Picture adjustments on the 55HX850 can either be made individually per input or applied to a global setting that’s accessible to all inputs. Settings include a 2-point White Balance, variable gamma, and Dynamic LED Control with Standard and Low options to adjust “local dimming” of the set’s backlight. Unlike many other high-end TVs, it does not have a color-management system menu. But given the set’s already quite accurate color reproduction (see Test Bench), that didn’t turn out to be an issue. As for 3D-specifi c adjustments, there are none aside from the regular suite of picture settings available for each input.
Sony provides an extensive list of modes for its MotionFlow feature, which can be used to reduce the blurring that’s common with LCD TVs displaying fast-motion images. But pretty much all MotionFlow modes add motion smoothing or “video effect” to 24-frames-per-second content, so I wouldn’t recommend them for movie watching.
As I watched the animated feature The Lorax on the Sony, my first impression was “Wow.” The set’s contrast was punchy, and bright colors looked vibrant without coming across as too saturated. Despite being computer generated, images in The Lorax had a believable sense of depth, and loads of subtle colors came through in the fake plastic trees and flowers dotting Thneedville, as well as in the transparent, Jello-like foods consumed by its citizens.
Seeking out more realistic-looking content, I next loaded up Steven Spielberg’s War Horse. In the early scenes before said horse is shipped out to serve king and country in WWI, the green hues of the English countryside looked rich and varied, and skin tones of the characters came off as completely natural. The 55HX850 being an edge-lit LCD, I was worried at first that it wouldn’t hold up well with darker images. But I shouldn’t have been: Deep blacks were solid in the interior shots of the barn on the Naracott family’s farm, and instead of appearing washed out, the shadows retained a good amount of detail. Black bars on letterboxed movies also had a uniform appearance when LED Dynamic Control was switched on — something I certainly can’t say for all edge-lit TVs with a local-dimming control. Surprisingly, the set’s contrast turned out to be fairly satisfying even when LED Dynamic Control wasn’t enabled. Turning it on improved black depth and lent the picture a greater sense of “pop,” but it also blew out too much detail in the highlights when set to the Standard mode. Eventually, I opted for the Low mode instead, which seemed a good compromise.
My favorable impression of the 55HX850 only grew when watching 3D, and it wasn’t just because of those extra-comfy glasses. On my trio of reference BD 3Ds — Hugo, Avatar, and the IMAX doc Born to Be Wild — pictures looked sufficiently bright and showed decent contrast (though I found that switching LED Dynamic Control to Standard exclusively for 3D viewing helped). Depth effects for each film were strong, and there was virtually no crosstalk, even on Hugo, a film that a number of 3D plasma models I’ve tested recently have had trouble with. My only real issue with the Sony’s 3D performance was a small level of flicker, which was mostly visible on bright images with plenty of white or near-white content. Setting the TV’s MotionFlow mode to Smooth removed the flicker, though, as you might expect, it also added the motion-smoothing effect mentioned earlier.
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