The XBR850B is a 55″ 4K UHD TV that is part of Sony’s premium XBR HDTV line-up. This model ranks just below the XBR900B and XBR950B. The 900B and 950B are excellent performing 4K displays, and after reviewing these two models back in June (see here), I consider these two of the best HDTV’s currently on the market. So how well does the 850B stack up against it more expensive counterparts in the XBR Series? Continue reading to learn more.
The 850B features a sleek design with a very thin black bezel which gives the set an almost frameless appearance and will fit nicely with just about any room decor. The feet of the TV’s stand are adjustable and can be moved inward to fit atop a smaller size cabinet.
For sound reproduction, this set has two full-range speakers mounted at the rear and bottom of the TV’s panel. I will state now that the sound quality of these speakers was only average, producing a thin and lean sound, with weak dynamic range and no bass punch. However, this is the typical performance for most flat panel displays. So as usual, I highly recommend a decent sound bar or stand-alone surround sound system.
The XBR850B features Dynamic Edge Backlighting w/ Local Dimming. This design will increase the set’s black level capability and deliver a picture with better contrast and color vibrancy. The light output on this display is very good and produces a bright dynamic image, which is fairly common in most LED TVs.
Two key features that aid in giving the 850B its great picture quality is its TRILUMINOS display technology and Sony’s 4K X-Reality Pro Engine video processing.
TRILUMINOS technology creates incredibly true, natural shades of colors that are rich and vibrant, and delivers overall better picture accuracy.
The 4K X-Reality Pro Engine enhances Ultra HD, HD, and SD images by analyzing and refining images with natural detail and excellent color. The 4K X-Reality Pro Engine also upscales all non-native 4K images to Ultra HD quality.
To help reduce motion artifacts, Sony’s MotionFlow XR 240 technology feature a precise backlight control that is synchronized with the liquid crystal movement from frame to frame creating clearer, sharper moving images.
If 3D viewing is a feature you enjoy, this set provides this capability and includes two pairs of passive 3D glasses.
This set gives you a choice of Ethernet or Wi-Fi connectivity to your home’s network to enjoy the Sony Entertainment Network Smart TV platform. Once connected, you get access to numerous entertainment options which include Video Unlimited which features the latest movie and TV releases. Music Unlimited – a music streaming service that offers a catalog of millions of songs.
For movies, music and other television entertainment, you get your usual assortment of apps including Netflix, Amazon Instant, YouTube, Vudu, Hulu Plus, Pandora and many more.
Another cool function of Sony’s smart TV platform is Social View. This feature allows you to watch live programming with other viewers via the built-in retractable camera mounted atop the TV. You can then see and interact with family and friends in a different location.
Surfing the internet is made easy with the TV’s full web browser.
This set includes two remotes. The standard type IR (infrared) remote is nicely designed with an easy-to-use button layout. It provides many direct access buttons for on-the-fly connectivity to sources such as Netflix and Sony’s own SEN apps, Social View – which loads the social networking app mentioned above, Discover for searching the web and TV content by category, and Football for activating the TV’s sports picture mode. The remote is not backlit.
You also get a touchpad remote. With this remote, the basic operation of the TV’s functions and settings can be made by sliding and pressing your finger across the touchpad. And thanks to this design, videos, photos, or even Internet content (like Netflix) can be accessed with just a swipe or flick of your finger. To use buttons that are not on the touchpad remote control, use the on-screen keypad instead.
- 4 HDMI 2.0 inputs w/HDCP 2.2 copy protection / MHL compatible
- 1 Component input
- 1 Composite input
- 3 USB 2.0 inputs
- 1 Ethernet input
- 1 RF input for antenna, cable or satellite
- 1 Digital optical audio output
- 1 Coaxial digital audio output
- 1 Analog audio output
The XBR850B delivers beautiful 4K UHD images. Color rendition on this set was very realistic and true-to-life. The Sony demo footage I viewed of a woman singing on stage in a red dress against a black background was very stunning. The red dress she wore simply popped from the image, delivering a very rich and vibrant color palette, which contrasted beautifully against the black background in the image.
The flesh tones of this female vocalist were very accurate while showing plenty of fine detail in her skin.
This display also performed very well with black-level reproduction. As I watched the same demo footage noted above, the 850B produced deep saturated blacks which were rendered quite nicely throughout the background of people in the audience enjoying the vocalist’s performance. Shadow detail was rendered well enough that I could make out fine detail in the dark background of this scene, as well as faces in the crowd.
Image depth was very good, allowing me to see deep into the background of the image even though the scene was very dark.
4K Upscaling. To evaluate this sets upconversion performance, I viewed several scenes from the Blu-ray edition of X-Men Days of Future Past.
Let me begin by saying from the start – the 1080p images produced by this 4K TV were absolutely amazing, producing some of the best images I have ever seen. Period. The detail and clarity of the images were simply first-rate. Close-up shots of individuals and objects delivered so much fine detail, that it made the images appear very life-like.
And honestly, if I didn’t know any better, I would think the picture I was viewing was actually true 4K and not upscaled. That’s just how good this sets 4K X-Reality Pro Engine video processing technology really is.
With that said, I would purchase this set for its 4K upscaling capability alone, even if I didn’t plan on viewing any 4K content right away. Its performance is that good.
XBR850B vs. XBR900B and XBR950B
I’ve had a lot of good things to say about the 850B in this review. My following comparison comments are not meant to take anything away performance-wise from this excellent TV.
The 850B does not have the X-tended Dynamic Range Pro (950B) and X-tended Dynamic Range (900B) picture enhancing technologies. These technologies alone set the 950B and 900B apart from the 850B and are key to their better picture quality when compared to the 850B.
What X-tended Dynamic Range Pro and non-Pro do for picture quality is to provide brighter whites and deeper blacks for outstanding contrast reproduction.
Note: The 950B has full-array LED backlighting with local dimming. While the 900B has edge LED backlighting with local dimming (same as 850B).
Due to the technological differences, the 850B images do not provide the same brightness, contrast and black levels as the 950B and 900B displays. For example, the 950B’s picture is brighter, sharper and more transparent. The picture detail is also better and more refined.
Another big stand-out is the black level and shadow detail reproduction. The 950’s blacks are extremely dark and inky black. Shadow detail shows much more detail in dark images. For example, objects in dark scenes on the 950 could be plainly seen. However, objects in the same scene on the 850 could not be seen or were sometimes obscured. The 900B had similar results when compared to the 850B. Just not as apparent.
As I said earlier in this review, my goal was not to detract from or discredit the performance of the 850B during my comparison. On the contrary, this is an excellent 4K display and has earned its place alongside the other 4K TVs in the XBR Series. It is only when compared directly with the other two sets in this series line-up, will you begin to see and/or notice picture quality differences.
The XBR850B is loaded with many useful features, and its picture quality should satisfy most any consumer looking for a great performing 4K Ultra HD display. For the record, I could personally live happily with this television in my home. Highly recommend.
My Rating & Specs
Sony XBR-850B 4K UHD TV
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• Excellent picture quality
• Outstanding 4K upscaling performance
• Nice feature suite
• Speaker sound quality not very good
Screen size: 55″
• With stand: (W x H x D) 48 5/8″ x 31″ x 11 1/4″
• Without stand: ( W x H x D) 48 5/8″ x 29 1/4″ x 2 5/8″
• With stand: 53.1 lbs
• Without stand: 51.8 lbs
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