Sony Bravia KD-65XD9305 4K HDR TV review

What happens when TVs diet

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Our Verdict

Boasting an ultra-slim design, an innovative new type of lighting system, a native 4K resolution and playback of new high dynamic range pictures, Sony's 65-inch KD-65XD9305 looks on paper like one of the year's most exciting high-end TVs. But has its focus on thinness led to too many performance compromises?

For

  • Pictures often look exquisite
  • Incredible super-slim design
  • Lots of app choice
  • Built-in YouView works well

Against

  • Android TV can frustrate
  • Average sound quality
  • Some backlight blocking issues
  • Horrible remote control

As with the top-end TVs from all the main brands this year, the Sony 65XD9305 is obsessed with high dynamic range (HDR) video. So much so that it employs a completely new edge-lit LCD panel design reckoned to deliver the sort of lighting precision and intensity you usually only get with direct LED lighting (where the lights sit right behind the screen).

Rather prosaically dubbed the Slimline Backlight Drive, the clever trick behind the 65XD9305's new lighting engine is that it puts two LCD light guide plates in sequence, each with its own separate zonal dimming capabilities. This essentially means the TV can offer twice as much local light control as typical edge LED lighting systems.

Delivering more localised light control is a big deal in the HDR world, where screens are expected to deliver huge amounts of brightness to potentially only small areas of the image without destroying the look of surrounding areas with extraneous light.

Sony is coy about exactly how much brightness its TVs can pump out, but it has stated that the 65XD9305 meets the specifications recommended by the recently unveiled Ultra HD Premium 'standard'. This means peak brightness levels of 1000 nits, as well as the delivery of more than 90% of the DCI-P3 digital cinema colour standard; 0.05 nits of black level response; and a 10-bit rather than an 8-bit panel. All joined, of course, by a native 4K/UHD pixel count of 3840x2160.

Oddly, despite saying the 65XD9305 apparently being capable of receiving the Ultra HD Premium badge, Sony hasn't actually pursued Ultra HD Premium certification – despite being a member of the Ultra HD Alliance that came up with the Ultra HD Premium recommendations.

Instead, to make matters a touch more confusing, Sony has chosen to use its own 4KPro designation of HDR ability.

Design

The chassis for Sony's cutting edge new screen technology is a suitably glamorous affair. For starters, the set really is exceptionally slim round the back; especially when you consider that it has two separate light path plates in it.

The contrast between the slim black frame and the centrally mounted heavy-duty grey metal sheet stand works well, and there's an extra dash of panache in the form of a sliver of gold that runs all the way round the TV's edges to underline the point that yes, you've treated yourself to a truly premium TV.

Sony Bravia KD 65XD9305

The 65XD9305's connections earn kudos for various reasons. First, all the HDMIs are built to the v2.0a specification, meaning they can take 4K HDR images at up to 60 frames per second. Next there are three USBs for playing back video, photo or music multimedia from USB drives.

You also get the now inevitable Wi-Fi and Ethernet options for accessing files on DLNA-enabled devices on your home network, or for going online with either of Sony's two key smart TV options: YouView and Android TV.

YouView and Android TV

The first of these is very welcome, first because it brings all of the UK's main catch up services to the 65XD9305 when Android TV doesn't, and second because it integrates its catch up TV services into a nicely presented electronic programme guide that scrolls back seven days as well as forwards.

Android TV makes for a less comfortable experience for reasons discussed in this review's Usability section.

Sony Bravia KD 65XD9305

At least the Android TV apps include both the Netflix and Amazon streaming services, and it turns out that both these apps support the 4K and HDR streams both services now support. Unfortunately, though, Sony's TVs don't support Netflix's Dolby Vision option, so you only have access to the open standard HDR 10 format.

A couple of other final noteworthy features are the set's use of an improved version of Sony's X1 video processing chip - which includes new features designed to improve HDR playback - and playback of 3D Blu-rays. Sony's arch rival Samsung, by comparison, doesn't support 3D with any of its new TVs.