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Lifewire / Zach Sweat
Decent price-to-size ratio
Clean minimal design
Solid picture and audio in one package
Lackluster black performance
Poor side angle viewing
Subpar contrast ratio
For the price, the massive Sony XBR65X850F 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV is a decent option if you’re in the market for an LED TV, but the picture quality isn’t close to best-in-class.
Though Sony panels are sometimes on the expensive end of the spectrum, there are some older Sony 4K TVs that can be had for a nice little discount. One such TV is Sony’s XBR65X850F from their X850F series. This specific model has now been replaced by the X850G, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily need to go with the most current model. In fact, snagging one of these earlier generation sets can save you some cash without forcing you to compromise too much.
Let’s start from the bottom with the legs and work our way up the screen. The legs on this Sony are pretty common for TVs these days, with two V-shaped feet that stick out to either side. While they look aluminum, these are actually plastic too, with merely an aluminum finish. They are decently steady, but we noticed a bit of wobble if you move the TV around. It should be plenty sturdy for most, though you will need a fairly wide stand for them to rest on since they stick out so far. There’s also no room for adjusting the unit up or down, but they’re tall enough to fit a soundbar underneath if you want. They also flip open on the top if you want to use them for some clever cable management.
Moving up to the back of the device, the panel on the rear is entirely black plastic. It’s pretty basic, but you also won’t be staring at the back of your TV a whole lot either. Over on the left you’ll find the power cable all by its lonesome, with the rest of the inputs and ports on the right. These are split between a hub facing the right side of the unit, and another cluster that stick straight out the back. This might be annoying if you want to get the TV super close to a wall, but the main ports most people will be using are found on the right side anyway.
If you really hate the stand you’re in luck, because also found on the back here is a VESA compatible mount for placing the TV on a wall. The XBR65X850F uses a VESA 300x300 mount, so make sure you get the right size.
On the front of the screen, the bezels are a little thicker than some of the 4K TVs we’ve reviewed, but they’re pretty thin and shouldn’t distract.
Sadly, it seems like a lot of manufacturers are minimizing controls on the TVs themselves, including Sony. Sony’s opted to use the same three-button layout found on all their current units, which work fine in a pinch, but are annoying as heck if you actually need to use them for anything other than powering the TV on or off.
The included remote is pretty standard for all Sony TVs, which means it’s big and packed with functionality. You can quickly set favorites with the hotkeys, access settings, change inputs, perform basic functions, and even manually enter channel numbers. We quite prefer this type of remote to something like a minimal Apple TV remote with only a sliver of the features. You’ve also got quick access to Google Assistant right on the remote to perform some basic functions.
On the front of the screen, the bezels are a little thicker than some of the 4K TVs we’ve reviewed, but they’re pretty thin and shouldn’t distract. There’s your standard anti-glare coating found on the screen here too.
Setting up pretty much any modern-day smart TV is an easy process, so just stick to the on-screen instructions and you’ll be golden. Go ahead and unpack it all, tear off that plastic film, plug in the power cable, and turn on the device.
Sony has done a solid job here of making the setup process simple, or maybe we should be thanking Google for that, as this is an Android TV. All you need to do is follow along with the on-screen instructions and complete them as necessary. Using the remote, you’ll be prompted to choose a language, location, internet connection, sign into accounts, etc. Just stick to the guide.
With the initial process done, you will likely need to run a quick update check. This should automatically pop up, but check under the settings tab if it doesn’t. An update to the firmware should improve things considerably, especially if you need to upgrade to the latest version of Android TV. Updating takes a bit of time to do, so maybe go watch some TV while…oh right. Well, whatever you do during this process, just remember not to unplug the power while it’s running through updates.
This section is perhaps the most important for a TV, and while the XBR65X850F performs pretty well in some aspects here, it also has a few weak points.
Starting off with some of this unit’s strengths, this particular series uses an IPS panel for the screen, which means you’re going to get vibrant colors, a nice backlight for viewing in bright rooms, and excellent viewing angles. This all adds up to a superb experience if you’ve got a big living room that’s brightly lit by windows, where viewers might not be able to sit completely centered.
However, IPS panels are notoriously bad for black uniformity and backlight bleed, which can cause clouding around the edges. We found this to be the case on our XBR65X850F, and while not unusable, it’s probably not the best option for viewing in dark environments because of this. The TV does have solid gray uniformity however, with no dirty screen effect. This is a huge boon if you’re a big sports fan.
Contrast is a bit disappointing. With a native contrast ratio of 894:1, the X850F series performs poorly in dark scenes, even worse when watching in a dark room.
HDR is an area where the XBR65X850F gets decent marks, but isn't implemented quite as well as on as newer Sony TVs with brighter screens. The HDR palette here is just average, and while most people should find it adequate, it's far from best in class.
For color calibration, it’s not great right out of the box, but this can be adjusted considerably if you’re willing to spend some time tweaking the settings. The best thing to do is to look up a calibration guide online for your specific model. We always recommend this to maximize your viewing experience. Color gamut is slightly above average in this series as well, so while some super saturated scenes might not be perfect, they're pretty close.
Lastly, let’s take a look at motion blur and response times for the XBR65X850F. This particular Sony does very well in this area thanks to the 120Hz refresh rate. While watching some fast-paced action scenes and playing games in 4K, we didn't notice any real ghosting or stutters. This means your content should be nice and buttery smooth. However, there isn’t an option for variable refresh tech like FreeSync here, so the TV won’t be the best for gaming (though it is perfectly fine for this, bolstered by that high refresh rate). Response time here is another strength, as the XBR65X850F is very fast in this department.
Built-in speakers are never going to be great, but they’re nice to have if you’re lacking an external sound system like a soundbar. While we’d recommend getting an external setup for the best experience, let’s take a quick look at what the XBR65X850F has to offer with the included setup.
Right off the bat, this TV can get quite loud and you shouldn’t run into any volume issues. That being said, the overall experience is mediocre at best. The louder you turn it up, the more distortion is added. These speakers should suffice in quiet environments if you’re primarily looking for nice clear dialogue with treble and mid, but the bass is not so good.
Android TV has come a long way since its debut, but not all TVs are getting timely updates, and these lower-end Sony TVs are notoriously slow for this. While some TVs are already running Android TV 9.0, many are stuck with older versions.
The overall experience with our XBR65X850F wasn’t awful, but it’s far from perfect. For starters, the UI is pretty hectic, with lots of content being shoved in your face. Thankfully this variant is ad-free, so no worries there (unlike Roku).
Despite the somewhat crowded interface, you do have an amazing amount of apps, games and other content since this is connected to the Google Play Store. This is perhaps the biggest strength of the software, as well as the interconnectivity with your Google account. You’ve also got handy access to Google Assistant. The assistant can provide you with info on the fly or even perform some basic functions. It isn’t something you’ll use all the time, but it works very well and is nice to have included.
This series uses an IPS panel for the screen, which means you’re going to get vibrant colors, a nice backlight for viewing in bright rooms, and excellent viewing angles.
Browsing through the interface, we did find it to be a bit laggy and choppy at times, which can be quite frustrating. Hopefully, this can be fixed down the line when new versions of Android TV make their way to the device.
One last thing, your phone can also be used as a remote if you so choose. All you need to do is download the app and connect it to the TV. This works with both Android and iOS devices (thanks Google). While it’s not a good as the regular remote, it works fine enough if you’re too lazy to get up and find the standard remote.
The X850F series come in a range of sizes, from 65 to 85 inches, so the prices can vary considerably depending on which one you go with. Any TV in this size range is going to cost a good bit of coin, no matter the manufacturer, but Sony isn’t too bad here.
On Sony’s website, the 65-inch model we tested here is listed at $1,300, the 75 at $2,300, and the 85 at a whopping $4,000. Now these prices aren’t exactly accurate, especially since these are an older series. Typically you can find the 65-inch for about $1,100 or so. The other models are also heavily discounted depending on where you look, so definitely shop around. It’s likely that you can snag them for even less during sales.
But how do these prices stack up against comparable TVs from competitors like LG or Samsung? Taking a quick look around online, you can easily save a few hundred dollars by going with a comparable LG TV, while Samsung was pretty closely matched with Sony. In the end, the price for the X850F series isn’t the best bang for your buck, but it ain’t bad either.
Now there are a ton of comparable 4K TVs out there stacked up against the Sony XBR65X850F, but Samsung is a similarly reputable brand, so let’s compare their UN65RU8000 (view on Amazon).
Alright, so each of these are 65-inch 4K TVs with similar specs, but the biggest difference is that the Sony is IPS, and the Samsung VA. What this boils down to (in a basic explanation) is that the Samsung will be a much better option for dark environments, while the Sony will excel in bright rooms. The Sony will also be a better choice if your viewing arrangement is wide and off-center.
If you’re a gamer, however, the Samsung will really shine. This is due to the inclusion of FreeSync, which allows for variable refresh rates and more consistent FPS without tearing or artifacting. In addition, it also performs better in terms of input lag and response time. The UN65RU8000 also has better blacks and a higher contrast ratio.
The prices are pretty close here, with a slight edge going to Samsung, but that may change depending on where you shop. We’d recommend the Samsung hands down for anyone looking to game on their TV, but the Sony for those with wide, spread out, bright rooms.
Still undecided? Check out our guide to the best Sony TVs.
A solid IPS panel 4K TV.
The X850F series is far from perfect, but the Sony XBR65X850F 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV and its family are more than capable of providing a pleasurable viewing experience for most people. Despite this, there are probably better options out there that can be had for even less.