Sony KDL-55W905A review

Sony's new flagship TV raises the LCD bar, adding new Triluminos technology to its outstanding flagship LCD panel design

Sony KDL-55W905A review
Editor's Choice
The Sony KDL-55W905A with Triluminos colour tech boasts a great picture

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So does the addition of Triluminos to the core engine that made us love last year's HX853 series take the Sony 55W905A's LCD picture quality to genuinely new heights? Why yes. Yes it does.

The single biggest improvement, as you might expect, comes in the colour department. Instantly - no matter what source we watched - we could appreciate that colours enjoyed both a wider, richer tonal range and more subtlety in their blends than LCD TVs normally deliver.

As noted earlier, leaving Live Colour active can tip the impact of Triluminos into crazy, unbalanced, cartoonish levels of impact. But left in its natural state it's a technology that undoubtedly enriches your viewing experience, no matter what type of content you're watching.

From demos we enjoyed recently at a Sony 4K event in Los Angeles, moreover, we suspect that Triluminos will really come into its own if asked to play one of the Mastered in 4K Blu-rays Sony is readying for launch, with their expanded colour gamuts.

Sony Bravia KDL-55W905A review

It doesn't do the impact of Triluminos any harm, of course, that it's allowed to strut its stuff against a backdrop of black levels that are at least the equal of those produced by Sony's ground-breaking HX853 TVs.

The use of local dimming allows the Sony 55W905A's screen to deliver remarkably deep black colours without, crucially, taking much punch at all out of any bright image elements that might appear within predominantly dark scenes.

What's particularly impressive about the local dimming system, though, is the way it delivers its palpable contrast enhancement without suffering heavily at all with local dimming's typical light blocking problem, whereby you can see rectangles of light around any bright objects against dark backdrops.

The Sony 55W905A isn't completely immune to this problem, but it only materialises during really quite extreme conditions. Which means that it's rare enough to feel like a more than acceptable price to pay for the set's generally outstanding contrast performance.

Sony Bravia KDL-55W905A review

Certainly we've yet to see any other local dimming system on an edge LED TV that rivals the light management qualities exhibited by the Sony 55W905A.

Another strength of the Sony 55W905A's images is their adaptability. Thanks to X-Reality Pro the set is able to handle a huge range of different source types remarkably well, even managing to clean and sharpen up low-quality web feeds so that they're actually watchable even on a 55-inch screen.

The Sony 55W905A can upscale standard definition sources to its full HD resolution with considerable aplomb too, and make HD sources look sharper via the set's Reality Creation engine. This last option won't appeal to video purists, though.

Motion is excellently handled by the Sony 55W905A. Without any of the video processing options in play, the image largely survives the resolution loss over moving objects that's still common with LCD tech - a fact that joins with the unprecedented colour subtlety and more shadow detail delivery than is common with LCD technology in helping the Sony 55W905A's pictures look gorgeously textured and 'HD'.

Sony Bravia KDL-55W905A review

If you feel like trying the motion processing options, some of them at least can deliver a reduction in judder without generating many unpleasant side effects.

We found there was something to be gained from using the Motionflow processing's Clear mode when watching 3D, since it took the edge off the increase in judder you get when watching 3D.

3D picture

The Sony 55W905A's 3D playback is mostly very good. Colour saturations and brightness levels are exceptional, the set's excellent contrast performance helps it render a very strong sense of depth, and the screen does a great job of delivering all that lovely full HD resolution that active 3D was expressly created to deliver.

The only catch is that there's a touch more crosstalk than you get with Samsung's latest flagship 3D TVs (the F8000 series). But it's not remotely severe or common enough to stop the Sony 55W905A's 3D playback from being very enjoyable.

Sony Bravia KDL-55W905A review

Aside from the relatively minor 3D crosstalk and dodgy Live Colour issues, the only significant problem we have with the mostly magical Sony 55W905A is its viewing angle.

You don't have to move very far at all down the set's sides before its previously impeccable backlight performance starts to slide, thanks to the appearance over the opposite edge of the screen from where you're watching of subtle but noticeable grey clouding.

This is a sufficiently strong problem to mean you at least need to consider the layout of your room before buying a Sony 55W905A. But provided you can work past this angle flaw, then the Sony 55W905A's pictures really are dangerously close to being beyond reproach.

John Archer
AV Technology Contributor

John has been writing about home entertainment technology for more than two decades - an especially impressive feat considering he still claims to only be 35 years old (yeah, right). In that time he’s reviewed hundreds if not thousands of TVs, projectors and speakers, and spent frankly far too long sitting by himself in a dark room.