Ease of use
We're big fans of the KD-55X9005A's user interface. It's identical to that found on all Bravia TVs for 2013, and it puts an emphasis on simplicity and speed.
All graphics are hi-res, too, which is a nice touch - a good example being the bright and breezy electronic programme guides.
However, the remote controls are relatively poor for a high-end TV. As opposed to LG and Samsung - both of whom provide wand-style remotes and/or brushed metallic touchpad versions with embedded microphones - Sony has issued this £3,299 telly with the same remotes found with its everyday TVs.
At least the main remote is simple to use, sporting buttons for Home and SEN for easy access to the main functions and smart TV apps, respectively. We also like the fast Zapping mode, which allows the quick navigation of TV channels on a side-menu, though it takes some getting used to.
However, the second, smaller remote that powers the NFC features (tap to a phone to pair with the TV) is otherwise too basic.
As a smart TV hub, SEN is an add-on, an extra, which makes it vastly different to how most smart TVs walk. However, we like this conservative approach; most of the time one doesn't want to go anywhere near apps when attempting to watch TV.
Our only complaint is that Sony's own Video Unlimited, Music Unlimited and Play Memories apps are given pride of place on the TV's user interface, though that's not necessarily a bad thing since the choice is good.
Digital files - accessed through the Connected Devices menu - are dealt with nicely, with all major filetypes for video and music handled. Via its USB slots we managed to play MKV, AVI, MPEG, MP4, MOV and WMV files, though over a network MKV files aren't supported. Music in WMA, WAV, MP3 and M4A versions played fine, too.
The KD-55X9005A excels with audio - and in one swoop explains why this set is pricier than Toshiba's 58-inch 58L9363DB.
Its 2.2-channel sound system delivers unusual bass levels, of course, but it's the wide soundfield and precise stereo imaging delivered by the Magnetic Fluid speakers we're entranced by. It goes loud, too, and delivers more than enough oomph for frenetic films.
It's all a welcome throwback to the early days of flat TVs (and then some), though we're guessing the wider design won't appeal to everyone.
Despite the rapid price-cut from its original £4,000 level to £3,299 (thanks, Toshiba), Sony's KD-55X9005A is all about having the latest and greatest slab of 4K tech - and at a reasonable size. Considering that the 65-inch version costs almost twice as much, we'd judge the KD-55X9005A as pretty good value - relatively speaking.
That impression is helped by the quality upscaling, the proficient handling of digital files (and other hum-drum daily chores), but mostly by the top quality speakers - what a treat.