Sony KD-49XE9005

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

While there’s a strong case for full home cin­ema sys­tems be­ing stan­dard gov­ern­ment is­sue – for ex­am­ple, who could plot a war while watch­ing Where The Wild Things Are? – the sad fact is that very few peo­ple have the space re­quired or the means to buy one.

But does that mean the rest of us need to re­lin­quish our right to watch our favourite films in all their glory? While there are 4K telly set-ups like this about, ab­so­lutely not.

Worth the ef­fort

It all be­gins with the pic­ture emit­ted by the Sony KD­49XE9005’S 49in screen. Although it might take a while to set up, once it’s ready the pic­ture you get is well worth writ­ing home about.

Im­me­di­ately the depth of the im­age strikes us. The XE9005’S han­dling of sub­tle de­tail­ing and colours dis­tinctly, but not jar­ringly, sep­a­rates the fore­ground from the back­ground to ren­der a lay­ered pic­ture.

The Sony’s level of blacks, and the de­tail within, is in­cred­i­ble; feed it brighter pic­tures and it re­sponds with a punchy im­age that rev­els in ex­plod­ing cars – colours pop with­out be­com­ing over­bear­ing.

These char­ac­ter­is­tics stay with it whether you’re play­ing DVDS or even watch­ing an up­scaled stan­dard-def broad­cast; it’s a so­phis­ti­cated im­age, es­pe­cially when you remember the tele­vi­sion is cre­at­ing 95 per cent of it.

The XE9005’S An­droid op­er­at­ing sys­tem also means you get a lot of con­tent to play with. There’s the sta­ple range of catch-up apps such as BBC iplayer, ITV, All 4, and De­mand 5, as well as stream­ing ser­vices from Net­flix and Ama­zon Video.

Be­ing fo­cused on the Google Play store means you can also get ac­cess to all the other An­droid apps avail­able, in­clud­ing mu­sic stream­ing apps such as Spo­tify and Tidal.

On the phys­i­cal side, there are four HDMI ports to con­nect Blu-ray play­ers and games con­soles, and three USB ports – two of which are USB 2.0, one 3.0. Along­side those con­nec­tions is a coax­ial for broad­cast tele­vi­sion, satel­lite in­puts, a 3.5mm jack and a dig­i­tal op­ti­cal out­put, as well as ana­logue video in­puts for older de­vices.

For those in­ter­ested in the specs, this TV boasts a 4K HDR screen, 10-bit colour depth and sup­ports the BT.2020 colour space, while there’s a mi­cro­phone at the top for Google’s voice con­trol.

Blu-ray bril­liance

To get the best out of the XE9005, though, you’ll need an equally tal­ented source: that’s where the Sony UBP­X800 4K, the com­pany’s first at­tempt at a 4K Blu-ray player, comes in.

As well as the ex­pected sup­port for Net­flix and Ama­zon Video and catch-up ser­vices, you can also stream your An­droid smart­phone to the player via Mira­cast, while there’s sup­port too for 3D movies and SACD play­back.

Much like other Sony play­ers, you can con­nect it wire­lessly to other com­pat­i­ble speak­ers via its Sony­pal app, or stream the au­dio through Blue­tooth to some wire­less speak­ers. Twin HDMI out­puts also give you the op­tion of send­ing au­dio to your sound sys­tem and feed­ing a pic­ture into a pro­jec­tor.

Es­sen­tially, it mir­rors the Sony telly’s eye for de­tail, ir­re­spec­tive of light­ing, and of­fers those same vi­brant colours with­out sac­ri­fic­ing any tonal neu­tral­ity.

But pic­ture is only half the bat­tle in cin­ema, and, while we value the na­tive per­for­mances of both Sony prod­ucts, there’s a far more im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence to be had when you bolt on as tal­ented a sound­bar as the Dali Ku­bik One.

Soundbars don’t tend to be par­tic­u­larly at­trac­tive, but we think this one is re­ally quite pretty. Those grilles are re­mov­able: red, white and black come as stan­dard, but you can also choose from six oth­ers rang­ing from pur­ple to lime green. It’s heavy and solidly built, with a fin­ish lux­u­ri­ous enough to match that price tag.

Serious about sound

It’s not just a pretty face, how­ever. This is a serious bit of kit, hous­ing two 25mm soft-dome tweet­ers and two 13cm wood-fi­bre cones.

At the back is a fair of­fer­ing of con­nec­tions. In­puts in­clude two op­ti­cal, and one ana­logue RCA. We’re pleased to see a mi­cro USB in­put too, which means you can hard­wire a Mac or PC into the Ku­bik One. Wire­less con­nec­tion is han­dled by aptx Blue­tooth. A sub out socket lets you hook up your own sub­woofer if you feel the need, although you shouldn’t have to.

Three cheers if you’ve got a li­brary of hi-res mu­sic – the sound­bar can han­dle tracks up to 24-bit/96khz.

There’s ample low-end heft to thicken the sound, but it’s nicely con­trolled. The Dali man­ages to ping ef­fects around metic­u­lously, and with im­pres­sive clar­ity. It also makes the most of speech; voices are de­tailed, main­tain­ing their tex­tures, but never sound­ing harsh. Add good tim­ing and agility and you have your­self a punchy, dy­namic sound­bar that wipes the floor with its ri­vals.

Whether it’s a film or mu­sic, the Ku­bik One’s greatest strength is its abil­ity to seize your at­ten­tion. It’s a thor­oughly in­volv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence: we don’t tend to ex­pect this from soundbars full stop.

Will this sys­tem stop you ever hav­ing to go to the cin­ema again? Of course not. But it’s more than enough to give your friends a size­able a dose of AV envy.

“Add good tim­ing and agility and you have your­self a punchy, dy­namic sound­bar that wipes the floor with its ri­vals. It seizes your at­ten­tion”

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