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Sony KDL-55HX853 review

 Review: November 2012  
 

Rating: 5 stars

In a nutshell: Absolutely a 5 star TV, from the stunning monolithic design all the way to the excellent sound and picture quality.



 

Design & looks

When you spend a lot of money on a TV you want it to look expensive, and the 55HX853 absolutely does. The enormous expanse of Gorilla Glass stretching across such a thin panel is like a work of art. Add to that the uncompromising design of the integrated soundbar base, and the brushed aluminium highlights and you might have to pinch yourself to believe it's real. It's a "design object", according to Sony and we're inclined to agree.

The only thing we're not sure about is the need for such a large TV to tilt backwards.

Picture quality

So, is this Sony's best TV when it comes to picture quality? Emphatically, yes. It's the top performer in every respect.

There are four things that make it special. First the size. Bigger is better, right? They don't come bigger than this.

Secondly, the response time. You won't spot a trace of motion blur on this TV, even when playing on your PS3 or watching fast-paced sport. It's just not there. That's partly because of Sony's X-Reality PRO processing engine, and partly due to the ultrafast 200Hz response of the LCD panel itself. With a Motionflow XR 800 Hz effective response, it's as fast as LED screens can be.

Third on the list is Dynamic Edge LED. This TV uses LED edge backlighting, which is the reason why it's so thin and has such low power consumption. But edgelit TVs tend to suffer from poor contrast ratios, with light from the backlighting leaking into dark scenes, creating a cloudy effect. In an ideal world, you'd want to turn the backlighting on and off at an individual pixel level. That's not currently possible, but Sony's Dynamic Edge control is the next best thing. It uses white LEDs arranged along the top and bottom edge of the screen with local dimming enabling the backlighting to be dimmed over darker parts of the scene. The result: high contrast between light and dark and no evidence of cloudiness.

Finally, we come to the LCD panel itself. Sony's OptiContrast panel does what its name suggests and delivers some truly impressive blacks. It also has surprisingly wide viewing angles, which means that even if you're not sitting directly in front of the TV, you'll experience the same colour fidelity and contrast as when you're right at the centre line - something that Samsung's Series 8 TVs struggle to achieve.

We've gone into the picture quality in more detail than normal, because when you spend this much on a TV, you need to know that it's going to deliver the results you expect. Be assured, this Sony does.

3D

If anything, 3D performance is even more polished than 2D. Watch a movie in 3D on this screen and it will blow you away.

The TV uses active shutter 3D glasses, which show alternating images to the left and right eye, fooling the brain into perceiving depth. The benefit of active shutter technology over LG's passive 3D is that it guarantees full 1080p HD image quality, as both eyes see a full HD image with no loss of information.

The implementation on this screen is perfect, with absolutely no sign of any ghosting or other artifacts.

Just be aware that no glasses are included in the sales package, so you'll have to pay for these as extras.

Audio quality

We're pleased to report that audio quality is as good as picture quality. The TV delivers a wide range of frequencies with hi fidelity, from bass rumbles to mid-range vocals and beyond.

The reason for the strong performance is the soundbar in the integrated base. This gives a much richer and deeper sound than is possible in most rival flatscreens, which rely on smaller, tinny speakers. The system can deliver a maximum 30W, which is 50% more than most others, and for added oomph you can turn on the S-Force surround effect.

Smart TV

Smart TV lets you connect to the internet so you can surf the web, keep up with facebook and twitter and stream movies or music to your TV. You have access to the Sony Entertainment Network and a full web browser (Opera).

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

Connectivity

As befits a top-of-the-range TV, all connectivity options are covered. Not only do you get 4 HDMI connections, but you also have a plethora of SCART, AV, component, digital and analogue audio and PC connections available, so you should be able to plug in anything. A USB connector is included, and also a headphone jack.

On top of this you have internet connections, either via an ethernet cable, or wirelessly via your home network or wireless router.

A Freeview HD tuner is included in the TV, although Freesat is missing.

Conclusion - Sony's best TV

Sony haven't put a foot wrong with this, their flagship product. Build quality and finish are superb, and the monolithic design cannot fail to impress. Picture quality is absolutely outstanding, both in 2D and 3D, and in this 55 inch model it's quite mind-blowing. The integrated base delivers superior audio quality to match. Add to that the Smart TV and the full range of connectivity, and there's really nothing here to fault. 5 stars all the way!


Sony KDL-55HX853 features include:

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