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Sony KDL-42W805A review

 Review: August 2013  
 

Rating: 4 stars

In a nutshell: Futuristic looks, NFC display mirroring, fast gaming performance and excellent 3D picture quality are the standout features of Sony's Bravia 42W805A.



 

Design & looks

Sony's W8 series TVs are modelled on a "Sense of Quartz" design and look very similar to the flagship W9 models, with a futuristic, airy look, and a circular metallic finish stand. It's a very attractive design, with a narrow bezel around the edge of the display. A so-called "intelligent core" below the screen gently illuminates with a colour dependent on the input source. The screen can be swivelled on its stand up to 15 degrees left or right.

The TV is supplied with a normal remote control and a second "One Touch" remote with a stylish bevelled design. This uses NFC mirroring so that by touching the remote to an NFC-enabled Sony smartphone you can display photos, videos, music, games and apps from your phone on your TV.

Picture quality

Unlike the flagship W9 series, the W8 misses out on Sony's new Triluminos technology, instead using a conventional LED-backlit LCD panel. The size of the screen (42 inches instead of the W9's 40 inches) plus the fact that it uses passive 3D technology indicates that this is in fact an IPS panel manufactured by LG. The excellent wide viewing angles confirm this.

So far, so good, but place the W8 next to the W9 and the lower picture quality of the W8 is immediately apparent. The bugbear of IPS technology is relatively poor blacks. Combine this with the lack of full local dimming (the W8 uses frame dimming, which means that there is no local variation in backlighting intensity over the screen) and the result is a much reduced dynamic contrast ratio, with blacks that turn to grey and an overall lack of dynamic range. The TV is best viewed in a brightly lit room, as its problems become even more obvious with the lights turned out.

Despite this, Sony's X-Reality PRO processing engine does an excellent job of displaying input from a variety of sources, from upscaling standard definition broadcast material to displaying high quality Blu-Ray. The panel is reasonably fast too, with an effective 400Hz response time. In Game Mode, input lag is very low, so this TV is perfect for gaming.

Although we've criticised the TV here for its low dynamic range, it's not worse than the majority of TVs at this price point, and for gaming, the lack of input lag makes up for this defect. For many families, picture quality won't be a problem.

Passive 3D

3D performance is very good on this screen. The passive 3D system ensures flicker-free images, and there's little sign of crosstalk problems or other artifacts.

The 3D is compatible with Simul View, which offers full-screen viewing for each player in 2 player games. Four pairs of 3D glasses are included with the TV.

Audio quality

The audio quality of the W805A is typical for a modern flat panel TV. The Bass Reflex Box speakers deliver reasonable levels of bass, and the 10Wx2 output is adequate for normal viewing, but for movies the sound is dull.

As usual, we'd recommend the addition of a dedicated soundbar, or even better, a 5.1 surround system.

Smart TV

Sony's Smart TV system lets you connect to the internet so you can browse the web, catch up with Facebook and Twitter and stream movies and music to your TV. It's been updated for 2013 with nicer menus. Services include the BBC iPlayer, Demand 5, YouTube, Netflix and LoveFilm.

You can add an optional camera and microphone if you'd like to use your TV for Skype calls over the internet.

Sony's Smart TV is very good, but it's definitely lagging behind Samsung, both in terms of content and in ease-of-use.

Connectivity

The range of connectivity options on offer is excellent. Wi-Fi and ethernet are a must for smart TV, and they're both here, including Wi-Fi Direct. Likewise, there are no fewer than 4 HDMI connections, plus a good spread of SCART, component and composite options. You can plug in some headphones or a USB device too.

Both Freeview HD and Freesat HD tuners are included, and the TV also has the benefit of NFC display mirroring with compatible smartphones.

Conclusion

The W805A definitely lags significantly behind the flagship W9 series when it comes to picture quality, but this is why the price is so much cheaper. Taken on its own terms, it's an excellent TV, with respectable 2D and 3D picture quality, good menus and Smart TV, outstanding connectivity (including mirroring of Sony smartphones) and a lovely design.

It feels slightly over-priced for what you get, and on balance we prefer the Samsung UE40F6800 which, although it's only a 40 inch screen, offers superior picture quality and better Smart TV functionality.

Nevertheless, the Sony is a good buy, and is especially recommended for gamers, thanks to its very fast response times.


Sony KDL-42W805A features include:

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