Sony XEL-1 OLED television
This amazing Sony OLED television is hamstrung by a tiny screen and a massive price-tag
- The best picture quality we’ve seen -- absolute blacks, good colour saturation and control
- Unattainably expensive, reflective screen, non-HD resolution
We could never recommend that anyone purchase this television given its tiny size and incredible price. But as a glimpse into the promising future of OLED televisions, the Sony XEL-1 is technically brilliant.
Price$ 6,999.00 (AUD)
The Sony XEL-1 is an OLED television with an 11in screen and a price-tag of $7000. While this combination guarantees it will only make it onto the sprawling mahogany desks of ultra-rich executives, there’s little doubt that it has the best picture quality we’ve seen from a television.
It may be a comparatively tiny device — especially compared to the Panasonic PS50B850 plasma we had it set up next to — but the Sony XEL-1 is exceedingly well designed and manufactured. The thin-bezeled, tilting 11in screen is connected to the base by a thick, chromed arm. The cross-hatch motif that covers the speakers built into the stand adds an interesting texture. Another novelty is the buttons on the unit’s fascia: each has a small monochrome OLED next to it that changes to reflect the button’s purpose in different contexts; the channel changing buttons may become the up/down navigation method when inside an on-screen menu, for example.
The Sony XEL-1 comes with a credit card–style remote that we were a little disappointed with. It doesn’t have the same quality feel that the rest of the package does. We think Sony should take a leaf from Pioneer’s book. The remotes that come with Pioneer’s KURO television range are well constructed and reflect the quality of the workmanship that has gone into the television. One sticking point that the Sony XEL-1 shares with the much-vaunted Pioneer plasmas is a reflective screen, which will prove annoying unless you’re viewing it in a dimly lit room.
You won’t find too many connections on the rear of the Sony XEL-1. — which is understandable since this TV is aimed at a very niche market — but it has two HDMI ports as well as a USB connector which supports picture and music files. The problem we found was that whatever HDMI device we hooked it up to — Panasonic DMR-BW850 Blu-ray recorder, Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray player, HDMI-enabled laptops — was significantly larger than the XEL-1, destroying the illusion of a svelte, all-in-one package.
The digital television tuner in the Sony XEL-1 LED TV may not provide the most thrilling quality content to test its screen with, but we were nonetheless impressed. Changing channels is quick and the Formula 1 replays on ONE HD that we viewed were full of detail and free of reception problems.
The Sony XEL-1 comes into its own when fed with DVD and Blu-ray content. We threw on The Matrix to check out the quality of DVD upscaling and were very impressed. It’s important to note that the Sony XEL-1 has a native resolution of 960x540, which isn’t too far above DVD resolution and is a long distance from being considered high definition; this helps in the up-scaling process. The internal scaler does a great job of displaying 480p DVD content, with no artefacts or jaggedness that we could see. To test the other end of the scale, we played The Fifth Element on Blu-ray to see its proficiency at down-scaling HD video — and it didn’t disappoint. An amazing amount of detail was preserved, with facial details like pores and stubble — our long-time favourite for discerning detail and sharpness levels — life-like and easily visible.
More noteworthy than the scaling, however, was the Sony XEL-1’s colour handling and black levels. Black levels on an OLED are absolute — no light emission to ruin contrast — and the XEL-1 is no exception. Blacks were deeper and truer compared to any other screen we’ve tested. The brilliance of OLED technology lies in its high contrast abilities — you can have a pure white pixel next to a pure black pixel — and this is best demonstrated with a movie like Batman Begins where you’re able to distinguish all the details, even in the darkest scenes.
Colour handling is also great, with vibrant tones for red, green and blue primary colours. We felt that red tones weren’t the most accurate, but this doesn’t detract from the viewing experience, with a picture that is consistently brilliant and superior to any screen we've tested. We just wish it was 40 inches larger and $5000 less expensive.
Follow PC World Australia on Twitter: @PCWorldAu
Join the newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Acer Predator Triton 300 SE review: Affordable GeForce RTX performance in a slim package
- 2 Jackery Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station review: Good for venturing off the grid
- 3 Razer Naga Trinity review: The last best MMO gaming mouse
- 4 Dynabook Portégé X30W-J – a very good all-rounder
- 5 Google Pixel 5 Review: Soft Reboot
Latest News Articles
- Samsung TV Plus Australia gets FILMZIE
- Samsung’s 76-inch MicroLED TV will be its smallest yet
- Samsung’s 110-inch MicroLED TV brings The Wall to your living room
- Zoom video calling will arrive on Google smart displays by the end of the year
- TCL's 2020 4K & 8K Range Explained: 8K vs Mini-LED
PCW Evaluation Team
Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.
This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.
It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.
As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.
The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.
This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.
- iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro: The cheapest way to get these new handsets in Australia
- 10 fun, funky, and ultra-cool iPhone 13 cases you can buy right now
- How to download proof of Covid-19 vaccination to your smartphone in Australia
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies