Get your lighters out, friends, because the HX850 is everything we were hoping for in the HX750: svelte looks, high performance, and a not-too-bad price tag. Black levels, thanks to Sony's high-tech dimming system, are very good, and shadow detail is also a plus. While it's not the last word in color, images are bright and involving when they need to be.
Feature-wise the TV misses out on voice interaction and other fripperies, but that suits me fine; the emphasis here is on picture quality.
While the HX850 not quite as good as the HX929, the $500 difference in price makes up for that. You can save even more money if you buy the even better Panasonic ST50 plasma, but if you have an aversion to plasma, then the HX850 is a good choice.
We're more than a third through 2012 at the time of this review and I've seen some pretty terrible TVs and some excellent ones, and the Sony skews toward the latter. While it can't compete with the value-for-money proposition of the Panasonic ST50, it accounts for itself very tidily in the picture quality stakes. It features 95 percent of the HX929's picture at about 80 percent of the cost, give or take a shekel.
The HX850's local dimming works really well, and side-by-side with the much more expensive LG LM9600 there's no contest: the Sony is a winner in terms of both absolute blacks and shadow detail.
Color may not be the TV's strongest suit, but it does share its family's rich and vibrant color palette. If you watch a lot of Web content, the X-Reality Pro engine will clean up a majority of blockiness but no more so than a good PC.