The HX750 Series sits in the middle of Sony’s 2012 LCD line, below the HX850 and HX950 Series. The HX750 is available in a 46- and 55-inch version; we reviewed the 55-inch KDL-55HX750, but the information also applies to the 46-inch model. The KDL-55HX750 uses edge LED lighting with Sony’s Dynamic Edge LED frame-dimming technology, it incorporates Sony’s X-Reality Engine, and it features Motionflow XR 480 technology to reduce blur and film judder. In comparison, the step-up HX850 Series uses the X-Reality Pro engine, Motionflow XR 960, and a more precise form of local dimming, while the top-shelf HX950 sports a full-array LED backlight with local dimming. The KDL-55HX750 is an active 3DTV, and Sony does not include any 3D glasses in the package.
The KDL-55HX750 features built-in WiFi, DLNA media streaming, and the Sony Entertainment Network, which includes access to Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, Pandora, YouTube, Skype, and more. The KDL-55HX750 has an MSRP of $2,099.99.
Setup & Features
The KDL-55HX750 lacks the stylish single-pane design, Corning Gorilla Glass, and OptiContrast Panel that you get in HX850 Series. Instead, you get a more straightforward but still attractive design with a gloss-black frame and about one inch of bezel around the top and sides. The edge lighting allows for a depth of 1.9 inches at its thinnest (2.4 inches at its thickest) and a weight of 42.3 pounds without the stand. Its size and weight are larger than those of the 55-inch Samsung UN55ES8000 and LG 55LM6700 models. Unlike those TVs, this model’s screen has a more matte-like quality with less reflectivity. The package comes with a basic Sony IR remote that lacks backlighting and puts a lot of black buttons against a black background. Sony also offers an iOS/Android control app called Media Remote that includes slider control, a cursor, a virtual keyboard, and the ability to flick Web content from your smartphone to the TV (and vice versa).
The KDL-55HX750’s connection panel includes four HDMI inputs (two down-facing and two side-facing), one component video mini-jack that requires the use of a supplied breakout cable, one PC input, and a single RF input to access the internal ATSC and Clear-QAM tuners. Dual side-facing USB ports support media playback, as well as the addition of USB peripherals like a camera. The back panel sports an Ethernet port for a wired network connection, or you can connect via the built-in WiFi. The KDL-55HX750 also offers WiFi Direct, so compatible mobile devices can communicate directly with the TV without going through a wireless router. The TV lacks RS-232 and/or IR ports for easy integration into an advanced control system.
Sony doesn’t offer quite as many advanced picture adjustments as some of its competitors, but most of the important ones are here, including: manual and automatic (via the Eco setup menu) backlight adjustment, RGB bias and gain controls to fine-tune white balance; noise reduction; a seven-step gamma control; and an Auto Light Limiter that can reduce light output in bright scenes to cut down on eye strain. It lacks the more precise 2-point white balance adjustment and independent color management that you can find in similarly priced models from Samsung and LG. This TV has a true 240Hz refresh rate and adds backlight scanning to achieve the “XR 480” effect. As with last year’s Motionflow menu, you can choose between Off, Standard, Smooth, Clear, and Clear Plus modes; this year, Sony has also added an Impulse mode that, from what I’ve read, repeats the same frame four times (for 60Hz content) but only turns on the backlight for the fourth frame. The Clear and Clear Plus modes also repeat frames to reduce blur, while the Standard and Smooth modes use frame interpolation to reduce blur and film judder, which will alter the character of film motion in the process.
In the 3D realm, the KDL-55HX750 uses active 3D technology, which means it alternately flashes a full-resolution left-eye and right-eye image. The 3D setup menu includes the ability to adjust the depth of the 3D image in five steps and to adjust the brightness of the 3D glasses (with Auto, Low, Medium, and High options). You can also enable “Simulated 3D” for 2D-to-3D conversion, with Low, Medium, and High options. An independent set of picture modes and adjustments are available for 3D content, but several controls can’t be adjusted in 3D mode: You can’t adjust backlight level (it’s locked at maximum), you can’t enable the Auto Light Limiter, and you can’t select the Impulse/Clear/Clear Plus Motionflow modes.
In the audio department, the Sound Adjustment menu includes four sound modes: Standard, Dynamic, Clear Voice, and Custom. In each mode, you can adjust treble, bass, balance, and a seven-band equalizer. The KDL-55HX750 also has generic surround and sound enhancer modes, plus S-Force Front Surround 3D. Advanced Auto Volume provides volume leveling between programs, while Volume Offset allows you to adjust the level of the current input relative to other inputs. The TV lacks big-name audio processing from a company like Dolby or SRS. The TV’s audio quality is average; it gets the job done but is expectedly thin.
Sony has done away with the “Bravia Internet Video” tag that it previously used for its Web platform. Instead, the company has put everything under the banner “Sony Entertainment Network” (or SEN, for short). At the heart of SEN are Sony’s own Video Unlimited and Music Unlimited services, but you also get apps like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube, Hulu Plus, Facebook, Twitter, and Pandora. For the complete rundown on everything that SEN 2012 has to offer, check out my separate review.
The HX750 and step-up HX850 Series use Sony’s Dynamic Edge LED technology, which divides the screen into regions that can be dimmed independently. The HX850 Series has true local dimming, in which the LEDs in each region are adjusted independently based on picture content and can turn themselves off when the picture is black. The HX750 Series has frame dimming, which doesn’t include as many zones, is less precise in its control, and does not completely turn off the LEDs in all-black scenes. While I have not personally reviewed the HX850, I’ve read elsewhere that its black level is quite good. On the other hand, the KDL-55HX750 does not produce the deeper blacks I’ve seen from the better local-dimming models I’ve tested. Even at the TV’s minimum backlight setting, the black level is closer to dark gray than true black. When comparing the Sony’s black level with that of my reference Panasonic ST50 plasma, darker film scenes tended to look a little flat and washed out in a dark room, although the overall picture contrast was still respectable. On the plus side, the KDL-55HX750 does a solid job reproducing fine black details, and I did not notice any unnatural brightness fluctuations.
Read more about the performance of the KDL-55HX750 LED HDTV on Page 2.
The KDL-55HX750 has better screen uniformity than the three other edge-lit LEDs I’ve reviewed this year (the Samsung UN55ES8000, LG 55LM6700, and Panasonic TC-L47DT50). The lack of screen uniformity is a common problem with edge-lit LEDs, and it causes certain areas of the screen to look brighter than others (lots of people describe the effect by saying the screen looks “cloudy”). The KDL-55HX750’s screen uniformity is by no means perfect and certainly wasn’t as good as the Panasonic plasma; I could see a little bit of light in each of the four corners, especially when the backlight was turned up high. However, this TV didn’t have as many blatant patches of light. I find the lack of screen uniformity to be a huge distraction when trying to watch darker scenes in a dark room, so the Sony’s better performance in this regard was a plus for me.
The KDL-55HX750 has very good light output and can produce a bright, saturated picture for a mid to bright room. HDTV shows and sports content looked rich and eye-catching. Sony has struck a good balance with the screen’s level of reflectivity. Many high-end LCDs now use reflective screens that reject ambient light to help blacks look darker and improve contrast in a bright room. The Sony’s screen has some reflective qualities, so the black level and contrast are good in a bright room–although not as good as those of the Samsung UN55ES8000. At the same time, the screen retains a matte-like quality that diffuses the reflections to make them a bit less distracting on the screen.
The Sony’s color temperature and color points appear close to reference standards. I felt that reds veered just a little toward orange; beyond that, colors looked natural and accurate. In the Warm2 mode, the color temperature looks to be close to the 6500K standard, maybe a tad on the warm side, across the board. Whereas the color balance of my reference Panasonic plasma emphasizes green, the Sony’s color balance has more red, so the two images have a very different quality out of the box. The KDL-55HX750’s skintones have a wonderfully neutral, natural quality that leans toward yellow and keeps red to a minimum.
The KDL-55HX750 did not exhibit any major problems in the processing realm. It produces a detailed HD image, although perhaps not as razor sharp as some of its competitors. Upconverted 480i content had a good level of detail, and the TV passed my standard arsenal of processing tests from the HQV test discs and real-world scenes from Gladiator, The Bourne Identity, and Mission Impossible 3. In regards to Motionflow, when the control was turned off, the TV showed significant blur in test patterns. The new Impulse mode produced the clearest, sharpest image I’ve seen in the motion-resolution test on the FPD Benchmark Blu-ray disc; however, this mode significantly dims the image and produces a subtle pulsing/flickering effect that I think would grow fatiguing. The Clear and Clear Plus modes also offer excellent motion resolution, and I personally feel that the Clear mode strikes the best balance between image brightness and blur reduction–without adding the artificially smooth motion you get from the Standard/Smooth modes. The KDL-55HX750 also serves up a clean image, with very little digital noise. In this respect, it performed better than the Panasonic ST50 plasma. Light-to-dark transitions were smoother and more even, and solid-colored backgrounds had less noise.
The Sony proved to be a good performer in the 3D realm. The level of depth and detail in 3D images was excellent, and I did not see any significant instances of crosstalk. The TV’s strong light output helps the 3D picture retain a good level of brightness, despite the active-shutter glasses. I was more aware of flicker in brighter scenes with this TV than with other active 3DTVs I’ve tested.
As I suggested above, the Sony’s main issue in the performance department is its mediocre black level, so it may not be the best choice if you’re shopping for a TV that you will use primarily to watch movies in a darker viewing environment. The black level isn’t terrible (it’s better than that of the Panasonic TC-L47DT50 LCD I recently reviewed), but it doesn’t measure up (or perhaps “measure down” is more appropriate) to the better models I’ve tested this year, such as the Samsung UN55ES8000 LCD and Panasonic TC-P55ST50 plasma. In direct comparison with the plasma, the Sony couldn’t produce as rich and saturated an image with darker film content. While the Samsung LCD was capable of producing a deeper black, its screen-uniformity issues were more noticeable than the Sony’s.
As is common with LCDs, the KDL-55HX750’s viewing angle is average. Brighter HDTV and sports content holds up okay at wider angles, but the black level grows even lighter when you move off-axis, which further degrades dark-room performance.
Sony does not include any pairs of active 3D glasses in the package. The company’s least expensive glasses (TDGBR250/B) are currently sold for about $50; so, buying enough glasses for a family of four will add $200 to the total price of ownership for the KDL-55HX750.
Competition and Comparison
Compare the Sony KDL-55HX750 to its competition by reading our reviews of the LG 55LM6700, Samsung UN55ES8000, Panasonic TC-P55ST50, and Panasonic TC-L47DT5. You can get more information about all of the 3D-capable TVs we’ve reviewed here.
Never underestimate the value of consistency when it comes to TV performance, and that’s exactly what the Sony KDL-55HX750 offers–consistently solid performance for both dark and bright viewing environments. Sure, its black level could be better, but the combination of good overall contrast and better-than-average screen uniformity (at least compared with the other new edge-lit LEDs I’ve tested) still provides decent performance for movie-watching in a darker room. Meanwhile, its good light output and less-reflective screen help it to perform well in a brighter setting, too. That versatility makes it a solid choice for a more casual viewing environment. Those who are seeking a theater-worthy black-level performance might want to check out the HX850 or HX950 instead; however, the KDL-55HX850 costs about $400 more, and the XBR-55HX950 carries an MSRP of $4,500! In terms of features, Sony delivers the marquee items that most people want in a smart TV – Web services, built-in WiFi, iOS/Android control, and DLNA media streaming – without adding peripherals like voice/motion control that also add to the bottom line.