Sony KD-84X9005 - Sony’s First 4K TV

4/11/2013 3:17:57 PM

Sony’s first 4K TV is an 84-incher with a price tag only an Ecclestone could love, but it offers amazing image quality


·         Screen size: 84in

·         Resolution: 4K, 3840 x 2160

·         Contrast ratio: Officially claimed to be ‘Over 1 million’

·         Tuners: Freeview HD

·         Speakers: 50W (12.5W x 4)

·         EPG: Freeview HD 7-day

·         CI slot: Yes

·         Software update: OTA

·         SD out/in: 1 x Scart (via adaptor), 2 x USB,

·         HD in: 4 x HDMI v1.4 (two 4K compatible), component video

·         Audio out: stereo phono, digital optical audio, headphones jack

·         Audio in: 2 x stereo phono

·         Data: USB 2.0, Ethernet, integrated Wi-Fi


Sony KD-84X9005

Sony KD-84X9005

The opposition

Toshiba 55ZL2: $10,500

Toshiba beat out Sony to deliver the first 4K resolution TV (which the brand dubbed Quad HD) in the UK. In hindsight, the price is extremely competitive, but hardware limitations mean you won’t be able to take advantage of 4K broadcast services when they begin

Toshiba 55ZL2: $10,500

Toshiba 55ZL2: $10,500


LG’s incoming 4K TV will use the same panel as the Sony reviewed here, but allied to completely different picture processing circuitry. Early sample certainly look impressive. The set is expected to sell for around $30,000 when it arrives later this year or early 2013

Hold onto your hats- the 4KTV bandwagon is finally rolling. Not only is the 84in KD-84X9005 the first 4K consumer TV released by Sony, it’s also the first 3840 x 2160 display equipped for the resolution revolution about to engulf us all.



Toshiba was the first to market with a 4K telly, the 55ZL2, but that premature panel is locked down tight, with none of its HDMI inputs able to accept an incoming 4K signal. The extra resolution was mainly an enabler for auto-stereoscopic (glasses-free) 3D and to facilitate internal upscalling. This Sony is a very different kettle of clarity. When Sony president and CEO Kax H. unveiled the screen at IFA this year, he declared it “a breakthrough television product”.

Unsurprisingly, there’s quite a price premium attached. You’ll need to part with $37,500 if you want to take one home from Harrods. Still, this is achingly fresh tech and Sony doesn’t expect ordinary mortals to be first in line. The brand has to recoup its R&D investment somewhere, so it’s only fair celebrities and Russian Oligarchs help with the funding.

The screen itself looks every inch the premium flagship. But beneath the hood it’s not unlike Sony’s current HX8/HX7 models. The XcrossMediaBar navigation is identical, as is Sony’s online portal. The Sony Entertainment Network remains one of the best internet TV propositions out there, with plenty of free and subscription content, including BBC iPlayer, BBC News, Sky News, YouTube, Demand 5, LOVEFiLM and Netflix.

Connectivity is equally familiar. It has four HDMIs, Scart, component and phono stereo inputs, PC VGA, two USB, Ethernet and a CI slot. Wi-Fi is built-in, accompanied by Wi-Fi Direct. The twist is that two of the HDMIs are labeled 4K ready. The tuner is Freeview HD, while the remote is an off-the-shelf doofer.

‘The Sony KD-84X9005 quite literally provides an ultra-HD window on the world’

The screen itself looks every inch the premium flagship

The screen itself looks every inch the premium flagship

Ultra images

Picture quality is extraordinary. To access the screen with native 4K content we used a server pre-loaded with specially prepared content (currently there is no commercial 4K video to call upon). This comprised a variety of demo landscape footage, plus a sequence with the Berlin Philharmonic shot on Sony’s new F65 CineAlta 4K digital cinema camera. The TV literally provides an ultra-HD window on the world.

While the great unwashed can only dream of such video acuity, digital still imagery is altogether more accessible. Being able to look at your own snaps in 4K resolution on a monster screen like this is a revelation. A 4K upgrade to the PS3’s PlayMemories Studio software, due soon, will make viewing high resolution images even easier. The set itself comes with some landscape demo JPEGs embedded.

Of course, until 4K kicks off, much hangs on what the KD-84X9005 does will Full HD pictures. The short answer is everything…and nothing.

Taking care of 4K proprietary XCA8-4K chip; it’s partnered here with the same X-Reality PRO silicon found lower down the BRAVIA tree, which handles image clean-up and Full HD image up scaling.

Rather brilliantly, this high-powered processor is able to isolate and exploit any residual high frequency information that’s inherent in HD satellite transmissions and Blu-ray encodes. If there is signal information available, the TV puts it on the screen. The result is uncannily similar to native 4K content. Material originally shot on 4K cameras will contain this high-frequency jam to a greater or lesser degree. The Tourist is one such movie, here delivering scintillating levels of detail to the screen. Marvel Avengers Assemble similarly looks mesmerizing in reconstituted 4K.

However if content lacks this extra info, perhaps because it was shot on a 2K camera or mastered from a 2K film scan, the TV doesn’t actually do anything beyond scale the image to the panel. Consequently, there’s no significant difference in image quality, bar pixel density, between what you’ll see here and on a large Full HD TV.

A 4K upgrade to the PS3’s PlayMemories Studio software

A 4K upgrade to the PS3’s PlayMemories Studio software

Inevitably, image distance and picture resolution are closely related. One benefit of having a 4K 84in display is that you can get close (very close!) without seeing any pixel grid structure. As 4K has four times the pixel density, there’s no overt grid.

It’s a very photographic viewing experience. This display can be watched comfortably from 1.5m, giving a truly cinematic experience.

This is also the first Sony TV we’ve seen to embrace Passive, rather than Active Shutter, 3D. Sony actually launched Passive HD TVs into the Chinese market a year ago, following a panel deal with LG Display, but it’s been biding its time in other territories. The good news is the 3D performance here is breathtaking; while Passive, the set can deliver a Full HD 3D image without any overt crosstalk issues.

And it’s not just the vision which has had an upgrade. The TV’s sound system has been revamped. Two front-facing stereo speakers stand apart from the bodywork, and can be toed-in as required. They’re powered by a 50W digital amp and sound spectacular.


As a taste of things to come, the Sony KD-84X9005 is undeniably delicious. With native 4K images, the set looks better than any consumer TV released before it. But it’ll be some time before the new MPEG HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) codec enters the broadcast mainstream, which in turn will enable Astra to launch a 4K satellite service and Blu-ray disc to evolve into a 4K carrier. The good news is that while we wait for this tantalizing technology to trickle down the ranks the set is still capable of an extraordinary eye-popping performance.


§  Screen: 84in LCD, LED edge-lit, 16:9 aspect ratio

§  Resolution: 4K: 3840 x 2160

§  Rated contrast ratio: over 1,000,000: 1

§  Tuner: Freeview HD DVB-T2, DVB-S2, DVB-C, analogue

§  Speakers: 50W total: 4 x 12.5W

§  Video interfacing: 4 x HDMI, PC, Composite, Component and Scart

§  Other interfacing: 2 x USB, Ethernet, PC, CI, Slot, integrated Wi-Fi

§  3D Viewing: passive, 2 x BKM-30G specs supplied

§  Rated power consumption: 360W active, 0.3W standby

§  Dimensions: 2137 x 1136 x 90 mm (without stand), 80kg



§  Groundbreaking ultra-high definition image quality

§  Excellent 2K picture processing

§  Full HD Passive 3D


§  No Native 4K commercial content available yet

§  Prohibitive statement price

§  Still can’t handle MKVs

§  Build: 10/10

§  Setup: 8/10

§  Searching: 7/10

§  Navigation: 8/10

§  Picture: 10/10

§  Sound: 9/10

§  Features: 10/10

§  Value: 7/10

§  Overall: 9/10


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