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Sony KDL-50W829 review

Sony's W8 TV offers high-end performance at a surprisingly affordable price

Sony W8
Great Value
Sony W8

One of the inevitable problems of having a surfeit of content to contend with is search and filtering. It's all too easy to lose track of what you actually want to watch when material is washing in from every angle.

This is why Sony's One-Flick discovery tool is so effective. It's a fast, fun way to get an insight into what's available, without having to trawl endlessly through listings. It makes for a great personalised search engine.

Read more: Sony Bravia ZF9 (KD-65ZF9)

The internet service launch page may be less seamlessly integrated than last year's models, which is a tad disappointing, however it's quite functional.

Wonky multimedia playback

The KDL-50W829 is DLNA compliant and thus certified to play multimedia content back from both local USB thumb drives and across a network. However there are issues.

The default view when looking at the contents of a connected device is a full content list, rather than a folder tree. This is awkward enough when it comes to a stuffed USB, but woefully impractical on a NAS. You can change the view by ferreting around in the options menu, but this isn't at all intuitive. The folder view should obviously be the default.

Following a firmware update, we also had issues with the set immediately crashing out of its network NAS connection. The TV would handshake with the DLNA server and then bail out almost immediately. Prior to this we had established that multimedia file compatibility is good, with popular codecs and container playable (MKV, AVI, WMV etc). Hopefully this issue will be quickly addressed by a firmware revision.

A surprising sound performer

The set's audio performance is better than expected of a screen so slim. An S-Force digital amplifier generates 16w, enough to encourage the slim, downward firing stereo bass reflex speakers to create a spatially wide image.

Also new this season is Clearaudio+. Utilising some new-fangled sonic jiggery pokery, Clearaudio+ does a quite remarkable job of adding dynamics and scale to the set's performance. This is most notable on music content. Vocals are crisper and seem more believable.

If the sound still isn't phat enough for you, Sony offers an optional £250 wireless subwoofer able to plumb significantly deeper depths. The wireless SWFBR100W sub reach deeper than any onboard speakers.

However if you're looking to really enhance the audio performance of this TV then we'd argue that cash would be better spent with a separate sound system, be it a 2.1 soundbar (Sony offers the £299 Bluetooth-enabled HT-CT260H soundbar with wireless subwoofer) or dedicated audio pedestal system, like the £200 Cambridge Audio Minx TV system.

Overall value for the KDL-50W829 is extremely high. £900 for a high spec 50-inch set of this calibre is great value. More often than not, similarly priced rivals skimp on picture processing refinement, but that's not the case here.