Review: Sony X800H HomeKit TV is an excellent mid-tier set

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 21
At CES 2020, Sony unveiled a new line of 4K and 8K TVs, destined to be released during the year. They finally have now gone on sale and we were quick to pick one up to test it out.

The 43-inch Sony X800H HomeKit-enabled television
The 43-inch Sony X800H HomeKit-enabled smart television


The 2020 Sony TV lineup is quite encompassing, spanning several different sizes in both 4K and 8K variants. We chose the X800H 43-inch model, which features a Sony X1 processor, 4K resolution, HDR10 and Dolby Vision support, Dolby Atmos support, dual 10W speakers, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Google Assistant voice search, and HomeKit.

Design

Sony has kept a relatively modern design with its new line of TVs. The bezel is very narrow around the edges which helps it blend in -- or gives you an excuse to jump up a size. We replaced a 46-inch set with a 43-inch set, and between the smaller bezels and overall smaller size, we wish we'd have opted for the 49-inch instead.

Sony X800H feet
Sony X800H feet


The stand is comprised of two angled arches that go on the left and right side and are installed with a Philips screwdriver. These look nice with a brushed finish, but do feel a bit plastic-y. This is an entry-level set and the whole thing has a bit of a plastic feel, but Sony does a good job of masking it until you touch it.

We'd say the biggest thing with the legs is because they do stick out towards the front, if you plan on placing a soundbar in front of the TV it will have to sit out a little bit. If you mount it on the other hand, this won't be an issue.

Sony X800H side ports
Sony X800H Side ports


As far as ports are concerned, there are two USB ports on the side, above three HDMI ports. One of the side HDMI ports is the ARC port if you are using a soundbar such as the Sonos Beam or Polk Command Bar that rely on the audio return channel for processing audio.

Sony X800H rear ports
Sony X800H rear ports


The back of the set includes another HDMI port, composite video input, an RS-232C serial port, optical audio output, and a 3.5mm audio output.

This is a solid, if unexciting, medley collection of ports. We are most thrilled by the inclusion of four HDMI ports for connecting a multitude of devices, though we'd have preferred perhaps two HDMI ports on the back, because it looks a bit cleaner and it is easier to hide the cables. If you unplug your devices a lot, side ports are obviously better.

Sony X800H rear controls
Rear controls of the Sony X800H


As is typical, Sony has hidden the on-TV controls around back. They reside behind the back-right side of the display, easily reachable with the tips of your fingers while looking at the front of the TV. The physical controls include volume rockers as well as the power toggle.

Sony did its best to keep the TV slim, which is why it has an external power brick. This is a technique more often seen with portable electronics such as Apple's MacBooks, as Apple could integrate the power supply and leave you with just a small AC power cable, but includes the 61W to 96W power bricks to keep the main unit portable.

Devices that are typically plugged in -- Apple TV, Mac Pro, Mac mini -- all have internal power supplies but it adds to their size.

The Sony X800H has an external power brick
The Sony X800H has an external power brick


Here, the cable plugs in with a simple barrel connector and an inline power brick must be dealt with. It is rather hefty and we can see it possibly being an issue with some mounted TVs if you are tight on space.

Again, it is a compromise because the set itself is quite thin, especially towards the top. Most people, won't rightly care or notice this aspect.

The remote is a simple affair, not much different than the year-ago versions. Due to this being a cheaper set, it still has a brushed exterior but it is plastic rather than the metal the higher-end sets receive.

Setup

The setup process for televisions continues to elongate. With this TV, you have to first go through the Android TV setup process before going through the Sony Bravia setup process which is more annoying than it is helpful.

This is felt especially when it gets repetitive, such as asking for what country you are in multiple times.

It's what happens when a TV manufacturer puts Android on top of its own OS. The Sony setup process is about setting up inputs and TV preferences whereas the Android setup is more about installing third-party apps and connecting to Wi-Fi.

Speaking of which, if you have an Android smartphone, it does simplify the process a little bit by automatically signing into your Google account and configuring Wi-Fi. This is very similar to Apple's setup process for new devices via proximity.

Profile shot of the Sony X800H
Profile shot of the Sony X800H


During the setup process the TV also asks you to set up HomeKit and/or AirPlay 2. More on that in a moment.

Video quality

A TV isn't worth anything if it produces a crummy image. But for an entry-level set, the Sony X800H is a great bargain for many forms of content.

We tested the TV with some of the built-in Android streaming apps as well as with an Apple TV HD and an Apple TV 4K. We wanted to test the quality of streaming via the included apps, with legit 4K Dolby Vision HDR content from iTunes, and how upscale 1080P content would look.

Upscaled content from our Apple TV HD looks a million times better than it does on a 1080P TV. We've seen some questionable upscaling but Sony did a fantastic job thanks to its X1 processor in there that results in no errant artifacts.

There are pretty great viewing angles which are great for a big living room but also when used as a monitor. This TV has no chance of burn-in which is perfect for a monitor as well as is the spectacularly low response time, while Gamers will also love this TV for that low input lag.

Color accuracy seems quite good out of the box and vivid colors overall, with HDR and Dolby Vision content offering a solid experience. It shined most with explosions and other content where brightness ramps up. The TV can get very bright during these HDR moments, to incredible effect.

The biggest drawback we saw with the picture quality was the contrast level, as blacks came off as grey in dim rooms. There is no local dimming, which doesn't help those dark shades.

HomeKit and AirPlay 2

For Apple users, HomeKit and AirPlay 2 are some of the most important features in a good TV these days. Fortunately, it is Sony's spot-on HomeKit implementation that caused us to once more choose a Sony set.

Last year, we picked up the X950G series as a replacement for our Vizio set, which had an abysmal HomeKit setup. It never responded and we struggled every time we tried to use HomeKit with it.

The Sony X950G never had that issue, and is also top-notch in this regard. That is part of the difference between a budget-friendly Vizio set and an upper-level Sony.

The new Sony TV inside the Home app
The new Sony TV in the Home app


HomeKit setup happens right as you walk through the getting started guide but it can also be set up later via settings. The TV can be configured to just use AirPlay 2 to cast audio and video or it can be set up also with full HomeKit support.

With HomeKit enabled, the TV can be powered on and off from within the Home app and the input can also be changed. These can be changed through Siri too, or configured into scenes. This means it can be automated, such as turning off when you leave the house or tell Siri goodnight.

The Home app can also open up TV settings. Each input can be named in the Home app to make swapping between them from the app or via voice easy and intuitive.

Turning the TV off with Siri
Turning the TV off with Siri


HomeKit TVs can be controlled via the Remote widget in Control Center as well. Right from Control Center, you can play or pause video playback (think those third-party video apps), go back, navigate around, and pull up the on-screen menu.

There are a lot of TVs that support apps but having it built right into the OS is clearly better and much easier to use. HomeKit is the best of all as it works through any Siri device. The Apple TV can tell the TV to turn off, as can Siri on HomePod, Mac, Apple Watch, iPad, and iPhone.

Because the TV also has AirPlay 2, it can act as a receiver for any audio or video cast from your bevy of Apple devices. Mirror the screen of your Mac, cast a YouTube video from your iPhone, or stream music to multiple rooms and TVs via HomePod.

If you have an Apple TV, this is less useful and can confuse as both show up.

Should you buy Sony's 2020 X800H TV?

The picture quality on the X800H is fantastic, with high brightness, sharp images, great color accuracy, and wonderful upscaling. Once again, our only complaint is the just ok contrast ratio.

Due to its Android operating system, the TV has a ton of apps available from the Play store and the remote even double-downs on Google with a Google Assistant button right on the remote. If you are looking for a smart TV, this will likely suffice.

If you are in the Apple ecosystem though, you will be pleased with its excellent support of HomeKit as well as AirPlay 2. Without an Apple TV, you can cast audio and video right to the TV.

Pros
  • Mid-tier price with high-end features

  • Perfect HomeKit & AirPlay 2 support

  • Great color and 4K upscaling

  • Dolby Vision a HDR10 support

  • Many inputs on back and side

  • Clean, modern look
Cons
  • Contrast is only average

  • Comprising build quality replaces metal for plastic

  • Side ports can messy-looking depending on your home setup

  • Android setup can be repetative

Rating: 4 out of 5

Where to buy

The new lineup of Sony's TVs is available now. The budget-friendly X800H series begins at goes from 43 inches to 85 inchesstarting at $598 on Amazon with Prime shipping.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,045member
    Under 'Cons' I didn't see Android OS listed. As I don't have an Android phone, how badly does that limit setup? I have no truck with anything Google except a dalliance with YT.

    The set looks intriguing other than the stands being at the ends instead of a monitor-like pedestal. That makes it a little awkward for my particular situation. It could be a real improvement over my same sized 720 plasma.
    rob53p-dogwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 24
    For a mid-range 4K TV in 2020, it should probably be a 'Con' to have an edge-lit screen.
    p-dogwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 24
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,745member
    Oh man, I just bought a new Sony TV a few months ago.  HomeKit would've been nice.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 24
    "Most people, won't rightly care or notice this aspect." I disagree. An external power supply complicates on-wall installations, and adds significant clutter to an AV setup. While people may not use the power supply as a criterion when shopping for a new TV, they will notice it contributing to the cable rats nests and very well may care… but it will be too late. They also might care when they move and can't find the power supply. I may not be most people, but I strongly prefer electronics with internal power supplies.

    That said, I wonder if external power supplies are effective in keeping TVs and monitors in service longer as it's much easier to replace an external power brick than to source and replace an internal power supply.
    edited May 2020 p-dogneilmwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 24
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,544member
    I am no expert in TVs but please do compare the specs of 2020 LG 65NANO90UNA with other similar mid-tier TVs. Samsung QN65Q80TAFXZA is also good but don't have Dolby vision, no BT 5,etc. Visio not recognized name but lately making it's name.


    edited May 2020
  • Reply 6 of 24
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,732member
    macgui said:
    Under 'Cons' I didn't see Android OS listed. As I don't have an Android phone, how badly does that limit setup? I have no truck with anything Google except a dalliance with YT.

    The set looks intriguing other than the stands being at the ends instead of a monitor-like pedestal. That makes it a little awkward for my particular situation. It could be a real improvement over my same sized 720 plasma.
    My mom’s Sony TV uses Android and it is crap.  Every so often the Netflix app crashes requiring a reboot of the TV.  My mom is 80 years old and can’t understand why a TV has to be “rebooted”.
    rundhvidwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 24
    rundhvidrundhvid Posts: 61member
    Question 1:
    Are there any current 4K TV’s available WITHOUT AnthraxOS?

    Question 2:
    In case the answer is depressingly No, to which degree can the AnthraxOS be disabled in TV’s from the various manufacturers?

    Question 3:
    Could a monitor—e.g. the LG 5K from the  store—double as a TV?

    My personal use of a TV is exclusively to watch movies and streaming from an TV.

    next: initiate Kickstarter project: 4K TV sans AnthraxOS! It should be an immediate success 👀
    p-dogminicoffeewatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 24
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,745member
    rundhvid said:
    Question 1:
    Are there any current 4K TV’s available WITHOUT AnthraxOS?

    LG TVs use webOS, I believe.
    chasmrundhvidp-dogwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 24
    I bought this TV from Best Buy less than a month ago to use in the office as a second monitor, not knowing anything about its feature set.

    I was pleasantly surprised by everything.  Setup was quick, operation has been very smooth.  It's very light (only 20 pounds) so mounting on the wall was a snap.  The TV lets you turn the picture off when playing AirPlay or Chromecast content.  Apps are treated like inputs, so you can switch between HDMI 1 as easily as Crunchyroll or Plex.  AirPlay Mirroring from a Mac is nice and smooth, 60fps over Wi-Fi.  The speakers also sound very good for built-in's.  There is a setting that optimizes sound for wall-mount or stand-mount.

    To give you an idea of how stable the OS is, I've started Chromecasts from a phone app that streams live music ... left them running for days on the TV (muted / picture off) and completely forgotten about it.  A few days later I press a button on the remote and find the Chromecast is still running and streaming music.

    It doesn't have local dimming, or extreme brightness like the Vizio PX65-G1 in my living room, but this is not a prime movie-watching TV.  It's more than adequate for gaming and casual viewing, and I think the price is very reasonable considering the rich feature set and support for HomeKit and AirPlay.
    edited May 2020 p-dogwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 24
    FatmanFatman Posts: 513member
    IMO - Now more than ever people are watching a lot of TV, so I would recommend not settling, and saving up for the better set. If OLED price is out of reach then look for multi zone local dimming (the more zones the better, and smaller sizes usually short change you on number of zones / 65 currently seems to be the sweet spot in price and performance), Dolby Vision and HDR10 support is a must. Most built-in streaming software use slow processors, have mediocre low resolution interfaces and aren’t updated often, so pair your new TV with the current best streamer, AppleTV 4K. Add a sound bar - or preferably AV receiver for much better sound than the typically abysmal built in speakers. For TV brands; LG for OLED, or higher end model Sony or Vizio (Sorry Sammy still don’t trust your reliability) add a Yamaha AV for a killer combo.  
    edited May 2020 p-dogwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 24
    wood1208 said:
    I am no expert in TVs but please do compare the specs of 2020 LG 65NANO90UNA with other similar mid-tier TVs. Samsung QN65Q80TAFXZA is also good but don't have Dolby vision, no BT 5,etc. Visio not recognized name but lately making it's name.


    Don't feel bad. I don't think Apple Insider is an expert at reviewing TVs either. Kind of like reading a beauty makeup review in Car and Driver magazine. Seeing a full-blow TV review here was a bit odd, to say the least.
    edited May 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 24
    F_Kent_DF_Kent_D Posts: 61unconfirmed, member
    For a mid-range 4K TV in 2020, it should probably be a 'Con' to have an edge-lit screen.
    They’ve reported this as a budget, entry level TV, not a mid-range TV
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 24
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,216member
    rundhvid said:
    Question 1:
    Are there any current 4K TV’s available WITHOUT AnthraxOS?

    Question 2:
    In case the answer is depressingly No, to which degree can the AnthraxOS be disabled in TV’s from the various manufacturers?

    Question 3:
    Could a monitor—e.g. the LG 5K from the  store—double as a TV?

    My personal use of a TV is exclusively to watch movies and streaming from an TV.

    next: initiate Kickstarter project: 4K TV sans AnthraxOS! It should be an immediate success 👀
    Yes TCL and other brands come with Roku  installed. I think Samsung Tv’s use Tizen OS. If you use appletv or any other streaming device what does it really matter what the tv’s os is?  I have my tv’s set to power on directly to the input connected to my Appletv, or directly to my receiver where I then choose the input for Appletv or PS4 etc... 
    rundhvidwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 24
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,216member
    wood1208 said:
    I am no expert in TVs but please do compare the specs of 2020 LG 65NANO90UNA with other similar mid-tier TVs. Samsung QN65Q80TAFXZA is also good but don't have Dolby vision, no BT 5,etc. Visio not recognized name but lately making it's name.


    Don't feel bad. I don't think Apple Insider is an expert at reviewing TVs either. Kind of like reading a beauty makeup review in Car and Driver magazine. Seeing a full-blow TV review here was a bit odd, to say the least.
    I think it was reviewed here because it has HomeKit and is Airplay 2 capable. Performance of the tv itself was kind of secondary.   
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 24
    macseekermacseeker Posts: 507member
    Does this TV set have the ATSC version 3.0 tuner?  If not, it's a waste of money.

    To me, for the 2020 4K models from any manufacturer not having the ATSC version 3.0 tuner is like having a high performance car but the engine is a squirrel running in a cage.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 24
    F_Kent_D said:
    For a mid-range 4K TV in 2020, it should probably be a 'Con' to have an edge-lit screen.
    They’ve reported this as a budget, entry level TV, not a mid-range TV
    Well, if you want to call it a budget TV, then it's at the high-end of the price range at $600 for the 43 inch. TCL and Vizio sell budget 4K TVs for under $300.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 24

    macseeker said:
    Does this TV set have the ATSC version 3.0 tuner?  If not, it's a waste of money.
    In 2020, it's looking like ATSC 3.0 tuners will only be included in the most expensive model TVs. For example, Samsung will only sell 8K TVs with those tuners this year. Cheapest option would probably be the X900H 4K series from Sony...55" is $1200, 65" is $1600. 
    edited May 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 24
    neilmneilm Posts: 901member
    jcs2305 said:
    I think it was reviewed here because it has HomeKit and is Airplay 2 capable. Performance of the tv itself was kind of secondary.   
    I think it was reviewed here because an AI staffer bought it for personal use, so why not.

    As far as the review itself goes, I would have liked some info on the degree to which the AndroidOS could be disabled or bypassed in setup. 

    Oh, and some proofreading and copy editing to fix the word salad problems in the article would have been welcome.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 24
    rundhvidrundhvid Posts: 61member
    crowley said:
    rundhvid said:
    Question 1:
    Are there any current 4K TV’s available WITHOUT AnthraxOS?

    LG TVs use webOS, I believe.
    Thanks—you just saved my day 👍🏽

    ... and thrashed my Kickstarter idea! 🙃😬🙈
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 24
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 466member, editor
    macgui said:
    Under 'Cons' I didn't see Android OS listed. As I don't have an Android phone, how badly does that limit setup? I have no truck with anything Google except a dalliance with YT.

    The set looks intriguing other than the stands being at the ends instead of a monitor-like pedestal. That makes it a little awkward for my particular situation. It could be a real improvement over my same sized 720 plasma.
    It isn’t bad. It is a longer setup but it is mostly just adding your Google account and such. If you plan to use the Android setup then it takes longer than tapping your Android phone but no reason to put down the TV.
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