Everything about Sony's KD-84X9005 is big. Most obviously there's its screen: 84in from corner to corner, with a good inch of bezel wrapped around it. Less obvious - until you switch it on, at any rate - is the enormous number of pixels squeezed into that 84in screen: more than eight million. For yes, the 84X9005 is only the second TV we've ever tested to boast a '4k' native resolution of 3840 pixels across by 2160 pixels down.
Also remarkably big are the three-way speakers Sony ships with the 84X9005. These attach via angling brackets to the TV’s sides, run the full height of the TV, and use every inch of that height to cram in a seriously potent 50W speaker system that includes 10 symmetrical drivers, a sound range of 60Hz to 200kHz, aluminium enclosures with five non-parallel walls to reduce standing wave interference; and silk dome tweeters renowned for their wide dispersion characteristics.
It's all a million - no, make that a trillion - miles away from the sort of flimsy speaker system usually crammed into flat TVs.
One more less welcome big thing about the 84X9005 is its price. At - gulp - £25,000 pounds it's clearly way beyond the reach of 'normal' folk, being strictly the reserve of the rich, the famous, and the Premier League footballer (i.e. both rich and famous - Ed.). Can its combination of raw screen size and 4k resolution really justify such a price?
Sony KD-84X9005 - Industrial style
Aesthetically the KD-84X9005 is slightly industrial, but still oddly stylish thanks to its slim bezel, two-poled metallic stand and unusual 'corrugated' finish. The speakers look a touch clumsy in the way they bolt on to the TV's extremities, perhaps, but overall this TV looks suitably high-end.
In any case, it's the 84X9005's innards that really count. For as well as that critical 4k pixel count, it's also equipped with a fearsome new image processing engine called 4k X-Reality Pro. Specially designed for the 84X9005, this chipset's most important job is to upscale normal full HD and even standard definition sources to the screen's 4k resolution. But intriguingly it also claims to be able to improve the appearance of even 4k material - no mean feat given how many pixels any 4k picture processing system is going to have to handle in real time.
Sony KD-84X9005 - 4K meets passive 3D
Another potentially brilliant feature of the 84X9005 is its combination of a 4k native resolution with passive 3D technology. The set is the first passive 3D TV from Sony, and the thinking is that the normal arguments against passive - visible horizontal line structure, jagged edges and reduced resolution when showing HD 3D sources - are all negated by the 4k resolution, thanks to its delivery of twice as many horizontal lines.
Two pairs of passive glasses are included with the TV - though given the set's price, we'd have hoped for at least twice as many. Just as well you can pick up more passive glasses for peanuts.
Exploring the 84X9005's picture adjustments reveals a few points of interest. For instance, there’s an option for turning on 4k photo playback - which of course we set to on - and a Manual setting for the Reality Creation system that lets you adjust such niceties as noise filtering and resolution. More on this later.
Sony KD-84X9005 - Calibration tools could be better
Given the 84X9005’s price and potential appeal to the custom installation market, though, it’s a shame it doesn’t sport a truly comprehensive calibration system. For while you get a simple gain and bias adjustment for the white balance’s RGB elements there's no full colour management system.
Inevitably we couldn’t resist kicking off our tests of the 84X9005 with the real McCoy: true 4k images, served up via a 10-minute looping video from a PC server attached via HDMI. This show reel was impressively varied in its content, taking in everything from shots around Spanish beaches, town squares and grand buildings to a football match, footage of the Beliner Philharmoniker playing The Ride Of The Valkyries, and a curious but visually amazing video of a girl paddling on a beach. And we watched it through three times before we managed to stop our jaws from hanging open with astonishment.