Sony KDL-55HX800 LED 3D TV Review

The Sony KDL-55HX800 is a 55 inch, 1080p, edge lit LED 3D ready TV that is part of Sony’s Bravia HX800 series of 3D televisions. This is the largest 3D TV in the HX800 Series that Sony has currently announced.  The HX800 is the consumer range 3D TV offering from Sony in 2010. Featuring Sony’s Deep Black Panel display technology, 3D in full HD, Dynamic Edge LED backlighting and Sony’s advanced BRAVIA Engine 3 video processing technology, the KDL55HX800 is a very attractive option for consumers looking to buy an LED 3D TV that offers good value for money.

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Highlights of the Sony BRAVIA KDL-55HX800 Review


  • Excellent black levels, and great backlight uniformity for an edge lit LED TV.
  • Great 3D performance with minimal crosstalk and ghosting unlike some of the Samsung 3D LED TVs.
  • 3D Glasses sync well with the TV minimizing any flickering
  • Motionflow PRO technology is quite well developed and does a good job with fast-motion videos without introducing much in the way of artifacts.
  • Excellent suite of internet apps and widgets. Best amongst all the manufacturers in 2010 so far


  • Its reflective, glossy, surface may sometimes reflect some direct sunlight. While the anti-glare Deep Panel Black technology does a great job, it still can’t completely mitigate on-screen glare in brightly lit environments.
  • Viewing angle is a bit tight. After around 15 degrees on each side, visible drop in contrast.
  • Integrated speakers sound a bit tinny.
  • Measuring at about 3 inches, this Sony 3D TV isn’t as slim as some of the other 3D TVs in this class.
  • 3D Transmitter, and Glasses not included so you will need to purchase them separately

KDL55HX800 Design and Picture Quality


While the Sony KDL-55HX800 isn’t the most attractive/elegant looking TV compared to some of the higher end “designer” televisions being sold by Sony, Samsung and other manufacturers, it isn’t an eye-sore either and looks fairly attractive on the whole. It features a high gloss, plastic and moderately slim bezel.  The screen itself measures approximately 3 inches in thickness (2 7/8” to be precise) making it quite slim in profile and very suitable for mounting on walls if that is what you desire. It should be noted that Samsung sells much slimmer 3D TVs in the C7000, C8000 and C9000 range of televisions, but dimensions aren’t the only important factor when judging a television. All-in-all the TV looks fairly attractive for its price point but lacks the “Oomf!” factor that some might want out of their next television purchase. However, what it may lack in looks, it does make up with performance at its price-point.

KDL-55HX800 Picture Quality

Flatpanel Resolution

The Sony KDL-55HX800 features a 1080p full HD screen capable of delivering 3D high-definition content in all its 1080p glory. It’s a great panel for gaming as well (more on that later). This panel also features Sony’s Deep Black Panel technology which essentially consists of special optical coatings on the glass in front of the LED panel that enhances contrast and black levels while also reducing glare. It should be noted that the 55HX800 has a glossy screen so it is susceptible to some extent to external reflections and glare depending on the ambient lighting. While glossy screens can never match the level of glare reduction that matte screens can provide, they do have the added advantage of much better image contrast making things “pop”. Another plus for the 55HX800 is that the Deep Black Panel coating actually works reasonably well.  Unless you are extremely sensitive to glare or view your TV in a very bright room without being able to control the ambient lighting in any way, the 55HX800 should perform well in your living room.

Colour Accuracy

The Sony KDL-55HX800 exhibits quite impressive color accuracy for being a consumer-range 3D TV offering from Sony.  We would certainly recommend having your TV calibrated or at least finding some suggested calibration settings (we will try to post them soon) for this TV.

One thing to take note of is that the 55HX800 has an Ambient sensor that tries to adjust the color and backlighting of the television based on the ambient light conditions. While this is an interesting idea (and certainly not novel at this point), it works against you more often than not and we would highly recommend that you turn this feature off so that you don’t have to deal with sudden variations in color and/or backlight brightness while you are watching TV.

One very interesting aspect of this 3D TV is that the Sony active shutter 3D glasses actually have a mild amber tint. It doesn’t take someone to be Sherlock Holmes to wonder if wearing the glasses would compromise the color accuracy and your 3D viewing experience when wearing the Sony 3D glasses. Fortunately for us, the clever engineers at Sony have worked around this by automatically shifting the amount of blue in the image being displayed when the 55HX800 is set to any one of its 3D viewing modes thus negating the effect of the amber tinted 3D glasses. Pretty neat stuff!

The Bravia Engine 3 conducts its magic in the background helping enhance mage detail, reducing noise, optimizing color and contrast, and doing all those things you would like of a TV to do that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Black level and Contrast

The specially coated Deep Black Panel does a surprisingly good job at producing great black levels (much better than expected) and sucking up stray ambient light for a consumer range 3D TV. The enhanced glare reduction is certainly noticeable if you compare this TV in a store against similarly priced glossy screen TVs. While the black levels are certainly not as good as the Panasonic 3D TVs, one has to keep in mind that this is an LED TV and while it may not have the lowest black levels of all 3D TVs, it is still quite impressive and makes up for it by virtue of its ability to produce much brighter images than your typical plasma TV. Shadow details are quite nice and you don’t have the low level details being crushed into muddy black soup.

The contrast on this TV is also very impressive, although certainly not as impressive or as Sony’s “Infinite Black” contrast ratio rating which if you’ve been in the game long enough, you will realize is just another ploy by the manufacturers to make you believe that your TV is capable of something no TV really is. Once you have spent some time with this 3D TV, you will begin to notice the mediocre black levels on cheaper/ more traditional LED/LCD TVs that we have grown accustomed to in the past years.

Backlight Uniformity

The Sony KDL-55HX800 is an edge lit LED 3D TV that features Sony’s “Dynamic Edge LED” technology. Essentially what this is, is an edge lit LED that also has some amount of “local dimming”. I say “local dimming” in quotes because edge lit LEDs don’t really have true local dimming since the panel of LEDs on the sides and top/bottom of the panel are being dimmed to try and improve black levels and the contrast of the screen. While this works fairly well, it isn’t as good as backlit LED/CCFL panels that feature local dimming, since they have complete control on the backlight level at any location on the screen.

Having said that, the HX800 series has been reported to have very good uniformity for an edge lit 3D TV, and performs better than the Samsung edge lit LED 3D TVs in this area. Flashlighting and clouding on the HX800 are not much of an issue for the most part. However, keep in mind that you should always test your TV when you set it up at home as edge lit local dimming technology isn’t very mature and there is a chance that you might receive a television that shows visible clouding and flashlighting.

Refresh rate and Video Processing

The Sony Bravia KDL-55HX800 employs Sony’s MotionFlow PRO 240Hz technology to preserve detail and clarity in fast motion scenes while preventing ghosting, something that was common in LED/LCD TVs in the past. This technology is similar to the fast motion processing that pretty much all 3D LED/LCD TVs employ. If you want to learn more about what the 240Hz means along with what the MotionFlow PRO is actually doing to improve TV performance in fast-motion scenes, read our article on what the Hz numbers means for LCD displays.

Sony’s MotionFlow PRO algorithm is very effective and does help in preserving details and allowing for smooth transitions during fast scenes. You will however have to play with the various settings in the TV as the extreme level can introduce artifacts and give the video content a very “home-video” like look. It’s hard to explain till you actually see it, but when you do, you’ll know to just go into the menu and tone down the level of MotionFlow processing to the input video signal.

The KDL55HX800 is very effective at displaying 24p video content (Blu-Rays) without any visual stuttering.

Viewing Angle

As with the other Edge-lit LED 3D TVs available such as the Samsung UN55C8000, the 55HX800 does not have the best performance when it comes to Viewing Angle. This is fundamentally a long standing limitation of LED/LCD displays due to the directional nature of the backlighting. As a result, once you go more than 15 degrees off the center axis on either side of the TV, you will notice a pronounced drop in the contrast ratio and the image will begin to look washed out. This will also have worse implications for viewing 3D content at larger off-axis angles.

We definitely advise you to keep this in mind when buying your 3D TV. If you expect to view your TV from a number of locations, especially some that are at quite an angle to the TV screen, we would strongly recommend considering a Plasma 3D TV such as the excellent Panasonic TC-P54VT25 or the Samsung PN58C8000. Plasma displays have an inherent advantage over LED/LCD TVs when it comes to viewing angle. If you’d like to learn more about the differences between LCD and Plasma 3D TVs, do check out our article comparing LCD vs Plasma 3D TVs.

Optimal Viewing Distance

The optimal viewing distance for this 55 inch 3D TV is approximately 7 to 10 feet. Of course, this isn’t a hard rule but it would provide you the most immersive 3D experience at these distances. Be sure to read our guide on the optimal viewing distance for your 3D TV. It will help you correctly choose the ideal TV screen size and viewing distance for your home.

3D Technology and Performance of the KDL-55HX800 Reviewed

Sony's Activeshutter 3D Glasses

While the 2D performance of the KDLHX800 is quite stunning, how is the 3D performance? Well, the first thing to note is that the Sony KDL-HX800 does not come bundled with the 3D Sync Transmitter and 3D Glasses needed for utilizing the 3D capabilities of this TV. While this may seem like a negative, it also means that the TV sells for a lower price and for those who want to wait on adopting the 3D technology, they can buy a great set that performs well for 2D while retaining the peace of mind of being able to upgrade to 3D if they decided to.

The 3D performance on the whole is quite good. The Sony 3D Glasses are very comfortable and more importantly allow you to comfortably wear them over prescription eyeglasses. Another nice feature of the glasses is that they use standard CR2032 batteries (you can purchase rechargeable versions online) and with regular usage, the batteries can last a few months. This is also nice because if you keep a few spare ones around, you can always swap out batteries without having to completely halt your movie viewing as you wait for your 3D glasses to recharge.

Another positive for the Sony activeshutter 3D glasses and 3D Sync transmitter is that they are able to communicate quite well without losing sync thus reducing cross-talk, ghosting and flickering while watching 3D content. The Sony HX800 series has shown less visible ghosting than comparable Samsung and LG sets, which is a big plus for this series when it comes to 3D performance.

2D->3D Content Conversion: While many treat this as a gimmick, it is certainly fun to have, especially when there is still a scarcity in the total 3D content available. Sony has done a surprisingly good job at making this feature work fairly well. Make no mistake, this will not look nearly as good as native 3D content, but it still works acceptably well for many video sources and can be a fun way to watch regular cable.

One drawback with the 3D on this set is that tilting your head causes the 3D effect to be lost. So if you tend to lounge around and lie down while watching your movies, you might not like this. Also, tilting your head can give rise to some color tinting. The 3D performance itself is exceptional and works very well when you are watching the TV straight on without any major head tilt.

Another nice aspect of the Sony 3D Glasses is that they do not tend to flicker when viewing an outside light source, an issue that has been reported on the Samsung and Panasonic 3D TVs.

3D Gaming  on the KDL-55HX800

This TV is absolutely gorgeous for 3D gaming. Obviously, being an LED 3D TV, you don’t have to worry about screen burn-in when gaming, something that will always bother you in the back of your mind if you have a plasma. While plasma screen technology has come a long way and is almost completely immune to burn-in, you still risk burn-in, especially if you are a hardcore gamer spending several hours a day gaming. Gran Turismo 5 in 3D mode is a must try for people who like 3D (make sure to use Native 3D mode from within the game options).

A quick note on input lag on the KDL55HX800. This tv has a “Game Mode” that turns off a lot of processing (Local Dimming, DRC and MotionFlow) that tends to introduce additional input lag. With vanilla “Game mode”, the lag is around 30-40ms. Turning on Local Dimming separately costs you another frame, so an additional 16.67ms of input lag. This should still be very acceptable for gaming purposes. Motionflow (or Smooth mode) costs you an additional 16.67ms, but might make the lag too much depending on what type of game you are playing. DRC costs you 2-3 frames and should be kept off during video gaming. In any case, it isn’t much use for videogaming as it is primarily meant for displaying SD content so you won’t miss out on much having this turned off.

Media, Internet and other Connectivity

Of all the current manufacturers, Sony has the best Media/Internet suite available on their Bravia line of televisions. The KDL-55HX800 can be hooked up to the internet via the Ethernet port or if you buy an optional USB Wifi adapter (Note: It has to be a Sony adapter, generic ones don’t work with the set). Our advice to you would be to skip buying a WiFi adapter and making sure to connect via an Ethernet cable. The reason being, that streaming videos over WiFi usually leaves a lot to be desired and is a less satisfying experience.

This TV is DLNA certified, meaning that you can stream content seamlessly from your PC or DLNA certified devices. The BRAVIA Internet Video suite offers over 36 channels including Netflix, Pandora, You Tube, Amazon VOD and many others. In addition, Sony has launched the Qriocity channel, which is its own video store when you can pay a small fee to rent a digital download.

The KDL-55HX800 also features a number of internet widgets which let you quickly access news headlines, weather information or play games while watching TV. It also includes widgets for Facebook, Twitter and Flickr

Inputs: 4 HDMI, 2 component, 2 composite, 1 PC, 1 USB, 1 Ethernet, 1 optical digital audio output

One thing to note is that the integrated TV speakers on the KDL55HX800 are a bit tinny and not the best quality. Ideally, you should look to hook this up to external speakers.

Price and Verdict

This Sony BRAVIA KDL55HX800 is a very capable edge lit LED TV that performs very well on both the 2D and 3D fronts and provides excellent value for money. Many consumers have praised this TV for its breathtaking color and black levels. While some TVs suffer from flashlighting and clouding issues, by and large the 55HX800 seems to have less issues in those areas. For 3D enthusiasts, the downside is that they will have to spend extra on a 3D sync emitter and 3D active shutter glasses but the good news is that this is one of the best LED 3D TVs currently available and has less cross-talk and ghosting issues compared to some of the competition from Samsung. The nice assortment of internet apps and widgets is a pleasant addition and all-in-all, we’d definitely recommend that you consider this television when deciding on purchasing a 55 inch 3D Ready TV.