Sony KDL-55W805C (£700)
Sony’s 2015 TV range has been a bit hit and miss. The KDL-55W805C is one of those hits, however. It’s hard to argue with the value: a top-quality 55in Full HD screen for £850 (we’ve seen it for less, even) is nothing to be scoffed at.
It’s also hard to argue with a pretty thing. Sony excels at the slim and slick, and this is a lovely example. While the curved Samsung gets all up in your face – “HEY! I’M A TV OVER HERE!” – the Sony’s minimalist vibe just blends right in and looks effortlessly cool.
This isn’t just a pretty face, though. Four HDMI inputs at the back mean this is one of the better-endowed TVs in the group. The Sony is the only one to use Google’s Android TV platform, which is nice if you’re a follower of the green robot.
The main thing is the ability to break out your smartphone and cast directly with apps like NOW TV. If you’re not a fan of smartphone control, you also have the option of two remotes. One for pointing and clicking, the other for tapping/swiping/hurling at the wall - it’s not all that useful.
The picture performance is a mixed bag, but good overall. Sony’s greatest strength when it comes to TVs is its level of insight, and that’s what you get here. It’s a crisply drawn image bursting with fine detail.
Contrast is good, too. Some of the other 2015 Sony TVs really struggle in this area, but here you’re treated to some luscious blacks. Colours, meanwhile, really pop. It’s a vivid and vibrant viewing experience. Put on a Blu-ray of Mad Max: Fury Road and this TV really makes a meal of the film’s saturation.
But? But it’s not exactly subtle. You miss out on some of the more refined gradation in shading, some of which gets lost in the shadows. That palette, while exuberant, is not entirely natural. There’s a slight yellow tint to the colour balance.
Then there’s the matter of upscaling standard definition 480p content from a DVD. It’s fine for the most part, but there is a noticeable amount of picture noise.
The interface is really good. Out of the box, the Android TV app offerings are a bit disappointing. But the latest app brings in integrated YouView, which means you get all of the UK’s main catch-up apps. Netflix and Amazon mingle with BBC iPlayer and All 4 (formerly 4OD). Woohoo!
Plenty of well-executed features outweigh some picture flaws with this Sony.