Review Price to be confirmed
Sony goes curvy with this 4K TVBeing summoned by Sony to a July meeting at the offices of its UK PR outfit to check out a ‘new TV technology’ was certainly not something we would normally expect to happen. After all, with the IFA technology show in Berlin just around the corner, we would have expected Sony to keep any new goodies tucked up its sleeves until then.
Yet summoned we were, resulting in us finding ourselves on a sweltering July 21st (the meeting was embargoed until now) sitting before a large, rectangular ‘something’ draped in a black cloth.
Such black cloth action generally only happens when a brand feels it’s got something pretty spectacular to unveil, and Sony didn’t let us down. For whipping the cover off its new TV revealed something we genuinely hadn’t expected from the Japanese brand this year: the small matter of Sony’s first curved 4K TV.
Actually, it really isn’t a small matter at all. For with its 65-inch curved screen the 65S9005B (a 75-inch version is also inbound) is anything but small – which is exactly how we like our 4K TVs, of course. The 65S9005B wears its size well thanks to its glossy black finish, cutely rounded left and right sides and strikingly curved legs.
SEE ALSO: Best 4K TV Round-up
Sony KD-65S9005B: 4.2-channel SpeakersIt’s worth noting, too, that the frame around the screen isn’t nearly as wide at the edges as Sony’s controversially massive X9005B models. This does mean the 65S9005B – which sits between Sony’s X9500 and X9005B 4K series – doesn’t get the stupendous magnetic fluid speakers squeezed into the X9005B models. But the S9005Bs still manages some genuine audio innovation courtesy of what Sony calls a ‘4.2-channel Multi-Angle Live Speaker system’.
This uses a combination of two speakers in those cunningly rounded left and right edges facing forward at an angle of around seven degrees, while two other speakers face backward at around eight degrees, using sound deflection technology to deliver a pseudo surround soundstage.
SEE ALSO: Sony 65X9005B Review
If we had a pound for every time we’d heard a TV claim to deliver a pseudo surround performance only for it not to deliver any sort of surround sound at all we could probably afford a 4K telly in every room. But remarkably, during our demo of the 65S9005B it actually did deliver a sense of sound coming from behind as well as in front of you. And we’re not just talking about some unpleasant sort of echo effect; there was a genuine sense of rear soundstage detail, front to rear transitions, and a palpable feeling of being genuinely surrounded by the audio space of the film (in this demo’s case, The Matrix).
The soundstage sounded a little thin initially when running in 4.2 mode, but this was swiftly rectified by adding to the 65S9005B one of Sony’s impressive new optional subwoofers. These are now available in black as well as the previous white, making them a more in-keeping match for the 65S9005B’s monolithic looks.
Sony KD-65S9005B: The Perfect CurveAt this point it occurs to us that we’ve been so caught up in the 65S9005B’s sound that we haven’t really discussed its headline feature: that curve. The first thing that strikes you about Sony’s curve is that it’s much shallower than those we’ve seen from LG and Samsung. Needless to say this is no accident. In fact, Sony immodestly informs us that its 4K curved TV adopts the ‘perfect curve’, derived from heavy duty research by no less an institution than Japan’s Kyushu University.
This research suggested that the relatively shallow nature of the curve the 65S9005B adopts delivers the best balance between curved TV advantages (such as greater depth and sense of immersion) and not mucking up the image’s natural geometry. It was particularly noticeable that the black borders above and below The Matrix didn’t ‘droop’ at the screen’s extremities like they do with rival curved screens.
It also seemed to us during the hour or so we got with the 65S9005B that the gentler curve distorted onscreen reflections less than curvier screens, while the image geometry holds up better, too, when viewing from down the sides.
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What’s more, these benefits of the gentler curve seemed, during our demo – which admittedly took place in a rather brighter room than your average living room, to have been delivered without spoiling the impressive 4K picture quality for which Sony has become deservedly renowned. The set still benefits from Sony’s 4K X-Reality processing and Triluminos colour technology, for instance.
So what’s the catch? Maybe this: that just as the gentler curve allows the TV to sidestep some of the pitfalls of curvier TVs, so it also potentially reduces the impact of curved TVs’ strengths.
Sony KD-65S9005B: First ImpressionsWe’ll need to study this in much more depth when the final TVs roll up for review later in the year. But in the mean time we can’t help but be struck by the fact that we found ourselves seemingly more enthused by the 65S9005B’s innovative sound than its gently curved screen.
Next, read our reviews of the other top curved TVs, the Samsung UE65HU8500 and LG 55EA980W