It’s that time of year again, when all the new shiny TV ranges are released and all Richer Sounds colleagues are reduced to excited children at the thought of playing with lots of shiny new toys! 2016 is a particularly exciting year, with the advent of Ultra HD Blu-ray players, High Dynamic Range (HDR) content and the promise of more UHD broadcasts on the way with Sky’s new Q Box. Rather than being restricted to the TV series available on streaming services or the one channel on BT Sport, 2016 promises to be huge in allowing you to maximise your TV’s performance. What better time than now to be looking at a new UHD TV?
The XD9305 model follows on from last year’s X9305 in a move that sees Sony evolving the 2015 range forward in an effort to improve upon a solid concept. As expected with this high-end model, the focus is very much on 4K resolution and HDR. Sony’s tried and tested features from 2015 are all in force here to squeeze every inch of picture quality from your sources onto the screen. The X-tended Dynamic Range Pro processor controls light output across the screen, carefully dimming and brightening different areas to give you better contrast, and a brightness range three times that of a conventional LED TV. This combined with their Triluminos display and 4K X1 processor means that colours are produced in an exciting vividness without sacrificing the depth and natural shades of darker scenes.
Topping it off is a picture processor that boasts 1000hz of Sony’s Motionflow XR technology, meaning that motion is handled very well, even with the most frantic action on screen. As expected, there’s plenty of connectivity, with 4 HDMI ports (all compatible with HDCP 2.2), 3 USB slots (1 of which can be used to record onto from the inbuilt twin Freeview HD tuners), digital optical output for audio along with wireless or wired internet connections. The XD9305 is also ready for any 3D needs you may have, though the glasses are sold separately. Thanks to Sony’s Slim Backlight Drive, all this is built into a chassis that is only 36mm deep, which makes the XD9305 one seriously gorgeous TV; even the simply angled rectangular pedestal looks classy.
Where Sony slightly stumbled last year was with the Android TV operating system, which although looking very slick, sometimes provided some frustration with glitches and updates. They have worked on this to eradicate the errors experienced last year and are updating the system to Android 6.0 Marshmallow for a better and more capable experience. It still features all your catch-up content, the multiple Google Play services for movies, music and games and DLNA capability for streaming content from computers or NAS drives. Also available is Sony’s PlayStation Now app that allows you to play PlayStation games through your TV without the need to connect the console. One particularly nice feature is the ability to browse through content on a bar situated at the bottom of the screen, meaning that you can have a look through Netflix to see what’s currently available without having to lose what’s already being shown on the screen. Pretty slick eh?
Now to the crux of any TV’s performance; the picture. Well, you’ll be pleased to hear that all the aforementioned talk of high processors and lighting displays isn’t just marketing guff from Sony. This slim TV really does give the full array backlight LED screens a run for their money. Starting off with a 4K stream of Breaking Bad on Netflix, the dusty red desert of Albuquerque positively beams as if you were right there, up close to every craggy rock face. Night time scenes hold up just as well, showing that the contrast ratios are very good, making sure you can make out the various shadows as Bryan Cranston menacingly contemplates his evil deeds.
The XD9305 does a winning turn at upscaling too, as we explore our various Blu-rays and DVDs. Particularly good results come from the expansive panning and tracking shots of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, as the remains of the fellowship race along the plains and hills of Middle Earth. As is to be expected, Standard Definition broadcasts from our Sky HD box are noisy and rough affairs, but the Sony does an admirable job of minimising the damage. The rendering of colours are still very good and the chances are that you’ll be sat a reasonable distance away so that the worst of SD won’t be visible anyway. To improve the form factor of the TV, the speakers that ran vertically along either side of last year’s screen have been removed in favour of down firing drivers at the bottom of the chassis, like with most manufacturers. They’re enough to get on with, but with Sony’s options of either a wireless subwoofer and/or their wireless multi-room speakers, there’s plenty of easy ways to improve the sound without putting a huge amp in your TV rack.
All in all, this is a very good step from Sony. Keeping the best from 2015 whilst improving on what didn’t work, it looks as though other manufacturers are facing some stiff competition in usability as well as picture quality. To find out for yourself, why not pop down to your local Richer Sounds and see the results. You’re always welcome to bring some of your own content along, and you might even get a cup of tea!
To find out more about the Sony KD55XD9305, click here.
Author – Steve, Bristol store