The Sony X850D is a good 4k LED TV for a living room. Its picture quality in a darker room isn't as good as last year's model, the X850C, but it boasts a better viewing angle and somewhat improved HDR capability. Because it doesn't have much blur, sports and video game fans will enjoy the Sony X850D.
The designers behind the Sony 4k UHD X850D LED TV have done a decent job of making the TV look good, but it looks cheaper than last year's X850C. It still feels sturdy, but most of the metal finish is gone; its frame and stand are now entirely made of plastic. The new stand feels more solid, though. The X850D is relatively thin, but those looking to mount it flush on a wall will block some of its back connections.
Because of its low contrast, the Sony X850D won't look its best when playing dark scenes in a dark room. As soon as you have some lights on, though, the X850D looks sharp, with decent color. It will play movies smoothly, without judder, from any source. HDR has seen a small improvement over last year, but without a local dimming feature, the X850D still won't be the best option for HDR.
Blacks aren't very deep and might appear a little gray in a dark environment. This won't be much of an issue in a room with a few lights on.
There is no local dimming feature on this TV. If you want that feature, you should go with the pricier X930D instead.
The SDR peak brightness is average for the Sony X850D. This TV does not have a local dimming feature, and thus the overall average is about 320cd/m², which is 100 less than what it can reach when in HDR mode. This is good for a dark room, fall a bit short for a very bright room.
Since the X850D doesn't support local dimming, all % values are near the same. The maximum brightness is not enough to enjoy HDR fully.
The screen uniformity, as with most other LED TVs, isn't great, but at least it is free from obvious problems like banding. The corners appear a lot darker.
This is an IPS TV (except the 85"). Therefore, it has a wide viewing angle that is good for seating on the sides of the TV. Color saturation and contrast will stay good unless the TV is being viewed from wide angles.
There are no obvious clouding or flashlighting issues, although with a fully black screen, the lighter blacks are more apparent.
Our 10 Bit gradient pattern looks very good, without any of the 8 Bit gradations. This mean that HDR content should be free of any obvious color banding.
The white balance was off to begin with and color was at an acceptable level. Gamma was just a little low.
Any white balance issues could be fixed, although the X850D doesn't have separate color adjustments. The color still got better after the white balance calibration.
To enable the wide color gamut option, change 'Color space' from the 'Advanced settings' picture menu to 'DCI' or 'BT.2020'. For most content, leave it set to 'sRGB/BT.709'.
The Sony X850D does present some image retention, but unlike the X700D, the retention is present only right after the static scene of the test video. After 2 minutes, visually and from our computer analysis, we could not make out any image retention at all, which is pretty good for an IPS TV. This is particularly good for PC and video games enthusiasts.
Bright objects reflected on the screen have rainbows around them. Reflections aren't going to be a big problem as long as there aren't too many lights in the room.
Sports fans are going to be pleased with the Sony X850D. It has very little blur, so players running at full speed, or cars quickly passing by, will remain well defined. Camera panning shots over playing fields won't reveal any obvious screen problems, either.
Pixel response time is quick as a whole, but transitions to darker colors are slower. The backlight is flicker-free, so although motion appears a little blurry, it doesn't create a double effect like you see on most Samsung TVs.
With 24p content like Blu-ray, 'Motionflow' has to be set to 'True Cinema' to remove judder. For 60Hz signals like cable and streaming, you also need to set 'CineMotion' to 'High'.
Since the X850D is a 120Hz TV, it is able to interpolate both 30Hz and 60Hz content.
The Sony X850D will please gamers with its good input lag and excellent motion. Everyone except the most demanding players will enjoy the responsiveness of the X850D, even for first person shooters and fighting games. PC gamers, or the ones that would like to use the TV as a PC monitor, will also enjoy the multiple input resolutions the X850D supports.
Lowest 1080p input lag is achieved under 'Game' picture mode. The 'Clearness' setting under 'Motionflow' can be used to clarify action some more and won't increase the input lag (although it does darken the screen). 1080p input lag also stays low enough for some slower games when image interpolation is turned on, which is something that can't be said for most TVs.
Update 11/02/2016: With the latest firmware update (PKG3.531.0108NAB), the overall 1080p and 4k SDR remain the same, but the 4k HDR input lag is now almost half than was with was before and is now the same as 4k SDR. It is still a bit high even for casual gaming, but it is definitely an upgrade over the 93ms that it was before.
Most resolutions are accepted. To get chroma 4:4:4, select 'Game' or 'Graphics' picture mode. For 4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4, you also need to set the HDMI input to 'Enhanced format' (under 'External inputs' menu). Just like with last year's Sony TVs, 1080p @ 120Hz produces little artifacts (lines), but this shouldn't be too bothersome while gaming. The 'Graphics' picture mode has fewer of these little artifacts.
The sound of the X850D, like that of most other TVs, is bad. It doesn't have a lot of bass and is distorted at high volumes. An external sound system like a sound bar would be a good investment to complement the X850D.
Note: Sound Quality test for TVs reviewed before 2017 was performed at 75dB, 85dB, and Max SPL. Starting 2017, the target SPL levels have been changed to 70dB, 80dB, and Max dB SPL.
Decent frequency response. However, the low-end cutoff of 143Hz is rather high, even for a TV; this TV doesn't produce a lot of bass. It doesn't get very loud either, and pumping may be present at higher volumes.
This distortion pattern seems to be typical of Sony TVs: Good results at lower volumes, and then a big jump in harmonic distortion near the maximum loudness limit of the TV.
Not much has changed from Sony's Android TV smart platform from last year, which isn't such a bad thing, though some improvements would have been nice. It still feels like Sony uses a bunch of different interfaces thrown together into one. The content and apps are there, though, and that is what really matters. The interface is faster, too. As for the TV's inputs, you probably won't need more. Just make sure you have enough space in your setup to hide the huge power brick.
Sony Android TVs don't have ads. They do however have a slew of app recommendations on their home screen, which some might not like.
We reviewed the 55" (Sony XBR-55X850D). It has an IPS panel.
Update: The 65" and 75" are also IPS, so our review is also valid for that one. But the 85" has a VA panel, so it will produce better blacks directly in front, but worse color accuracy at an angle.
As an interesting note, the 55" shares a panel very similar to the 2016 LG 55UH8500 that we reviewed a few weeks ago. The response time measurements are almost the same, as well as the contrast ratio (around 1200:1, which is very good for an IPS).
Compared to other TVs, the Sony X850D is a good choice for wide living rooms with seating on the side of the TV. If the main viewing position is directly in front of the TV, there are better alternatives.
The Sony X930D is better for watching movies in the dark, has the edge for HDR and offers 3D. It also is better in a living room because it has less reflections and can get brighter. The X850D is better for video games and maintains a better picture when viewed from the side which is good for a wide room.
For most people, the Samsung KS8000 is a better choice. It is superior for watching movies in the dark as well as with HDR content. It also performs well in most living room since it can get bright enough to counter most of the screen reflections. The X850D maintains a better picture quality when viewed from the side and is slightly better for sports.
From directly in front, the Vizio P has a better picture quality as long as the content being watched is of good quality. It is even truer if the TV is being watched in the dark. HDR is also superior on the Vizio P. Pick the X850D only if what you watch a lot of low quality content such as cable TV, DVDs and streaming and that you insist to keep a reasonable picture quality when viewing the TV from the side. For most though, the Vizio P is a better choice.
The previous year iteration, Sony X850C, is still better for watching the TV in the dark but doesn’t offer as good quality for sports, HDR and video games. Get the X850C only if you watch regular movies the most and don’t care about the picture quality when viewed from the side of the TV.