Televisions are the new smartphones. Over the past 24 months or so, as a consumer, you have seen the options hanging from the wall in front of you at the neighborhood electronics store multiply many times over. There was a time when every brand wanted to make phones. Now it seems every brand wants to make TVs. Including some of those who otherwise only really are known for their phones. Anyway, what all this meant was there was tremendous new competition, particularly at the more affordable price points, for the existing big three TV brands—Sony, Samsung and LG. The thing is, if you really are an eagle-eyed viewer and like your movie and sports viewing experience spot on, most of the newbie 4K TVs in the ever expanding TV space just wouldn’t cut it in terms of the overall precision and accuracy. Costs have to be cut at some point, after all. Which leads us to the new Sony Bravia X8000H—does it compromise on the spec sheet and the experience?
Sony Bravia X8000H is available in 43-inch, 49-inch, 55-inch, 65-inch, 75-inch and 85-inch screen size options. These are priced at Rs 72,900 going all the way up to Rs 6,99,900. We are reviewing the 55-inch screen size option here, which is priced at Rs 1,06,900. That in a way, for this specific screen size, also pits it against the 55-inch OnePlus TV Q1 Pro, which is priced at Rs 99,900. Both are Android TVs, 4K resolution, support for HDR standards whereas the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro gets a QLED display panel and an 8-speaker configuration to add to the experience. I have often remarked that the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro has been tuned, particularly for the picture quality, very similar to the brilliance that the Sony Bravia TVs benchmarked over the years. This is going to be a tough pick for you.
Design: A Bit Of The Bravia Brilliance And Then A Slight Shift
The design aspect of the Sony Bravia X8000H is a bit of a mix. For starters, it is a typical Sony look. You spot this in someone’s living room, and without even looking at the Sony branding, you’ll know it is a Sony Bravia TV. Good thing that. There are very thin bezels around the screen and they really do well to stay out of the way when you are watching something on this. Not the thinnest, but a fairly thin TV as well. The TV is made almost entirely of high-quality plastic, which helps in keeping the weight down. But at no point does it really interfere with the overall experience, because unlike a phone, you won’t be touching, holding or caressing your TV every day.
That being said, I’m not exactly a fan of the new design language, that is if you are using this TV with the table-top stand. This is something I have pointed out with the swarm of more affordable TVs that have flooded the market—the table stand design that is almost as wide as the TV will not work for a lot of users. Sony used to make brilliant table-top stands that integrated down the middle and didn’t require a table as wide as the TV itself, which makes this departure a bit more perplexing. secondly, unlike let us say the new OnePlus TV U series which has designed the table stand in such a way that you are able to push the TV all the way back to the wall, the design of the Sony Bravia X8000H’s stand leaves a lot of gap between your TV and the wall. So much so, I could fit a Google Home smart speaker there and there was still a gap wide enough to slide a few magazines in.
The positive side of this stand design is that it leaves enough ground clearance below the TV for you to slide in a soundbar and it wouldn’t get in the way of the screen itself. Secondly, the stand is designed in such a way that you don’t have to tighten any screws on the TV itself—you simply attach the stand to its mount and slide that into the fixed slot on the TV. I haven’t seen the wall mounting system for this TV.
Finally, the cable management system doesn’t utilize the feet of the stand to thread the power and HDMI cables through it, and instead has two hooks that bind the cables together—at some point, those wires will show up behind or beneath your TV, even if for a short enough length.
My perception about the table stand design aside, it has to be said that the Sony Bravia X8000H looks very refined. The screen and the bezel blend seamlessly when the TV is switched off exhibiting a premium look. There are no shouty or unnecessarily blingy elements on it, much like how Sony leans towards the side of sophistication with their TVs. If you have a table wide enough for this TV to be kept on, even the table stand design shouldn’t be a worry for you then.
Picture: You Probably Will Not Mind That It Isn’t A QLED
As far as the extensive picture quality tech that Sony bolts on to Bravia TVs, particularly the 4K HDR ones is concerned, the Bravia X8000H has it covered. At least for the most part. You’ll get the Sony X1 4K HDR image processor working behind the scenes to improve detailing as well as constantly calculate the contrast and colors. In fact, it is so precise that it looks at even the tiniest of objects in a frame and then treats them accordingly. Then there is the 4K Reality Pro Engine, which boosts resolution for lower resolution content to better match the 4K resolution panel—upscaling doesn’t get much more accurate than this. And this is also a Triluminos display, which specifically looks at every image on the screen to reproduce colors that are accurate, natural and most certainly better than TVs without this tech. Last but not least, and this is in line with what you’d expect from a TV range that costs as much, the Sony Bravia X80H also supports Dolby Vision and HDR 10 standards. This is just great, since Netflix in particular now has a lot of Dolby Vision content available.
That being said, you do miss out on fancy display tech. Ideally, with the gamut of image processing tech that is already in play, you wouldn’t feel like you are missing out on anything. But still, if it is more about playing up the spec sheet for you, the Sony Bravia X8000H has an LED panel, and not a QLED display. That also means blacks aren’t exactly the deepest at the default setting, though Sony does give you the Black Level setting slider in the Picture menu to tune it to your preference. There is no local dimming either and instead the frame dimming does the job.
This is a fairly bright screen from the outset and doesn’t let reflections get in the way—this has a semi matte finish which diffuses some reflections, such as a light fixture somewhere behind you. That’s good for brightly lit rooms or daytime TV viewing. The advantage of this panel is that you also get good viewing angles, without colour shift or loss of detailing in case you are looking at this from a side. There are detailed picture settings that really get you to exactly how you will like the TV to look for non-HDR and HDR content. That has always been the strong point of Sony Bravia TVs and that remains very much consistent all through.
Standard definition as well as 720p content looks not only more than acceptable on the Sony Bravia X8000H, but the image processing does enough to hide away the artefacts and disturbances without compromising the sharpness. It is with the 1080p content that the Bravia X8000H starts to show what it is really capable of, with great upscaling and excellent sharpness. And when you are watching something that is originally in 4K is when you realize why you spent so much money on the Sony Bravia X8000H. Fast moving visuals are absolutely brilliantly handled with no screen tearing or ghosting—and you have the MotionFlow as well as CineMotion settings to work out exactly how smooth you want this to be. A lot of people don’t like the opera effect in TV shows, and this flexibility should work well for them.
Sound: The New Speaker Makes Things Better
It has been a standard complaint with most TVs that the audio experience is just not up to the mark. The OnePlus TV Q1 series bucked that trend, and in most ways, the Sony Bravia X8000H does too. For this, they have designed a new speaker system (you cannot see it because it is hidden inside the TV) which is neither an oval shaped speaker that a lot of TVs cram in, and nor is it a small round speaker that some other TVs have. The result, for most of the content that you will watch, is very balanced sound. Dialogue, details and how loud it can get, all ticked off beautifully. It even has some amount of bass too, something that is missing in most TVs and that really takes away a huge chunk from the TV viewing experience.
That being said, you’ll probably find the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro has a bit more bass to go with what you are watching, purely because of the detailed array of audio hardware that it packs along.
Remote: Could We Go The Minimal Route Please?
A remote is your perpetual interface with the TV, and it really cannot be less than top notch. Sony has designed this well enough and the keys, even though there are quite a few, still fall to the range of the fingers easier than you would imagine. You’ll get used to his layout also rather quickly. But it not the torchbearer for minimalism as OnePlus TV remotes have proved for some time now, but well, the Sony Bravia X8000H remote feels good, has a nice brushed look and the key press reminds you of the premium experience for a premium TV.
The Last Word: It Is Too Close To Call Against The OnePlus TV Q1 Pro
The Sony Bravia X8000H is undoubtedly offering a premium TV viewing experience. It has everything that you’d expect from the experience standpoint—4K panel with support for all the HDR standards, slick Android TV, lots of picture tuning tech working in the background and sound that doesn’t make you crave for a soundbar. Yet, it is hard to ignore that this is a display panel that isn’t a QLED, which is a superior display tech without doubt. Yet in a way, it doesn’t seem to matter as far as enjoying a spot of Netflix and some Formula 1 action was concerned. My advice would be, look beyond the spec sheet. In the real world, the Sony Bravia X8000H and the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro are very closely matched. I am just glad I don’t have to pick between these two. Having a poorly bank account does save me the trouble!