Although good large-screen televisions are considerably more affordable now than they were a few years ago, many might still want a more compact size such as a 43-inch television for a smaller room in their home. There are plenty of options available in this screen size ranging from full-HD to Ultra-HD resolution, but a lot of these are from smaller television brands such as Xiaomi, OnePlus, and Realme. The performance of such TVs are also usually in line with the budget pricing, so those with a higher budget might be inclined to look at more established brands, such as Sony.
Among the company's first major releases in 2022 in the TV segment is the Sony X75K series, with sizes ranging from 43 inches to 65 inches. Today, I'm reviewing the 43-inch variant in this series, the Sony KD-43X75K Ultra-HD LED Smart TV, which is priced at Rs. 53,190 on Sony's own online store. This puts it at a considerably higher cost compared to most other 43-inch 4K TVs from brands such as Xiaomi and Realme that are usually priced under Rs. 30,000.
However, Sony's new TV comes with the promise of better performance to match its price, and is positioned as a premium option for buyers who want to look beyond the budget variety. Is the Sony KD-43X75K worth the premium? Find out in this review.
The Google TV UI on the Sony KD-43X75K adopts a more content and recommendation-focused approach
Sony KD-43X75K Ultra-HD Android TV design and specifications
The Sony X75K series is the most affordable in the company's range of Ultra-HD TVs, and is also one of the handful of series that has a 43-inch screen size available. That said, the 43X75K isn't really ‘affordable', so to speak. At Rs. 53,190, it's considerably more expensive than options from many competing brands, and prices go up steeply to over Rs. 1,00,000 for the 65-inch option. All televisions in the X75K range, including the 43-inch one on review here, have an Ultra-HD (3840x2160 pixel) LED-LCD display with high dynamic range support of up to HLG and HDR10 formats.
When it comes to design, the Sony KD-43X75K television is just a hint nicer to look at than the typical 43-inch television. This is mainly thanks to a pleasing finish around the fairly narrow borders of the screen, and the simple and discreet Sony logo on the front. The TV is about as thick as you would expect from an LED TV of this size. The bottom of the TV is interestingly slanted a bit, giving the bottom-firing speaker system a bit of visibility and directionality.
It's possible to table mount or wall mount the television, although the sales package includes only the stands for table mounting. You can use any VESA-compatible wall-mount of your own, and Sony also offers free professional installation where the technician will provide a suitable wall-mounting kit, if you choose to have it put on a wall.
One set of ports and sockets on the Sony KD-43X75K television faces the back of the TV, while the second faces the left of the screen. The back-facing ports include one HDMI-in port (with ARC), Video-in sockets, Ethernet port for wired Internet connectivity, Digital Audio-out (Toslink) port, and the power socket.
All of these are quite hard to access if you have the TV wall-mounted with a low-profile bracket, and this might even cause some of the cables and plugs to bend and twist dangerously to the point of getting damaged. You'll also want to ensure all of these connections are in place before you hook the TV onto the wall bracket.
There is high dynamic range support for the HLG and HDR10 formats on the Sony KD-43X75K TV
The side-facing connectivity options include two HDMI ports (version unspecified), two USB Type-A ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and an antenna socket. These are considerably easier to access, but I was disappointed that neither of the side-facing HDMI ports support Audio Return Channel (ARC). However, all the HDMI ports do support the latest HDCP 2.3 standard.
Other key specifications of the Sony KD-43X75K TV include a native refresh rate of 50Hz, Sony's Motionflow XR 200 interpolation algorithm, and 16GB of in-built storage for apps and app data. The television has a 20W bottom-firing, open baffle speaker system with support for Dolby Audio. Wireless connectivity includes Bluetooth 5 and dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity, apart from wired Ethernet connectivity.
Sony KD-43X75K Ultra-HD Android TV remote and features
Sony still ships a big, full-function remote with the KD-43X75K TV. The remote has an infrared emitter and Bluetooth connectivity, and once paired with the TV using Bluetooth, the infrared emitter is only used to turn the TV on or off. The rest of the functionality, including issuing voice commands via the microphone on the remote, uses Bluetooth connectivity, and therefore doesn't need you to point the remote at the TV in order to work.
The remote has a number pad, direction pad, back, and home buttons for navigation, playback controls, and hotkeys for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, and YouTube Music. There is also a dedicated button to invoke Google Assistant, buttons to change the source or pull up the TV settings from anywhere within the interface, and a useful information button which displays the resolution of streaming content, connection speed, and more. It looks good, works well, and gets the job done properly.
The Sony KD-43X75K TV has a large, fully-equipped remote with buttons to control practically every function on the TV
The Sony KD-43X75K also has Google Chromecast built in, the Sony X1 4K processor, support for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, AirPlay 2, and HDMI CEC for controlling connected devices using a single remote. You can also use the TV's Bluetooth connectivity with wireless headphones and speakers.
All of these features worked as expected, but it's important to note that you'll need a separate app to mirror your Apple devices wirelessly onto the TV; I used AirScreen ,which is available on the Google Play store for Android TV and it did the job well.
Sony KD-43X75K Ultra-HD Android TV software and interface
The Google TV user interface launched with the Chromecast with Google TV in 2020, but uptake for the platform has been slow with many TV manufacturers choosing to stick with the tried-and-tested stock Android TV interface. Sony is an early adopter of the new user interface, and the KD-43X75K runs Android TV 11 with the Google TV UI on top.
Google TV is, of course, just a different interface or skin on top of Android TV, which still runs the core operation of the smart functionality on the Sony KD-43X75K TV. This includes the Google Play store for Android TV with its 5,000+ apps designed and optimised for use on televisions, easy access to Google Assistant and Chromecast, and more.
However, the Google TV UI is considerably nicer to look at than stock Android TV, and has some useful features as well. For one, Google Play Movies is no longer an app, but is integrated into the user interface. This means that you can search for movies and TV shows to rent or buy, and perform purchases directly from the UI itself. Usefully, the search tab provides you with various ways to watch the title you searched for, prioritising any streaming services which you're already subscribed and signed-in to for ease of access.
The Google Play store for Android TV provides access to over 5,000 apps that are optimised for use on TVs
The search and recommendations tabs also have Rotten Tomatoes approval ratings baked in for many titles, and the system is able to recommend movies and TV shows from various streaming services, including Disney+ Hotstar, Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video, and Voot, among others. While the search tab can scan through all apps on the TV, including Netflix, the recommendations engine oddly does not support Netflix yet.
On the whole, the Google TV UI is a refreshing and much needed change to Android TV, and Sony's quick adoption of it gives the TV a decent advantage over the competition, particularly if you're heavily invested in the content streaming ecosystem. Everything worked well for me, and I had no software issues during my time with the Sony KD-43X75K TV.
Sony KD-43X75K Ultra-HD Android TV performance
Given that there are plenty of 43-inch Ultra-HD TVs from reputed brands available for less than Rs. 30,000 in India, the Sony KD-43X75K needs to offer a lot more than just the basics to justify its price of Rs. 53,190. A lot of that comes by way of good design, useful and premium features, and an excellent software experience that is a step above what most brands are currently offering. However, the most important parameter is always performance, and the Sony does deliver a better experience than every other 43-inch 4K TV I've reviewed thus far.
Dolby Vision and HDR10+ support on affordable televisions isn't uncommon, so the Sony KD-43X75K's support for just HLG and HDR10 formats does seem a bit disappointing. However, this Sony television does a great job even with the limited HDR format support compared to what many affordable televisions do even with the superior Dolby Vision format. This is largely thanks to better picture calibration and superior HDR implementation by Sony.
The brightness bump with HDR content on the Sony KD-43X75K TV is subtle, but the format benefits colours considerably more, making for stronger, more vibrant colours across content. Shows such as Our Great National Parks and Bullsh*t The Game Show on Netflix looked great in a dark or dimly lit room, and even bright ambient lighting didn't take too much away from the TV's ability to perform well.
The colours of nature, as well as the bright lights of the game show set, all looked good on the TV. Skin tones in particular looked very good, as did the varying shades of green and blue visible in forests and water bodies on the nature documentary that came through with a strong sense of accuracy.
Even full-HD content such as Formula 1 races, looked good because of the smaller size of the TV
The Sony KD-43X75K also delivered a sharp picture, aided by good colours and clean motion. Although the extra detail in Ultra-HD picture was arguably less visible on the smaller 43-inch size, the Sony KD-43X75K did seem to produce a picture that was visibly sharper and more detailed than similarly-specced, lower-priced options of this size.
This was particularly visible during the dark and busy scenes of Venom: Let There Be Carnage, but also showed in the facial expressions and details of the contestants in Bullsh*t The Game Show. Motion was also excellent thanks to very good motion interpolation on the TV. Action scenes in the Venom sequel played through smoothly, with intuitive motion blur where needed and very few visible artefacts.
Bright daylight didn't really cause any significant issues with glare on the screen, but the Sony KD-43X75K simply isn't bright enough on its own to counter the effects of direct sunlight in a room. Black levels were decent for an LED television, and this also led to decent contrast levels that properly set apart bright and dark scenes and allowed good colours and detail to come through, as it should for a TV of this size.
The 43-inch size of the TV is best suited for short viewing distances, but the smaller size also has a unique advantage of making lower-resolution content appear nearly as sharp and detailed as 4K content. The Sony KD-43X75K's unique combination of sharpness, clean motion, and good colour levels translated well for full-HD content, with Kim's Convenience and scenes from Pacific Rim looking impressive despite the obviously lower resolution.
Sound quality on the Sony KD-43X75K TV is acceptable in terms of quality, but it doesn't get very loud
Sound quality on the Sony KD-43X75K television was ordinary, but entirely usable even if you don't intend to add a soundbar or speaker system into the mix. Sound was decent at high volumes, with clear dialogue and reasonable performance with background scores, but even at high volume levels, it didn't get very loud. That said, volume variation and spikes weren't really an issue for me, and the sound levels were appropriate for late-night, bedroom TV watching.
I did experience some inadequacies with 5GHz Wi-Fi connectivity on the Sony KD-43X75K television during my review. On a couple of occasions, the TV was unable to connect to the 5GHz band of my home router, despite it being just a few metres away. This made stable streaming of high-resolution content a problem on those occasions. Switching to the 2.4GHz band ensured more stable connectivity.
Among the various mainstream Ultra-HD 43-inch televisions available today, the Sony KD-43X75K TV stands out for its attention to performance. This is among the better 43-inch TVs I've had a chance to review, thanks to its functional design, good specifications and software, decent HDR performance, and a general ability to play all kinds of content well. However, despite everything that's good about it and even if we were to overlook its small drawbacks, it's hard to justify the price.
At over Rs. 50,000, the Sony KD-43X75K costs a good Rs. 20,000 more than most of the competition, and it's hard to justify spending this sort of premium on it especially if this is going to be a secondary TV in your home. If you plan on using it as your primary television and if you're limited to this screen size due to lack of space, then you could make a case for it.
Good 55-inch televisions such as the Mi TV 5X cost less than this, so the Sony is mainly for those who desire the very good performance and are willing to pay the premium for a 43-inch TV. The Sony KD-43X75K is a significant step ahead of the equivalent competition and should keep most buyers happy, if you don't mind the premium.