Rather than get straight into the minutiae of what makes the 84X9005’s native 4k pictures truly, magnificently special, it feels necessary to first try and explain the overall experience of watching high quality 4k. The thing is, it pretty much completely breaks down the usual ‘wall’ between you and what you’re watching.
If you’ve never seen 4k before, you probably don’t even realise that there is a wall between you and a normal full HD picture. But after seeing 4k it becomes clear when going back to normal HD that you can’t engage with it quite as fully, thanks to a relative lack of detailing over background objects; a shortage of depth caused by the ‘smudging’ of distant objects; and a reduced sense of object solidity and colour realism caused by some inevitably less subtly rendered colour blends.
Sony KD-84X9005 - The beauty is in the detail
Plus, of course, even the best 1920x1080 HD doesn’t deliver the sort of detailing your retinas are capable of rendering, so there’s always a detail ‘gap’ between an HD picture and your visual acuity.
With a true 4k feed shown on a true 4k screen - especially one as huge and talented as the 84X9005 - all of these problems melt away. So you’re no longer watching something through a screen; you’re actually there, on the film set, in the sports arena or in the TV studio.
Sony KD-84X9005 - Small talk
From here we could easily bang on about being able to see such minutiae as flaws in the polish of an orchestra’s violins, individual leaf details on cliff-top trees seemingly miles in the distance, and colours so intensely vivid but also subtle that they seem to have come from another AV planet. But actually 4k’s impact is much more than just the sum of such parts.
At which point, of course, we need to reflect that sadly the only 4k content most people will be able to see on the 84X9005 is still photographs from a digital camera. Such photos do indeed look amazing, and further 4k photography support will come from a new 4k version of Sony’s PlayMemories PS3 software that’s supposedly finally going to be available for free in December.
If you want 4k versions of your favourite films and TV shows, though, for now there’s only one option on the 84X9005: upscaling.
Sony KD-84X9005 - Talented upscaling
Just as well, then, that while no rival for the sheer majesty of true 4k, the 84X9005’s upscaled pictures are outstanding. Successfully calculating the best appearance of the huge amount of extra pixels required to convert 1920x1080 to 3840x2160 in real time is no easy task, but the X-Reality Pro engine does it supremely well, resulting in upscaled pictures free of colour striping/blocking that are also immensely detailed and sharp.
The processing is also remarkably clever at distinguishing between unwanted source noise - which it takes out - and deliberate ‘noise’ it needs to keep in, such as the grain used in some film transfers.
As you might gather from all the above goodness, the 84X9005’s ground-breaking processing makes your Blu-rays and even DVDs look far better than they ever could on a standard HD TV.
Sony KD-84X9005 - Calm down dear
The only rider to this is that if you stick with the Reality Creation system’s Auto option it can operate a little over-aggressively, leaving pictures looking slightly ‘pixellated’. We found that slightly nudging the Resolution Reality Creation element down from its preset and the noise filtering component up improved things nicely without substantially softening proceedings.
One last point to raise about the 84X9005‘s Reality Creation circuitry is that remarkably it doesn’t just deliver tangible benefits with 1920x1080 or standard definition sources. Toggling the processing on and off while watching 4k revealed that remarkably it can even make native 4k feeds look sharper and more detailed. Which is actually pretty mindblowing.