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Ultra-thin 2015 Sony Bravia TV range arrives with Android TV

TVs thinner than a smartphone, with Smart TV internals powered by Google's Android TV operating system - it's the 2015 Bravia range

CES has traditionally been the tech show where manufacturers go big on TVs, and Sony made sure to continue that trend at its 2015 press conference. This year’s Bravia TV range will include some of the thinnest LCD TVs ever produced, and feature Smart TV models running Google’s Android TV operating system for the first time. Throw in several models with Hi-Resolution Audio-compatible speakers and a brand new 4K image processor, and Sony is looking like a strong contender for anyone looking to upgrade their TV in 2015.

Of the twelve new 4K Ultra HD models, the X90C looks set to be the world’s thinnest LCD TV; it’s just 4.9mm at its thinnest point, which is even thinner than a smartphone. That’s not to say that the rest of the range are particularly chunky, but whether you mount it on a wall or use the supplied stand (which is equally minimal), the X90C will certainly make an impression on any visitors.

All of Sony’s 12 UHD models have been upgraded with a new X1 4K processor, which upgrades the picture quality of any 4K source and enhances the dynamic range and colour. Over the past few years, Sony has focused on either picture clarity, contrast or colour, but this year the company says the X1 chip improves all three simultaneously. It takes resolution and bitrate into account, upscaling standard definiton or HD contant up to UHD resolutions. We’re still waiting to see some 4K content on the new system, so will be sure to report back with early impressions of whether the X1 chip is indeed a big improvement over last year’s models. As you might expect, Sony’s Triluminos quantum dot colour technology makes a return too.

The other major visual overhaul is focused on Smart TV; for the first time, Sony has abandoned its own SEN interface in favour of Google’s Android TV. Every TV above the entry-level W70C will use Android TV, complete with the recently announced Google Cast audio streaming support, voice control using a microphone built into the remote control, and access to the Google Play Store for downloading apps and games. 

We haven’t had the chance to put the interface through its paces yet, so we’ll have to wait for CES to begin in order to see how it stacks up against LG’s WebOS, Samsung’s Tizen and the Firefox OS-powered Panasonic Smart TV, but Sony’s implementation looks a lot like Google’s default layout. Other additions include Sony’s own One-Flick entertainment on the X85C, X83C and curved S85C models, which lets you push content from a smartphone or tablet to the big screen, and PlayStation Now game streaming once you’ve paired a DualShock controller via Bluetooth.

Finally, Sony has expanded its 4K video streaming services on compatible models, and signed a deal with Netflix to trial High Dynamic Range (HDR) video, which will put the enhanced brightness of the new range to good use producing brighter, more vibrant and lifelike images when content arrives later in the year.

The major focus might be on picture quality and Smart TV features, but Sony hasn’t ignored sound, either. The X94C and X93C models both include speakers built to Sony’s own Hi-resolution Audio specifications, with the ability to upscale audio to better than CD quality. It’s the first time Sony has used the technology in a TV, showing that the company is beginning to combine its expertise across divisions in order to create the best possible products for customers. We have yet to get in front of either TV in a quiet room, in order to judge sound quality, but will hopefully get the chance once CES begins in earnest tomorrow.

Sony should be launching the 2015 Bravia TV range across Europe from February onwards, although we’re still waiting for exact dates and prices for the UK. We’re excited to get our hands on Android TV, so will be sure to bring you some more in-depth reviews as soon as we get hold of final retail models.

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