Review Price £25,000.00
Sony KD-84X9005 84in 4K TV First Look
It would seem that 84-inch TVs are like buses. As in you wait for, well, ever to get one, and then three come along at once.
The three models in question and on show at this year's IFA 2012 technology convention in Berlin are LG's 'Ultradefinition' model, (which we reported on from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas), a new Toshiba CEVO Engine TV we'll be going hands-on with in the next few days, and the rather surprising KD-84X9005 from Sony.
We have to admit that we really didn't see the Sony KD-84X9005 coming - despite the fact that it's a) bloody enormous and b) due to go on sale by December this year. Both these facts make it a potentially perfect stocking filler for serious AV fans. So long, that is, as the AV fan in question happens to be multimillionaire playboy.
For yes, financially normal people will be dismayed - if hardly surprised - to hear that in order to bag yourself an 84X9005 you're going to need to find a cool 25,000 Euros or so (£19,805). Ouch.
4K Picture Quality
Sony appears to have done a surprisingly good job of making that price look fair, though. For starters, there's the small matter of its 4K native resolution. Yes, instead of the measly 1920 x 1080 pixels found on 'full HD' TVs, the Sony KD-84X9005 serves up a cool eight million pixels (as do the other two 84in screens we mentioned).
From our reviews of the Toshiba 55ZL2 TV and the Sony VW1000 projector, 4K looks likely to be the next big AV game changer. And our extensive hands-on with the 84X9005 merely underlines our sense of 4K's importance.
Right from the start you can tell Sony isn't mucking about with the 84X9005. It's extremely solidly built and very serious - even a bit dour - with its looks. Also, rather than being embarrassed by its enormity, it exaggerates it by bolting onto its sides a pair of massive speakers. More on these later.
Tucked away inside the set is another reason for its high price: a new, ultra-powerful processing engine - 4K X-Reality Pro - specially developed to deliver 4K upscaling of HD and standard definition material. With so little native 4K material around yet, to some extent the Sony KD-84X9005 will live or die on the quality of this processing.
Just as well, then, that during our hands-on the processing appeared to be working very well indeed. Normal HD Blu-rays looked emphatically more detailed on the 84X9005 than they did on a normal full HD screen - and this extra detailing was seemingly added without causing anywhere near as many processing side effects as expected. There was a little bit of fizzing noise around some areas of fine detail, especially where dark detailed objects appear against a light background. But this is a small price to pay for all the extra resolution the processing adds.
In fact, we might not have noted the noise had it not being for the fact that a native 4K version of the same image was being shown on a neighbouring 84X9005. This native 4K feed looked nothing sort of breathtaking; much sharper than even the upscaled standard HD image, as well as more immersive and dynamic. The image looks gorgeously dense too, to the point where you can't make out visible pixel structure even if you stick your nose right up to the screen.
The most jaw-dropping moment of our time with the Sony KD-84X9005 came when Sony demoed the 3D trailer for The Amazing Spiderman. The thing is, the TV uses passive 3D tech rather than the usual (for Sony) active system. But because the TV has a 4K resolution, it can deliver all the traditional passive advantages (greater brightness, richer colours, no flicker, no crosstalk and a less tiring experience) without displaying the traditional disadvantages of visible line structure, jagged edges and a reduced resolution.
There's no overstating how much this improves the 3D experience. In fact, it's so good it suddenly got us interested in 3D again - and believe us when we say that this is no small achievement.
There is perhaps a small concern about Sony's use of an edge LED lighting system on the Sony KD-84X9005. We occasionally spotted some minor 'light blocking' when light objects appeared against dark backgrounds - even though the demo rooms were quite bright. Based on our experience with Sony's HX853 models, though, we suspect that some fairly simple picture adjustments will sort this niggle out.
All this and we still haven't covered those monumental speakers. They contain no less than 10 drive units, and basically sound so good with music that they could be part of a fairly serious music system. During movies, vocals sounded both a little muffled versus the extreme clarity and power of the rest of the sound mix, and also sounded slightly dislocated from the onscreen action. Nonetheless, for the most part the 84X9005's audio is as uncompromisingly powerful and classy as its pictures.
All in all, from our hour with the Sony KD-84X9005, we'd say that Sony's quest for quality with its new TV flagship borders on the maniacal, but in a good way. A very good way.