In the battle for the middle-tier television sets, Sony is clearly leading the pack.
Sony’s XBR-X900E series was one of the best mid-range screens for its price range last year, and now that the Japanese TV maker has brought the X1 Extreme processor into the range, it stands without a peer in 2018.
But what about those of us looking to move even further into value territory? For us, Sony has revamped its X850 series for 2018 – which so far includes both a 65-inch and 75-inch iteration called the XBR-65X850F and XBR-75X850F, respectively.
Worried that value denotes less-than-stellar performance? Thankfully, unlike its cheaper stablemate the Sony Bravia X800F, there’s no obvious compromise on specification here.
Design and performance
For starters, it should be noted that these are absolutely massive screens – 65- and 75-inch panels have a way of completely taking over your living room.
But these screens aren’t just big, they’re powerful, too. The Bravia X850F incorporates Sony’s X1 image processor with object-based HDR remastering. We’ve seen in the past that Sony has a real talent for up-peaking SDR content to give a faux HDR look, so its inclusion here bodes well for all content sources.
Obviously, we won’t know just how well the Sony Bravia X850F handles the peak luminance of native HDR content until we get a sample in for testing, but our expectation is for an improvement over last year’s mid-range 4K models.
Further image refinement comes courtesy of 4K X-Reality Pro, Sony’s image enhancement algorithm, and Super Bit Mapping 4K HDR processing.
The design itself is suitably swish. The set features a narrow aluminum frame, and a new anti-wobble stand.
What we have are two widely spaced (somewhat oversized) legs, which promise better stability – useful if you have little ‘uns wandering the house; it’s more of a planted look. This enhanced stability becomes increasingly important on larger sets.
The Sony Bravia X850F is available in both black and silver finishes, at least for the four smaller screen sizes, but the two largest screens come in black only.
Connections include four HDMI inputs, all of which are HDCP 2.2 compliant, and a trio of USBs (including one USB 3.0 for recording content to an external hard drive). The set also supports Bluetooth headphone pairing.
Like all of Sony’s 4K UHD offerings, the TV is built upon the Android TV OS. This has Chromecast built-in, which enables a growing number of apps to cast directly to the screen. It’s a handy way of sharing images or videos.
The 2160p TV is compatible with HDR10 and HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) broadcast HDR. But as it lacks the Extreme iteration of the X1 imaging chip, there’s no prospect of a Dolby Vision upgrade.
Still, the native 100Hz panel warrants a MotionFlow XR 800Hz rating, which implies that it offers superior motion interpolation, useful if you want to maximize detail during fast-moving sports. This could well be the telly to shortlist if you’re buying in anticipation of the upcoming FIFA World Cup.
With the benefits of massive screen real estate and a generous helping of image wizardry (object-based HDR remastering, the X1 processor and 4K super bit-mapping), the X850F potentially offers plenty of visual bang for your buck.
Competition will be stiff, particularly from LG’s 2018 C8 OLED, but this could be the 4K midfielder to watch.
The 65-inch Sony XBR-65X850F will set you back $1,999.99 while the the 75-inch Sony XBR-75X850F will cost you a cool $3,299.99. Both screens will be available later this spring.