Are you ready with that small 32 inch TV and are you looking for an affordable replacement that is a bigger size? Then we have a few excellent alternatives for you. Moreover, we explain to you what to look for when you are looking for a good middle class TV.
The best middle-class TVs for a limited budget
Viewers who seek a good balance between image quality, screen size and price know that they can go to the middle class. But what can you expect nowadays? We set our sights on a big screen, 55 inches, that you still get installed in a lot of living rooms without too big problems. We obviously want as many features as possible, but the price must be around 1,200 euros. If you want a size smaller, for example 49-50 inches, the price can not exceed 1,000 euros. What do you have to pay attention to?
Choose resolutely for Ultra HD
If your eye has fallen on a 55 inch model, you soon find that they all use the Ultra HD (3.840 x 2.160) resolution. Only in 49 inches you can find Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) versions. But you do best to choose an Ultra HD television. Manufacturers place the latter a ladder higher up the ladder, and in many cases you get a slightly better television if you opt for Ultra HD.
Even apart from that, we are convinced that with these screen sizes and a normal viewing distance (around three meters) you should choose Ultra HD. The higher resolution translates into sharper images. And with an Ultra HD device you are ready for the latest and most beautiful content.
Fine image processing
The top image processors will no longer be found in these models, but that does not necessarily have any negative consequences. In the most common tasks of image processing, televisions from this category score only marginally less well than top models. One of the most important is upscaling, converting your existing content to a full-screen format. This ensures that you can connect all your existing sources, even if they offer lower resolutions than those of the screen.
Of course, the image quality of the source material is a very determining factor in the final result. So whoever invariably looks at Blu-ray will enjoy smoother images than anyone who uses his old DVD library. But even with poor footage, these televisions deliver very good images, not unimportant because on a large screen you can quickly see image artifacts.
But you do make compromises if you want to keep the price as low as possible. One of the most obvious is the display of fast moving images. Top models use a screen that displays 100 images per second (a so-called 100 Hz panel) and combine this with other techniques to show fast action scenes and fast moving objects in a sharp and clear manner. Not so with these models. They usually use a 50 Hz panel, and provide less complex algorithms to improve the display. If something moves quickly across the screen, it is perfectly possible that you see less detail, or blurred edges. Read more about movement (in) sharpness.
Not ideal for a home theater
A second compromise: the backlighting of these LCD TVs does not use local dimming, but only global dimming. This means that the backlight is dimmed in its entirety if the television decides that this will lead to better images. Of course, this has an impact on the contrast, since predominantly dark images are certainly dimmed, but also darken the bright accents in the same image. And vice versa, the TV sets the backlight completely in bright images, which brightens up dark details.
On top of that comes the panel technology. Televisions with IPS panels have a lower contrast, but a better viewing angle. Televisions with VA panels provide a better contrast but a weaker viewing angle. In short, these televisions perform well in the living room, even when there is ambient light, but are less suitable for people who want a real home cinema. If the room is darkened, the less good contrast will become more pronounced.
High Dynamic Range?
HDR is the new crop of salmon, but you can not expect this on these devices. Yes, they are compatible with HDR sources (HDR10 and HLG) and can display the images. But the basic performance in terms of color range, contrast and peak luminance are just too limited to reflect the true impact of HDR. In many cases you will hardly even see the distinction with traditional content.
Review: Sony KD-55XE7000
Design and connections
The Sony XE70 series has a slim profile and the black frame is good for him, but the plastic housing still does not show much luxury. Only the small notch in the frame recalls the slice of living design. The U-shaped foot, made of silver and black plastic, gives absolutely no solid impression. During the installation you bend it without too much effort. Once set up the construction is stronger than expected, but we recommend keeping children’s hands away from the device. Just like on the more expensive models, there is space in the foot to eliminate two cables.
The connections are slightly restricted. On the side we find two HDMI connections, three times USB and the antenna connection. At the back we find an extra HDMI connection and the headphone connection. They point to the wall and will be difficult to reach with extra slim wall mounting. The remaining rear connections are oriented downwards and remain accessible during wall mounting. The TV has Wi-Fi, but not Bluetooth.
Ease of use
The XE7000 series, unlike the other Ultra HD devices from Sony, does not run on Android TV, but on a Linux-based smart TV system from Sony’s. It is very fast and responsive. The menus with settings are different than on the Android models, but that is not always an advantage. You can choose a “scene” that activates a combination of picture and sound settings. In addition, you can also set ‘image’ and ‘sound’ separately, but which presets you can choose there depends on the set ‘scene’. And if you choose something other than ‘Auto’ there is a risk that the TV will not switch to HDR correctly if you provide HDR images. Well meant, but still confusing, we think.
The remote control has changed slightly compared to other models. Especially the buttons around the d-pad are adapted for the other smart TV system. The layout remains excellent, and the keys have a light, pleasant touch. YouTube and Netflix keys are located above the d-pad. If you want to change the image or sound, use the ‘Options’ button to the right of the d-pad.
The XE7000 series is equipped with the slightly older 4K X-Reality Pro image processor. Nevertheless, the results are still very good. The Sony easily recognizes all film and video frame rates, and provides excellent deinterlacing, so you rarely see jagged lines. Do not forget to put the ‘Film mode’ on car. The noise reduction is good, although we do notice that you have to hand in something compared to the higher models. With Reality Creation you subtly highlight the detail. You can trust the ‘car’ setting, or opt for a manual approach if you want a little less effect.
The movement sharpness of this screen is very modest. A lot of detail is lost because fast moving images have a blurry edge. With the help of Motionflow you can eliminate the shock of pan images. Those who are very sensitive to the image artifacts of motion interpolation leave it best on standard, but on this model we also liked the fluent setting.
This 55-inch is equipped with a VA panel that guarantees excellent black value. With a contrast of around 3,300: 1 you have very nice images. The edge-led backlight does not use local dimming. So you can not improve the result. The screen has good uniformity, only a small amount of cloud formation is visible at the very lowest black values. In practice you will never suffer from that. Reflections remain under control, but the viewing angle is limited (typical for VA panel).
Given the price of this model, we find calibration of the device absolutely great. The gray scale is as good as perfect. The screen shows a huge amount of black detail. Only the gamma value is a bit too low, which you can possibly take a step up in the menus, especially if you look at eclipse. This is no problem for a typical living room. The color range and color reproduction are very good.
The XE7000 supports HDR10 and HLG, but with a peak luminance of 335 nits and a color range of only 74% DCI-P3, it is actually not sufficiently equipped to render HDR images with the necessary verve. The result is generally a bit too dark and the screen tends to hide white detail in HDR. On your existing content you can create a pseudo-HDR effect by selecting HDR at the ‘scene’ setting, but the result is far too bright. As an alternative, you better put Adv. Contrast optimization at high.
The XE70 puts its 20 Watt power to work. Do not expect any home cinema results, but the volume is fine, and the device will not talk if you combine some more aggressive lows and highs. He is excellent for your daily TV needs and some background music.
The smart TV Home screen shows shortcuts to the apps, the channel list, the program guide, any recordings, the media player and the settings. The television is only equipped with a DVB-T / C tuner, so no satellite connection. You can record to an external hard drive. The app offer is not overwhelming. In addition to Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Video, the Berliner Philharmoniker app is the most important presence. Both Netflix and Youtube you can use Chromecast functionality. The ‘Opera TV’ app gives access to a number of extra, largely unknown services. The media player is pretty complete. He can play video files without problems, whether they are Full HD, Ultra HD or even HDR, including most subtitles. At the audio player, however, we notice that he does not recognize aac files (.m4a), which is a surprise. You can only use mp3, wma, FLAC and wav.
The Sony XE7000 has a smooth working but rather limited smart TV system as the most important compromise. The weak HDR performance and moderate motion sharpness are in line with our expectations. Apart from those limitations, the device is a very capable choice. The calibration is excellent, black value and contrast are excellent, and in the living room it will produce beautiful and natural images with its sound image processing. The smart TV system still provides a number of essential services. In short, good basic performance without too many frills.