 5 is displayed alongside future programmes in the Electronic Programme Guide.
Note that these apps and services are rolling out during 2015 and some are still not available.
The X8305C has everything we need when it comes to connectivity. Wi-Fi and an ethernet connection are available for connecting to the internet and your home network. Wi-Fi Direct is also supported. We're pleased to see a total of 4 HDMI connections, plus 3 USB ports and a very full range of legacy AV connections, including SCART. Dual Freeview HD and Freesat tuners are incorporated too.
Compatibility with Android smartphones is provided via the Android operating system, and the TV supports MHL and Google Cast for screen mirroring.
We already mentioned that the headphone jack doubles as a subwoofer output, and there's a digital audio output for connecting to a speaker system, in addition to HDMI.
A conventional remote control is included in the sales package.
Conclusion - an entry-level 4K TV
4K is grabbing a lot of attention this year, but be aware that as yet there's very little 4K content available. Most of us will be watching HD or even standard definition programmes for some while yet. For this reason, we're not completely sold on 4K. In particular, this entry-level 4K leaves us unimpressed.
There are too many compromises in picture quality to make up for the capability to display UHD material. We'd actually prefer to invest in a top-notch 1080p HD television, and save some money at the same time. In particular, we think that the Sony KDL-50W805C is a better buy. If you really do want 4K, then we'd refer you to the more expensive X85 series.
Sony KD-49X8305C features include:
- 49 inch UHD LED-backlit screen
- 3840 x 2160 resolution
- 4K X-Reality PRO processing engine
- Advanced Contrast Enhancer
- Motionflow XR 800 Hz
- Dynamic backlight control
- 24p True Cinema
- Game Mode
- Freeview HD / Freesat HD twin tuners
- Android 5.0 TV
- Audio: Clear Phase speaker, Dolby Digital Plus / Dolby Pulse, 10W x 2 power output
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, Ethernet (LAN) x 1, screen mirroring, HDMI x 4, USB x 3, headphone/subwoofer output x 1, component in (Y/Pb/Pr), composite in (AV) x 2, digital audio out x 1, Audio In x 2, HDMI PC in x 1, Scart x 1, RF In (Terrestrial / Cable input) x 1, MHL, CI+ slot
- RMT-TX100D remote control
- Energy efficiency class: A
- Typical power consumption: 84W - 177W
- Size without stand (WxHxD): 1093 x 643 x 60 mm
- Size with stand (WxHxD): 1093 x 679 x 201 mm
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