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Sony KDL-50W829 review

John Archer

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Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR

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Sony KDL-50W829
  • Sony KDL-50W829
  • Sony KDL-50W829
  • Sony KDL-50W829
  • Sony KDL-50W829
  • Sony KDL-50W829
  • Sony KDL-50W829
  • Sony KDL-50W829
  • Sony KDL-50W829
  • Sony KDL-50W829

Summary

Our Score:

9

User Score:

Pros

  • Stunning 2D picture quality
  • Vastly improved Smart TV system
  • Space saving design

Cons

  • A more advanced remote would be nice
  • Some very rare clipping in bright skin tones
  • Occasional crosstalk and other background issues with 3D

Key Features

  • 50-inch LCD TV with edge LED lighting
  • Active 3D playback (2 pairs of glasses included)
  • MotionFlow processing
  • SEN smart TV platform
  • Learning/Recommendations functionality
  • Manufacturer: Sony
  • Review Price: £950.00

What is the Sony KDL-50W829?

The Sony 50W829 is the first TV from Sony’s 2014 TV range. Perhaps surprisingly under the circumstances it’s not one of the brand’s new flagship models, boasting neither native 4K resolution nor Sony’s impressive Triluminos colour technology. It does stretch to 3D and Sony’s perennially impressive X-Reality Pro picture processing engine, though, as well as a new Bass Reflex speaker system, and the latest version of Sony’s Entertainment Network smart TV platform. Moreover, we rather like the fast Sony has chosen to highlight one of its more affordable TVs to start with. And having used it, we now understand why.

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Sony 50W829: Design and Features

The 50W829 is a 50-inch TV – but it doesn’t look it. Unlike many of the models further up the brand’s new range, the Sony 50W829 doesn’t have huge front-firing speakers down its sides, or a wedge shape adding bulk to its rear. In fact, its bezel is almost unfeasibly narrow. Its rear is very slim too, except for a chunk a couple of inches high at the bottom where its speakers reside.

The bezel sports a pleasing metallic finish on its outer edges, and the low metal stand has been designed to be as minimal as possible, supporting the set on a simple curved metal strip barely a cm thick.

While the impressive sleekness of the 50W829’s form obviously raises concerns about its sound quality compared with the terrific demos we’ve heard of Sony’s Wedge models, we can imagine at least a few people preferring the 50W829’s far sleeker design purely because it takes up so much less room.

Sony 50W829

Connectivity is as we would expect of a mid-to-high end TV these days. The HDMI count runs to four, there’s a pair of USBs for both multimedia playback and recording from the integrated Freeview HD tuner to a USB storage device, plus there are LAN and built-in Wi-Fi network options. These, naturally, support both streaming of video, photo and music multimedia from networked DLNA PCs and access to the Sony Entertainment Network online service.

We’ll be taking our customary annual in-depth look at the new Sony Entertainment Network (SEN) in the next day or two, so here we’ll just have a quick look at the key differences.

The first key thing you notice is that Sony now supports a fully implemented Recommendations system, able to highlight in the Home and new ‘Discover’ menus content the TV believes you’ll like based on your past viewing history.

The new Discover menu has its own button on the remote, and joins the recommendations system in helping to create a very new focus from Sony on helping you quickly find useful content.

Pressing the Discover button calls up a little selection of content shortcuts including access to the channel you watch most, a suggested other channel you might like, a link to a recommended TV show on the BBC iPlayer, and a recommended film from Sony’s Video Unlimited service.

The main home menu is also a radically changed beast, highlighting on-air programming but providing little links along the top to Movies, photo and music content (via both online services and your own USB/DLNA sources). Plus there are small icons to upper right for accessing set up tools like the picture, network and audio menus.

The SEN button this year shows a list of featured services on the left, and a larger box showing your favourite apps on the right.

The presentation, speed, stability and simple thoughtfulness of the new interface are streets ahead of last year’s SEN offering, with the only really big disappointment being the continued lack of support for second-screen TV viewing on tablets or smartphones.

Thinking ahead to the World Cup in Brazil, Sony has equipped the Sony 50W829 with a new Football mode. Accessed via a dedicated button on the remote, this mode automatically adjusts the picture settings to optimize them for football viewing, and provides access to football videos on YouTube, FIFA World Cup History archive videos, and access to Sony’s One Stadium football website.

Sony 50W829

There’s a new Social View button on the remote too that calls up a slickly presented multi-tiered tower of live tweets around the keyword you’ve set up. This looks cool, but to be honest we found it of limited practical value and rendered unusable in a family environment by the tendency of tweeters to swear like troopers.

The picture and sound technology in the 50W829 is pretty potent despite it not being a flagship model. The screen is full HD, of course, and Sony’s excellent X-Reality Pro engine is on hand to boost picture quality with all sources thanks to its clever database-driven ‘shortcut’ approach.

The set also carries Sony’s Motionflow 800 processing to deliver an 800Hz-like effect on motion reproduction.

The 50W829’s speaker system doesn’t benefit from the long-duct technology introduced on last year’s W9 Sony sets, but its bass reflex speaker design and the provision of extra depth behind the speaker section should hopefully stop the 50W829 going the weedy way of most skinny TV audio systems.

The 50W829 supports active 3D playback (revealing that Sony has turned to a different panel provider from that used for its rather disastrous 2013 passive 3D 8 series), with two pairs of glasses included for free.

The last thing to mention in this section is that there are three accessories available for the 50W829: a Skype camera; a ‘one-flick’ remote with a touchpad; and, unusually, an external subwoofer.

Sony 50W829

Sony 50W829: Set Up

Once you’ve spotted the 50W829’s set up menu, it provides a pretty decent suite of calibration tools. Or at least it does once you’ve also figured out that to access the full set of controls on offer you’ll likely need to hit the Options key, enter the Scene Select menu and select the General option! Otherwise the TV uses its X-Reality Pro database to automatically apply a set of picture settings to what you’re watching, only offering a relatively limited degree of adjustment.

To be fair, while this sort of 'interference' by Sony sounds a bit annoying on paper, it actually turns out to be pretty cool in reality for the simple reason that the various presets Sony has defined are way more useful and thoughtfully calibrated than those you get with most rival TVs. Particularly brilliant is the way all noise reduction, detail enhancement and edge enhancement processing is automatically turned off when a Blu-ray source is detected. Rival brands take note.

If you select the 'General' scene option the full suite of tools that opens up includes backlight adjustment, standard and MPEG noise reduction, Resolution/Noise Filtering/Smooth Gradation adjustments to the X-Reality engine, multiple settings for Sony’s MotionFlow engine, a dynamic contrast adjustment, gamma adjustment, white balance fine tuning, detail and edge enhancement, and a ‘skin naturaliser’ for calming ‘peaky’ skin tones.

The really great thing about the Sony 50W829, though, is that the core picture qualities of its panel and the Sony-devised presets are between them so strong that for most delving deep into the picture settings will likely not be necessary. There are only two pieces of advice worth giving here. First, we’d suggest you either turn off the MotionFlow system altogether if you hate such systems on principle or are looking for the fastest response for gaming, or else you use the TrueCinema Motionflow mode, which is actually one of the most natural, most artefact-free judder-taming processing systems we’ve encountered.

Second, when watching 3D set the glasses brightness to Low for reasons we’ll get into later.

One last point to mention here is the inclusion on the 50W829 of a new Cinema 2 preset. This is based on the Cinema 1 mode designed in conjunction with Sony Pictures to deliver a relatively accurate ‘flat’ picture, but it extends the dynamic range in a bid to reintroduce the brightness that’s lost when video is compressed for mastering.

Walter

February 28, 2014, 7:20 pm

I love Sony Tv's. I hope next time I'm in the market I can afford to get one. I've had enough of Samsung now.

jro

March 2, 2014, 3:18 am

Very promising results, but how about viewing angles, that are supposed to be a weak point with the 2013 models ?

Mario

March 4, 2014, 9:21 pm

Hi jro

In my opinion viewing angle is much better than 55W905.

I'm no pro, but I've been hunting for a Sony for the last few months and when I spotted 829 I bought it straight away. I had been thinking of 905 (seen playing), then wedge 955 (seen standing but not playing) but my wife opted for a 50 inch.
I bought this TV for an active shutter 3D and because it's new. SD upscaling works so fine you may reconsider paying for so many HD channels if you do.

Don't count on its sound although it's good.

jro

March 5, 2014, 12:39 am

I was hoping the Trusted Review experts were going to provide us, the curious readers, with a satisfactory reply concerning the question on viewing angle quality of the brillant new Sony 50W829 television !?

andyvan

March 5, 2014, 8:14 am

I'll ask John to get back to you.

Flu

March 6, 2014, 8:20 pm

How does this one compare to an 46w905?

jro

March 7, 2014, 1:58 am

Actually, today I was able to view the new Sony W7 40 inch television, that according to the review is similar to the W8, save for the 3D.
First of all, the W7 has a 200hz refresh rate, not 800 and secondly I noticed viewing the screen from a reasonable angle, as if viewing the TV with other people in a circle, that the brightness was much less than sitting straight in front of the damn thing, haha. So the viewing angle issue still hasn't been solved imo.

Mark Reed

March 31, 2014, 6:45 pm

Ok this ticks all the boxes but one thing I cannot find out is the refresh rate, I know it says 800hz motion flow......but thats not true refresh. See loads of TVs with 400/600/800hz, but the real refresh is like 100hz, the thing been a gimmick to many people. I need true 120hz due to pc running through TV, and when I use vsync with games it will half it to 60fps, any TV with less than 120hz will cap the fps to 30. Anyway anyone know the real refresh? or know of a TV like this with real 120hz? Thanks

Vandera

April 14, 2014, 3:48 pm

Good question (and 13 others agree i see). I'm thinking about buying either the w905 or w829, so a comparison would be much appreciated!

Vandera

April 14, 2014, 3:51 pm

i agree those refresh rates are a bit confusing to say the least. Not sure why Vsync would halve your refresh rate though. It's designed to limit the fps to output refresh, not halve it, right?

Vandera

April 14, 2014, 3:54 pm

have you noticed the resolution drop in 3D? The W829 has been accused of 'cheating' in 3D, halving vertical resolution.

JJ

April 14, 2014, 7:46 pm

Its 120Hz

Matthew Bruce

April 17, 2014, 7:38 am

How is the wall bracket on the W829? When wall mounted is it nice & close to the wall? I don't want a large gap between the rear of the TV & the wall.... I've heard the bottom on the TV is rather chunky?

Giannis Manolopoulos

May 15, 2014, 2:56 pm

Has anyone tried the 55` model?? It has the same quality as the 50`?

Yosef

June 7, 2014, 11:21 pm

what is the height of the 50 model with the stand? i have limited space and I'm wondering whether I'm gonna have to attach it to the wall, which would be a hassle.

coolcity

June 26, 2014, 3:36 pm

I'm confused. Unless I have misread it, the Top 10 TVs review says that this model "carries the Triluminous colour technology that so impressed us in Sony's top-end TVs in 2013", but at the top of this review it says it doesn't. Does it or doesn't it? Important to me because it's a deal breaker.

Technotice

November 8, 2014, 3:57 pm

On some sites example "John Lewis" states this model Sony 50W829 has Free sat but i believe this to be untrue.
Robert

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