The good times continue to roll when you don a pair of passive 3D glasses, as the 84X9005 produces the single most convincing and enjoyable 3D picture we’ve seen outside of a commercial cinema. The thing is, its 4k panel allows it to deliver all the traditional advantages of passive 3D - no flicker, practically no crosstalk, a more relaxing viewing experience, more brightness, richer colours - without the usual negatives of reduced resolution, jagged edges, and visible horizontal line structure.
Sony KD-84X9005 - Passive 3D gets serious
Essentially, providing double the resolution lets you watch genuine full HD passive 3D pictures - and the results are jaw-dropping. Everything from the 3D trailer for the latest Spiderman film to Tangled, Avatar and the recent Titanic 3D release looked nothing short of stunning on the 84X9005, as the combination of the huge screen, genuinely HD flicker-free images and a superbly natural sense of depth draw you into the action like no other 3D TV before.
We guess that should 4k 3D titles ever appear, then the 84X9005’s passive approach won’t show them at their maximum resolution. But given the problems with getting even 2D 4k content delivered into homes, the prospect of insanely data intensive 4k 3D sources currently seems very distant indeed.
Sony KD-84X9005 - Wherefore art thou, 4k content?
Actually, the lack of any sort of 4k content right now clearly represents a problem for the 84X9005, especially given its enormous price. But of course, without 4k screens, 4k content will never come. And with Sony itself being such a major player in the TV and movie world, the more stellar 4k TVs like its own 84X9005 appear, the more inevitable it will be that 4k content will arrive at some point - possibly sooner than you think.
While the 84X9005 regularly produces pictures that are simply miles ahead of anything we’ve ever seen from any other TV, there was one notable picture flaw with our review sample: Quite obvious backlight inconsistencies during dark scenes, where parts of the picture look slightly cloudy.
We reduced the impact of this issue by taking down the backlight and making sure the set’s dynamic backlight feature was set to Low. But we never got black levels looking as consistent as we’d like.
Sony KD-84X9005 - Sample flaw?
However, Sony had told us before we started our review that it wasn’t happy with the backlight performance of our test sample (which understandably couldn’t readily be swapped out at short notice). Also, luckily, we’d seen three other 84X9005 models running in a darkened behind-the-scenes room at the recent IFA trade show, none of which suffered backlight clouding issues nearly as badly as the test sample we used. So we’re willing to believe that at least some of the backlight flaws experienced during this review are unique to this one sample.
Sony KD-84X9005 - Audio magic
With so much to talk about where the 84X9005’s pictures are concerned, we’ve almost forgotten those huge speakers down each side. Which is grossly unfair, as they actually sound crazily good compared with the flimsy ear-crud dispensed by most TVs.
The mid-range, for instance, is extremely wide and open, helping the TV deliver even action scenes with power and clarity to rival a half-decent separates system. There’s far more bass than you usually hear with a TV’s audio system too, and treble detailing is excellent and completely free of harshness.
The only downside to the audio system is that it has a rather small sweet spot whereby if you don’t sit in exactly the right place, vocals distractingly sound like they’re coming from the left or right side of the screen, rather than the correct position on the screen.
Thanks to its beautifully realised 4k capabilities, the 84X9005 is quite simply the best TV we’ve ever tested. Nothing else comes close - not even the Toshiba 55ZL2 due to that 4k TV being nearly 30in smaller and not driven by Sony’s sensational X-Reality Pro picture system. What's even more startling about this is that while Sony was happy for us to formally review the 84X9005 sample we saw, the brand also believes that it will be able to improve picture quality even more before the set finally starts to ship.
Clearly there aren’t many people able to spend £25k on being ready for a video revolution that could still take two or three years to bear serious home cinema fruit. Indeed, some people will even argue that the 84X9005’s price merely underlines how far off widespread 4k in the home remains.
Dedicated lovers of picture quality that we are, though, we personally can only salute Sony for a) pouring so much of its heart and soul into making its first 4k TV so outstanding and b) making the prospect of 4k content turning up sooner rather than later that much more likely.