Sony KD-65XF9005 £2300

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Large-screen Tvs -

Fan­tas­tic de­tail in the brightest and dark­est pic­ture

FOR

It’s hard to gen­er­ate much ex­cite­ment about any­thing la­belled ‘mid-range’, let alone a TV. But there are those rare oc­ca­sions that the mid-range throws up some­thing spe­cial – a tele­vi­sion that com­bines some of the best fea­tures of the top-end with a price that’s af­ford­able. That’s what we’ve got on our hands here.

Bright fu­ture

Like its pre­de­ces­sor, the XE9005, the XF9005 has a di­rect LED back­light with mul­ti­ple zones that can be in­de­pen­dently lit or dimmed. Sony re­fuses to be drawn on how many of these zones the XF9005 has, but says it is more than last year’s model and that it’s brighter, too.

Fur­ther im­prove­ments in­clude the up­grade to Sony’s X1 Ex­treme pro­ces­sor. This should re­sult in faster op­er­a­tion and give ac­cess to more ad­vanced pic­ture pro­cess­ing fea­tures such as the 4K X-re­al­ity Pro up­scal­ing en­gine and new X-mo­tion Clar­ity mo­tion pro­ces­sor.

Sony has cho­sen to stick with An­droid TV as its op­er­at­ing sys­tem, which re­sults in the ex­pected blend of pros and cons. You get more apps than you’re likely to need. Net“ix and Ama­zon have you cov­ered up to 4K HDR qual­ity, while BBC iplayer, ITV Player, All 4 and De­mand 5 pro­vide catch-up con­tent. There’s Google Play Movies & TV, Playsta­tion Video and Rakuten; Plex and VLC for your own video files and Deezer and Spo­tify.

The only sig­nif­i­cant thing miss­ing is a way to watch brand new films (other Mi­nor back­light bloom­ing; bass-light

AGAINST

than Net­flix Orig­i­nals) in 4K and/or HDR. You’ll need to add a 4K Blu-ray player or Ap­ple TV 4K for that.

But An­droid TV is still clut­tered and slug­gish. At times it’s al­most un­bear­ably slow. The X1 Ex­treme pro­ces­sor ap­pears to be no match for the poorly op­ti­mised op­er­at­ing sys­tem, but Sony says an OS up­date from An­droid 7.0 to 8.0 will be avail­able at some point. You prob­a­bly want to take Sony prom­ises of soft­ware up­dates with a hand­ful of salt, though; the Dolby Vi­sion up­date to its 2017 TVS, which was due last sum­mer, still hasn’t ap­peared in the UK. A Dolby Vi­sion up­date is also due for the XF9005, but at least in the mean­time there is HDR10 and HLG to be get­ting on with.

Fly­ing colours

The open­ing 10 min­utes of Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2 pro­vides a com­plete work­out for TVS, but it’s one that the Sony passes with fly­ing colours. The first thing you no­tice is the clouds, which might ini­tially seem odd, but the sky when viewed on the Sony is so dra­matic and pretty that it’s im­pos­si­ble to re­sist.

It high­lights one of the XF9005’S strengths: its white per­for­mance. Not only does the TV go brighter than sim­i­larly priced ri­vals, its bright whites are packed with de­tail and nu­ance.

The yel­low let­ter­ing that fol­lows pops from the screen in vivid fash­ion, and there’s an en­tic­ing lush­ness and vi­brancy. The more you watch the more you re­alise that the XF9005’S colour bal­ance is another se­ri­ous strength. That vi­brancy con­tin­ues to im­press as the ac­tion moves into space – the gold of the Sov­er­eign planet, the pan­els of the plat­form where the open­ing bat­tle takes place and the cos­tumes have a rare ra­di­ance and lus­tre, and the neon blasts of weapons fire and rain­bow vomit are ap­pro­pri­ately bright and dy­namic.

Skin tones are ex­cep­tional, warm and vi­va­cious but also re­al­is­tic. As is the case with the bright whites, there’s also greater de­tail and sub­tlety in the brightest colours. Where the cheaper Sam­sung UE65MU7000 oc­ca­sion­ally hits the lim­its of its bright­ness and colour vol­ume, re­sult­ing in some washout, the Sony keeps on de­liv­er­ing.

Mo­tion pro­cess­ing has long been the com­pany’s forte, and the XF9005 con­tin­ues the good work. It de­liv­ers slow pans and fast ac­tion with crisp edges and no jud­der.

While some TVS ex­ag­ger­ate their blacks, which can re­sult in a strong, dy­namic pic­ture at the ex­pense of some sub­tlety, the Sony is ter­rif­i­cally nu­anced, de­lin­eat­ing darker shades rather than de­liv­er­ing a dol­lop of pure black.

The re­sult is quite ex­cep­tional de­tail in the darker parts of the image. The brick­work, rub­ble and rust of the aban­doned ware­house in Looper is clear and tex­tured.

The Looper Blu-ray demon­strates the XF9005’S up­con­ver­sion of SDR (stan­dard

dy­namic range) sig­nals to HDR, au­to­mat­i­cally en­abled across all but one of the pic­ture pre­sets. The re­sults are, sur­pris­ingly, su­perb. The fea­ture doesn’t quite con­vince you that you’re watch­ing a gen­uine HDR disc, but the added bright­ness, vi­brancy and sub­tlety it brings can add a new lease of life to well-worn discs.

The only real crit­i­cisms we have con­cern­ing the Sony’s pic­ture qual­ity are of its view­ing an­gles and oc­ca­sional bloom­ing from the back­light. And you may be won­der­ing ‘When is this re­view go­ing to men­tion those ridicu­lous feet?’ There is method to the ap­par­ent mad­ness, in that the splayed feet are de­signed to strad­dle Sony’s new HT-XF9000 sound­bar.

How­ever, we don’t be­lieve that’s rea­son enough for what is one of the

most awk­ward-look­ing TV de­signs of re­cent mem­ory. The feet do fea­ture sim­ple but ef­fec­tive chan­nels for your ca­bles, and the TV’S bezel is pleas­ingly thin and stylish. At 6.9cm, the XF9005 is far from skinny, but we don’t imag­ine that sort of thick­ness putting any­one off.

Con­sid­er­ing the bezel is so thin and there are no vis­i­ble speak­ers, the Sony projects sound into the room rather well, de­liv­er­ing au­dio, par­tic­u­larly voices, with a clar­ity and di­rect­ness that’s far from com­mon in flatscreen TVS. There’s even a bit of low-level dy­namic sub­tlety.

But it is also a bass-light au­dio per­for­mance, no mat­ter how much you tweak the set­tings. The Sony KD-65XF9005 goes well be­yond what we ex­pect of a mid-range TV and de­liv­ers a pic­ture per­for­mance not short of the very best flag­ship

mod­els of last year. Of course, £2300 is still a big out­lay for a telly, and as it’s one of the first 2018 mod­els to hit our test­ing rooms, it’s dif­fi­cult to tell whether we’ve got an Award-win­ner on our hands.

In its own right, though, the XF9005 is an ab­so­lute bel­ter.

“Mo­tion pro­cess­ing has long been Sony’s forte. The XF9005 de­liv­ers slow pans and fast ac­tion with crisp edges and no jud­der”

The sound is pretty de­cent con­sid­er­ing how thin the bezel is

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