Review: Sony Bravia W8 (KDL-50W805B), Superb Image Quality

Shame the active-shutter 3D mode isn't too hot

Our score: 4/5
Reviewed: April 7, 2014 2:06 PM
151 want this Me too!
Published: April 7, 2014 2:06 PM
By Pierre-Jean Alzieu
Translated by: Catherine Barraclough
While the 2014 Sony Bravia W805B may have more or less the same name as 2013's Bravia W805A, there's one key difference between these two models: this year, Sony has opted for a VA screen panel rather than IPS, which should help boost contrast. The TV's stand has also been treated to a new design, and Sony has replaced the former 47" sized version with a 50" TV instead. Otherwise, the specs are pretty similar, with an X-Reality Pro imaging engine, active-shutter 3D, MotionFlow XR 400 motion smoothing and access to all Sony's usual Smart TV services.


We reviewed the 50" version of the Bravia W805B (127 cm, KDL-50W805B), but a 42" model (107 cm, KDL-42W805B) is also available. Note, however, that the different sized versions may not use the same screen panels. This review and the test results herein are therefore only valid for the 50" model.

2D Image Quality4/5


 
Sony Bravia KDL-50W805B screen panel sticker
Sony Bravia KDL-50W805B screen subpixels
Sony KDL-50W805B screen panel: a PSA screen made by AU Optronics

Sony has been quick off the mark getting this 2014 TV onto store shelves. Then again, this telly is effectively a renamed version of one of the firm's 2013 TVs, the W685A, which is itself a variant of the W656A. It's therefore no surprise to see that the 50" screen used in the W805B is a PSA-type panel made by AU Optronics.

The black level is very deep here, measured at 0.06 cd/m² with contrast at 3200:1. You'll therefore be able to watch a movie in pitch-dark conditions without dark parts of the picture looking washed out and grey. In comparison, Sony's KDL-55W955 top-end 2014 Smart TV only manages 800:1 for a disappointing black of 0.25 cd/m². The difference between these two model is immediately visible. With the W805B, onscreen images pack more of a punch, drawing you in for a more immersive experience.

Sony Bravia KDL-50W805B viewing angles

Still, you'll need to sit facing this TV directly to ensure you see the best-quality picture onscreen. When viewed from the side, colours start to look dull and the black looks washed out. This was confirmed by our test sensor, which measured an average variation of +160% in the darkest parts of the picture and -60% in lighter tones.

We've got no complaints about Sony's default picture settings. Once switched to "Custom" mode (see "Our Recommended Settings", below) colours are rendered accurately onscreen with an average Delta E of 2.5. Delta E measures the difference between "perfect" colours and those actually displayed onscreen. It should be as close to zero as possible, but with a score of 0-3 colours can be considered "accurate" to the human eye. Brightness levels are almost perfectly distributed too, with gamma measured at 2.2 and colour temperature at 6460 K. It's hard to do better than that, even if you calibrate the TV using a special colorimeter!
 
Sony Bravia KDL-50W805B colour fidelity, Delta E
Colour fidelity in "Custom" mode: average Delta E = 2.5
Sony Bravia KDL-50W805B colour temperature
Colour temperature = 6460 Kelvins


Sony's MotionFlow motion soothing system is one of the best on the market, using a backlight scan to help reduce persistence of vision and in turn make fast action look smooth and seamless. Set to "Standard" it creates a slight "soap opera" effect but completely gets rid of judder and glitches. Anyone who can't put up with the "soap opera" effect should stick with the "Clear" setting. The image is then almost totally free from ghosting. However, brightness gets halved with this function active, with the white capped at a maximum 100 cd/m². That can be a bit low when watching TV in a brightly lit room.

The AU Optronics PSA screen panel used in the KDL-50W805B has a slightly faster response time than Samsung's version. We measured the average ghosting time at 9 ms, which is on the better side of average for current TVs. Gamers will also appreciate the low input lag. Measured at 23 ms in "Game" mode, this works out at just over one frame of latency compared with the speediest screens.

Clouding3/5



This TV doesn't do too badly on clouding, as brightness is actually distributed pretty evenly over the screen for a model using just one block of LED backlights behind the screen. Brightness varies by no more than 30% between the centre of the screen and the edges. Note, however, that although we got a good result with the W805B we tested, it doesn't mean that every model of W805B will be free from clouding. This TV therefore only scores 3/5 in this part of the review due to the limits of its backlighting system.

3D Image Quality2/5



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The Sony Bravia 50W805B comes with SimulView technology so that two players can enjoy full-screen gaming simultaneously onscreen. For that, each player needs to wear a pair of Sony's 3D glasses. Two pairs (TDG-BT500A) are included with the 50W805B.
 
Sony Bravia KDL-50W805B 3D mode, crosstalk
Sony Bravia KDL-50W805B more crosstalk from 3D mode
Crosstalk as seen through the 3D glasses when watching "Monsters vs Aliens" in 3D on the W805B.

Sony doesn't seem to have tried too hard with the 3D mode in the W805B. In fact, 3D images are regularly prone to crosstalk, where images for the left and right eyes can be seen overlapping onto one another creating unwanted shadow effects (see above).
 

Sony Bravia KDL-50W805B image detail in Full HD
Extract from a scene displayed in Full HD 3D.

Sony Bravia KDL-50W805B 720p 3D
The same extract displayed in 3D on the Sony KDL-50W805B.


What's more disappointing is that in spite of the fact that Sony has used active-shutter 3D technology here, the 3D image isn't displayed in the TV's full resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels, Full HD), as you can see from the extracts above. We saw the same thing back in 2012 with Samsung's 6000 series. This drop in resolution makes 3D images look less sharp.

Design4/5



Sony Bravia KDL-50W805B design

The W805B looks similar to Sony's W65X TVs from 2013. However, the TV's metal casing has changed from a light grey colour in last year's model to a darker "anthracite" grey this time around. The finish is excellent. In fact, this model actually feels classier than the top-end W955 we recently reviewed!

The metal stand has a breezy, open design and is fixed in place (no height-adjustment, swivel, etc.). You'll therefore need to turn the whole TV if you want to line the screen up with your sofa.

Sony Bravia KDL-50W805B back with connections

Sony has reworked the back panel to make room for an extra two HDMI inputs. The W805B therefore has four HDMI input ports in total, along with a SCART socket and combined component (YUV) and composite connections. It has built-in Wi-Fi plus an Ethernet port for connection to the Internet, and two USB ports for hooking up storage peripherals for access to multimedia content like photos, films and music. The TV's built-in media player is pretty good too, as it played almost every kind of file we tried it out with. Only ISO files and DVD menus weren't supported.

Sony has updated its Smart TV interface for 2014 with a revamped design. It's fast and responsive to use, both with applications and when browsing through menus or changing settings.

Sony Bravia KDL-50W805B interface and apps


The Smart TV platform offers access to the Sony Entertainment Network for music and movies, catch-up TV and app downloads from the Opera TV Store.

Sony Bravia KDL-50W805B remote control

The remote control is nothing out of the ordinary. It has rubbery buttons that are pleasant to touch and press, and it's big enough to have room for all kinds of shortcut keys to the the most useful settings and functions. All that's missing is some backlighting for the buttons, which is always helpful when trying to change channel in the dark.

Audio2/5

Sony Bravia KDL-50W805B audio quality

To be honest, we were a bit worried about how the 2 x 8 W speakers in this TV would cope, but in the end we were pleasantly surprised by their performance. That doesn't mean that audio quality is actually any good, though! In fact, this TV only just manages to render the frequencies covered by human voices correctly. Bass seems to have been totally done away with to help prevent saturation. All in all, quality is fine for watching the odd TV show, but you'll need to invest in a home cinema speaker set or a sound bar to get top-quality audio for serious movie sessions.

Power Use5/5



like most TVs, this Bravia runs on less than 1 W when on standby. When switched on, we measured power use at just 64 W, which makes 93 W/m² for this 50" TV.
 
4/5 Sony Bravia W8 (KDL-50W805B) DigitalVersus 2014-04-07 15:06:00

Pros

  • Accurate colours (average Delta E = 2.5)
  • Good contrast and deep black (3200:1 and 0.06 cd/m²)
  • MotionFlow function works well, keeps motion looking smooth
  • Low power use (60 W)
  • Effective anti-glare filter
  • Smart TV services
  • Good built-in media player
  • Miracast compatibility

Cons

  • Narrow viewing angles
  • Risk of clouding
  • Crosstalk visible in 3D mode
  • Image resolution halves in 3D mode despite using active-shutter 3D

Conclusion

With its sleek brushed metal frame, excellent picture quality, high contrast and effective motion compensation mode, the 2014 Sony Bravia W805B is real hit ... so long as you're not too bothered about 3D. This is an excellent telly for 2D viewing but the 3D mode is a let-down, especially since it halves image resolution and is full of crosstalk! Let's hope Sony can put that right soon with a firmware update.

OUR SCORE 4/5
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