We won’t cover the Sony KDL-55HX853’a SEN content in detail as we did this in our 46HX853 review, but the highlights are BBC iPlayer, Demand 5, BBC News, Sky News, Skype, LoveFilm, Netflix, the Sony Entertainment Television Channel, Sony’s Video Unlimited pay per view platform, and Sony’s Music Unlimited subscription music service. You can also see your Twitter account feeds scrollling along under the TV picture that continues to play on the left side of the SEN menus.
Our only main problem with SEN, in fact, is that the main menus loads rather sluggishly.
It’s a shame Sony hasn’t also revamped its main setup menus. These still employ the tortuously over-complicated double-axis ‘XrossMediaBar’ system we disliked so much in 2011, making it just as well that the SEN button now removes a good deal of your potential interaction time with this frustrating older system.
No fancy stuff
We’re duty bound to point out that the Sony KDL-55HX853 only ships with a standard remote control, offering no gesture, voice or touchpad remote options like some of its rivals this year. Its online service also doesn’t trouble itself with the reams of small-scale game and infotainment apps rife on other online platforms. Which we guess could make the 55HX853 seem a touch ‘old-fashioned’ for a 2012 flagship TV.
However, the set does work nicely with Sony tablet computers, even being able to share video with them. More importantly, the 55HX853 is about as far away from ‘out of date’ as it’s possible to get when it comes to the small matter of its picture quality.
As with the 46HX853, our first response to seeing the Sony 55HX853 in action was to sit bolt upright with are mouths hanging open like some slack-jawed yokel. In fact, its impact is even more potent on account of its extra 9in of screen size.
In attempting to dissect the multiple elements that make the 55HX853’s pictures so special, let’s start with something simple: namely that images look superbly bright – much punchier than the images from last year’s equivalent Sony models.
Crucially, though, this brightness isn’t just thrown onto the screen wantonly as it quite often can be with LCD TVs. For instance, rather than ‘drowning out’ colour subtleties or forcing the colour palette to look pumped up, the brightness is simply used to bring out an almost infinite degree of subtlety when it comes to colour blends, and for allowing the colour gamut to stretch well beyond what you can see on the vast majority of rival TVs.
Also outstanding – ground-breaking even – is the Sony KDL-55HX853’s motion handling. Watching the second England/West Indies test match revealed the set’s reproduction of motion to be near flawless, even with only the most gentle of the many provided motion processing options in play.
The usual judder and motion blur issues associated with LCD TVs are almost completely eradicated, leaving a sense of purity and clarity that combines with scintillating HD detailing and the aforementioned colour rendering to leave our favourite summer sporting spectacle looking perhaps more engrossingly natural than it ever has on an LCD TV.