Sony's 'monolithic' stand is no longer an optional extra, now coming shipped as standard with the HX853. According to the Sony engineers we met in Japan, the reworked stand delivers much better quality audio than previous versions.
Plus, the firm's designers have played on contrasting materials (black plastic and aluminium) to create a sleeker, airier and perhaps more masculine looking product than last year's TVs.
Like many Sony TVs, the HX853 screen can be tilted backwards by 6°, as you can see in the picture above. This will be particularly useful for anyone who's TV stand/table is lower down than their sofa.
However, the HX853 does have quite a large bezel (approx. 3 cm) around the screen, at a time when certain competitors have pushed that down to a mere 5 mm.
There are two ways of controlling the Sony HX583. Fist of all, you can use the remote control supplied, which is a little more compact than previous-generation remotes and has smooth, rounded edges. Alternatively, you can download the Sony Media Remote app to your smartphone (available for iOS and Android).
Sony has made improvements to its Smart TV connected services with the new SEN (Sony Entertainment Network) portal and its various channels. However, the built-in media player is still nowhere near as comprehensive as those seen in LG
TVs. In fact, you won't be able to directly play HD movies or MKV files. In the end then, the USB port is only really useful for connecting a flash drive or external hard drive for recording TV shows with live TV controls.
Contrary to what we'd previously been told, the HX853 doesn't have the same screen panel as the HX923 and HX753. It's actually a PVA-type LCD panel, as you can see from its sub-pixels, pictured above.
Colours in 'Custom' mode: average Delta E 2.3
The Sony HX853 was a really nice surprise in this field. Once you've switched to the mode best suited to watching films (see inset), picture quality in this TV is excellent. Unlike the HX753, it reproduces colours accurately, with an average Delta E of 2.3 (bearing in mind that this should be under 3 for accurate colours). The gamma is well-balanced with an average reading of 2.1, compared with an 'ideal' value of 2.2. Similarly, the colour temperature is a nice, stable 6300 kelvins and contrast is high, at over 2800:1. All in all, these results are excellent!
Dynamic backlighting off: contrast measured at 2800:1
Dynamic backlighting on: contrast measured at 4390:1
Movie buffs who like to dim the lights should activate the dynamic backlighting (called 'LED Dynamic Control' in the menu). On its lowest level, this function makes the black even deeper, pushing up the contrast to 4390:1 for a black at 0.05 cd/m² and with no real adverse effects. The only slight problem is that in a very dark image, a slight variation in backlighting can be visible. In most films, however, scenes like that are actually quite few and far between.
When we tested the screen from 45° to either side, variations in brightness on the HX853 were slight. Screen viewing angles are therefore wider than in most of the other LCD TVs we've tested to date, although they're still no match for a plasma screen. Consistency across the screen is excellent too. We measured an average difference of just 6% across the whole display, which is something we don't see every day with Edge LED TVs (LED backlights around the edges of the screen). On this front, plasma screens are still ahead, but only by a whisker.
This graph shows the ghosting time, measured in ms, which measures the time it takes this TV takes to entirely remove the previous frame. The shorter the time, the more fluid moving images will appear.
With the ghosting time as low as 8.5 ms, fast-action scenes are displayed clearly onscreen. This PVA screen panel is actually one of the best we've seen yet in this field, with performances on par with plasma-screen TVs.
The HX853 has no problems with input lag. Any delay between an action and its onscreen response is too low to be noticeable. Gamers therefore won't be at a disadvantage with this TV.
Clouding is clearly visible when the dynamic backlighting is off. Blotches of light can be seen in the middle of the screen (see above) and beams of light can be seen leaking onto the screen in each corner—an effect that seems to be stronger in the bottom corners.
Switching the dynamic backlighting on improves things a lot.
The HX853 has an active-shutter 3D mode but no glasses are supplied as standard. Thankfully, prices have come down since these glasses were first launched, but they'll still cost you around £60 a pop. Note too that they're not the most comfortable glasses to wear—the arms could really use some soft rubber padding.
The advantage of active-shutter 3D is that 3D images maintain Full HD resolution, with 1080 lines for each eye.
The HX853 blew us away in 3D mode—it's unbelievably good! Thanks to the high screen responsiveness, there's practically no crosstalk (images for left and right eyes doubling up). In fact, the HX853 is one of the best TVs for 3D viewing that we've tested so far—it's up there with Philips' models (Sharp panel) and Panasonic plasmas.
Below—the result as seen through 3D glasses (Top: Sony Bravia KDL-40HX853 / Bottom: Philips 40PFL8606H
With a perfect result, we shouldn't see any trace of the 'R' frame on the left, and, vice versa, none of the 'L' frame on the right. For the time being, only plasmas from Samsung and Panasonic get this right.
Green zone = good /Orange zone = tolerated / White zone = denatured
The integrated sound bar isn't really up to much. In fact, it doesn't do much better than a good old pair of built-in speakers. It basically makes the same mistakes as the HX753 but with higher volume. The stand may be stylish, but it's no replacement for a genuine home cinema speaker set or a good stand-alone sound bar.
It's no surprise to see power use is relatively low in this TV. On standby it uses under 1 watt, rising to 80 watts while in use (181 W/m²). That's definitely good, but we've still seen better.