Sony's X900C 4K tv isn't good, however it makes a superb case for Android TV
We’re already dwelling sooner or later. Nearly each equipment within the trendy house has turn into smarter because of ubiquitous web connectivity, and the identical goes for televisions as nicely. What used to easily be a monitor has shortly morphed into an all-in-one leisure system. Heck, even having direct entry to your whole on-line content material assortment and streaming providers with out a lot as a set-prime field is turning into commonplace fare. However does a TV that is as sensible as my cellphone actually make for a greater viewing expertise? To seek out out, I spent a month consuming my content material on the Sony X900C, a ridiculously skinny $2,four hundred (MSRP) flat panel 4K LCD TV, and one of many first powered by the Android TV working system.
Once I say “ridiculously skinny,” I imply it. The X900C is barely 1.5 inches at its thickest level and simply zero.2 inches at its thinnest. Even with the tabletop stand, the fifty five-inch model that I reviewed weighs lower than forty kilos, making it mild sufficient to arrange on my own. (The sixty five- and seventy five-inch variations are available at fifty one and seventy four kilos, respectively.) Putting in the stand is simple as nicely: Simply slap the pre-assembled ft onto the rear of the set and tighten on a pair of screws for both sides. In all, I spent extra time making an attempt to suit all the froth packing bits again into the field than I did assembling the set.
Since having a Sensible TV today is about as revolutionary because the X900C’s passive 3D system, I am going to focus totally on the set’s OS, which is predicated on final yr’s model of Android, also called Lollipop. The preliminary setup was fairly easy. I simply signed on to my house Wi-Fi community, enter my Google credentials and growth: I had entry to all of my present Google Play Film and Music libraries. Logging into Hulu, Netflix, HBO Go and different streaming providers was a little bit of a ache utilizing the distant, although if in case you have a Bluetooth keyboard, you possibly can simply pair it with the TV and use that as an alternative of pecking your method by way of an onscreen board.
In case you are already heavy into the Google ecosystem like I’m — with an present Play account and absolutely populated Film and Music libraries — this set makes all types of sense. Merely logging onto your present Google account grants you entry to all of those providers via the TV. Plus, since it is a Sony, customers also can pair the set with their Ps Community and entry their PS3/four content material instantly by means of the TV. If, nevertheless, you are huge on iTunes and have already got a majority of your streamable content material over there, this set will not do an entire heck of rather a lot for you — greatest to stay with Apple TV.
Android is sort of new to the TV scene. It debuted on the tail finish of 2014 as a part of the Google Nexus Participant however Google has since inked offers with Sony, Philips and Sharp to incorporate them on quite a lot of tv fashions, and it is also teamed with Razer and NVIDIA for gaming-centric set prime bins. Philips particularly gives Android TV in eighty % of its 2015 tv fashions — every part from the 5500 collection (which retails for about $1,one hundred) as much as the flagship 9600 collection (which launches later this month). Sadly for our American readers, although, they’re solely obtainable in Europe.
Android TV consumer interface is fairly simple, with suggestions populating the highest third of the display, apps dwelling within the center part and video games rounding out the underside. Really helpful content material comes from everywhere in the Google Play ecosystem — music from my library, new releases on Play Films, topical YouTube cat movies all mechanically seem each time I activate the set.
The apps part within the middle is strictly what it seems like. You could have the choice to make use of any of the preinstalled streaming apps or add further ones from the Play Retailer. I did not have a lot want so as to add additional purposes since something I could not set up instantly — say, Crunchyroll — I might simply as simply Forged instantly from my cellular system to the TV. I did not even want a Chromecast (apart from the occasions that it did not work — extra on that under).
The sport part provides a bunch of the identical well-liked video games I already play on my telephone. Whereas I might very simply mirror my pill’s display to the TV to play Conflict of Clans at fifty five inches, I might simply as simply set up it immediately on the set and use an Android controller. Some video games, just like the shameless Frogger ripoff, Crossy Street, do not even want that. They will leverage the normal distant’s directional buttons to command your hen by way of its perilous journey. Better of all, because you’re already signed into your Google Play account on the TV, any developments/achievements you earn on the TV will sync with the cellular copies.
Since this TV runs like an Android gadget, voice recognition is deeply built-in and works properly. The sensible distant is moderately finicky in relation to navigating menus, so with the ability to push a single button, say “Open Netflix” and be immediately delivered to its residence display is especially useful. However voice search is excess of simply a simple method to launch apps. You possibly can ask it to advocate content material starring particular actors, produced by sure administrators and even films that have been nominated for an Oscar in 1996.
The Android TV OS carried out admirably however wasn’t with out its hiccups. For one, casting content material from my second-gen Nexus 7 on to the set was successful-or-miss expertise. Netflix and Hulu content material performed and not using a hitch however for apps that did not come pre-put in on the set, like Crunchyroll, playback would typically fail to start out or randomly skip forward. I might have to modify over to a separate enter channel to make use of a bodily Chromecast, which completely defeats the purpose.
There was additionally one time when the TV, utilizing the onboard Netflix and Hulu apps, would routinely flip off the video (however not audio) of any content material I attempted to stream. Like, I might have the ability to navigate the apps’ UIs right down to the purpose the place I truly hit play, then the display would go black. The issue sorted itself simply sufficient once I unplugged the set, counted to 10 and plugged it again in, however not earlier than an excellent 20 minutes of self-flagellation for seemingly breaking an costly tv that did not belong to me. And do not get me mistaken, I am turn out to be accustomed to my Nexus 6 and Nexus 7 borking themselves, requiring onerous reboots. However having my TV do it launched all types of latest stress.
Me after realizing I might repair the “sure audio, no video” difficulty just by unplugging the set.
Generally, the X900C is a succesful 4K tv. The set options 4 HDMI ports (one with MHL help), an Ethernet jack, three USB sockets and an analog tuner in addition to numerous element hookups and specialty outputs. Moreover, it helps Display Mirroring and Wi-Fi Direct. The X900C additionally comes with two remotes: a standard mutli-button wand and a sensible distant with gesture and voice recognition. You may also obtain the Sony Sideview app in your iOS and Android units, although provided that it is little greater than a TV Information in your telephone, I would not advocate it.
The X900C’s audio output is fairly respectable with its quartet of seven.5W drivers. They’re sufficient to be heard over my neighbor’s absurd have to run his desk noticed 15 ft from my window however will not be rattling unfastened your fillings with overwhelming bass any time quickly. The picture high quality is fairly good. It is an edge-lit IPS show so the black ranges and distinction ratio (the distinction between the brightest white part and darkest black part) aren’t nice, particularly once you’re watching a film in a totally darkened room. The set provides a 178-diploma viewing angle, although with the subpar black ranges, you are going to need to sit as near entrance lifeless middle as humanly attainable for one of the best impact.
For normal TV, sports activities protection and video video games, nevertheless, the X900C is greater than succesful — particularly once you activate the MotionFlow, which all however eliminates judders with out creating that bizarre “Cleaning soap Opera” impact. The X900C additionally does passive 3D, although I solely point out it within the off-probability that at the least one in every of you continue to provides half a shit about that gimmick function. The set additionally handles 4K content material with aplomb, assuming you’ve got both received entry to a stash of 4K Blu-Ray content material or a fantabulous Wi-Fi connection as a result of I truthfully could not inform the distinction whereas streaming over my shoddy wi-fi hookup.
The X900C has an MSRP of $2,four hundred, which is expensive for a fifty five-inch set, although you’ll be able to simply discover one for $1200 – $1800 on-line. That is considerably greater than what you’d pay for an entry-degree 4K set down at your native huge field retailer. Positive, $1,800 roughly equal to the road worth of LG’s curved 4K set however you then’re sacrificing the Android and PSN capabilities for a greater image. Nonetheless, until you are on the lookout for a hardcore reference mannequin (just like the Vizio R-Collection) or one thing which you could set up in your devoted house theater, the X900C is a strong, future-proofed set — particularly for those who already use Android in your cellular units. And in case you personal a PlayStation, this set must be a lock.