Face off: Ultra HD 4k TVs

Compared to HDTVs, new Ultra HD 4k TVs have four times the resolution. New 55-inch versions are at last making the tech affordable, but which one is best?


Sony KD-55X9005A VS LG 55LA9700


On first inspection both the Sony KD-55X9005A and LG 55LA9700 appear to be all about audio. Although it has a beautifully sculpted gloss black look that uses a single pane of glass across the front, the KD-55X9005A has powerful Magnetic Fluid speakers on each side, making it much, much wider than most 55" TVs, and it sits on a large circular pedestal stand that gives it a much larger footprint. Sound is obviously just as important to LG, whose designers have cleverly fitted the 55LA9700 with Sliding Speakers. Switch on the TV and a motorised speaker appears from between the two feet on either corner. When it comes to panel depth, the LG is slimmest, measuring 40.2mm to Sony's 58mm. On instant wow factor, the LG just edges it.


Both TVs have a resolution of 3840x2160 pixels, which creates an eight megapixel image known as both Ultra HD and 4k. That megapixel rating may not seem much compared to what digital cameras are capable of, but existing HDTVs only manage two megapixels. Crucially, both of these TVs use advanced, but very similar LED screens. Sony's is called Triluminos, with red and green filters on each LED to produce more finely graded colours, while LG's is called Nano Full LED. Both are capable of local dimming, which means that contrast levels are high, so bright white and deep black can be displayed simultaneously. Best of all, both the LG and the Sony use the passive 3D system - it means you can watch in 3-D using the same cheap, lightweight glasses used in 3-D theatres. Considering their near-identical panels, this category produces no winner.


Another score-draw. Ultra HD 4k broadcasts and Blu-ray discs with the new better-than-ever resolution are not expected to go live until sometime in 2014, but it's already possible to watch 4k clips on YouTube. Both TVs have access to multiple apps through their polished smart TV platforms, and both can mirror Android smartphones using one-touch NFC tech. However, considering that Ultra HD movies and TV are as yet non-existent, it's how these TVs upscale DVD, Blu-ray and TV to fit the enormous resolution screen that's most important. Sony's 4K X-Reality PRO engine and LG's Triple XD Engine claim to do just that, but Sony wins by offering its own Video Unlimited app, which will soon provide Ultra HD 4k downloads.


Sony wins here, but it's close. Native Ultra HD clips from YouTube look fabulous on both TVs, with not just immense detail, but the most accurate ever colours. In fact, so tightly packed in are the pixels that it's possible to sit much closer to both TVs than before. Switch to a Blu-ray disc and Sony's Reality Creation technology just beats LG's Resolution Upscaler Plus to produce best-ever Blu-ray, though neither can do much with normal TV channels, which look a little exposed. 3-D on both looks fabulous, with Sony's sound system just winning on power and precision. However, both TVs have powerful subwoofers; it seems the need for a bigger chassis means that the coming era of Ultra HD makes for better sound as well as pictures.


With 65-inch and 84-inch versions of these two TV selling for around HK$70,000 and HK$170,000 respectively, the 55-inch Sony KD-55X9005A (HK$49,980, and LG 55LA9700 (HK$41,712, Quetta Electric tel: 9302 7200) have relatively modest price tags in the embryonic world of Ultra HD. For now Sony wins the match-up.

Jamie Carter (



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