What is the Sony W805C?
In a market that has surprised everyone with the rapid growth of 4K Ultra HD TV ranges and sales, is there still a need for large screen 1080p only screens in the UK market? Let’s see if the 55W805C can offer enough for those not ready to take the Ultra HD route just yet.
Design, Connections & Control
There is no getting away from the fact that the W805C is a gorgeous looking TV with an ultra slim depth and minimalist design. Only a very small Bravia logo can be seen at the top left and the main Sony logo in the centre of the bottom ultra-thin bezel. The panel takes up the rest of the real estate at the front and is a lovely deep black when switched off. The stand is a thin chrome affair that sits flat to the front of the TV and bends upwards and back to single feet at the rear. Whilst the 55W805C was never going to fall over on this stand, it also wasn’t the sturdiest and there was a large degree of flex and movement if you touched the TV. Obviously because of the stand's design it is not able to swivel.
The incredibly thin screen widens out towards the bottom rear to house the connections and electronics. There are four HDMI slots, one side mounted with MHL and three downwards facing with ARC on HDMI4. There are also three USB ports with USB2 set up for HDD recording, one component and composite hybrid, analogue audio inputs, digital optical audio out, a headphone 3.5mm output, a LAN port and a legacy Scart. That’s quite a comprehensive line-up of connection options.
Features and W805C Specs
We found that when it worked as it should the home page and smart features were rather good, if a little sluggish. But on at least two occasions we witnessed the system crash and then completely freeze. We are not sure if this was just associated with the review sample or a known issue with the Android service, so on this occasion and after a reboot and firmware check, we will give it the benefit of the doubt as we didn’t have another Sony in at the time to check.
The W805C also includes Motionflow XR 800Hz backlight and motion interpolation technologies along with scaling via Reality Creation Pro and with each of these technologies it is a case of making sure they are not doing anything to change the intent of the image or how it should be displayed. MotionFlow in almost all configurations adds a soap opera effect or over smoothness to images and the reality creation can add over aggressive noise reduction and should be used sparingly with some material.
Other features include NFC connection, MHL support, Audio Return Channel and USB HDD recording capabilities. Finally we have Active 3D playback available on the W805C but there are no glasses supplied with the TV and we couldn’t find any other makes we had to hand that would work either.
Picture Settings Out-of-the-Box
Once you have set the black level and contrast controls for your room and lighting, along with the Gamma slider (we found 0 resolved 2.2 in a normal living room) the image produced is fairly accurate to experienced eyes and will keep most enthusiasts and viewers happy without going to the expense of a calibration. Plus there are very few calibration control available on the W805C which makes the task of achieving a fully accurate calibration very difficult. So it is all the better news that out-of-the-box the Sony gets close to being accurate and producing nice looking images with few errors visible to most viewers.
The other issues will not be visible to 99% of the likely owners of the X805C who instead will enjoy a very accurate and colourful image with no obvious issues visible. Only in a side-by-side with an accurate reference set would any slight errors be visible to most viewers. So overall it’s a decent set of results for the Sony and these are our recommended settings for owners.
Picture Settings Calibrated
Sony W805C Picture Settings Video
Using the settings outline above and making sure that picture adjusting controls such as Adv. Contrast and Black Adjust were switched off we found the images produced by the W805C to be very compelling with excellent black levels from the VA panel. That is even more surprising given that the Sony doesn’t have a full backlight or local dimming system in use. The only downside was a lack of shadow detail at the very low end and some backlight clouding which we will come back to. When set for our review standard of 120cd/m2 of brightness we measured black levels at 0.02cd/m2 on our ANSI test and with a full black raster pattern which was a very good result. This continued with onscreen viewing of normal material with a reasonable performance with mixed contrast scenes and those set in dark environments when using the TV in a well-lit living room. When we changed to the light controlled (i.e. very dark to pitch black) surrounding of our cinema room the W805C struggled with backlight uniformity issues and light pooling to the bottom of the screen in both corners. This was visible not only on black screens but was also obvious on low APL scenes where shadow detail and blacks were clipped and the clouding made it difficult to enjoy the content being watched. So, this is not the ideal TV if you like to watch movies in very low light conditions. In a normal living room with high ambient light, or daylight, these issues were less visible, but shadow detail retrieval is non-existent for critical viewing.
Given the slim nature of the screen and the use of edge lighting we were also not surprised to see some banding in low light viewing and even some hints of dirty screen effect with football coverage and some panning on images with the same colour in large areas of the image, like the green of a pitch or golf course. These artefacts, while still present, were harder to notice in a well lit room as opposed to watching in low light surroundings.
It is in the normal living room during day light or with good ambient lighting where the Sony KDL-W805C excels and produces some very nicely balanced and colourful images. Here we were impressed with the detail on offer and some decent motion with content such as football and HD documentaries on BBC4. You could apply Motionflow to sports or fast moving video content to improve the motion, but we would recommend avoiding its use with film or drama content. Black levels were strong and mixed contrast scenes held up well in the brighter viewing environment. Colours looked natural and skin tones were accurate throughout with the settings used out of the box and overall it was hard to find fault with the W805C when used in this manner. The downsides are more apparent in darker viewing situations.
As this is an HD resolution set we found the scaling of good quality SD content to be excellent with no signs of ringing or enhanced edges. In fact the Sony passed all our scaling and video processing tests with flying colours showing the strength of the X-Reality processing without adding anything that shouldn’t be there. We also found there wasn’t any issue with background processing or noise reduction taking place with the Sony.
The W805C is also 3D capable but Sony (like every other manufacturer these days) neglected to send us any 3D glasses to use, and despite trying to find some compatible glasses on our own, we were unable to test the 3D capabilities of the Sony. It just highlights how manufacturers seem to have given up on promoting or encouraging the use of 3D.
Overall the Sony W805C has some issues with backlight uniformity, DSE and clouding when used in darker environments, but these become less of an issue when used in a normal living room with normal lighting levels. Out-of-the-box the image is very good with nice colour reproduction, good motion and excellent upscaling of good SD content. It also has very good black levels with only some slight crushing and shadow detail missing. As a living room workhorse it would turn in a very good performance where the slight issues found would be unlikely to cause any issues for the end user, only those looking to watch film material in a dark room would run into potential issues. The issues highlighted are very much those linked with the technology being employed with the LED LCD W805C, but in normal everyday use these are probably not deal breakers for most viewers who will enjoy the TV in the right surroundings. Those looking for excellent low light viewing can look elsewhere.
We have covered all the major picture points above and even after fixing the greyscale tracking to reference levels and slightly tweaking the gamut in the process, the differences between calibrated and out-of-the-box (given that the front panel controls for contrast etc. are set correctly for the environment) are negligible at best for the majority of users. This is certainly a case of the product probably achieving the best it can without the need for calibration; as it is best suited to being an everyday living room workhorse and not a cinematic critical viewing device. As such we don’t think it would be cost effective given the results and purchase price to go with a full professional paid for calibration on this model.
- Good out-of-the-box accuracy for colour and greyscale
- Excellent video processing
- Strong black levels in normal viewing environments
- Decent input lag
- Some clouding and backlight uniformity issues, especially when watching in dim surroundings
- Some DSE present
- Smart TV is promising, but still a little slow and clunky UI
Sony KDL-55W805C (W805C) Full HD TV Review
The only other area that could impact on the Sony is the fact it is only a full HD set and is priced higher than some of the entry level 4K Ultra HD screens, like the CX680 from Panasonic, which offers more future proofing and better features in a 50-inch screen size for less money. The 55W805C is a strong workhorse with a compelling image that has some new features like Android Smart TV and excellent video processing, but it is clearly in a fight for attention in the show room. However, if a Full HD living room or second room TV is still important for you, we recommend you check it out.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box
Picture Quality Calibrated
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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