What is the Sony 50W829?
The new TV Season for Sony kicked off with the slightly disappointing flagship W95, it simply wasn’t what we’d come to expect from Sony’s top drawer.
Design & Connections
The unusual back plate is also unconventional in how it spreads around the connectivity options. To the right hand side and outward facing is the MHL compliant HDMI input to connect to compatible phones and tablets for video up to 1080p. Here there are also 2 USB ports and a headphone jack. Moving more towards the centre there’s a LAN port and CAM slot and to the left of those there’s the legacy Scart and Component video connections beside the S/PDIF digital audio out.
Beneath the legacy video connections are three downward-firing HDMI inputs with one of those being ARC (Audio Return Channel) ready. The general idea of having HDMI ports that point downwards is to aid sleek wall-mounting but that’s negated somewhat by the fattish chassis. Another spot of unusualness is the inclusion of an external power supply, which is probably as a result of intended design to keep those components away from those of the speakers to minimise interference.
The Touch and Flick Smart controller is more pared down but has a touchpad to speed up navigation – particularly in terms of scrolling around the numerous apps on offer. It is fairly successful too but we’d put money on the fact most will use it once and then return to the box.
In the default Cinema Scene Mode we’re presented with a greyscale that is quite noticeably tinted green. This is especially evident with white and shades of grey near it and leads to delta Errors approaching 10 in the brighter portions. When you consider that it is generally accepted that an error of 3 is discernible to the human eye, these are not insignificant inaccuracies. As per Sony’s recent track record, the default -2 gamma setting leads to a reasonably flat 2.4 response which certainly works better on this TV than it did the W955 but it’s still not ideal, in terms of revealing details in the shadows
The W829’s ‘paltry’ 2 point White Balance controls were all we needed to obtain a virtual reference greyscale performance. We managed to iron down delta Errors to below 1, right the way from black to white and by notching the gamma slider to -1, we were able to get an almost flat tracking 2.3 which suits this TV better than 2.4.
Contrast, Black Levels & Screen Uniformity
This area of testing is certainly, ‘score one’ for the W829 over its more illustrious stable mate. Not only were black levels deep and satisfying but screen uniformity was also excellent. On a completely black screen there was just a little lightening toward the bottom left corner but it was rarely evident with real world material. There was no real need to resort to any of Sony’s processing options to improve the native blacks, although you could put Adv. Contrast Enhancer to ‘Low’ - if you really wanted - without doing any harm.
The same X-Reality Pro processing engine found in the W955 is present in the W829 so it was no surprise to find our test results mirrored. So we get excellent scaling of standard definition signals and deinterlacing of 1080i and 576i signals was also clean, without undue break up of lines or fine detail. The cadence detection for both PAL (2:2) and NTSC (2:3) sources was also excellent, with the W829 able to lock on instantly and thus deliver pictures without loss of resolution or shredding. In short, there’s almost no video task this Sony isn’t up to, so complaints here.
Perhaps, someday soon, competing manufacturers will be able to unravel the secrets behind Sony’s Game Mode but, until then, they will be ahead of the pack when it comes to producing TVs with incredibly low latency. Using our specialised testing equipment we took measurements ranging between 19.5 to 22.3 milliseconds lag to controller input, which is just in to the second frame of a game running natively at 60fps and within the first of one running at 30. We would say it actually improved some of performances in certain games although, to be fair, there was plenty of room for doing so.
The following measurements were taken with a full screen 50% white pattern:
Out-of-the-Box – Standard Mode: 37W
Calibrated – Cinema Mode: 53W
Calibrated - 3D Cinema Mode: 74W
Sony 50W829 Picture Quality – 2D
Where we had to come up with a cocktail of settings to extract a picture we’d consider approaching good, with the flagship W955, we didn’t really need to mess with any of the more exotic controls on the W829 to see it shine. If you do want some improvement on all, or nearly all, black screens you could set the Adv Contrast Enhancer to Mid but it will come at the cost of some luminance flashes on frame transitions, albeit only fleeting ones. The Reality Creation settings are again quite interesting for the likes of streamed HD content, where the micro adjustments in pixel luminance can help give the impression of restoring some of the detail lost during compression but it’s to be used on a case-by-case basis, rather than wholesale.
Sony 50W829 Video Review
Sony 50W829 Picture Quality – 3D
- Excellent black levels
- Great dynamic range
- Superb screen uniformity
- Almost perfect greyscale post calibration
- Colours generally correct
- Top notch video processing
- Red can look visibly undersaturated
- 3D performance leaves something to be desired
- Menus are tiresome
Sony KDL-50W829B (W8) LED TV Review
That rotund backside has all the connectivity options one could wish for, including 4 HDMI, Scart and component video connections plus two USB inputs and digital audio out. Sony gives you two remote controls to play with in the box with the W829. One is of a traditional design whilst the other has a scroll pad on the front. The 'Touch and Flick' remote is fairly successful in speeding up navigation but we'd expect most will favour the traditional controller.
Sony's 2014 Menus take some getting used to. You now have to traverse your way through a load of suggested content, to watch or listen to, before getting to the actual settings. We've been on at Sony for years to improve their menus and whilst this incarnation is undoubtedly their most attractive, they leave something to be desired on the usability front.
Where it really matters, however, the W829B definitely delivers with images that combine an excellent degree of accuracy with deep and consistent black levels, for maximum impact. Very few of Sony's clever processing tricks are needed for this TV for it to deliver, something we couldn't say of the supposed flagship W955. It was only the 3D performance that was really lacking but who but a very small minority really care about that?
Sony probably wont thank us for saying this but the Sony W829 performs far more like a top-end TV than the W955 although perhaps they'll forgive us with the award of a Highly Recommended badge.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
3D Picture Quality
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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