Sony KD-55XE8596

FOR Nat­u­ral pic­tures; han­dles mo­tion well; good black de­tail AGAINST Muted HDR pic­ture; up­scaler isn’t very im­pres­sive

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

Just a short while ago, 4K and HDR was the pin­na­cle of the spec list, avail­able on a se­lect few top-of-the-range tele­vi­sions. Now, with more rea­son­ably priced TVS get­ting the same fea­ture list as the blow-your-bank-ac­count sets, the midrange has seen a huge im­prove­ment in qual­ity.

With that in mind, en­ter Sony’s lat­est KD­55XE8596. At a midrange price mark, this TV gives you a nat­u­ral, en­joy­able pic­ture and an im­pres­sive spec list, in­clud­ing 4K Ul­tra HD res­o­lu­tion at 3840 x 2160, HDR sup­port in both HDR10 and Hy­brid Log Gamma (HLG) va­ri­eties, and full sup­port for the BT.2020 colour space.

Dolby Vi­sion (HDR with dy­namic meta­data) is miss­ing, but few TVS boast that out of the box. So you’ll be able to watch con­tent at pretty much the pin­na­cle of what’s cur­rently avail­able. Ama­zon Video and Net­flix are both here, the lat­ter get­ting a ded­i­cated but­ton on the Sony re­mote (as does Google Play), but other on-de­mand ser­vices from the BBC, ITV, Chan­nel 4 and Chan­nel 5 are in­cluded too.

The An­droid Nougat OS is re­spon­sive, but the in­ter­face isn’t as clean or snazzy as Sam­sung’s Tizen or LG’S WEBOS. As you’d ex­pect from an An­droid TV, you also get Chrome­cast built-in, so you can stream con­tent from com­pat­i­ble apps on iphones and any con­tent from an An­droid phone. This also gives it com­pat­i­bil­ity with Google Home, should you wish to shout at a speaker to get your favourite shows.

Set­ting stan­dards

The XE8596 isn't the flashiest look­ing flatscreen, but the thin layer of sil­ver around the edge of the bezel is a nice touch and the min­i­mal­ist look is ap­peal­ing.

Sony’s ‘cable-less’ de­sign means you can tuck the ca­bles into gaps in the legs of the stand to avoid tan­gling. Four HDCP 2.2 HDMI con­nec­tions should be enough to cope with your set-top box, con­sole and Blu-ray player needs.

The XE8596 is a good per­former, but doesn’t quite set the stan­dard at this level. On the pos­i­tive side, it han­dles both blacks and whites well. We load up the Planet Earth II Ul­tra HD Blu-ray and the shadow’s gra­da­tion when the sun breaks over the red rocks of the Ara­bian penin­su­lar is rather im­pres­sive.

Sim­i­larly, the XE8596 has a sur­pris­ing so­phis­ti­ca­tion when it comes to moun­tain snow. The ice un­der the crows, as they steal food from ea­gles, is nu­anced with dif­fer­ences in tone. It’s a pretty con­vinc­ing pic­ture, with­out any un­nat­u­ral ex­ag­ger­a­tion or en­hance­ment.

Chang­ing to John Wick: Chap­ter 2, there’s a good amount of in­sight to the beads of sweat on Abram Tarasov’s glis­ten­ing fore­head as he re­alises that Wick is as­sault­ing his chop shop, and the tex­ture of his rough beard comes across nicely.

Even with­out Sony’s ‘Mo­tion­flow’ mo­tion smooth­ing turned on, the XE8596 han­dles Wick’s rapid-fire punches and bru­tal fight scenes with ease. Putting it in ‘Stan­dard’ mode makes the ac­tion a lit­tle slicker, but our ad­vice is to try it out and see if it’s to your taste.

The Sony runs into trou­ble when play­ing a lower-qual­ity stan­dard def­i­ni­tion broad­cast. Blu-rays are a lit­tle noisy, while stan­dard def­i­ni­tion pro­gram­ming isn't par­tic­u­larly de­tailed or sharp. It does well enough for a rel­a­tively large screen at a mid-range price, though, and the pic­ture is per­fectly watch­able.

Sub­tle de­tails

But, while the XE8596 should be ap­plauded for its gen­er­ally bal­anced na­ture, it’s let down by a lack of punch that ham­pers its HDR per­for­mance. In Life of Pi, the pop­ping, lu­mi­nes­cent glow of the is­lands and the roar­ing or­anges of Richard Parker the tiger, are muted and re­served.

Play­ing with the ‘Live Colour’ or ‘Adap­tive Con­trast’ set­tings can coax a bit more life out of the tele­vi­sion, but it's at the ex­pense of the sub­tlety in the dark de­tails. For ev­ery­thing non-hdr, the Sony’s lack of punch is less of an is­sue, and lev­els of con­trast and bright­ness are what you’d ex­pect of a good LCD TV fed SDR con­tent. Sound qual­ity on the XE8596 is de­cent, but noth­ing spe­cial. We find that ‘Stan­dard’ mode suits most ev­ery­day view­ing, while the slightly more ex­pan­sive ‘Cin­ema’ set­ting is worth a go if you’re watch­ing some­thing more ac­tion-packed.

On the whole it’s de­tailed, but there’s a hint of harsh­ness to tre­ble-fo­cused ef­fects such as glass smash­ing. We’d rec­om­mend pair­ing the TV with a sound­bar for the com­plete ex­pe­ri­ence.

While the Sony XE8596 ticks all the specs boxes, it lacks the punch and con­trast to make the very most of HDR con­tent. Yes, it's pretty af­ford­able for a 55in 4K TV, but we think it’s worth spend­ing a lit­tle bit more to get the HDR you de­serve.

“The Sony XE8596 ticks all the boxes but lacks the punch and con­trast to make the most of HDR con­tent”

The XE8596 is a de­cent midrange TV, but its HDR per­for­mance is a lit­tle muted Google Play and Net­flix both have ded­i­cated buttons on the re­mote

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.