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Sony KD-55XE9305 review

 Review: June 2017  
 

Rating: 4 stars

In a nutshell: Sony's 55-inch XE9305B is a high-end LED TV that uses Sony's Slim Backlight Drive to generate impressive HDR images. Equipped with a 3-way audio system, it sounds as good as it looks. Factor in its slim good looks and Android Smart TV, and it's an all-round impressive TV. But the hefty price tag puts it out of range of most buyers, and there are smarter ways to spend your money.

Best buy: Sony Bravia KD-55XE9305B U from Currys (£1899.00)



 

Design & looks

The Sony Bravia KD-55XE9305 sits at the top of Sony's 2017 range of 55-inch LED TVs, and is also available in 65-inch and 75-inch versions.

The XE9305B is a slimline TV, with a narrow black frame surrounding the screen. The XE93 is not quite as slim as last year's XD93, but we're talking millimetres in difference.

The stand is a metal wedge that incorporates neat cable management. It's attractive and solid and gives the TV something of the appearance of an artists' easel.

Round the back, you won't find much to see, as all the cables are hidden inside the back panel and the stand. The rear panel itself is rather tacky to look at however, and lacks the elegance of the front, so we recommend that you don't stick your head around the back too often.

Picture quality

The XE93 uses Sony's Slim Backlight Drive that was first introduced in last year's XD93. This is an edge-based LED backlight with some local dimming capability, that Sony claims is able to reproduce much of the effect of a full array direct backlighting system. Our opinion is that it comes quite close, delivering bright, colourful pictures with very good shadow detail, and relatively wide viewing angles too.

HDR looks fantastic on this TV, with bright peaks, satisfyingly deep blacks, full colour saturation, and plenty of dynamic range. The 4K HDR Processor X1 Extreme does a great job of upscaling lower-quality content to 4K on the big screen, and overall produces impressive results.

The screen isn't the fastest out there, but with a 100Hz native response rate, and a Motionflow XR 1000 Hz motion processing capability, we observed no problems with blur or judder.

Last year's XD93 had an issue with vignetting - darkened stripes around the edge of the screen, so we took our magnifying glass to the XE93 and looked hard for any similar effects. The effect is much less noticeable on the XE93, and is mostly absent. But occasionally you'll notice a faint narrow band around the screen edge. And once seen, you might find it hard to un-notice it.

Overall, we'd like to praise the image quality of the XE93. It's of a very high standard. The trouble is that we can't convince itself that it's better than Sony's considerably cheaper XE90.

Audio quality

The XE93 sounds as good as it looks. The audio system comprises front-facing speakers with dedicated woofers, mid-range speakers and tweeters, with a heavy overall power output of 50W. There's noticeably more power here than in the vast majority of TVs, and it's just what we'd hope for from a high-end model.

Additionally, a subwoofer (not supplied) can be plugged into the TV's headphone socket, or you can go the whole hog and wire up a dedicated home cinema kit for the best possible experience.

Android TV

Sony switched its Smart TV system to Android TV back in 2015 and has stuck with that decision, attempting to iron out the initial bugs and teething problems. Two years on, Android TV runs much more smoothly, and we're hoping that the system will prove to be robust in its latest incarnation.

Android TV still isn't as friendly as rival systems, but it does offer plenty of choice, via Google Play apps. Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and YouTube are available for streaming content, and you can easily access a full range of catch-up TV services too - BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, All 4, and My5.

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 Android phone or tablet to control the TV.

Connectivity

The TV supports Wi-Fi and ethernet connections to your home network, and has twin tuners for Freeview and Freesat. 4 HDMI connections are provided, all of them HDCP 2.2 compatible, and one with ARC compatibility for connecting to a home cinema system. There are 3 USB ports too, and a combined headphone/subwoofer jack as well as a digital audio output.

The sales package includes a voice-activated remote control.

Conclusion - impressive but very costly

We like the Sony XE93 a lot. It looks good, and performs very well, with great pictures and sound. Android TV seems to have settled down and now offers a wide range of apps, and the TV has all the connectivity essentials too. But it's been priced at a hefty premium, and one that seems unjustified to us, especially compared with Sony's outstanding direct-lit XE90 model.

The XE93 costs some £700 more than the XE90, and we can't convince ourselves that it's any better (except for having a better sound system - and we could buy ourselves a very nice dedicated sound system for £700). So much as we like the XE93, we'd steer you instead towards the Sony XE90. Or, if you're determined to be parted from your money at the quickest possible rate, we'd recommend the Samsung Q7F, which outperforms the Sony and costs the same.

The LG OLED B7 is also well worth a look.


Sony KD-55XE9305 features include:

Best buys
£1899.00
Sony Bravia KD-55XE9305B U
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£1899.00
Sony Bravia KD-55XE9305B U
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