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Sony BRAVIA KDL-55W805 Test Review

Updated on May 10, 2015
Sony Bravia KDL-55W805 has amazing picture quality
Sony Bravia KDL-55W805 has amazing picture quality | Source

The Sony BRAVIA KDL-55W805 has vibrant colours and a good black level thereby giving a pleasurable viewing experience in the dark. We review the Bravia 55-inch W805 from Sony.

The 55 inch model does not have the clouding that is prevalent in other models within the series. For example, the 50-inch model has been known to exhibit massive clouding when on black image mode. However, on normal image the clouding miraculously disappears.

KDL-55W805 Features & Specifications

The Sony Bravia KDL-55W805 comes with a number of features as standard:

  • Captivating 3D entertainment with active shutter technology and best picture thanks to X-Reality Pro image processor
  • Intuitive and lightning-fast Smart TV entertainment with Smart View user interface and pre-loaded Amazon Instant Video App
  • HD triple tuners
  • High quality aluminum frame
  • Comes with: Bravia KDL-55W805; RM-ED060, 2x 3D glasses TDG-BT400A

I switched the light sensor because my picture was too flat. Sony is good with scale functions so that even with SD channels you still get a decent TV picture. The video EQ can of course not perform miracles and calculate details that are not contained in the original TV signal. This can be seen especially in scenes that have smaller details which do not look too good.

A major disadvantage is the limited viewing angle with some professional tests putting it at 22 degrees. With the 50-inch model, the colours fade as soon as you go out of alignment with the side frame. The 55-inch model has a slightly wider viewing angle.

The problem with viewing angle is a weakness related to TVs with in-built VA panels. A better viewing angle is seen in TVs with IPS panels such as the W995B. However, this advantage comes with a significantly poorer black level.

The image quality is still acceptable even in bright sunshine such as that which I experience in my living room. When it comes to sound quality, the Sony Bravia KDL-55W805 gives an acceptable sound level though not significantly better than similar models. The TV is compatible with Dolby Digital 5.1 and one specifies the format via a HDMI port on the back connected to the AV receiver. This format works with, for example, the Amazon Instant Video App and Media Player. DTS is also processed, but comes only in Dolby Digital 2.1.

Zapping through digital cable channels is sufficiently fast for me, much faster than my old KDL-40EX605. The menus work smoothly with the current software version- after turning on the TV, the picture and sound appear instantly, but need 30-60 seconds to fully boot up and to respond to inputs.

The TV can be controlled remotely through the connected HDMI devices. The automatic switching on and off of my AV receiver as well as the volume control works so well for me.

With deep blacks, the Bravia KDL-55W805 is a wonder to watch
With deep blacks, the Bravia KDL-55W805 is a wonder to watch | Source

3D Experience

3D

The TV can convert 2D material automatically since the depth is adjustable. “Star Trek into Darkness” gave a nice 3D image though a spectacular dropout effect can only be seen with real 3D material. I noticed a little ghosting effect which was very weak and rare that it was not distracting and therefore quite negligible.

With the 3D edition of Avatar, the Sony Bravia KDL-55W805 exhibited a very nice spatial depth on the 3D image. However, am starting to realize that for 3D films it is much better to get closer to the TV. Curiously, the 3D image appears a bit more spacious when observed from above.

Accessories

The stand is stable and easy to install. The 55W805 has an external power supply which means that in case of damage it can be easily removed and replaced. It looks more like a chunky black brick pad and is best hidden behind the AV receiver.

As for the remote, it does not win a prize for the best quality especially in appearance. However, it is light and the buttons work just fine so am getting to like it as days go by. Since the Magic Remote is not included with the delivery and costs extra if one wants it, I did not get it. Optionally, you can navigate the TV menu using the SideView App on your phone or tablet. A camera for Skype is also not included with the purchase and one will need to spend a little more for the accessory.

The package includes two 3-D glasses and angle to use as a wall mount. For the wall mount, additional six 8mm screws are needed but are also not included.

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Additional Features of the Bravia 55W805

The TV has apps for streaming services such as Amazon Instant Video, Watch Ever, Sony Video Unlimited and recently, Netflix. The apps for most TV stations are basically useless to me as hardly any content is offered. To be fair to the TV stations though, only the news apps have sufficient content.

The other apps are largely simple games and advertising apps for Sony films. What I find annoying is that the assortment of apps is not sorted by categories- in short, it is simply done very poorly. There is an app for the Opera Store which offers some interesting TV apps and a fireplace screen saver. In addition to this, there is an Internet Browser app in the TV which can also view flash videos. Operating the browser using the normal remote control is unfortunately quite difficult. This is because the keying-in of internet addresses and navigation of sites is extremely slow and cumbersome.

Using the TV Browser on the mobile app Sony TV Side View remote control results in an acceptable speed and it is relatively simple- just enter the internet address, scroll up/down on the displayed scroll bar by swiping. With this app, you can use the phone display to move the pointer and click on any sites that interest you.

There is a big difference between the surfing experience on a TV screen and on a smartphone. Unless I am surfing video sites that do not have a corresponding TV app, most of the time I would rather do it on my smartphone because it feels more natural and comfortable.

To access HbbTV where you will get a list of TV channels, you press the red button on the device. The content is limited and most programs in the US are self-produced. For most stations, the apps are partly hidden and serve restricted movies. Here I find the app for Amazon Instant Video more comprehensive and easy to use.

Compared to the Sony KDL-40EX605, the KDL-55W805 is a great leap forward with its half-back design and app usability. Though it does not consume so much bandwidth, input using the app is only possible using the onscreen keyboard which is a bit annoying.

The built-in media player can play via DLNA as shared files from your PC. Unfortunately, the player cannot display folder structures and does not support Windows Media codecs. The photo player is also pretty picky. For some of the pictures it shows only the preview but one cannot view the image itself. You therefore consider the player as just an additional gimmick that does not provide an all-round satisfactory solution.

The recording of TV programs can be done via the EPG though some stations only keep two days’ worth of content. Alternatively, you can schedule your recording of the Electronic Program Guide by date and time. This Sony feature will record entire programs and series if it detects the programs as such.

The mobile app “Sony TV Side View” has a program guide for most channels which makes it easy to record programs. However, the app unfortunately does not have data for some stations and the hard drive will have to be reformatted and encrypted for your TV- only then can it be used.

Another thing with the Sony Bravia KDL-55W805 is that it has not interface functions and the images cannot be edited on a PC.

During recording, you cannot watch another channel because the TV has only one tuner unlike other Sony 4K models which have two. However, if you are using Smart apps such as Amazon Instant Video it is possible to watch during recording.

At the back of the TV there is a stepped edge where the USB ports are located where I have placed a highly recognizable 2.5” hard drive. When it comes to compatible hard drives for recording, Sony has only tested the WD-My Book Essential (WDBACW0010HBK and WDBACW0020HBK) and there is no other compatibility list available for the KDL-55W805. The recommended size is anything from 32GB to 2TB. For me, the WD Elements which is 1TB works just fine.

USB flash drive support is especially discouraging. According to Sony, the TV can support the drive but does not wake up from sleep mode and must run continuously. You must therefore make sure that you buy a hard drive as soon as is possible to avoid issues.

The channel list can be seen on an USB stick export (which must be empty) and edited on a PC. Sony offers a program for this on its support page for download.

There is a small stumbling block though: the option is only visible in the menu when the stick is connected. For me the import did not work even then.

My original 50-inch was delivered in a gigantic wide shipping carton, so Amazon must have learnt from the previous complaints. That is why the 55-inch model was delivered only in the original box without outer packaging and a few tension straps for extra protection.

Conclusion

I am completely satisfied and excited about my new LED TV, the Sony Bravia KDL-55W805. The Blueray movies are especially pleasurable to watch on this device. The evening picture quality with HD content is just great. I had the 50-inch model but then returned it and bought the 55-inch model instead – I do not regret my choice and would highly recommend this TV.

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