Sony KDL-55HX800 3D HDTV-First Impressions

June 11th, 2010 · 21 Comments · 3D HDTV, LED LCD Flat Panels, Product Reviews, Review

KDL-55HX800 425

(June 11, 2010) Sony’s first production model “Full HD” 3D TVs arrived at Sony Style stores late this week. The HD Guru paid an extended visit to his local outlet to make an initial evaluation of its KDL-55HX800 55″ 3D ready TV, the only 3D TV model being demonstrated.

The Sony Style 3D demo loop includes trailers from Alice In Wonderland, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, clips from pre-World Cup Soccer, images of polar bears and pandas, and a number Playstation 3D videogame clips.

The HX800 features a dynamic edge lit LED LCD panel, Full HD 1080p resolution, Motionflow Pro 240Hz technology and is Wi-Fi adapter ready.The HX800 incorporates Sony’s striking deep black design. Powered on, the 55″ 3D TV provided sufficient brightness, despite being wall mounted up high and directly under a very bright store fluorescent light fixture. Unlike all the other flat panel 3D HDTVs on the market today, Sony does not build in the infra-red emitter into this TV, it was mounted below the screen bezel, disturbing the ultra modern look of the panel (the emitter is a required $49 accessory). Only Sony’s upcoming 3D LX series has the emitter built-in.

The Sony 3D glasses fit comfortably over my eyeglasses, but were full of fingerprints and who knows what other dirt and grime on the frame. Yuck! I cleaned off the lenses and used a hand sanitizer on the frame. Note to Sony Style and other retail stores, how about some lens cleaner and anti-bacterial wipes to clean the 3D glasses between demos?

An examination of the Sony active shutter glasses lenses revealed a mild amber tint, which slightly diminishes the amount of blue passing through them. Upon initial observation of the 3D demo loop, the colors appeared natural with the glasses level, an indication this Sony TV electronically color compensates for the amber tint when fed a 3D signal.

Except for the Alice trailer (a movie that was not recorded in 3D but was converted in post production), I am not familiar with the demo content having previously only seen it at Sony press and trade events during the past 10 months. Given that caveat, there was a limited amount of in-front of the screen scenes (called negative z-axis), making the 3D effect appear constrained to just a few inches out of the screen. This may be inherent with Sony’s demo material. We will have to wait for a test using our own 3D demo discs to learn if the Sonys’ are capable of a greater depth.

While previous prototype and pre-production Sony’s 3D TVs suffered from flickering, the production model appeared flicker-free. Unfortunately, there are new issues that challenged its 3D performance.

Viewing the HX800 with the Sony 3D glasses in place, we observed 3D without cross-talk (ghost images caused by leakage of the left eye image to the right eye and vice versa). However,  when slightly tilting my head, just a few degrees, the 3D image disappeared replaced by double-vision, the same image one would see if the glasses stop working (they didn’t) or removed while the TV is displaying 3D content. In addition, a slight rightward head tilt caused a significant red color shift! Tilt to the left and the colors shift to blue.

Imagine leaning slightly to reach the remote control and completely losing the 3D effect, then have it pop back when your head returns to the vertical position.  This effect does not occur with the other brands of Full HD 3D TV currently available, Samsung and Panasonic.

As soon as we can get our hands on a review sample, we’ll drill down on Sony’s 3D performance issues and provide precise measurements. In the meantime, we recommend potential buyers hold off purchasing a Sony 3D TV based on our initial observation.

The Sony Style store is currently taking orders on the HX800 models (40″, 46″ and 55″ sizes) for shipping on June 15th. Local independent Sony dealers surveyed yesterday said these models were originally scheduled to arrive this week but delivery has been pushed back to June 17th.

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21 Comments so far ↓

  • Coleen


    I purchased a 46″ HX800 and I tried to search some information about its 3D technology but I didn`t get it… My question is: Is it working with passive 3D glasses or just with the active one?

    I think the Sony active glass is a bit expensive… Has anyone a better option for this problem or I have to buy a sony glass?

  • Ibrahim

    I bought a sony 55” hx800 over boxing week. The 3D effect does go away when you tilt your head 45°, but not at ‘normal, slight’ tilt. However, i do not mind this drawback. (3D and 2D) The colors are amazing, the picture is detailed, and almost no flicker. According to what is mentioned above, I would mind the flicker if I had the samsung or panasonic, but the flickering vs the crosstalk issue is truly a consumer preference problem.

    Now to the main issue, not even a week has passed and there is a green pixel that appears and disappears (randomly) near the lower right corner of the screen. I am definitely going to get the set exchanged. I have had a Sony lcd before ( so does my aunt) and we have never experienced this problem before. is it just a quality control issue? Any comments on the pixel problem?

  • Ernesto22

    Sony is offering filters that clip on to the glasses. These filters were made to help eliminate crosstalk. When I tried them, not only did I notice that crosstalk issues were gone but that the filters also helped eliminate crosstalk issued that occur due to head tilting. Here’s the link were I found out about the filters.

  • AJ Henderson

    I’m not sure I follow how any set could maintain a 3d effect when you turn your head. Are you talking about turning on vertical axis or tilting your head. If you were to lie sideways and watch it, I would expect any TV to fail as the horizontally seperated image would now be expected as vertical seperation. Based on my viewing of a production model in store, I saw none of the stated problems and simple testing of the 3d on the 46 inch HX800 revealed no issues to me with turning my head to what I thought to be reasonable levels.

    Either way, it sounds like the described problems are more a side effect of 3d glasses design than TV design and a future varient of the technology could foreseeably allow the problems to be fixed by obtaining new glasses at a fraction of the price of a new TV. I know for me the deciding factors in purchasing the Sony TV were the exceptional color performance at a highly discounted price (I purchased it under a very good holiday sale.).

  • Aaron Cohen

    For those that can, check out the Mitsubishi. I just received my starter kit in the mail for my 73-738 set. I work at Best Buy and all I do when we are not busy is compare 3D technologies and swap the demo discs around between the sets. The Samsung is borderline terrible (see world cup 3D) as the ghosting and crosstalk is unbelievably bad. Our rep tells us firmware update blah blah coming will fix all. I’ll believe it when I see it. The Sony looks good until you tilt at all any way to the side. I spoke to our store’s Sony rep today who said they were all complaining about it on conference calls to corporate. The official word from the “engineers” at Sony was that it was how it had to be and that there would be no fix. Some nonsense about how they envisioned everyone to watch 3D in the same position as in the theater where you have to sit up straight. Whatever. Garbage. LG’s set with the underwater fish demo has good depth, but there are 2 and 3 of every fish. Just blah.

    The Panasonic looks great to my eyes but does have clear issues with flicker. Before opening my Mitsubishi starter kit, I expected to return it the next day. I honestly expected the picture to look horrible. It is anything but and I am definitely keeping it. There is zero crosstalk. No ghosting. An amazing depth to the 3D image. The only caveat being that the picture is not as bright as the flat panel displays. However, the 3D depth, no ghosting, and ability to lay on my side, upside down, grab a soda, or even just tilt my head and still have a 3D effect makes it even better. Also, the enermous screen size makes the effect that much more pronounced. Truly amazing…

    Of all the offerings though, I was truly stunned by the drawbacks of Sony’s set.

  • Patrick

    Good article but I question why nobody who actually owns this tv has made similar complaints? On Best there are currently 9 reviews of this television. None of them have anything negative to say about the 3D, and in fact, they have only stated how impressed they’ve been with it. Is it possible that the demo you reviewed was technically different than an in home ” real” setup?

    The situation is similar to the introduction of HDTV. I am not surprised about the comments. How does a new set owner compare the set’s performance against another product at home? Without a point of reference, it is really difficult to know if the 3D is good, mediocre or poor.

    Sony has just supplied a production sample of its XBR-52HX909 for review. We will post a review soon, stay tuned.

    HD Guru

  • SFMike

    I was excited about the new Sony 3D models but have been really saddened by the amount of crosstalk I’ve seen on every set I’ve viewed at multiple retailers. My experience has been that the Sony sets exhibit more crosstalk than the Samsungs. I had high hopes from Sony that just haven’t been realized. The Panasonic plasma still seems best.

  • nathan

    I also found the Sony to be superior to the others (Panasonic & Samsung) in it’s rendering and overall picture. Especially in 2D.

    I found the article informative and thank the author for his findings.

    However, as for the head tilting issue…I do not see this as a deal breaker for the Sony or any of the other TV’s that have darkening, etc when your head is tilted. While it would be IDEAL to NOT have this happen (let’s say you watch tv laying down on the couch), it certainly isn’t a deal breaker. I wouldn’t care if the 3D effect went away when I reached for a remote, etc…small price to pay for the technology at this point. I think this issue is smaller than some of the other previously mentioned issues with other manufacturer’s…and it should be noted that I am not a Sony fanboy by any means.

    The amount of crosstalk that appears in 3D content varies greatly. I spent another hour at a retail store this past Saturday looking at Sony’s 3D demo disc and the Panasonic’s 3D demo disc on another HX800. I also played with the Sony remote control in an attempt to find any 3D TV adjustments and settings that may mitigate the crosstalk. None were found.

    Viewing the most challenging segments (regarding crosstalk), I could begin to see it on the Sony using its 3D glasses with only about a 5 degree head tilt, as the tilt increases, so did the degree of crosstalk.

    Perhaps I am atypical, however I do not always keep my head perfectly level when viewing TV and neither do other persons interviewed.

    The Samsung 3D glasses gradually darken as one tilts their head while viewing one of its LED or LCD displays. While the image is very slightly darker with a 5 degree head tilt, the 3D effect remains the same, with no increase in crosstalk. A condition we find very tolerable.

    While all HDTVs and 3D TV have viewing artifacts and anomalies, we find crosstalk very disturbing to the viewing experience.

    We don’t like the color shift the Sony glasses produce with any degree of tilt, however we don’t feel it is as disturbing as crosstalk.

    Thanks for the input

    HD Guru

  • Chris C.

    Well, I thought it was an informative review. Probably because I actually read it :)

    Any color and brightness drop-off when viewing off-axis (but still directly facing) under 3D viewing? Sony’s EX700 series has a huge drop-off when viewing from even 45 degrees off center, hoping there’ll be some improvements here?

  • Andrew

    5 degrees? Nonsense. Have you actually used the set in a home situation?

    How can you claim that the Sony implementation is worse than Sammy and Pana? The flicker issue is serious on both manufacturer’s sets. Especially in countries using 50Hz AC mains frequency.

    In addition the Samsung struggles with crosstalk, and the emitter for the glasses is so weak that it constantly loses sync when anyone in the room moves near the LED emitter beam.

    The Panasonic picture quality is terrible with zero shadow detail. The Sony picture quality is far superior.

    I think that the review is poorly researched and lacks understanding. The 3D effect (+ or – Z plane) will be identical for any screen as it is not screen dependent, but depends on the content itself. The differences between screens is the quality of the picture, not the extent of the effect.

    Key issues are:
    1. Picture brightness
    2. Dynamic Range
    3. Colour Fidelity
    4. Crosstalk
    5. Viewing comfort (flicker, fit and weight of glasses)

    A 50 Hz model designed and engineered to be sold outside of the US (South Africa according to your IP address) makes any comparison and associated comments irrelevant.

    I suggest you re-read my article regarding the Sony demo content.

    HD Guru

  • Andrew

    This may be a HD Guru website but definitely not 3d Guru. The reason for limited negative Z content on demonstrations and on all high quality movie contents is that it is uncomfortable to watch for long periods. Plus the fact that the content producers do not want to “break the frame” on the sides and the top and bottom as this disturbs the 3D effect.

    You are right (as far as the website is concerned) its our sister website that’s all 3D. As far as negative Z access content, we wrote about what we observed within the Sony 3D demo loop, not 3D production techniques, a subject of a possible future hdguru3D article.

    Nowhere was it written that we should be seeing long periods of out of screen content, however, every 3D movie I have seen contains a sample, i.e. Monsters and Aliens paddle ball segment, Alice In Wonderland butterfly flying over the audience at the end, etc. Can the Sony 55HX800 properly reproduce these segments? We don’t know, since there were no visible examples in the demo loop.

    HD Guru

  • Andrew

    This is a really mis-represented issue. Yes, the Sony loses 3D effect when you turn your head 45 degrees. But there’s no crosstalk (Hello Samsung), and no flicker (hello Samsung and Pana.

    While the Panasonic plasmas don’t suffer crosstalk, the picture is so dark, and the dynamic range so poor that you can’t discern shadow detail.

    Of all the 3D sets out there at the moment, the Sony implementation seems miles ahead for picture quality.

    I never wrote that you need to tilt your head 45 degrees to lose the 3D image. If this was the case, I would not have objected. While I did not make a precise measurement of head tilt, it was just a very slight amount. My estimate is in low single digits of degrees (around 5) to completely obliterate the 3D effect and suddenly see dual images on-screen through either eye.

    This level of 3D performance is miles behind competition, not ahead, as neither the Samsung or Panasonics lose 3D with a head tilt. (The Samsung glasses do appear progressively darker as you move you head from vertical to horizontal, while Panasonic’s light transmission characteristics remain the same.)

    HD Guru

  • Manos

    Whoops. My mistake. Totally misunderstood after long hours of work. Sony sets do lose the 3D effect when you tilt you head while other sets seem to darken, almost black out.

    In my opinion though, in both cases, the pic is rendered, practically, unwatchable/useless.

  • Manos

    To my knowledge losing the 3D effect when tilting your head is supposed to be a problem with all 3D LCD displays but doesn’t happen with plasmas.

    I’ve personally witnessed the same thing with Samsung LCD sets (will be testing for it tomorrow with LG’s Philips’s products) and I’m puzzled since you mentioned you didn’t come across this issue with any other set than Sony’s. Am I not getting something?

  • Chris

    Hmmm so the sonys suffer from offangle badly, the Sammy LCD/LEDs suffer from ghosting. The panasonic plasmas are the only one that seems to put out a really good 3d image. Do you plan on checking out the samsungs plasma 3d sets soon with their updated firmware (according to several avsforum members, the newest firmware makes ghosting on the samsung plasmas very similar to pana plasma)?
    I’d be intersted to hear what you think of those sets (c7000, c8000)

  • KennyG

    So should Sony recall this model because the viewing angle sounds like an autostereoscopic TV? Deal breaker for 3D in the living room. I’d rather have the flicker or better yet they should take that tech and put it on the PSP or a phone where angles aren’t as big of an issue.

  • vk

    As far as I know – HX800 is not monolith design – are you sure you were viewing HX800 – and not a preproduction LX900? Only LX900 and HX900 are monolith designs among Sony’s 3D TVs. Just wondering…

    Corrected editing error, should read deep black panel design. Thanks.

    HD Guru

  • Wayne

    How is this report disappointing, the reviewer said no cross talk or flickering was evident on Sony unlike Samsung. That is great news!

    Read on. I added “when slightly tilting my head, just a few degrees, the 3D image disappeared replaced by double-vision, the same image one would see if the glasses stop working”, in other words each eye sees both the left and right views (after a slight head tilt) meaning massive cross-talk.

    HD Guru

  • Adam

    The Quattron’s aren’t crap, the colors are simply wrong and can’t be corrected. That doesn’t mean consumers won’t like them, but they’re not accurate. Which is why I’ve skipped over them.

    The initial report on the Sony HX800 is disappointing. Although it may still be a decent TV for 2D. As the 3D components are extra, it may or not be a deal breaker.

  • BS

    Sharpie you are the most obvious “stealth” Sharp rep I have ever seen. The new screens are crap, Sharp have been pretty crap for a couple of years now, no wonder they supply screens for the equally rubbish Sony sets.

  • Sharpie

    With all the different brands and features out there, it’s hard to find the best TV for the money. I’ve worked for them for a while, but I’ve always been happy with the quality products that are offered by Sharp. Their new, state of the art, Quattron 4 color (quad pixel technology) is pretty cool too. It can show over a trillion colors! I recommend you check out their line of high quality HDTV.

    Its too bad humans can’t perceive billions, let only trillions of colors. Off topic comment as well.

    HD Guru

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