With new wave of 4K TVs coming, Sony’s 850D is a steal — and here’s why

Before we opened the box to unwrap Sony’s 65-inch 850D series TV to test, I’d read a lot about the TV’s lack of really good contrast. The thinking was this: if you were watching  the set in a dark room, or you were watching a really dark scene, the TV would express blacks as dark gray.

We found that to be just a tiny bit true, but we also found this TV to be the best in class for a sub $2,000 65-incher (full disclosure, we have not tested the Vizio P series, which is well thought of as well).

What makes this Sony so good?

Well, it makes everything you throw at it look better. It makes everyday stuff like DirecTV look really good and makes DirecTV 4K look spectacular.  But what really amazed us is how good it can make even an HBO Go feed on “X Men Apocalypse” look.

I had three people compare the 4K DVD version of the film with the streaming, non 4K version, being fed via Apple TV, and while everyone picked the 4K DVD version as clearer and more breathtaking, it took everyone a few input switches to choose. The upscaling engine, the technology that takes non 4K stuff and upconverts it to quasi-4K, is simply amazing in this set.

That’s an important thing to know since most people will be watching non-4K material most of the time.

The other thing that blew us away with the Sony was the accuracy and depth of colors. Using some calibration settings we easily got online, the TV gets out of crazy bright Vivid mode and into color accurate mode pretty quickly. Give your eyes a day or two to adjust and the set delivers a simply impressive picture, as good as you might see at the multiplex from 4K sources using a technology called HDR, which is baked into some physical and streaming movies. In a sense, HDR  makes colors and scenes punchier and more accurate, like when you sit at the doctor and they put that machine over your eyes and ask, “Does this look clearer? Or does that?”

HDR is the latter.

This set is going for as low as $1,300 now as the 2017 sets are beginning to hit the market. For most people, this set is all they’ll need, even if you get in the store and fall in love with those OLED sets that do super-deep and super-rich pictures — but also come with a super-rich price tag.

Trust, this is the next-generation TV set for most of us.