Sony KD-84X9005 84in 4K TV – hands on review

Sony's 84in beast has an eye-watering price tag that matches its gargantuan dimensions. Just as well it has a whopping 4k resolution then eh?

Sony KD-84X9005 – overview

In a world in which a 42in TV can be had for under £500, it’s sensible to wonder what on Earth a TV would have to do to justify a £25,000 price-tag. It’s certainly something we’ve been wondering ever since Sony announced the KD-84X9005 back in August, so we’re chuffed to have been able to borrow one of only two pre-production models for a bit of playtime.

For flatscreen fans this is an exciting TV: it’s 84in, it’s 3D, it’s smart, and most importantly, it’s 4K. That’s 3840x2160 pixels of ultra hi-def loveliness, and it’s in our office. Best get some 4K content on before Sony takes it back!

Sony KD-84X9005 – 4K video

The problem is that there isn’t really any 4K content to watch yet. There’s no 4K equivalent of Blu-ray and with the exception of the odd experiment in Japan, there’s no 4K content being broadcast, either. Thankfully along with the KD-84X9005 Sony has also provided a PC containing some 4K video.

Ok, so that video is just a demo reel of tracking and panning shots of a number of famous cities around the world, but we’ll be darned if it doesn’t look incredible. We’ve been sitting about 4m from the screen - much closer than you’d usually sit to a TV this size – and the picture is astonishingly sharp and detailed. In fact, you have to stand with your nose practically touching the glass before you can discern any actual pixels.

Sony KD-84X9005 – Full HD 3D

One of the other big benefits of 4K is that it’s allowed Sony to ditch the bulky active-shutter glasses and provide 3D in Full HD through the same type of passive glasses you get at the cinema. That means that for the first time you’re able to get the sharpest 3D the most comfortable way, and it looks absolutely fantastic.

There’s awesome depth, really sharp edges and genuine texture to the 3D picture, and no sign of the eye strain that one or two of the Stuff staff have previously experienced with active shutter glasses.

Sony KD-84X9005 – upscaling 1080p

Even if you could go out and buy 4K movies right now, you’re not going to be ditching your Blu-rays for a while yet, so it’s good news that the Sony is a specialist at upscaling 1080p video to fit the 4K resolution of the screen. Now you’re not going to mistake an upscaled Blu-ray for genuine 4K, but to our eyes Casino Royale looks sharper and crisper on this TV than we’ve seen it on any other of a similar size.

Sony KD-84X9005 – gaming

Seeing as the vast majority of games aren’t even 1080p yet, we’re far from holding our breath for 4K from even the next generation of consoles. Having said that, the KD-84X9005 is as impressive at handling the current crop of games as it is Blu-rays. There’s just an extra degree of crispness, which increases your perception of depth. Its contrast levels seem very impressive, too, with the diving section of Modern Warfare 3 demonstrating really deep, inky blacks and pure, bright whites from the torches and underwater explosions.

Sony KD-84X9005 – standard TV

Upscaling HD is one thing, but trying to make normal, 576p Freeview look good on an 84in 4K screen is far more difficult. Sure enough, BBC from the built-in tuner looks pretty ropey. It is of course watchable, but those noisy edges mean if we were to buy one of these tellies we’d also maximize the amount of HD content we’d be sending to it by getting the top Sky HD package. What’s £66 to someone who can afford to spend £25,000 on a TV anyway?!

Sony KD-84X9005 – smart TV and usability

The KD-84X9005 has Sony’s usual web portal. That means it comes with some of the best apps around, from iPlayer to Lovefilm to the excellent Video Unlimited part of Sony Entertainment Network. The only shame is that the portal and general user interface hasn’t been jazzed up a bit to match the next-gen tech that’s under the hood.

Sony KD-84X9005 – initial verdict

If it’s voice and gesture frills you’re after, you’d best look elsewhere, but if what you’re looking for is the ultimate in picture quality, it looks like the Sony KD-84X9005 is going to be mighty close. And remember that this is a pre-production model and will apparently be getting some more performance-enhancing tweaks before it finally hits shops, at which point we’ll be doing a full review.

In the meantime it’s hard to imagine having so much money that £25,000 seems like a reasonable amount to spend on a TV, but the KD-84X9005 has inspired us to buy a few extra lottery tickets in the hope that we might be able to find out.

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