Love movies? Got a big living room? Feeling flush this month? Then Sony thinks it has just the ticket for you in the shape of its new flagship TV, the KD-75XD9405.
For the princely sum of £4,999/$7,5 the XD9405 gives you a huge 75-inch screen stuffed with a native 4K/UHD pixel count and capable of pumping out enough brightness to handle the new high dynamic range (HDR) picture format now available via selected Amazon and Netflix streams, as well as Ultra HD Blu-ray.
Also onboard are not one but two smart TV systems – Android TV and YouView – as well as Sony’s much-acclaimed Triluminos wide colour spectrum technology and the latest version of the brand’s 4K-optimised “X1” video processing system.
Add all this promising tech to the fact that its predecessor, the 75X9405C, was one of the very best TVs of 2015 and it’s fair to say that the omens for the 75XD9405 are good. Very good indeed.
Sony XD9405 4K TV review: Design
The 75XD9405 even looks attractive, which is no mean feat given how massive its screen is. Its black frame is both strikingly trim considering how many acres of picture it holds and rather stylish thanks to its angular edges and tasteful sliver of gold running through the centre of each outer edge.
The lack of bodywork around the screen does hide one potentially disappointing secret, though: the lack of the spectacular speaker system that made last year’sSony 75X9405C the best sounding TV we’ve heard (bar, perhaps, a few ultra-expensive Bang and Olufsen models).
Equally, such giant speaker arrangements made the 2015 and earlier models look ug-er-ly. Our inner AV fan can’t help but rue the passing of the 75X9405C’s speakers, though, but we can’t blame Sony for deciding that the 75XD9405’s slimmed-down design is likely a much easier sell to an often space-restricted UK marketplace.
Sony XD9405 4K TV review: All the mod cons
The 75XD9405 is appropriately well connected for a flagship TV in 2016. Its four HDMIs can, of course, handle 4K video up to 60 frames a second, as well as HDR content. Multimedia duties, meanwhile, are serviced by a trio of USBs as well as Ethernet and integrated Wi-Fi network options.
The network options can either stream content into the TV from other DLNA-enabled devices on your network, or access Sony’s online services. These online services predominantly come via Sony’s integration into the 75XD9405 of Google’s latest Android TV platform – though given Android TV’s ongoing lack of support for the main UK catch-up TV services it’s a relief to also find the 75XD9405 packing the same YouView catch-up TV engine Sony eventually added via software update to its mid-range and high-end 2015 TVs.
However, Android TV still feels like a pretty unhelpful smart system, sadly. Even though the platform runs more quickly and stably on the XD9405 than it did on Sony’s 2015 TVs, the interface still looks cluttered, does precious little to pick out links to your favourite stuff and doesn’t permit enough customisation. The sheer number of apps on offer also strikes me as more of a hindrance than a help in a TV (as opposed to smartphone) operating environment.
Further hindrance to using the 75XD9405 comes from its remote control, which bizarrely uses buttons almost flush with the remote’s main bodywork, making it all but impossible to use in a darkened room, or without tearing your eyes away from the onscreen action.
Sony XD9405 4K TV review: Superb direct LED system
Letting the 75XD9405 loose on our shiny new collection of Ultra HD Blu-raydiscs pretty much instantly reveals it to be an outstanding television.
For starters its direct LED lighting system, where the lights sit directly behind the screen rather than around its edges, helps it deliver a fantastically HDR-friendly combination of deep, rich blacks at one of the brightness spectrum and punchy, bold whites at the other.
Arguably the real beauty of HDR, though, lies not in the expanded gulf between its light and dark extremes but in the way it fills that gulf with far more subtle light and shade information than you could ever fit into a standard dynamic range image. It’s here that the 75XD9405 is on outstanding form, rendering even the subtlest shadow detailing and the darkest colours with a precision and delicacy that would have been unthinkable in the pre-HDR age – and which actually precious few HDR-capable TVs can deliver with such authority.
As hoped, meanwhile, the 75XD9405’s Triluminos colour system – which includes high levels of colour management as well as phosphors that deliver a wider-than-normal colour range – proves a perfect match for the wider colour ranges and subtler colour tone shifts and blends associated with all of the currently available HDR sources.
As well as making pictures look more natural, more like the real world, the expanded colour and light performance you can clearly see when watching HDR on the 75XD9405 also helps to emphasise the impact of the native 4K resolution. The impact of having four times as many pixels as an HD TV to play with always increases in direct proportion to the size of your screen anyway, but when it’s partnered with colour and light handling precision on the level you get from the 75XD9405 the 4K effect really becomes something special.
If you’ve never seen HDR in action before, the XD9405 leaves you in no doubt whatsoever of the advantages the format brings to the table. And if you have seen it before, you’ll unlikely have seen it looking as all-round gorgeous as it does here – even though some of Samsung’s HDR TVs are capable of delivering more brightness.
Sony XD9405 4K TV review: Halos and colour shift
Even a TV as excellent as the 75XD9405, though, isn’t completely immune to the sorts of backlighting issues HDR’s extreme demands can cause with LCD TVs. Very bright HDR objects can reveal halos of unwanted light around them when they appear against dark backdrops.
If the very bright object occupies a big enough proportion of a mostly dark image the image’s colour tone becomes noticeably cooler (bluer) until a less extreme image returns. This colour shift issue does only happen very rarely, though, while the haloing is pretty low in intensity for most of the time, and less distracting than on some of the smaller but more defined areas of haloing we’ve seen on other HDR TVs like the Panasonic DX902 series.
With standard dynamic range content of the sort most of us will still be watching for most of our viewing time, the 75XD9405 is pretty much flawless. Because such content doesn’t run as brightly, the haloing and colour temperature flaws noted with HDR disappear almost entirely if you keep the backlight setting to a reasonably low level, leaving you free to bathe in the screen’s contrast, colour and detail glories without distraction.
Sony XD9405 4K TV review: Sound quality
Joining the 75XD9405’s huge and usually stunning pictures is a middling to good sound performance. Voices sound clear and well rounded, action scenes are detailed and have just enough bass behind them to avoid sounding thin, and you can hit movie-friendly volume levels comfortably without harshness setting in.
However, ditching the array of giant built-in speakers found in last year’s 75X9405C means there is a pretty huge step down in sound quality. But at least not having the same massive speakers on the 75XD9405 means it’s your choice over whether you take up more of your valuable living room space by adding a separate audio system. And the earlier model was a full £1,000 more expensive too, so the XD9405 puts the buying power back in your hands.
The 75XD9405 won’t be for everyone because it’s simply too big and too expensive for any sort of mass market consumption. Which makes us wish, actually, that Sony did 65-inch and 55-inch XD9405 models too, rather than sticking to a single king-sized option for the second year in a row. There is the edge-LED illuminated XD9305 model in such sizes, though.
If you do happen to have the space and financial wherewithal to get the 75-inch XD9405 into your life, though, you can snap one up safe in the knowledge that it’s got the features and the performance talents to do the brave new world of 4K and HDR ample justice. And for standard dynamic range images it’s pretty much flawless.