Sony KDL-50W829B review
|Review: June 2014|
In a nutshell: The Sony Bravia KDL-50W829B gives you a lot of TV for your money - 50 inches for under £1,000! 2D picture quality is good, although 3D is below average. The audio quality and Smart TV system are also not the very best, but the TV is great value if you're looking for a large screen.
Design & looks
This year's W8 series has a light and airy look, thanks to the open-style chrome stand and emphasised by the very narrow bezel surrounding the screen. It's a nice, contemporary style that will fit well in any room. The screen is ultrathin at the top, and it's only when you peer round the back that you notice there's quite a deep bulge housing the speakers and other bulky tech near the base. But unless you spend a lot of time looking at your TV edgeways on, this really isn't a problem. The stand doesn't rotate and the power supply is external, which may be a problem if you have limited space behind your TV. There's a slight "wobble factor" due to the large screen being connected to the slender base by only two screws, but overall it's a pleasing, contemporary design.
A conventional remote control is supplied with the TV and an optional One-Flick remote can be purchased as an extra, for use with Smart TV.
The TV can be wall-mounted using the stand although the deep chassis isn't ideal for this.
The 50 inch version of the W8 uses a completely different kind of screen to the 42 inch model, so forget anything you may have read about that.
Instead of an IPS LED panel, the KDL-50W829B uses a VA (vertical alignment) or similar technology screen. This produces characteristically deep blacks, allowing for much improved contrast levels compared with the 42 inch model. It's an LED-backlit screen without local dimming, but nevertheless is able to reproduce quite a wide dynamic range with impressive black levels. Screen backlighting is uniform and consistent. Viewing angles are narrower than ideal, with the colours and contrast fading slightly if you're sitting off-centre, but this is not too great a problem in practice.
It's a relatively responsive screen, rated at 600Hz with the Motionflow interpolation turned on. This can result in "soap opera" effects thanks to the artificial smoothing, but there are various options available including the "Clear" option, which we recommend.
Sony's X-Reality PRO engine upscales input from a variety of sources, from standard definition broadcast material to high quality Blu-Ray. There are various options available for smoothing and processing low-quality source material, but these have dubious effectiveness.
The TV is a good choice for gamers, with "Game mode" providing very low input lags.
While there are some picture quality issues in 2D, there are greater issues in 3D. The active 3D glasses are subject to a certain amount of flickering and crosstalk, resulting in distracting visual artifacts. It's far from being the best 3D TV we've reviewed this year.
Sony has also been rather mean by supplying only two pairs of 3D glasses with the TV.
The audio quality of the W829B didn't wow us either. The compact bass reflex speaker struggles to deliver immersive sound with just 8Wx2 power output, although vocals are clear enough. We'd strongly recommend adding in one of Sony's wireless subwoofers that are designed for use with their television range, or perhaps a soundbar for better results.
The W8 series TVs come with integrated Wi-Fi and an ethernet connection, so they're easy to connect to the internet, giving you full access to Sony's Smart TV functions. These include Catch-up TV from the BBC iPlayer and Demand 5, YouTube, Twitter, Netflix, Amazon Instant and Video Unlimited. The user interface has been redesigned for 2014 and is simple enough to find your way around. It's not quite as responsive as Samsung's Smart TV, nor as well designed.
TweetView lets you watch what people are tweeting about the current programme - you don't need a Twitter account to use this.
You can add an optional camera and microphone if you'd like to use your TV for Skype calls over the internet.
We have no issues with the range of connectivity options available. As well as Wi-Fi and ethernet (including Wi-Fi Direct), there are 4 HDMI and 2 USB ports, ARC and MHL compatibility, plus a good range of legacy connections.
A Freeview HD tuner is included, and the TV also has the benefit of NFC display mirroring with compatible smartphones.
The number-one appeal of the 50W829B is the fact that you get a 50 inch screen for less than £1,000. That's the kind of value that we've previously seen only in plasma screens, and it's obviously a key attraction. As you might expect, you don't get the most polished product at this price, but the picture quality of the W829B is perfectly respectable, although it has shortcomings in 3D.
Also in its favour are an attractive design, good Smart TV and excellent connectivity. It's an excellent TV for the price and a good way to kit out a large room at a sensible price. We think you'll also want to invest in some audio equipment to get the most out of it, and Sony is offering some good deals on soundbars and subwoofers that are worth checking out.
Sony KDL-50W829B features include:
- 50 inch LED-backlit screen
- 1920 x 1080 resolution
- X-Reality PRO processing engine
- Advanced Contrast Enhancer
- Motionflow XR 600 Hz
- 3D Ready (active 3D), 2 pairs of TDG-500P glasses included
- Game Mode
- Freeview HD
- Sony Entertainment Network
- Audio: Dolby Digital Plus, S-Force 3D surround effect, 8W x 2 sound output (RMS)
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, Ethernet (LAN) x 1, NFC screen mirroring, HDMI x 4, USB x 2, headphone x 1, component in (Y/Pb/Pr) / composite in (AV) x 1, digital audio out (optical) x 1, Audio In x 2, PC in x 1, Scart x 1, RF In (Terrestrial / Cable input) x 1, DLNA
- Energy efficiency class: A++
- Typical power consumption: 51W - 100W
- Size without stand (WxHxD): 1116 x 656 x 64 mm
- Size with stand (WxHxD): 1116 x 693 x 179 mm
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