Dragging ourselves away from the cricket to check out a few Blu-rays, our already extreme enjoyment of the Sony KDL-55HX853 merely grows stronger – chiefly because we’re able to add to the picture talents we’ve already mentioned an absolutely superlative black level response.
Dark scenes have simply never looked better on an edge-lit LED TV, for three reasons. First, the depth of blackness really is profound, getting remarkably near to plasma levels at times. Second, despite this black depth, dark scenes always look detailed and natural, avoiding LCD’s tendency to leave dark scenes looking hollow. And third, all this is achieved while suffering remarkably few of the backlight inconsistencies that usually trouble even the most accomplished edge LED TVs to some degree.
Corners don’t suffer with the jets of extra light still quite commonly seen on edge LED TVs, and other cloudy patches only appear under very extreme circumstances – such as when a white logo appears against a black backdrop in the centre or a corner of the screen.
At these moments it did seem that the backlight clouding was slightly more obvious than it was with the 46HX853 – most likely because the edge lighting is having to work harder to cover a larger expanse of screen on the 55in model. But so rare is the sort of video content that gives rise to these backlight clouding issues and so prevalent by comparison are the exceptional strengths of the 55HX853’s lighting system that we ultimately struggled to comprehend how Sony has managed to pull off such a logic-defying feat of light management.
The 55HX853’s 3D pictures aren’t quite as triumphant as its 2D ones. But they’re still mighty fine overall, thanks to their much greater vibrancy, dynamism and sharpness versus previous Sony 3D TVs. The sharpness is particularly startling if you engage Sony’s newly 3D-capable X-Reality Pro system; so much so that we found ourselves using this system pretty much all the time, despite it sometimes making the edges of mid-to-distant objects sometimes look a little over-stark.
The only significant issue with the 55HX853’s 3D pictures – aside from Sony not including any 3D glasses for free with the TV – is that they’re not quite as free of crosstalk as those of one or two rival sets. But the crosstalk is predominantly restricted to distant objects and is also mostly subtle even when it does appear, so even if 3D is important to you we wouldn’t consider the crosstalk anywhere near troubling enough to put us off buying a TV with such outstanding 2D talents.
It almost goes without saying at this point that the Sony KDL-55HX853 is a stunning screen for playing games on. But we should certainly add that it seals its gaming deal with an input lag of under 35ms, which will hardly ever be sufficient to negatively effect your gaming skills.
As if all the 55HX853’s picture achievements weren’t already reason enough to persuade you to cough up the actually very reasonable sum of £1545, then maybe its excellent audio will finally tip the balance for you. Attach that fancy silver bar stand and the power and dynamic range of the soundstage is little short of revelatory by the thin, hissy, muddy audio standards of your typical thin TV. If you don’t use this stand the sound from the speakers built into the TV itself isn’t actually bad, but it has to be said that it’s no match for what you get with the stand in play.
Given the sheer scale of Sony’s problems right now, it’s probably too much to hope that a couple of genuinely brilliant TVs will be enough in themselves to turn the ship round overnight. But as first steps to financial salvation go, the 46HX853 and now 55HX853 go beyond anything even Sony’s most ardent fans could have hoped for.
Score in detail
3D Quality 9
2D Quality 10
Sound Quality 9