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.
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”