Recent TV launches show that affordable large-screen televisions are a significant trend. Buyer interest is focused on getting bang for the buck, and plenty of large feature-filled TVs have been catching the attention of TV buyers in India. Options such as the LeEco Super3 X65 4K Smart TV have changed buying habits, with many choosing affordability over technology and brand value.

However, none of this means that premium TVs are going away. There are buyers who want the absolute best and have the funds for expensive high-quality products, and that’s where the established brands come in. Sony, Samsung, and LG are the biggest names at the forefront of television development and innovation. This year’s big technology for TVs is high dynamic range (HDR), which improves colour reproduction, brightness, and contrast on your TV.

Sony has already launched its first HDR TV range in India, and we reviewed the 55X9300D 4K HDR TV. However, we found that it didn’t quite match up to Samsung’s premium option, the 65KS9000 SUHD TV. Sony seems to have taken that to heart, and the result is the new and improved Z9D range. It’s very similar to the previous model, but improved processing technology and better components promise improved 4K and HDR performance, as well as better upscaling for standard definition and standard dynamic range content. Today we’re reviewing the Rs. 5,04,900 Sony 65Z9D 4K HDR TV to find out if it is indeed the best TV you can buy right now.

Sony KD-65Z9D 4K HDR TV design
The Sony KD-65Z9D retains the same design language that Sony went with on the X93D range. It’s meant to be simple, with no distractions that draw viewers’ focus away from the screen. The bezel is narrow, with nearly the entire front occupied by the screen. The stand is fairly similar to the one on the X93D as well, with a single centre-balanced unit that has a small footprint for such a large TV.

There are major visual differences at the back of the TV though, with a grid-like pattern on the body. This model also a bit thicker than the X93D, thanks to the different backlight engine in use. The ports and inputs are hidden behind a plastic cover, which you’ll likely need to leave open once you have cables connected, or if you often use a USB drive to watch content on the TV.

The speakers of the Sony KD-65Z9D are along its bottom, while the front has an LED indicator built in near the Sony logo. The remote that is bundled with the TV is the same as the one that came with the Sony 55X9300D, with dedicated buttons for Netflix and Google Play. There are no fancy wand-like controls; navigation happens using the ordinary D-pad and UI controls on the remote. Additionally, the remote relies on infrared, so you will have to point it at the TV for it to work.

The sheer size of this TV is its most eye-catching attribute. Although it doesn’t look bad at all, we do feel that it’s a bit too staid. Buyers will be able to focus on the content on screen without distractions but some do like their TV to look impressive in itself.

Sony KD-65Z9D 4K HDR TV specifications and features
The Sony KD-65Z9D 4K HDR TV features a 65-inch 4K LED screen that is capable of displaying high dynamic range content. It’s also powered by the Android TV platform. It’s very similar to the X93D range, but there are a few key differences. The most significant of these is the improved processor, with the Z9D adopting Sony’s new X1 Extreme processor, which promises better performance with HDR and 4K content as well as enhanced standard dynamic range reproduction. Take a look at our review of the X93D to understand the benefits of HDR in TVs.

Additionally, the KD-65Z9D features some other buzzwords, such as Backlight Master Drive, which promises deeper blacks and brighter colours, and object based HDR remaster, which helps enhance the colours for SDR content. All of this comes together to also offer better upscaling of lower-resolution content to fit on the large 4K screen. There are no major new features – the main change here is performance.

Sony KD-65Z9D 4K HDR TV software
The Sony KD-65Z9D’s operating system and user interface are based on Android TV,  which has been developed by Google specifically for smart TVs. The version on the Z9D has been updated, and is based on Android Marshmallow (the X93D was based on Android Lollipop). This doesn’t have a huge impact on the Android TV Launcher user interface, which looks almost entirely the same as what we’ve already seen and used.

The app store remains among the better marketplaces for apps that we’ve used with TVs, with plenty of useful content-based apps as well as games that can be played on the TV. You can use Sony’s Dual Shock controller to play games, and the Google Play Store has a special list of games that can be played easily using just a TV remote. The KD-65Z9D has 8.2GB of free storage for installing apps and games.

YouTube for Android TV, Netflix, and Google Play Movies are pre-installed on the TV, giving you quick access to a huge list of movies, TV shows and other videos. Other popular content apps such as Plex and YuppTV are available to download. The interface gives you easy access to media on portable storage devices, as well as recommendations from Sony based on your viewing history. There’s also Opera browser for ordinary Web surfing.

The newer version of Android TV does make a difference to UI performance. We found general usage to be a bit faster and more stable than before. On the whole, this is a capable smart TV that does improve on the X93D range, even if only ever so slightly.

Sony KD-65Z9D 4K HDR TV performance
We used the Sony KD-65Z9D 4K HDR TV with a variety of content, including HDR and SDR video clips in 4K resolution. We also watched full-HD, 720p, and standard definition content over various test clips, as well as content streamed from YouTube and Netflix. We paid particular attention to performance with HDR content, as this is the signature feature of the TV.

Sony’s biggest promise with the KD-65Z9D is an improvement in handling HDR content, and this is something we can attest to. We watched some demo clips as well as an episode of Narcos streamed off Netflix in 4K HDR, and found the colours to be vibrant and incredibly natural. More detail is visible in dark areas, while bright ones look noticeably more realistic too. The TV manages to accurately and correctly portray the differences between bright and dark zones, and smooth out the fake-looking pop that non-HDR TVs tend to highlight. The improved processing definitely shows.

Non-HDR content also gets a significant boost, thanks to the improved backlight. The TV does a commendable job of making standard dynamic range content look as natural and vibrant as it can, providing a picture that is noticeably better than on other 4K TVs can manage. All of this is thanks to a much more calibrated backlight, which allows zones to shine visibly brighter without any leakage into other parts of the frame that need not be as brightly lit. The Z9D is essentially at its best when using 4K HDR content, but standard dynamic range doesn’t suffer too much either. This gives the Samsung SUHD 65KS9000 TV stiff competition in terms of picture performance, and it is arguably the best HDR TV we’ve seen so far.

Moving on to full-HD and 720p content, we noticed that upscaling is considerably better than on the 55X9300D which we reviewed just a few months ago. The X1 Extreme processor ensures that motion handling remains fantastic even with lower resolution content, and the picture is free of grain and artefacts for the most part. The low resolution obviously shows when compared to 4K clips and the full potential of the TV, but this isn’t too bothersome.

The same is the case with standard definition content, and it’s safe to say that picture quality has improved across the board with the Z9D. Despite the large size of the screen, standard definition and 720p content is very watchable. Sound is pretty much the same as that of the X93D range. It’s loud and clear enough, but if you’re investing so much in this TV, then we’d also recommend you put aside some money to pick up a good soundbar or home theatre system. The excellent speaker array from the X94D range would have been a great addition to this TV.

Verdict
The Sony KD65Z9D 4K HDR TV isn’t much different to its equivalent from the 55X9300D range in terms of features, but its price is still considerably higher at Rs. 5,04,900. Sony justifies this with a promise of better picture quality thanks to improved internal components, and this is a promise that the Japanese electronics conglomerate has managed to keep. The KD-65Z9D is among the best TVs we’ve used, giving stiff competition to Samsung’s dominance in the TV market. If you intend to watch a lot of HDR and 4K content, or simply want to be future-ready with your TV, this is arguably the best one of its size that you can buy today.

However, at Rs. 5,04,900, the Sony Z9D is also among the most expensive TVs around. It’s around Rs. 60,000 more expensive than the Samsung 65KS9000 SUHD TV, which offers a similar level of performance, and in our opinion looks better than the Sony. There are compelling reasons to go with Sony, such as the fact that Android TV is an excellent smart TV platform, as well as its fantastic upscaling which we feel is just a hint better than Samsung’s. This TV is worth its price if performance is all-important, and if you do buy the Sony KD-65Z9D, rest assured that you will not feel let down.

Price (MRP): Rs. 5,04,900

Pros

  • Top-shelf performance across content resolutions
  • Excellent upscaling
  • Clean motion handling
  • HDR video looks beautiful
  • Android TV makes for superb smart functionality

Cons

  • Incredibly expensive
  • Sound reproduction could be better

 

Ratings (Out of 5)

  • Design: 4
  • Performance: 5
  • Value for money: 2.5
  • Overall: 4

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