If the set does have a performance weakness, it’s with audio. The supplied pedestal features a pair of speakers which are fed by a tether lead on the rear of the set; these are augmented by a third speaker firing from the centre-back of the screen. The latter isn’t a subwoofer, but a mid-range driver.
No 3D specs supplied, but it's probably a blessing
However, even this triumvirate are unable to disguise the set’s congested character. There are several DSP options, but these are only of limited use. Clear Voice effectively renders the audio as if it was coming down a landline, while Dynamic is throaty and Standard sounds thin.
An S-Front Surround mode can be used to literally lift the soundstage, but that’s about it. Rather predictably, the Sound Enhancer mode does the polar opposite to what’s advertised. Should you wish to wall-mount the screen, two downward facing speakers in the base of the set come into play, replacing those in the pedestal.
In some respects, this next-gen Sony is not significantly different from the models launched during 2011. It offers from the same mediocre multimedia file support and suffers from crosstalk-addled 3D. But the brand has made a big step forward when it comes to 2D imaging performance, particularly motion resolution. In this respect, I’d say this set currently leads the field. If you want a great looking TV, optimised for sport in particular, look no further. ®
More TV Reviews
Sony Bravia KDL-55HX853
LED TV for £1800?
This is an LCD TV which uses LED for its backlight. When a 55inch proper LED TV is available for £1800, that will be genuinely interesting news.
Re: ... and the verdict of the User Interface jury is...
I'm not saying Sony's TV UI is perfect, I have many complaints about the 2011 models and argued about many things in their development and did fight many battles for minor improvements, some of with were won. However your specific complaints are either wrong (resolution) and/or misguided (PIP). I also believe that the Sony TVs and remotes are easier to use than at least the 2011 Samsungs or Panasonics. I haven't tried any of the companies 2012 models but I use to dislike their remote controls and find them hard to navigate.
Regarding resolution for at least the past few years there has been an aspect ratio button on Sony remote controls. TV screen with horizontal and vertical arrows across it is the symbol. This is of decreasing importance now because 14:9 is used less often and more content is correctly flagged so with the TV settings right
If you actually mean a screen resolution button I don't understand you because that isn't something the TV can change. It takes an input and displays it at the resolution of the display with whatever scaling and processing is required. During online video playback there is an option to reduce the size of the video playback to make truly dire quality footage bearable but I don't think you meant for viewing in small window in the middle of the screen.
Picture in picture is found in the options menu at least on the 2011 models but I think also many earlier ones under 'Twin Picture'. This is very much a minority feature (most people never use it and I use to have figures to prove it) and fairly accessible. 'Options', 'Down arrow' * 5, 'OK', 'OK' for Picture and picture or 'Options', 'Down arrow' * 5, 'OK', Down arrow' 'OK'
Re: Backlit - Edge or direct?
I was not involved in this generation of Sony TVs but I think that the direction was towards edge LEDs but with zonal light guides so that local dimming was still possible. The number of people prepared to pay the premium for greater arrays of truly back positioned LEDs was insufficient to justify those expensive models and they were thicker too putting more people off.
Regarding MKV support this is down to chipset selection probably about 3-4 years ago now for 2011-2012 TVs and it not being as critical at that time. However the best solution is to find DLNA server software that can unpackage the MKV file and offer the (probably supported) encoded bitstreams over the local network.
Regarding the digital bling comment - most people can't spot even quite glaring picture problems and even the most basic Sony TVs are great pictures to them. The quality of all the TVs has been increasing significantly and the gain of moving to full array backlight has been dropping as local dimming has been added to the edge lit models. Also volumes are small so the price of the full array panels has not dropped with the others so they look even less good value.
The market for pure monitor panels with separate/optional decoder units is very small (see demise of Pioneer) and the low volumes would make such a product more expensive than the equivalent TV with many functions that you don't want. Don't consider them as extra cost but a cost reducing features by increasing volumes of product sold then you won't feel so bad. If you really want to go without the TV and online features Sony also make professional panels for broadcast use and other professional scenarios although for these you are probably looking at paying triple the price.