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Review: Sony KD-55XE9005 (XE9005 series) LCD LED TV

Sony KD-55XE9005
The Sony KD-55XE9005 from XE9005 series give you X1 processor instead of the X1 Extreme processor, and a Direct LED backlight with local dimming instead of the Slim Backlight Drive+.
4.4/5 - (407 votes)

The Sony KD-55XE9005 from XE9005 series give you X1 processor instead of the X1 Extreme processor, and a Direct LED backlight with local dimming instead of the Slim Backlight Drive+.

Sony KD-55XE9005 – specifications

  • What: Ultra HD LCD TV, Direct Led with local dimming (6×8 segments)
  • Screen size: 55 inches (139 cm), flat
  • Connections: 4x HDMI (1xARC 4x v2.0a), 1x component video, 1x composite video, 1x stereo cinch, 1x stereo minjack, 1x optical digital out, 3x USB (1x 3.0), 1x headphones, 3x antenna, Bluetooth 4.1
  • Extras: HDR10, (HLG after firmware update in 2017), WiFi (802.11ac) built in, Android TV (6.0 Marshmallow), USB / DLNA media player, DVB-T2 / C / S2, CI + lock, voice control, X1 processor
  • Dimensions: 1,228 x 772 x 259 mm (including foot)
  • Weight: 18.1 kg (including foot)
  • Consumption: 109 / 0.5 watt (Energy Label A)
  • Models:
    • KD-49XE9005: 1,700 euros
    • KD-55XE9005: 2,100 euros
    • KD-65XE9005: 3,000 euros
    • KD-75XE9005: 5,500 euros

Sony KD-55XE9005 – design

The XE9005 series from Sony exudes just that extra bit of luxury that you expect from a high-end device. The ‘slice of living’ design manifests itself in a very thin and narrow frame, finished with a metal colored piping. The footplate is finished in dark silver. Sharp corners and strict lines dominate the design. And despite a direct LED backlight, the profile still looks pretty narrow.


The biggest difference with the XE9305 series is the rear. It is simply executed in black, without any further design. The XE9005 series also makes it possible to route cables along the feet, but the possibilities are more limited than with the XE9305. This is especially the case because the connections are mainly on one side and you probably still can not lead more than two to three cables per foot. This device also uses a substantial external power supply.

Connections

The supply of connections is quite extensive. There are three HDMI connections on the side and one on the back. You also get three USB connections on the side, including a USB 3.0 version, and the headphone output.

At the rear we also find component and composite video connections and the digital optical output. All connections at the rear are oriented towards the wall, which can be difficult if you want to mount the television on the wall.

Sony KD-55XE9005 – ease of use

The 2017 Sony models are equipped with Android TV, version 6 (Marshmallow). They hardly differ in use from last year’s models equipped with Android TV, version 5 (Lollipop). During the installation you can use an Android smartphone or tablet, which allows you to run the installation just a little bit faster.

This KD-55XE9005 does not differ in this category from any of the XE9305 series. Both use the same remote, the same chipset and the same Android version. We therefore largely resume our text from the review of the XE9305 series.

Remote control

The remote from the Sony KD-55XE9005 is almost identical to last year’s. It looks like a classic zapper, but all keys are behind a rubbery top and have a very low profile. Last year that caused some problems because when using the arrow upwards you pressed the ‘action menu’ very easily. Sony has taken this criticism to heart, a subtle but clear tactile border in the form of a rubber band around the arrow keys ensures that your thumb does not go beyond what is necessary. That makes the remote a lot more convenient.

The layout was already excellent and the keys do not require too much pressure. The Netflix and Google Play button are prominently present, just like the microphone button at the top. You have to activate the latter separately in the menus (Network and Accessories, -> Voice controlled remote control).

Sony KD-55XE9005 – features

Smart TV platform

No real changes to this Android version. The XE9005 series uses the same chipset as the XE9305 series. The Mediatek MT5891, with a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 and Mali-T860 GPU has 2GB RAM and 16GB internal storage. It gives the smart TV platform a more pleasant and smoother experience.

Smart functions

The Android TV interface fills the entire screen, with recommendations at the top. Then you get a row of apps, games and the inputs. At the very bottom you will find all settings. Compared to LG WebOS and Samsung Smart Hub, the interface looks unnecessarily large.

Android TV’s main asset is the built-in Chromecast function. This allows you to browse Netflix on Youtube on your smartphone and to show the selected content on your television with the press of a button. Your smartphone remains usable for other things. A list of apps that support Google Cast can be found in the Google Home app on your smartphone.

One of the most useful features is the Discover button. You will receive recommendations from YouTube, Netflix, live TV and connected media in a small bar at the bottom of the screen. You can also create a list of favorite apps so you can quickly access them without going through the Android Home menu. You decide which things may or may not appear in the Discover bar and can even change the order.

The media player is very complete and played all our video test files, including HDR video. The music player knows no advice with ALAC, but with all standard music formats. And he also reads all the tags. Get VLC from the Google Play Store, who know what to do with ALAC. Kodi or another media player is also recommended if you want to give the TV the allure of a media library.

Sony KD-55XE9005 – Image quality

The XE90 uses a Direct LED backlight with local dimming (also called FALD, Full Array Local Dimming). This means that the LEDs are directly behind the LCD panel and are divided into zones and can be dimmed. We counted 6 subdivisions horizontally and 8 vertically for a total of 48 zones.

Main settings

The best choice starts from the Cinema Pro mode.

General Advanced / Brightness colour Sharpness / Movement
Picture mode: Cinema Pro
Brightness: 20-40 *
Color: 50
Light sensor: from *
Brightness: 20-40 *
Contrast: 90
Gamma: -2
Black level: 50 *
Adjust black: off
Adv. Contrast optimization: off
Automatic local dimming: Middle
Xtended Dynamic Range: Off *
Color: 50
Color tone: 0
Color Temperature: Expert 1
Live Color: Off
Image sharpness: 50
Reality Creation: Car *
Reduce random noise: Off
Reduce digital noise: Off
Smooth Gradation: Low
MotionFlow: True Cinema / Standard *
  • The Cinema Pro mode is an excellent calibrated start. We did notice that it is very clear (with Sony, ‘Brightness’ refers to the level of backlighting). If you see a darkening, lower it to 20, or stay at 40 and activate the light sensor.
  • Black level (the Sony name for what is called Brightness / brightness on most other models) may be set to 49. We had the impression that 50 also left some ‘blacker than black’ info.
  • 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.
  • For Motionflow, the purists keep it on True Cinema. If you want something more fluid, you switch to Standard.
  • Finally, Xtended Dynamic Range gives SDR image a very nice HDR style. Personally we find the High Institution a bit harsh and prefer Middle, but especially experiment yourself.
  • If you look a lot under strong daylight, try the Cinema Home setting.

General image properties and image processing

The Sony KD-55XE9005 has to do with the X1 image processor instead of the X1 Extreme. But do not be disappointed, the X1 also delivers great results. For all your older material he uses his powerful upscaling, contrast improvement and detail improvement. They ensure that your DVDs look pretty good. But of course you get the best results with Blu-ray or equivalent content. With sources of that quality, the X1 brings a lot of detail forward with the help of Reality Creation. We are absolutely not a fan of excessive sharpness, but this subtle treatment, which is also easily adjustable, provides just that extra bit of detail and sharpness without being disturbing. The noise reduction is fine, although he has to recognize his multiple in the X1 Extreme. The ‘Smooth gradation’ setting is also available on this model and it is highly recommended to keep it activated. Color bands are neatly removed.

In terms of motion sharpness you do not give anything compared to the XE9305. In the ‘Clear’ mode, Motionflow can make all the details visible, but you lose some clarity. We prefer the ‘Standard’ setting, since ‘Fluent’ created too many artefacts. If you want to set something personal, choose ‘User’ and set ‘Smoothness’ to 3 and ‘Brightness’ to maximum ‘1’.

The VA panel provides excellent black value, and thanks to local dimming, it still drops considerably. In our measurements we arrived at a contrast of almost 40,000: 1, a result that we can call absolutely impressive. In practical tests the local dimming appears to give a slightly more nuanced result. Sony controls the zones excellently, and there is seldom or never clear segment boundaries. A very light halo in extreme cases is possible, but you really have to look in a darkened room to notice it.

The calibration in the Cinema Pro setting is excellent. The image is clear (322 nits white value) and, as mentioned, the contrast is excellent. The black level does not seem to be perfectly adjusted, we see a little ‘blacker than black’ detail, so you can opt to lower black level to ’49’. The gray scale is neutral, clear shades tend progressively a little too much towards a cooler color temperature, but it is on the border of the perceivable error. The screen shows a huge amount of black detail. The color range is top and the color reproduction is almost flawless.

HDR

The Sony XE9005 models support in the field of high dynamic range HDR10 and during the course of the year with a firmware upgrade also receive support for HLG. You do not get Dolby Vision, unlike on the XE9305.

The peak luminance clocks to 815 nits (in the Cinema Pro HDR mode), considerably less than the XE93 that delivers 1,780 nits. That remains an excellent result, although we would have preferred something just above 1,000 nits. On a completely white screen, the XE90 gets a very good 515 nits. The color range seems to be identical to that of the XE93, approximately 89% DCI-P3 and 64% Rec.2020. Calibration is good, as in SDR, clear tones are progressively cool, but it does not bother. The Direct Led backlight is tough, but can not prevent the black level from diluting slightly in extreme cases (such as fireworks). We did not have ZD9 performance expected, but in many cases we had expected slightly better results with almost 50 zones. Sony, however, avoids having obvious halos, which is worth the small reduction in black value.

We are completely satisfied when we discover that this model also offers ‘Object based HDR Remaster’ to convert SDR image to HDR style. Activate Xtended Dynamic Range Pro in the menus and enjoy the gently sharpened light accents and improved white detail. Sony currently seems to be giving us the best results in this area.

Reflections and viewing angles

The XE9005 series shares the weak point of its big brother; a limited viewing angle. The screen has excellent black, but anyone who steps even 30 ° immediately sees the contrast drop. This is particularly visible in dark scenes, and clear images are much less affected by this. Reflections remain within the limits.

Gaming

In the normal picture modes (dynamic, standard, natural, film) we measure an input lag of 90.7 ms, which is too much for decent gaming. In game mode, the lag drops to 32.6 ms which is a good result. We also see these two results in HDR mode. Consolegamers can therefore choose this TV with peace of mind.

Sony KD-55XE9005 – Audio quality

With only 20 watts of music power you would suspect that the XE9005 has to put the thumbs up against the 50 watts of the XE9305, but the device gives a very solid audio result. Sufficient volume, acceptable bass and no overly sharp limitations of dynamic range. A good performance for a subtopper.

Review equipment

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-55XE9005 – Conclusion

The Sony KD-55XE9005 comes very convincingly from the corner. Compared to the XE9305, you leave Dolby Vision and you mainly pay a considerable amount of maximum luminance. That only has an impact on the HDR performance, although this television remains an excellent choice for HDR. This has no impact on the vast majority of your current content. You also have to take a slightly more common design for granted.

The main concern is the viewing angle, which is limited and quickly affects the contrast. Apart from that you get an excellent television. The Direct Led backlight with local dimming delivers very good black values ​​and excellent contrast. He does his work without disturbing side effects, except in very extreme situations, such as almost black images with bright accents. The color range is fine, although competitors such as LG and Samsung are a bit further. The calibration is good and the device will be a pleasure for both darkening and some ambient light. Are you looking for excellent performance for a very decent price, then the XE9005 series is a great choice.

Cons

  • Viewing angle
  • Not as clear as hoped
  • No Dolby Vision

Pros

  • Good local dimming
  • Image processing
  • Black value, contrast
  • Color rendering

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