The Sony Bravia KDL-55HX925 is an excellent LCD TV, which offers deep blacks and a flexible feature set, but it does require a little bit of care during set-up.
Sony made a splash in 2010 with its Monolithic televisions — bold, angular and jet-black, these were TVs for a modern living space. Not only that, but models such as the HX800 also performed exceptionally.
So how does the company top these efforts one year on? From a design standpoint, at least, it doesn't. The "one-sheet-of-glass" elements are still there, but the glass itself has been beefed up with Corning's impact-resistant Gorilla Glass.
If you want to opt for the sloped, six-degree "shtick", you still can with the addition of the AU$399 stand, which includes a beefed-up speaker system.
Oddly, we found that the TV screen we received had actually been warped, with one side drooping like the ears on an Aussie digger. We suspect that this may have been a result of an accident outside of the factory, but without testing another unit, we can't say what effect this deformation would have.
Sony's Internet TV includes dozens of on-demand channels delivered by Ethernet or the on-board Wi-Fi (802.11n), in addition to Skype calling capability with the included camera.
The HX925 now features Sony's new X-Reality Pro picture engine, which is designed to not only upscale and improve standard- and high-definition content, but also web services (via Sony Internet TV, of course). Further features of the TV include an "Intelligent Peak LED" backlight, Motionflow XR 800 for smoother pictures and integrated 3D with two sets of rechargeable glasses thrown in.
The TV also includes the TrackID feature to look up the song that's playing on the TV at the time, and access to Sony's Music Unlimited streaming service.
Ports? It's got 'em. Four HDMI, two USBs, a component via adaptor, composite, D-sub and digital output.
We found that we needed to spend a bit of time when calibrating this TV, as at default levels, there was quite a bit of backlight clouding — patchy grey areas in black sections of the picture. Even turning the backlight down to zero didn't help, and only when activating the Intelligent Peak LED did we get the inky blacks that we were anticipating.
The Gorilla Glass screen itself isn't too reflective, and images had a high level of contrast — although, if you're looking for more dynamic pictures, you should instead choose a plasma from the likes of Samsung or Panasonic.
The TV performed well in our synthetic tests, with some of the best smoothing we've seen on the Blu-ray video tests. However, we did find that the TV would sometimes lose its lock on the signal, and jaggies would appear before the TV found the signal again. DVD tests were not quite as impressive, but still high quality in regards to the TV's competition.
One area where the TV did perform well was in the testing of its LED micro-dimming — some TVs can show a significant lag when using these effects, looking like someone turning down a light dimmer switch. But our tests demonstrated that the lighting system responded simultaneously when switching from dark to light scenes. No reason not to use it, then!
When thrown some more "watchable" material, the Sony was able to make a decent fist of Mission Impossible III, with smooth pans on the opening to Chapter 11, but a return of the moire problems that we saw with the test disks. Noise control was very good, and yet the TV was able to keep a lot of the detail in close-up shots.
When sitting down to watch King Kong, we found that the TV was able to clean up the picture significantly, resulting in a movie-like presentation. However, when viewed side-by-side with the Samsung Series 8, we found that the Samsung was more involving.
Smart TV might be a hard sell on billboards, but in the flesh it's the IPTV content that's the king here. Sony's Internet Video has been wisely rolled into the home screen on the HX925 — there's no time-wasting loading screen — and it's easy to find something to watch. We chose an episode of The Gruen Transfer via the iView app, and found that it was cleaned up and much improved from the version you might find on the web — same great content, no harsh pixels!
Sony has pushed the 3D capabilities of its TVs to the forefront of its marketing for the past few years, and the HX925 is meant to represent the pinnacle of the company's knowhow. Well, we'll admit to having seen better. Depending on the source, there can be traces of flicker within the image, and there is a slight degree of crosstalk on contrasting edges. As a result, it isn't as comfortable to watch as, say, the Panasonic VT30 or the LG LW6500 but for the occasional 3D movie, it's OK.
Finally, sound quality was decent for such a thin television. While we'd always recommend getting a separate sound system if you're serious about your movies, the Sony does well in most situations. We found that the TV was able to quite loudly, with no audible distortion and with a decent hold on dynamics.
If you're looking to spend four grand on an LCD TV, it really comes down to two choices: the Sony HX925 or the Samsung D8000. While we like the feature set and ease of use of the Sony, we prefer the Samsung for its sparkling picture quality and its cutting-edge design.
The Sony HX925 is nevertheless an excellent TV that with a bit of care at the set-up stage will reward you with a great-looking picture and, in combination with the optional stand, will become a talking point for many "movie sessions with friends" to come. Popcorn sold separately.