Sony KD-65ZD9BU

FOR Great 4K pic­ture; colour bal­ance; de­sign; easy to use AGAINST Ri­vals have bet­ter black depth; mo­tion in­sta­bil­ity

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

We thought we’d seen the last of Sony’s TVS for 2016, but then the com­pany launched a pre­mium ZD9 se­ries of 4K sets. The Sony KD-65ZD9BU is the baby of the range at £4000, but it boasts an Ul­tra HD 4K res­o­lu­tion and HDR (high dy­namic range), with all the stream­ing fea­tures you could want. It has im­proved tech­nol­ogy that prom­ises bet­ter de­tail, con­trast and colour, es­pe­cially for Ul­tra HD 4K and HDR video.

It has an X1 Ex­treme im­age pro­ces­sor that of­fers 40 per cent more pro­cess­ing power than that in the XD93/XD94 range, too. It de­liv­ers more ac­cu­rate de­tail en­hance­ment, bet­ter con­trast and smoother colour gra­da­tion.

Back­light Mas­ter Drive gives the TV full con­trol over each in­di­vid­ual LED in the panel’s full-ar­ray back­light, and the 65ZD9 also em­ploys ‘ob­ject-based HDR re­mas­ter’, which in­tel­li­gently up­scales con­tent to 4K HDR based on how it should look, rather than just boost­ing the pic­ture’s con­trast and colour.

While Sony re­fuses to join the UHD Al­liance and ap­ply the UHD Pre­mium logo that Samsung, Pana­sonic and LG are happy to show, it is con­tent to ad­here to its own high stan­dards when it comes to 4K and HDR pa­ram­e­ters. It claims it goes way be­yond the 1000 nits re­quired for HDR’S peak bright­ness.

Looks good, front and back

If it’s a good-look­ing TV you want, then the Sony KD-65ZD9BU more than jus­ti­fies its £4000 price tag. It isn’t the slimmest screen we’ve seen but it looks svelte and ev­ery inch a pre­mium TV.

Part of it is down to the sliver of bezel sur­round­ing the screen, part the sub­tle matt-gold ac­cent to the edges of the TV and its stand. It’s not flashy but it does give an at­trac­tive flour­ish that points to the 65ZD9’S pre­mium sta­tus at the top of Sony’s TV range.

The stand is also a sen­si­ble rec­tan­gle – not the long ones that span the length of the TV so you can’t fit them on to your TV stand – and is easy to as­sem­ble.

Even the re­mote con­trol is nice to hold. The flat, rub­ber-feel but­tons are re­spon­sive and in­tu­itive, and the metal back is a nice ef­fect.

The grid pat­tern on the back of the TV looks smart, but it also hides the joints of panels that snap off to re­veal all of the 65ZD9’S connections. While other TVS are equally un­clut­tered and seam­less, the 65ZD9’S grid de­sign re­ally makes the panels in­vis­i­ble. It looks cool. You can also feed the ca­bles through the stand to make cable man­age­ment even neater.

Marsh­mal­low – and more

Hid­den un­derneath those panels are four HDMI in­puts (all four spec­i­fied to 4K/ HDCP 2.2 stan­dards, two al­low­ing HDR – so you can play 4K Blu-rays), an op­ti­cal out­put, three USB ports, com­pos­ite and scart connections, and Free­view HD and satel­lite tuners. You can con­nect to your home net­work us­ing wi-fi, but we pre­fer us­ing wired eth­er­net to make sure the con­nec­tion is sta­ble and that you get the full blast of a 4K stream over Net­flix or Ama­zon Video.

An­droid TV 6.0 (or M for Marsh­mal­low) re­turns as the back­bone of Sony’s Smart TV plat­form. How­ever, the sys­tem’s up­dated in­ter­face looks vir­tu­ally un­changed.

De­pend­ing on your point of view it’s per­haps not as colour­ful and fun as Pana­sonic’s Fire­fox or LG’S WEBOS but it’s easy to nav­i­gate through the or­derly list of catch-up TV ser­vices, on-de­mand video apps, Google Play apps and more.

“Uniquely, Sony pro­vides all of the catch-up TV ser­vices – BBCI Player, ITV Player, All 4 and De­mand 5 – with­out the need for Free­view Play”

First for video con­tent

Uniquely in our ex­pe­ri­ence, Sony pro­vides all the UK’S catch-up TV ser­vices – BBC iplayer, ITV Player, All 4 and De­mand 5 – with­out the need for Free­view Play. There’s even Youview, and Youtube. Along with the all-im­por­tant Net­flix and Ama­zon Video, this makes the 65ZD9 one of, if not the most well stocked Smart TVS for video.

The lay­out is neat and speedy, and it doesn’t take long for apps to open or switch over. The pro­gramme guide is sim­i­larly un­com­pli­cated, and brows­ing through telly op­tions is quick and easy.

Marvel at the con­trasts

Play The Mar­tian and the Sony KD65ZD9BU daz­zles with its 4K Blu-ray pic­ture. The ‘Mar­tian’ land­scape looks vast and bru­tal. You can dis­cern ev­ery grain of sand, while alu­minium foil and glass sparkle. The grub­bi­ness of Matt Da­mon’s space-suit, the lines on his face – the Sony is de­tailed enough to con­vey these vary­ing tex­tures, and more.

Blu-rays of Marvel films pop with colour. The 65ZD9 has a slightly rich pal­ette, but in an appealing way. It sits be­tween the sub­tle, crisp Samsung UE65KS9000 and the lush hues of the LG OLED65E6V, but the over­all bal­ance looks nat­u­ral enough.

Stream­ing in 4K may not be as de­fined as a 4K disc, but the qual­ity is a step up from Full HD. The Man In The High Cas­tle has a gloomy, grey-fil­tered pal­ette and the 65ZD9 is tal­ented enough to dis­tin­guish edges of ob­jects and char­ac­ters in the shad­owy cor­ners. The open­ing titles are enough to show how well the Sony can dis­play sharp, bright whites along­side deep blacks, al­though it takes some ad­just­ing in the pic­ture set­tings to get this strong con­trast.

Devil’s in the de­tail

Sony’s clos­est LCD ri­val is the Samsung UE65KS9000, which of­fers a slightly dif­fer­ent colour bal­ance. Its skin tones are a touch red­dish, while the Sony’s veers to­wards pale yel­low. How­ever, it’s their black depth and shadow de­tail that set the two apart.

While the Samsung doesn’t go as pitch black as the LG OLED65E6V, it still manages to con­vey in­ten­sity and lay­ers of depth. The Sony, as dark as it goes, doesn’t quite sug­gest that same im­pres­sion of depth and de­tail. Space scenes are best at show­ing this: you can see the wispy gas clouds sur­round­ing the Milky Way on the Samsung, but not so much on the Sony. You can see more stars shin­ing on the Samsung, too.

Even if you brighten the im­age, the 65ZD9 isn’t quite ca­pa­ble of re­veal­ing the sub­tle de­tails in shad­ows or edges of ob­jects. Dark hair looks uni­formly black on the 65ZD9, but the Samsung can pick out strands of brown when a light shines on char­ac­ters. Faces look more three di­men­sional on the Samsung with the ex­tra nuance around the edges, too.

Thin sound needs a boost

The 65ZD9 is a fine up­scaler, though, with stan­dard- and high-def­i­ni­tion Free­view chan­nels com­fort­able to watch. There are the in­evitable fuzzy edges and drop in de­tail, but bump up the noise re­duc­tion set­tings to smooth over those old Macgyver episodes and it looks fine.

Sony hasn’t done any­thing ex­cit­ing on the sound front, as­sum­ing cor­rectly that own­ers will want to pair their ex­pen­sive TV with an ap­pro­pri­ately ca­pa­ble sound­bar. We agree: the TV’S thin sound will def­i­nitely need a boost from the likes of the ex­cel­lent Dali Ku­bik One (£800) sound­bar.

It may sound as though we’re nit­pick­ing over the finer sub­tleties of the Sony’s pic­ture, but when you’re pay­ing £4000 for the best TV, you’ll be aim­ing for per­fec­tion. There’s no es­cap­ing the fact the Samsung 65KS9000 of­fers a bet­ter pic­ture at a lower price.

Still, there’s plenty to like about the Sony KD-65ZD9BU. It’s a lovely set, the world’s best video apps are at your dis­pos­able and the pic­ture is still a knock­out when you’re watch­ing 4K films and shows.

It looks a lit­tle old-school, but the Sony’s re­mote con­trol is re­spon­sive and in­tu­itive

The sub­tle, matt-gold ac­cent on the bezel and stand add to this TV’S sense of class

The 65ZD9 de­fies its po­si­tion as the baby in Sony’s pre­mium range

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