Look - you want a new OLED telly, we want a new OLED telly, and neither of us can afford one. It’s a sad fact of life, just like fruit on pizza, Arsenal’s transfer policy and the new Transformers movie.
While we can’t eradicate any of that nonsense, we do know a thing or two about 4K TVs. Better yet, Sony’s KD-49X9000E offers up some seriously good news: you don’t have to go OLED to get a thunderous Ultra HD experience. And it’ll cost you far less than one of Samsung’s QLED tellys as well.
Yep, if you’ve got a mid-sized budget for your next 4K TV, then the Sony KD-49X9000E is your best option by far.
Sony Bravia KD-49X9000E design: smart screen
As you’ve no doubt gathered from one glance at its price tag, the Sony KD-49X9000E is not a cheap TV. Although there’s a good handful of great budget 4K tellys kicking around right now, none of them can hold a candle to the size, screen tech and performance of this Sony.
This 49in LCD set comes with High Dynamic Range support, Sony’s much-lauded X1 picture processing brains and support for Google’s app-friendly Android TV operating system. That’s why it’ll set you back over a lac; you’ll struggle to get more bang for your buck elsewhere.
Since most of its magic is hidden away, the KD-49X9000E cuts an unassuming figure when propped up at home. Its ultra-thin aluminium bezel falls in line with the best of what Samsung had to offer last year, and it’s a reasonably trim set overall with a 12.6kg weight and dimensions of W109.3 x H68.5 x D23.6 cm. If your better half is worried about an expensive eyesore leering all over their living room, then this Sony’s visage does well to assuage those fears. Even if its power lead does include a sizeable brick that you’ll have to tuck away somewhere.
With four HDMI 2.2 ports, three USB ports, plus ethernet and optical digital audio outputs, setting up your existing home cinema kit with this Sony is no problem either. That’s enough connectivity for a soundbar, TV box, Blu-ray player and two games consoles. While Android TV is by no means a bad platform for Netflix and Amazon Prime Video and the like - especially since it gives you built-in Chromecast functionality - it’s a jot fussier than Samsung’s Tizen OS software. If you’re anything like us, you’ll be using your PlayStation 4 to stream with those apps anyway.
Sony Bravia KD-49X9000E picture: awesome detail
Wondering what sets the Sony KD-49X9000E apart from its similarly-priced brethren? The depth of blacks and detail it can serve up. Usually backlit LCD TVs like this Sony struggle to match their OLED cousins for contrast and finesse, but the X9000E gets impressively close to the mark. Especially if you don’t mind fiddling with its settings a little by disabling several of its processing modes and flicking local dimming and dynamic contrast down to ‘low’.
Once you’re done with that tinkering, the X9000E will be ready to truly wow you. Having stuck on an Ultra HD Blu-ray of Deadpool, we were impressed by the way this TV renders a layered picture with distinct colours and subtle detailing. And when the regenerating degenerate leaps into action, motion processing proves superb as well, especially when cutting between rapidfire and slow motion theatrics.
As much as watching TV in full blown 4K is this Sony model’s MO, that ain’t gonna happen a lot of the time. Especially if you’ve not signed up for Netflix UHD subscription. Luckily, the X9000E does a good job of upscaling Full HD content onto a screen that’s four times the resolution. The dark detailing around Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Supreme Leader Snoke casts him in a thoroughly foreboding light, while the orange dust bowl of Mad Max: Fury Road is equally enthralling. Even standard DVDs hold up well, which is quite a turn up for the books.
If you can indulge in 4K HDR content on this Sony then that’s most certainly the way to go. It’s not entirely futureproofed though, as it doesn’t yet support the Hybrid Log Gamma format for live TV, but Sony has promised it is coming in a future update.
Sony Bravia KD-49X9000E sound: blockbuster boom
While it’s not quite as impressive as the Sony A1 OLED and its awesome vibrating speaker/speaker, the 20W speakers built into the X9000E add plenty of gravitas to your home cinema experience.
Effects boom towards you in crisp, clear sound, that’s precisely measured for the greatest possible impact. Trust us, lightsaber battles are an absolute blast. Crucially for a setup that has to carry some blockbuster oomph, X-Wing enabled explosions are projected with respectable scale and dynamism. As ever with big budget telly audio, you’re still going to get a performance from a soundbar. Even one that only costs a couple of your pink notes, such as the Q Acoustics Media 4.
Sony KD-49X9000E verdict
There’s not much of a middle ground in the current 4K TV arena. You can either get a ridiculously expensive OLED set or a significantly more affordable LCD model, which isn’t a great choice for most people. That’s why we’re so smitten with the Sony KD-49X9000E ; it’s one of the few tellys to do Ultra HD total justice without obliterating your overdraft in the process.
Whether you’re streaming an episode of Glow from Netflix or playing Horizon Zero Dawn on the PlayStation 4 Pro, this TV doesn’t disappoint. It makes great telly look that extra bit better. Let the binging begin.