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Sony 55X850C 4K LCD smart TV review: Great picture, good sound, but some minor bugs

Jon L. Jacobi | Dec. 15, 2015
Android TV support lends this TV lots of flexibility.

sony x850c android smart tv

This 54.6-inch smart TV from Sony arguably delivered the best picture in the roundup. The color is exceptionally saturated for an LED LCD TV, and screen uniformity was excellent. It also has a good feature set and a nice touchpad remote for browsing its Android TV interface. And because it uses the Android OS, there are lots of apps.

That’s all good; however, the whole playing-home-movies thing is still a bit of a work in progress for Sony. Though generally well-behaved, the 55X850C had some issues when we first attempted to play our test files, and it didn’t fare particularly well with 25-frames-per-second video at any point.

Video

I have zero complaints about the 55X850C’s picture quality. It’s not quite trekking in SUHD or OLED territory, because its colors aren’t exceptionally accurate (they skew slightly towards blue), but the colors are vivid and the contrast quite good. The latter despite emitting only about 330 nits in our testing. There were no obvious abnormalities apparent during our uniformity scrutiny, and action shots were very smooth. Mostly.

Everything I’ve said about the X850C’s great picture and performance assumes OTA (over-the-air) content or video streamed a cable box, Amazon Fire TV, or a PC, i.e. anything that does its own decoding. Under those circumstances, which are by far the most common for the average user, it performed very well. But there were salient issues with external USB media as well as 25fps video.

Sony provides Android apps to display content, but they were buggy. First off, they tried to load and catalog 40GB worth of deleted files. The results were predictable—the system slowed to a crawl, there was odd playback behavior, plus a system hang. Once we’d reformatted the drive to remove all traces of previous content, things went smoothly.

sony x850c tv 
Sony’s 54.6-inch 55X850C delivered the best picture quality in this roundup, but that's not the only factor that score in this review. Credit: Sony

What was really annoying was that the 55X850C’s motion compensation seemingly did nothing to our 25fps files. Even 60fps h.265 Ultra HD content didn’t look very smooth when played from a USB 3.0 drive (there are also USB 2.0 ports). It made us wonder if Sony’s apps were employing motion compensation at all. The 1080 content we looked at was fine, but this is an Ultra HD TV. On an up note, 24fps/10-bit h.265 content played just fine.

I also tried playing video using the VLC, Kodi, MX Player, and Plex video players, but they were clearly not optimized to run on whatever processor the 55X850C is using, and they proved useless with UHD and most other content. They do, however, broaden the X850C’s limited audio codec support considerably. The X850C has good onboard sound, although its fidelity wasn’t quite up to the LG’s standard.

 

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