- High quality panel
- Android works well as TV OS
- Cast feature adds additional options
- Numerous connectivity options
- Remote touchpad not very responsive
- Noticeable light leaks
Smart TVs aren’t all that fascinating these days, are they? They started with a slow and archaic interface, dodgy connectivity and bare-bones app support, but with time things have gotten a lot better. LG has been innovating with Web OS-driven smart TVs and add-ons like Chromecast and TeeWee (among innumerable others), have been enabling people to get more from their TVs than what local broadcasters have to offer. The point is, when we hear of a smart TV these days we go “Hmm”, instead of “Wow”, as we did back in the day. But with their new range of Android TVs, Sony has has managed to bring back the “Wow”.
The Android experience
Having the Android OS built right into the TVs interface has a lot of advantages. Interfacing, for one, is a familiar territory for anyone who has used an Android device in the past. Initial setup is quite similar to the steps you take on your mobile phone or tablet – requiring you to setup your Wi-Fi or LAN connection and connecting to your Google account. Content and connectivity options are presented upfront every time you boot the TV, all categorised along multiple, easy to navigate rows. You have access to the Google Play Store so you can download all your favourite entertainment apps and games as well.
To make interfacing easier, Sony has opted for a touch-sensitive second remote. It’s a great concept where you use the upper half of the remote as a trackpad, complete with gestures to pop up or bring down certain menus. It’s a very different way to interface as compared to LG’s air remote, where you use motion controls to navigate, which I thought was better in execution, as the trackpad was not as responsive as I would have liked it. The remote also has voice support, so you can vocally demand the content you want to see using natural phrases like “I want to see something with dogs”. Powered by Google, the voice recognition worked flawlessly, and I could easily search YouTube for the videos I wanted to see by just a button press on the remote.
The cast function that’s also built into the TV works identical to what Chromecast has to offer, and you can use all compatible apps on it including mirroring your mobile screen. Of course in this mode, you will be primarily using your mobile or tablet as the main interface to the TV.
Design and build
The TV panel itself is gorgeous. The 55-inch display is incredibly slim. There is a bit of a bulge at the lower part of the back, but that’s mainly to accommodate the numerous connectors that the panel comes with. Even the stand is minimalistic taking up a tiny footprint on the table, but with a panel this slim, it would be a shame not to wall-mount it. We found that despite the size of the stand, the TV did not show any signs of tipping forward or backward even when moderate external pressure was applied.
There are a good number of connectivity options on offer with 4 HDMI ports, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, ethernet, 3 USB ports and the rest of the analogue connectivity options. That’s a remarkably good number of options, especially considering the slim form factor.
The X9000 is highly configurable. We noticed a number of options in colour tones, white balance and picture adjustments that allowed us to fine tune the display in ways that most other TVs don’t. Of course there are presets as well, but we would recommend you take that extra 15 minutes during initial setup to calibrate a perfect picture.
4K video (3840×2160) played quite well off USB drives, and even the 1080p content scaled up well. We ran a number of movies old and new for testing purpose, and the upscaling was great across the board in both Blu-rays as well as streaming media. Especially with 1080p, it didn’t feel like we were watching content on a non-native resolution, which is quite an achievement. Colour reproduction was quite good on the X9000, in true Sony style. Even when we oversaturated colours, the image appeared clear without noticeable burn-ins.
Besides 4K, the X9000 also boasts passive 3D, making it compatible with cheaper, easy to buy stereoscopic 3D glasses. 1080p 3D media looked really good overall though there were some parts where ghosting was visible.
We did, however notice some light leaks towards the bottom on the panel, but that was mainly noticeable when the screen went completely black.
The Sony X9000 boasts a 2.2 channel sound system with two drivers and two woofer units, to give you a fuller sound. It’s better than what you would expect from your flat panel TV, but if you’re going in for a display that’s this good, we’d suggest you go with a sound system that does justice to it.
At Rs 2.85 lakh, the KD-55X9000C is surprisingly well priced. Even if you don’t consider the 55-inch size of the panel, 4K resolution, massive connectivity options or the 3D capability, it’s still an exquisite unit that runs on a legitimate operating system that has a massive app support. Sony has also provided a number of optional add-ons like a gamepad, a camera and keyboard and mouse to make this the first screen you go to for all your entertainment needs.
Sure, it’s not perfect. There is that light leak issue we mentioned above and the trackpad on the remote could be a bit more sensitive, but as an overall product, it’s nothing short of brilliant.