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Review: Sony KD-43XF7000 (XF70 series) Ultra HD LCD TV

Sony KD-43XF7000 (XF70 series)
The Sony KD-43XF7000 aims at an affordable price and decent performance, although you have to compromise here and there. We got the 43-inch version on the floor to test.
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Not every Ultra HD TV has to cost several thousand euros. The Sony KD-43XF7000 aims at an affordable price and decent performance, although you have to compromise here and there. We got the 43-inch version on the floor and give you an overview of its good, and less good points.

Sony KD-43XF7000 – specifications

  • What: Ultra HD LCD TV, Edge Led
  • Screen size : 43 inch (108 cm), flat
  • Connections: 3x HDMI (1xARC 4x v2.0a), 1x composite video, 1x stereo cinch, 1x optical digital out, 3x USB, 1x headphones, 1x antenna
  • Extras: HDR10, HLG, WiFi (802.11b/g/n) built in, Linux Smart TV, USB / DLNA media player, DVB-T / C CI + lock
  • Dimensions: 970 x 630 x 278 mm (including foot)
  • Weight: 10.4 kg (including foot)
  • Consumption: 64 / 0.5 watt (Energy label A)
  • Recommended retail price: 850 euro

A complete overview of all models that Sony will offer in 2018 market, you will find in the 2018 Sony TV line-up. Here you can also find the complete specifications per model.

Sony KD-43XF7000 – design

In this category the design is simple and functional. The Edge Led screen is relatively slim, but certainly not striking. The thicker part of the back takes up about two-thirds of the back. The black frame around the screen is about an inch wide. The finish is solid, but not luxurious.

This model is equipped with an external power supply, a sturdy block where you have to provide some space. The feet are provided with some space at the back to lead the cables in.

Connections

In addition to three HDMI connections and three USB connections, you also have a composite video connection, wired and wireless network, optical digital audio out and a headphone socket.

Bluetooth is missing, and a few dubious decisions have been made when installing the connections. For example, an HDMI connection and the headphone connection at the back and towards the wall. This makes them difficult to reach with wall mounting. In addition, all the other connections are on the side or backwards down, so we had that extra HDMI rather oriented down and the headphone connection on the side. The antenna connections are then placed on the side again, and they are fairly close to the edge, making it difficult to get rid of the cable.

Sony KD-43XF7000 – ease of use

The KD-43XF7000 (XF70 series) does not use Android TV, but a simple smart TV system based on Linux. The installation is very smooth and easy. You choose the language, country, and after checking the necessary legal permissions, and setting the channels, the TV is ready for use.

Remote control

The remote seems to be the first one on other Sony devices, but that is only so broadly. Because of the simplified smart TV environment he got a slightly adapted layout with a number of small advantages. It is equipped with specific keys for YouTube and Netflix. The playback controls at the bottom are slightly larger and were given a bit more space, which of course improved the ease of use.

The keys press quite loose, which makes the remote feel a bit cheap, but it works fine.

Sony KD-43XF7000 – features

Smart TV platform

The smart TV platform of the XF70 series models is quite limited. The Home screen gives you access to the apps, the program list and EPG, any recordings, the media player and the settings. As an advantage we have to point out that it works very smoothly.

Smart functions

The list of installed applications is very small, but it does offer the most important streaming services Neflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime Video, which by the way play all three HDR video

Apps for delayed viewing seem to be missing in any case. The ‘Vewd’ app store offers a whole range of extra applications, but we found little interest in it. The only striking application was Plex, a tip for those who like to use the television as a media center.

The media player delivers good results. He plays all major video formats and subtitles. The audio player can handle mp3, wma, FLAC and wav. He reads the tags of both mp3 and wma files. Anyone who is wondering where the support for mp4 (AAC codec and .m4a container) has gone, must unfortunately be disappointed. The modern brother of mp3 does not have this Sony.

Sony KD-43XF7000 – Image quality

The XF70 series uses a edge led backlight. It uses an IPS panel, so you can expect a good viewing angle, but a modest contrast.

Main settings

In our article on professional calibration of a TV You can read all about the possibilities to come up with the best picture settings with a professional. If you want to get started yourself, please go to our home cinema information guide. Here you will find an explanation of the most important picture settings and tips for setting up your TV. With the basic settings we have come to the following settings for this TV.

The best choice starts from the Scéne Cinema 1. Or choose the Scene ‘Auto’ and adjust the image mode ‘user’.

General Base Base Advanced.Settings.
Scene: Cinema
Brightness: 5 *
Contrast: 90
Black level: 50
Color: 50
Light sensor: off *
Color Tone: 0 Color Temperature: Expert 1
Image Sharpness: 50
Reality Creation: Auto *
Reduce random noise: Off Reduce
digital noise: Off MotionFlow: True Cinema / Standard *
Film Mode: Auto
Adv. Contrast optimization:
Adjust Low Black: Off
Gamma: -2
Live Color: Off

Explanation of main settings;

  • The Cinema scene is quite dark, it is really meant for obfuscation. If you look at ambient light, the brightness can really go up to 20 or even 40 if you have a lot of light.
  • Contrast optimization: Leave it on low, turn it off, then the contrast will completely dilute.
  • Reality Creation: improves detail view . The Auto mode is generally fine, who prefers the pure approach turns it off, or switches to Manual 20. For more detail, you can go up to 40, but avoid higher settings.
  • Motionflow: Off for purists, but who a little more smooth image, switches to Standard.

General image and image processing

There is no fancy image processor in this television, the results are still pretty decent. The most notable lack is a mode to convert SDR to HDR and the ‘smooth gradation’ setting that removes color bands. Deinterlacing, and detection of film and video frame rates is good, and the noise reduction is fine for random noise. In case of blockage due to excessive compression, the XF70 series is less capable of actually removing it. There you notice the difference with the higher models more clearly. Scaling is fine, and with Reality creation you give the image some extra sharpness. Be careful as always, if you set this setting too high, you will get disturbing effects such as fake detail or excessively accentuated contours.

The motion sharpness is less good, but that is to be expected in this price category . Motionflow only offers an improvement on stuttering images, but you will not get much extra detail. We recommend to leave the Standard mode activated unless you really dislike it. You can also do it fluently, but sometimes you see an artifact. In the user mode you can separately set brightness and flexibility. Let especially the brightness at the lowest setting. As soon as you take that even a step up, you see very clear double edges, a traitor.

The IPS panel of the KD-43XF7000 still has a good contrast of 1,100: 1. Who ‘advanced. Contrast enhancement ‘keeps on low, sees that even rising to 4.216: 1 and you notice that difference especially in dark scenes. Without this setting, dark images look far too dull and lose all impact. However, this Sony still best to enjoy with some ambient light, because in real darkening you can clearly see the black bands above and below the film light up.

The screen is pretty well calibrated. The brightness is excellent, with a gamma value that comes to 2.27 which is a good compromise for film and normal viewing in most circumstances. The color temperature is average on average, but the gray scale shows a slight surplus of green in the brightest shades. The error is very visible, but because there are no unexpected jumps it is not annoying, and the surplus green is easy to calibrate. The color range and color reproduction are excellent. The screen performs excellently with clear content, but is also absolutely capable for a typical family to achieve a great film performance.

HDR

This Sony supports HDR10, and HLG. It is striking that he can still provide a lot of clarity, which is sometimes different in this price category. The peak luminance clocks on a solid 465 nits, and the Sony can hold that fine both in a 10% window and on a completely white screen. The color range scores less well, and is well below what we like with 73% DCI-P3 and 52% Rec.2020.

The HDR reproduction is solid and the EOTF rolls from 100 nits very gently to show all the details up to 2,500 or with some effort even 4,000 nits. The images had gained a bit more clarity by starting the roll-off later, for example from 300 nits. In any case, take into account that you do not see banging colors, and that an IPS panel due to its limitation in contrast is not very good in the extremely high-contrast scenes that are possible within HDR content. In clear images the performance is fine.

We do notice that you can check manually whether the television actually went into HDR mode. Keeping the Scene on Car should normally be the case. But anyone who chooses the Scene Cinema will have to manually switch to HDR video. In streaming services it was sometimes even the case that the HDR mode was selected, but we still had to switch to another image mode and switch back to get correct HDR playback. That will hopefully be solved with a software update.

Reflections and viewing angles

IPS screens can offer a good viewing angle, so there is sufficient possibility not to sit perfectly in front of the television. Reflections remain within the limits. The screen does suffer from ‘IPS glow’ and that is especially visible in dark viewing environments. You will avoid this anyway because of the limited contrast.

Gaming

In normal picture modes (standard and cinema) we measure a lag of 119 ms, which is too much for decent gaming. In game mode the lag drops to 18.9 ms which is an excellent result.

Sony KD-43XF7000 – Audio quality

In this price category, the audio quality is generally acceptable, but rarely impressive. The Sony is no exception. Excellent results for ordinary daily viewing with sound dialogues. But for real music reproduction or thundering movie soundtracks, you better opt for external solutions.

Review equipment

For the lag measurement we use a Leo Bodnar Display lag meter. For all other measurements we rely on a Spectracal C6 HDR2000 Colorimeter, Xrite i1 Pro spectrophotometer, a VideoForge Pro pattern generator, and the Spectracal Calman for Business software. To analyze any HDR problems we use an HDFury Vertex.

Sony KD-43XF7000 – Conclusion

The limited Smart TV system of the KD-43XF7000 may not be a drawback for everyone, but it’s something to be reckoned with. even if you get the three most important streaming services. Of course you can not expect a smashing HDR performance in this price segment, and certainly in terms of color range this model will not break pots. The IPS screen provides a decent contrast but limited viewing angle.

But this Sony also has some striking advantages. So he is very clear for his category, which is still a plus for his HDR performance. The smart TV system works very smoothly, you will rarely have the impression that you are waiting for your TV. In classic content the color reproduction is fine, and the device is a solid choice if you are looking for a typical home TV that presents all kinds of content. The low input lag is an excellent fact for gamers. His price tag is fine, the device is also available in 49, 55 and 65 inch, where we especially find the 55 inch excellent priced.

Cons

  • Limited Smart TV options
  • Limited color range for HDR
  • Limited contrast for HDR

Pros

  • Color rendering
  • High brightness (SDR and HDR)
  • Solid contrast
  • Low input lag
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