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Sony X90J sequence evaluation: Polished expertise, wonderful image


In my years of reviewing I’ve realized that the most effective TVs made by manufacturers like Vizio and TCL can carry out in addition to better-known nameplates like Samsung and the TV granddaddy of all of them, Sony. The query TV consumers face is whether or not to pay a pair hundred {dollars} extra for the sleeker design and superior cachet of an “S” model. The midpriced X90J is Sony’s strongest try but to persuade you to pony up — only a bit.

LikeExcellent picture qualityCapable Google TV sensible systemSolid connectivitySubtle, understated design

Do not LikeMore costly than competing TVs with comparable image high quality.

The X90J has a greater image than final yr’s commendable X900H, and whereas the X90J did not carry out fairly in addition to the TCL 6-Collection, the 2 have been very shut in my side-by-side comparisons. The Sony is vibrant with nice distinction for each commonplace and HDR content material, and whereas it does not match the punch of the TCL or the Hisense 65U8G — each of which value much less — it is nonetheless a wonderful performer.

Sony’s smooth seems and the Google TV working system rating extra factors in its favor, as does its next-gen console assist (it has 4K/120fps inputs and Sony guarantees VRR… someday) and built-in NextGen TV tuner. However whether or not you purchase this TV actually comes right down to how a lot you worth Sony’s model. The X90J might be the most effective worth in Sony’s TV line this yr, however if you’d like the most effective worth general, it is nonetheless the TCL.

Sizes in Sony X90J sequence

Mannequin quantity

Display screen measurement

XR50X90J

50-inch

XR55X90J

55-inch

XR65X90J

65-inch

XR75X90J

75-inch

Along with the fashions above, Sony can also be promoting the 100-inch X92J with comparable specs. It will get its personal mannequin line, nevertheless, due to a special bezel configuration and, , its humongous measurement. It ships later this summer time for $20,000.

Lean again in black

The X90J does not deign to make use of silver or off-gray to distinguish itself — it merely wears all black, on a regular basis. From a distance it seems like each different black slab of TV, however nearer inspection reveals touches just like the beveled body edge and a slim slit beneath the delicate Sony emblem. The stand’s legs angle the panel again barely from plumb, an impact seen in profile however not straight-on.

David Katzmaier/CNET

The distant is old-school Sony: Method too many buttons, most of which you will by no means use. I choose the sleeker, less complicated clickers of Samsung and Roku, in addition to the motion-infused wands of LG. 

Google TV, no Chromecast required

Till TCL’s Google TVs arrive later this yr, Sony is the one TV maker to construct in Google’s newest big-screen working system. Google TV, additionally out there on the brand new Chromecast, has a number of upgrades and enhancements in comparison with the older Android TV system discovered on TVs from Hisense and others. Each methods supply the identical number of hundreds of apps — greater than Samsung and LG, and on par with Roku and Hearth TV — however Google TV is extra polished to make use of.

David Katzmaier/CNET

The For You part permits you to select which companies seem in Google TV’s listing of really helpful exhibits. Selections embrace main names like from Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV Plus, Disney Plus, HBO Max and Sling TV, however as typical Netflix is not included. Search leans closely into Google Assistant voice instructions, with urged phrases like “Present me free motion pictures” front-and-center, and I recognize the flexibility to dive deeper into sections like Comedy TV Reveals or New Motion pictures. All instructed, I nonetheless choose the straightforward, app-based menus of Roku, partly as a result of Google TV nonetheless appears cluttered with stuff I do not need, however it’s a extra succesful system than Samsung, LG or Vizio.

New for this yr is Sony’s BRAVIA Core streaming service, which delivers Sony Footage and a few Imax motion pictures in “UHD BD equal high quality with streaming as much as 80Mbps.” When you’re a stickler for picture high quality and like the choice, it could be value shopping for the movies there as a substitute of a competing service like Vudu, Apple or Amazon, however personally I would select the better compatibility of one other service. I did recognize that my X90J pattern unlocked 5 free motion pictures, nevertheless.

Native dimming, meet game-friendly connections

Key TV options

Show know-how

LED LCD

LED backlight

Full array with native dimming

Decision

4K

HDR appropriate

HDR10 and Dolby Imaginative and prescient

Sensible TV

Google TV

Distant

Commonplace voice

The X90J is Sony’s most reasonably priced 2021 TV with full-array native dimming, a function that illuminates totally different areas of the display independently for higher distinction — and a vital image enhancement for any critical LCD-based TV. Not like Vizio, Hisense or TCL, Sony does not disclose the variety of dimming zones on its TVs, and whereas extra zones typically equate to higher efficiency, that is not all the time the case.

Different picture-centric extras embrace a local 120Hz refresh fee, a notable enchancment on paper over the faux 120Hz refresh charges (they’re really 60Hz native) discovered on cheaper TVs. The X90J helps all the main HDR codecs, together with Dolby Imaginative and prescient. Not like Samsung, TCL and Vizio, Sony does not use quantum dots, so its HDR coloration gamut is not as large. 

David Katzmaier/CNET
4x HDMI inputs2x USB portsComposite AV inputEthernet (LAN) portOptical digital audio output1x headphone/subwoofer audio output1x RF (antenna) inputRS-232 port (minijack)

The X90J’s enter choice is excellent, if not but as succesful as some opponents. The primary two HDMI inputs are primary HDMI 2.Zero whereas Enter Three and Four work with some HDMI 2.1 options, specifically 4K decision at as much as 120 frames per second — nice for players who need to make the most of excessive body charges from an Xbox Collection X or Sony PlayStation 5. Enter Three additionally helps enhanced audio return channel. 

No enter handles VRR (variable refresh fee) nevertheless, an additional most opponents supply. Sony says VRR will arrive with a future firmware replace, however did not specify when. It stated the identical factor in regards to the X900H from final yr, and that TV nonetheless does not assist VRR. Neither does Sony’s personal PS5 console, but.

The X90J’s antenna enter incorporates a built-in ATSC 3.Zero over-the-air tuner, which permits it to obtain NextGen TV broadcasts. These are nonetheless solely out there in a small variety of markets so I did not get the possibility to take a look at this function, however it’s good to know that after the broadcasts change into extra widespread, X90J house owners will not have to attach an exterior tuner field to observe. The X90J is the most cost effective 2021 TV with a NextGen tuner.

Not like lots of Samsung’s and LG’s units, the Sony really has an analog video enter, albeit composite-only, and I additionally recognize having a headphone jack.

David Katzmaier/CNET
Image high quality comparisons

Sony’s baseline native dimming mannequin has excellent picture high quality, with deep black ranges, vibrant highlights and wonderful accuracy. It might probably’t get fairly as vibrant as both the TCL or Hisense I used for this comparability, a distinction that confirmed up in vibrant rooms and with vibrant HDR photographs specifically, however its distinction and black ranges in blended content material have been on par and in lots of areas it was extra correct than both one.

Dim lighting: The X90J carried out nicely in house theater conditions, as I noticed in the course of the darkish Dol Guldur part of The Hobbit: The Battle of the 5 Armies on commonplace Blu-ray (Chapter 3). With brightness calibrated for a dim room, the Sony, TCL and Hisense all regarded very comparable when it comes to black stage in areas just like the letterbox bars and shadows of Gandalf’s cage, for instance. Particulars in near-black areas just like the stone stairs and ruined crags of the fortress appeared pure and well-defined on all the TVs, and whereas the Sony had a slight edge it was shut sufficient to require a side-by-side comparability to discern.

Shiny lighting: The X90J is a vibrant TV, with comparable luminance to the X900H final yr. It did not outshine the competing TCL or Hisense fashions in my side-by-side comparability, nevertheless.

Mild output in nits

TV

Brightest (SDR)

Correct coloration (SDR)

Brightest (HDR)

Correct coloration (HDR)

Samsung QN65QN90A

1,622

1,283

2,596

1,597

Hisense 65U8G

1,569

1,500

2,214

2,214

TCL 65R635 (2020)

1,114

792

1,292

1,102

Sony XR65X90J

951

815

945

847

Sony XBR-65X900H (2020)

841

673

989

795

Vizio P65Q9-H1 (2020)

768

629

1,305

1,084

Samsung QN65Q80T (2020)

664

503

1,243

672

LG OLED65G1

377

334

769

763

Vivid is Sony’s brightest commonplace dynamic vary (SDR) setting and as typical it has extremely inaccurate coloration. For an correct image with SDR I used the Customized setting with brightness at Max and Peak Brightness turned as much as Excessive — it labored, however I would choose Sony to have a separate, correct image mode for vibrant rooms, like Vizio with its Calibrated mode.

Not like earlier years the brightest excessive dynamic vary (HDR) mode wasn’t Vivid, as a substitute it was the more-accurate Commonplace. Since Commonplace is about 100 nits (roughly 10%) brighter than Customized, it is a respectable selection if you’d like most brightness for HDR however do not demand the accuracy of Customized.

The Sony’s display end was superior to the TCL and Hisense at dimming vibrant reflections and preserving distinction and black ranges, though the distinction wasn’t main. I most well-liked the Sony’s bright-room picture to that of the opposite two in most scenes, though it wasn’t pretty much as good general as Samsung fashions I’ve examined beforehand.

Shade accuracy: The Sony was stable earlier than calibration, other than a slight bluish tinge, and afterward was wonderful. The Battle of the 5 Armies has a muted palette till the very finish when Bilbo returns house, and the sensible greens of the Shire hillside, the blue of the sky and even the colourful yellow, crimson and blue doorways got here via superbly on the X90J. As typical nevertheless it did not outpace the opposite units considerably after adjustment, both with the film or take a look at patterns.

Video processing: The X90J had no points delivering correct 1080p/24 cadence with its Motionflow controls within the Off place, which might be the most effective for movie purists. In the meantime the Auto setting launched the buttery smoothness of the cleaning soap opera impact. Then there’s the Customized setting, which has adjustable Smoothness and Clearness.

A Smoothness setting above 1 introduces vital SOE, whereas Zero turns it off. I really did not thoughts the slight smoothing that the 1 setting introduces (some purists may), however its impact on movement decision was actually slight, so I would in all probability follow 0. The Clearness setting ramps up black body insertion to enhance movement decision, however it does not have any impact (other than dimming the picture) except you’ve got bought Smoothness at 2 or increased. In different phrases, there isn’t any strategy to get the most effective of each worlds — excessive movement decision and no SOE — with one setting.

Sony talks up its cognitive processing however with The Hobbit I discovered it robust to select any benefit the X90J had over the opposite two TVs. Particulars regarded comparable and except I performed with the Actuality Creation settings, which added additional processing I did not actually like, any variations have been delicate at greatest.

Uniformity: Every of the screens was roughly comparable at delivering a good picture throughout the whole floor, with no main vibrant or darkish spots, banding or different main points. From off-angle the X90J was barely higher at sustaining coloration constancy than the TCL and about the identical because the Hisense, whereas the Sony’s black stage constancy from off-angle was just like the others, though it did present much less blooming than both one.

David Katzmaier/CNET

Gaming: Though it lacks the flamboyant sport extras like devoted modes and standing shows discovered on 2021 fashions from LG and Samsung, the X90J continues to be an excellent gaming TV. Taking part in Murderer’s Creed: Valhalla on Xbox One X, its default 4K HDR picture was wonderful, with higher shadow element than Hisense and about the identical because the TCL — essential for making out hidden enemies. Highlights and general brightness have been dimmer than the opposite two however the Sony nonetheless had loads of HDR punch.

With each the PS5 and Xbox Collection X, the X90J dealt with 4K/120 fps enter on HDMI Three and 4. At first that did not appear to be the case, nevertheless — each consoles indicated that they’d maxed out at 4K/60 after I initially linked them. I surfaced the difficulty with Sony and was instructed to ensure the HDMI setting (discovered at Settings > Channels & Inputs > Exterior Inputs > HDMI sign format) was appropriate. 

Altering it from Enhanced format (Dolby Imaginative and prescient) — which limits enter to 4K/60 — to Enhanced format did the trick; solely within the latter setting will the X90J deal with 120fps enter at 4K. Taking part in Ori and the Will O Wisps on Collection X regarded suitably easy. It is value noting that non-Sony TVs delivered 4K/120 mechanically in my exams, with out me having to regulate these sorts of settings.

The X90J served up low enter lag in sport mode at round 17 milliseconds for each 1080p and 4K HDR. That is a pair milliseconds extra (worse) than the X900H final yr and a pair extra off the tempo of the least-laggy TVs, should you’re counting, however I doubt even the twitchiest of players would discover.

HDR and 4K video: The Sony X90J delivered a wonderful HDR picture. Whereas it did not match the impression of the opposite two, each of which regarded constantly brighter, the Sony was extra pleasing with blended theatrical content material and likewise confirmed much less blooming. Between the three I most well-liked the TCL in most scenes general, however the Sony is a detailed second.

Watching the montage from the Spears and Munsil 4K Blu-ray, for instance, vibrant pure scenes regarded excellent on all three TVs, however the TCL and particularly the Hisense have been markedly brighter, an impression confirmed by spot measurements. The setting solar above the lake, for instance (2:10) measured 391, 560 and 621 nits on the Sony, TCL and Hisense respectively, a distinction that was simply seen. One other apparent distinction got here with the objects on largely black backgrounds, such because the peacock feather (2:59), the place the Sony’s “black” appeared as extra of a darkish grey across the edges of the feather and the corners of the display, in comparison with the deeper black of the opposite two, particularly the TCL. 

To its credit score the Sony hewed nearer to the goal EOTF than the Hisense, which confirmed some brighter shadows among the many buildings and a flatter, less-natural look on the crocodile, for instance, however the distinction wasn’t drastic. The Sony’s HDR coloration additionally regarded excellent, regardless of its smaller gamut measurements. The flowers and butterflies appeared lush and well-saturated, higher than the TCL and about the identical because the Hisense. 

After I switched again to the 4K HDR Blu-ray of 5 Armies, the Sony got here into its personal. Highlights and brighter scenes have been nonetheless dimmer than the others however in blended darkish scenes, like Dol Guldur in Chapter 9, the X90J maintained darker letterbox bars than the opposite two, specifically the Hisense, for a extra theatrical look. Between the three the TCL regarded greatest, hanging essentially the most pleasing stability between brightness and black stage for essentially the most constant distinction, however the Sony was very shut.

The Sony’s letterbox bars additionally betrayed much less blooming, or stray illumination, then both of the others, with the ultrabright Hisense once more the worst offender. Evaluating colours within the movie, from the raging crimson of Sauron’s flames to the light hillside of the Shire, the Sony and Hisense regarded essentially the most pleasing as soon as once more, with the TCL only a step less-saturated. 

David Katzmaier/CNET
Sony X90J image settings, HDR notes and charts

CNET is now not publishing superior image settings for any TVs we evaluation. As a substitute, we’ll give extra common suggestions to get the most effective image with out itemizing the detailed white stability or coloration administration system (CMS) settings we might have used to calibrate the TV. As all the time, the settings offered are a guidepost, and if you’d like essentially the most correct image it’s best to get knowledgeable calibration.

Previous to calibration, the Cinema, IMAX Enhanced and Customized settings have been essentially the most correct on the X90J, with the slight edge to Customized for its extra linear gamma. All three modes confirmed considerably bluish coloration temperature and better brightness than my dim-room goal. After adjusting brightness to hit my 137-nit goal, the essential two-point coloration temperature controls labored beautifully to calibrate the blue solid away, to the extent that I did not want to the touch the out there 10-point system in any respect. Main and secondary coloration accuracy was an identical story: correct sufficient that I did not even miss the Sony’s lack of a CMS.

Darkish room settings

Show & Sound, Image menu

— Fundamental sub-menu

Image mode: CustomAuto image mode: OffLight sensor: Off

— Brightness sub-menu

Brightness: 5Contrast: 90Gamma: -1HDR tone mapping: Off [grayed out for SDR]Black stage: 50Black alter: OffAdv. distinction enhancer: OffAuto native dimming: MediumPeak luminance: Off

— Shade sub-menu

Shade: 50Hue: 0Color temperature: Professional 1Live Shade: Off

— Readability sub-menu

Sharpness: 20Actuality Creation: OffRandom noise discount: OffDigital noise discount: OffSmooth gradation: Low

— Movement sub-menu

Motionflow: OffCineMotion: Excessive

— Video sign sub-menu

HDR mode: AutoHDMI video vary: AutoColor house: Auto

— Adv. coloration adjustment sub-menu

HDR mode: AutoHDMI video vary: AutoColor house: Auto

Shiny room settings

— Brightness sub-menu:

Brightness: Max [or to taste]Peak luminance: Excessive

[no other changes from above]

HDR notes: Customized delivered essentially the most correct picture for HDR, monitoring the goal EOTF barely higher than Cinema or IMAX Enhanced and a lot better than any of the opposite modes. Among the many three HDR Tone Mapping settings (Off, Gradation Most well-liked and Brightness Most well-liked), Off adopted the EOTF closest however the Cinema default, Gradation, was additionally fairly shut. Shade gamut measured comparatively low at 87% of P3 whereas secondary coloration measurements have been each excellent.

Geek Field

Take a look at

Outcome

Rating

Black luminance (0%)

0.004

Good

Peak white luminance (SDR)

951

Good

Avg. gamma (10-100%)

2.25

Good

Avg. grayscale error (10-100%)

0.76

Good

Darkish grey error (30%)

0.78

Good

Shiny grey error (80%)

0.34

Good

Avg. coloration checker error

2.00

Good

Avg. saturation sweeps error

1.54

Good

Avg. coloration error

1.72

Good

Pink error

1.17

Good

Inexperienced error

1.89

Good

Blue error

2.87

Good

Cyan error

1.52

Good

Magenta error

1.09

Good

Yellow error

1.76

Good

1080p/24 Cadence (IAL)

Move

Good

Movement decision (max)

1200

Good

Movement decision (dejudder off)

400

Poor

Enter lag (Sport mode)

13.8

Good

HDR10

Black luminance (0%)

0.004

Good

Peak white luminance (10% win)

945

Common

Gamut % UHDA/P3 (CIE 1976)

86.71

Poor

ColorMatch HDR error

2.72

Good

Avg. coloration checker error

1.67

Good

Enter lag (Sport mode, 4K HDR)

13.5

Good

Sony X90J CNET evaluation calibration outcomes by David Katzmaier on Scribd

Portrait Shows Calman calibration software program was used on this evaluation.

About the author: SubSellKaro

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