The range of large Ultra HD devices is becoming more extensive and accessible, also at Sony. At the very bottom of the line-up we find the XE70 series. The model is available in 65, 55, 49 and 43 inch screen diagonal. We test the Sony KD-55XE7000 which delivers a lot of television for a competitive price. What compromises do you make for this price?
Sony KD-55XE7000 – specifications
- What: Ultra HD LCD TV, Edge Led
- Screen size: 55 inches (139 cm), flat
- Connections: 3x HDMI (1xARC 3x v2.0a), 1x composite video, 1x stereo cinch, 1x stereo minijack, 1x optical digital out, 3x USB, 1x headphones, 1x antenna
- Extras: HDR10, (HLG after firmware update in 2017), WiFi (802.11bgn) built-in, Smart TV, USB/DLNA media player, DVB-T/C, CI + lock
- Dimensions: 1,238 x 775 x 252 mm (including foot)
- Weight: 18.6 kg (including foot)
- Consumption: 85 / 0.5 watt (Energy label A +)
- Recommended retail price: 1,200 euros
Sony KD-55XE7000 – design
The XE70 series is still recognizable as a typical Sony design. The slim profile has been preserved and the black frame is good for him, but he still exudes little luxury. The housing consists entirely of black plastic, and only the small notch in the frame recalls the slice of living design.
The most important savings can be seen in the foot. The U-shaped foot is made of silver and black plastic. He not only looks very simple, he also gives absolutely no solid impression. During the installation you bend the foot without too much effort. Once the device is set up, we shake the screen for a moment to test it.
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 may be difficult or even impossible to achieve with an extra slender wall mount.
Further at the back we find the network connection, optical digital output and composite video and stereo cinch input. These are oriented downwards and thus remain accessible during wall mounting. Of course the TV is equipped with Wi-Fi, but not Bluetooth.
Sony KD-55XE7000 – ease of use
The XE70 series runs, unlike the other Ultra HD devices from Sony, not on Android but on a Linux-based smart TV system from Sony’s manufacture. The TV system is very fast and responsive, and reminds us that we would like to see Android TV as quickly as possible.
The settings menus are different than on the Android models, and are based on Sony’s older models. Unfortunately, that is not always an advantage. Yes, the menus are lightning fast, but for the picture settings they are sometimes a bit confusing. 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. It seems to be a superfluous complex way to achieve something.
The remote control of the KD-55XE7000 has been slightly modified 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.
Sony KD-55XE7000 – features
Smart TV platform
A press on the Home button shows you the smart TV options in a column on the left of the screen. You will find shortcuts to all apps, the channel list, the program guide, any recordings, the media player and all settings. The television is equipped with only a DVB-T/C tuner, so no satellite connection. You can record to an external hard drive.
The app offer is not overwhelming, besides Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Video, the Berliner Philharmoniker app is the most important present. Via the ‘Opera TV’ app you open access to an additional offer, but that largely concerns unknown services.
To our surprise there is a limited form of Chromecast present. Both Netflix and Youtube you can use Chromecast functionality. You browse the offer on your smartphone, but let your final choice play on TV.
The media player remains an important feature on a television, and it is quite 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.
Sony KD-55XE7000 – Image quality
The XE7000 series uses a VA panel with an edge LED backlight, without local dimming. We therefore expect a solid contrast, but moderate viewing angles.
Select scene ‘Auto’ and select the image setting ‘User’
Black level: 50
Color tone: 0
Color Temperature: Expert 1
Image sharpness: 50
|Reality Creation: Car *
Reduce random noise: Off *
Reduce digital noise: Off *
MotionFlow: Standard *
Film Mode: Auto
|Adv. Contrast optimization: Off *
Black Adjust: Off
Live Color: Off
Explanation of main settings;
- Keep the ‘scene’ on Auto so that the TV switches to HDR correctly.
- Reality Creation improves detail view. The Auto mode is generally fine, those who prefer the pure approach turn it off, or switch to Manual 20. For more detail, you can go up to 40, but avoid higher settings.
- The settings for noise reduction can be done with good sources, but with DVD and a lot of YouTube material you leave it best on low, or even on car.
- Motion flow is best switched to standard, or even fluent. Purists disable this.
- You can give the image some extra punch by setting Adv Contrast optimization on low or middle.
General image properties and image processing
The XE70 series is not equipped with the X1 image processor, but with the slightly older 4K X-Reality Pro. 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. Reality Creation is still present, and the detail is subtly refined. You can trust the ‘car’ setting, or opt for a manual approach if you want a little less effect. ‘Smooth gradations’, an excellent feature on the higher models, is missing on this series.
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 image artifacts of motion interpolation leave it best on standard, but on this model we also found the fluent setting excellent.
This 55-inch KD-55XE7000 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.
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.
As with most models in this segment of the market, you need to understand that the XE7000 offers HDR support (HDR10 and HLG), but no real HDR display. For this the peak luminance is too low and the color range too small. The brightest white is 335 nits, which is an average result for this category. The images will generally be a bit too dark, and the Sony also had a tendency to hide white detail. More striking is the poor color range, with 74% DCI-P3 and 53% Rec2020, it shoots too short for true splashing HDR color.
Where the higher models can also create a convincing pseudo-HDR effect, that is definitely not the case for this model. By setting the scene to HDR you get a much fiercer picture, but the Sony works so aggressively that a lot of white detail disappears. Not recommended. As an alternative, you better put Adv. Contrast optimization at high.
Reflections and viewing angles
No notable results in this category. The VA panel has a very limited viewing angle for contrast as expected. Anyone who is sitting aside gets a considerably duller image. The panel has moderate problems with reflections.
In the normal picture modes we measure an input lag of 120.8 ms, which is too much for decent gaming. You activate the game mode by setting the ‘scene’ setting to ‘game’. The lag then drops to 20.6 ms which is an excellent result. You can also achieve 20.8 ms in HDR mode. Consolegamers can therefore choose this TV with peace of mind.
Sony KD-55XE7000 – Audio quality
The XE70 series 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. For your daily TV needs and some background music he is excellent, for critical movie soundtracks and listening sessions you better opt for external solutions.
For the lag measurement we use a Leo Bodnar Display lag meter. For all other measurements we rely on a Spectracal C6 colorimeter, Xrite i1 Pro spectrophotometer, an AVFoundry HDMI Pattern Generator , an HDFury Integral for HDR patterns and the Spectracal Calman for Business software.
Sony KD-55XE7000 – Conclusion
What do you deliver on if you want a large Ultra HD screen, but a small price? In the case of this Sony, that is very clear. A smooth working, but rather limited smart TV system is your first compromise. HDR support is also included, but the screen lacks the capacities to convince the images. And the movement sharpness is rather poor.
But if those things do not weigh too heavily in your choice, this device turns out to be 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, a very good set of basic performances without too many frills.