Sony KD-65S8505C review

Sony boards the 4K curved screen bandwagon

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Our Verdict

While a slightly average black level response and some clumsy dynamic contrast controls on the 65S8505C seem a little odd given Sony's previous prowess in such areas, the fact is that for much of the time the 65S8505C's pictures are actually outstandingly good.

For

  • Colour performance is spectacular
  • Its curvature is subtle
  • Excellent 4K detailing
  • Fair value

Against

  • Issues with dark scenes
  • Reflective screen
  • Android system is cumbersome
  • Sluggish operating system

While the 65S8505C is a curved TV, there are times where you forget that it is.

This is because it employs a markedly gentler degree of curvature than rival sets from Samsung and Panasonic, based on Sony's belief that a shallower curve has a less disruptive impact on the picture's geometry.

Especially during off-axis viewing.

It's also likely that the gentler curve will cause less dramatic distortions of any onscreen reflections than more steeply curved screens.

It has to be said that the less dramatic curve doesn't deliver quite such a futuristic aesthetic impact as its more curvacious rivals. And I guess it perhaps raises the question of whether a screen so subtly curved is actually worth curving at all.

Personally, though, I don't mind the more gentle curve, chiefly because you don' t have to sit in such a precise position to enjoy it.

Sony KD 65S8505C

Flying without wings

As with Sony's flat 8505 TVs, the 65S8505C doesn't boast the huge speaker-bearing 'wings' sported by the brand's 93/94 TVs, like the beautiful Sony KD-75X9405C. In fact, with its thin frame and 'barely there' stand its physical impact on your living room - for better or for worse - is startlingly minimal for a TV with a 65-inch screen.

Though of course, the downside to this is that it won't give you the same sensational audio thrills that the X93 and X94 models do.

The 65S8505C's curved screen sports a native 4K UHD pixel count of 3840x2160. But as we're increasingly coming to expect from flagship TVs, this native 4K resolution is actually just part of the picture quality story.

The 65S8505C also gives us the third generation of Sony's Triluminos technology, designed to deliver a more expansive but also more subtle colour palette.

This latest take on the technology no longer uses the Quantum dot approach of the original Triluminos, but it's reckoned to be capable of delivering 150 times as many colour tones as last year's Triluminos system.

Powerful processing

This is chiefly down to the introduction of a new Sony-designed X1 picture processing chipset capable of handling far more colour address points than the previous X-Reality Pro system.

The X1 chipset isn't just about colour, though; its tentacles also extend into areas like detail resolution, noise reduction (which works on a much more local and 'intelligent' level than before), the 65S8505C's edge-lit backlight system, shadow detail reproduction and motion clarity.

Sony KD 65S8505C

We've already seen the X1 system work exceptionally well on previous Sony TVs this year, so hopefully it will continue its run of form on this 65-inch model.

The latest panel design Sony has used in the 65S8505C is reckoned to be capable of delivering much more brightness than previous generations of Sony 4K TVs. As well as giving images generally more punch, this extra brightness should prove handy in realising the set's high dynamic range ambitions once these have been unlocked by a promised firmware update.

All about the Android

As well as revamping its picture engine for 2015, Sony has given its smart TV interface a massive overhaul. This sees the previous home-grown Sony Entertainment Network (SEN) platform being replaced by Google's latest stab at introducing an Android TV platform.

It's easy to understand the appeal of integrating Android into a TV. After all, it means that TV will have access to the vast Android app development community, leading to a potentially limitless source of apps for populating the TV's online world.

There are already hundreds of apps on Sony's Android TV platform, thrashing the amount of apps you used to get via SEN.

These apps are presented in a new 'shelf'-based interface, and include the 4K Ultra HD streaming versions of Amazon and Netflix. They don't, though, include any of the usual UK catch-up apps aside from the BBC iPlayer.

The missing UK-centric catch-up stuff is supposed to have been introduced via a YouView firmware upgrade by the summer, but it has been recently announced that the YouView update will come to the Android TV range on November 4 this year.

And yes, this TV will be due the upgrade.

Final features of the 65S8505C worth pointing out are the presence among of its connections of four HDMIs and three USBs; support for 3D using the active system (though no free glasses are provided); Bluetooth/NFC wireless streaming from your smart devices; and the ability to stream files from networked, DLNA-enabled computers and storage drives.

Thanks to Android TV you can even stream to the TV using the Googlecast system without needing the usual external dongle. Neat.

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