IFA has traditionally been an AV showcase for the major brands, but with a shift towards mobile over the past few years, the 2012 Berlin tech extravaganza had fewer stand-out home cinema moments this year. Sony’s 84-inch 4K Bravia KD-84X9005 TV was one such stand-out screen.
A gigantic display, the screen doesn’t take massive chances in terms of industrial design. Stood on a two-legged, practical chrome stand and with a sizeable bezel and thickness, it doesn’t have the initial wow factor that, say, the LG OLED display touts.
But get a 4K feed into the new flagship Bravia and the screen comes to life. Boasting a resolution of 3840×2160, it’s four times as sharp as a full HD 1080p display, pushing 8 million pixels to the viewer’s eyes. Sony manages this with their new 4K X-Reality Pro processing engine, which delivers jaw-dropping visuals. Colours are bold and movement is handled in a fluid, natural way that’s easy on the eyes. But it’s the added detail that really impresses. Fine detail is pulled out of every inch of the screen, giving far more depth to images, particularly in busy landscape and natural scenes. A field full of long grass shimmers with the breeze, and if you push your nose right up to the screen you can pick out individual blades with barely a pixel seam in sight. It’s stunning.The KD-84X9005 also benefits from having a pair of dedicated external speakers bolted onto either side. Noting that flatscreen TVs have woeful audio capabilities, Sony have gone for a practical solution by basically sticking two soundbars to the left and right of the screen. Each houses 5 individual “Live Speakers” for 50W of pseudo-5.1 surround sound. Even amidst the noisy bustle of Sony’s IFA stand, we got a strong appreciation for the width of the soundstage (it helps to have those speakers a few feet apart thanks to the screen’s size), as well as the resonant bass frequencies that are so often seriously inadequate on flat-screen displays.
Perhaps most impressively (and most importantly, considering the relative lack of native 4K footage currently available to consumers) was the screen’s upscaling capabilities. We saw the 4K screen displaying the same 1080p landscape footage side-by-side with a previous Sony flagship standard HD screen of similar size, and were blown away by how well the new screen picked out extra detail in the older footage. Upscaling is not always a pretty sight, but the KD-84X9005 managed pleasantly sharp images that drew added depth from the lower-resolution source material, without too much added noise. The 4K X-Reality Pro really shows its chops here, meaning that even with little native 4K footage, you’ll be able enjoy an improved image with your current catalogue of Blu-ray titles.
If there was one area where we were less impressed, it was with 3D footage. Using a passive system, the screen managed better brightness, less flicker and richer colours thanks to the 4K source than other top-tier 3D panels we have viewed. However, the sense of depth from The Amazing Spider-Man trailer Sony used to demo the 3D effect was reserved to the point of being unnoticeable. But, as some commentators have noted, this may easily be down to the subdued nature of the 3D effect in the source material, rather than being a flaw of the screen.
All in, Sony’s KD-84X9005 4K 84-inch TV was very impressive. Tentatively priced at 25,000 Euros (or £19,805) this is very much out of the average consumer’s league, but it bodes well for the 4K revolution as a whole. Give it a year or two and prices will come down to affordable realms, and there will also finally be enough 4K footage to justify such a screen. On the back of our brief time with the KD-84X9005, Sony are already one step ahead of the competition in the 4K field.
By Gerald Lynch | September 5th, 2012