Sony X900H 4K LED TV Review: sleek design and a great picture
I appreciate the X900H’s terrific contrast, its enhanced color reproduction, and its sleek design, but a TV like the Vizio OLED offers better contrast, better color, and an even thinner design. And although the X900H is far more affordable than Samsung’s 2020 flagship, the Q90T, you can spend far less on the TCL 6-Series and land yourself a TV that performs just as well as (if not better than) the X900H—and a much better smart platform, to boot.
Still, if you invest in the Sony X900H, you’re getting a terrific TV that will look good across all types of content, be it movies, sports, gaming, or streaming. Its price tag is a bit higher than it should be, but it’s an expertly engineered TV with a spec list to back up the cost.
Editor’s note: Due to COVID-19 complications, this review leans heavily on test results in lieu of hands-on time with the TV.
About the Sony X900H
There are four sizes in the Sony X900H series ranging from 55 inches all the way up to 85 inches. The variant we’ve tested is the 65-inch model, which we received on loan. Here’s how each of the sizes in the series shake out in terms of pricing:
- 55-inch (Sony XBR-55X900H), MSRP $999.99
- 65-inch (Sony XBR-65X900H), MSRP $1,399.99
- 75-inch (Sony XBR-75X900H), MSRP $1,999.99
- 85-inch (Sony XBR-85X900H), MSRP $2,599.99
Different sizes of TVs in a series tend to perform very similarly to one another, so we don’t expect there to be major differences between the 55-, 65-, 75-, and 85-inch variants of the X900H. One thing to keep in mind, however, is the difference in local dimming zone count. Generally speaking, more local dimming zones are favorable, as they allow for tighter contrast control. Sony typically doesn’t disclose its TVs’ zone counts, but it’s possible that each size in the series features a different amount of zones, which theoretically could affect contrast—though probably not to the degree that any size in the series performs drastically different than another.
Here’s a rundown of key specifications shared by all sizes in the X900H series:
- Resolution: 4K (3,840 x 2,160)
- Display type: VA LED Triluminos Display
- Local dimming: Full-array local dimming
- HDR support: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision
- Dolby Atmos: Yes
- eARC support: Yes
- Native refresh rate: 120 Hz
- Smart platform: Yes (Android)
- Color: DCI-P3/10-bit color space
- Processor: X1 4K HDR Processor
- Variable Refresh Rate (VRR): Yes (with firmware update)
- Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM): Yes (with firmware update)
- Other features: Google Assistant, Alexa, and Chromecast integration
In addition to Google Assistant and Chromecast support, the X900H features an Android-based smart platform. It’s not our favorite smart platform on the market today (that honor goes to Roku), but it’s flexible and supports a ton of apps.
The Sony X900H also supports eARC, Variable Refresh Rate, and Auto Low Latency Mode, but these enhancements require a firmware update. The X900H is also capable of supporting 120 FPS at 4K resolution after the appropriate firmware update.
Before testing each TV, we make sure the panel is on and receiving a continuous signal for at least 24 hours, allowing the pixels plenty of time to warm up. Our 65-inch X900H received this standard warm-up time before any readings were taken.
For SDR tests, we used Sony’s “Custom” picture setting. For HDR tests, we also used the TV’s “Custom” picture setting. We’ve chosen these settings because of their accuracy (Sony reports that its “Custom” picture setting is the best-calibrated mode), but results may vary depending on which picture mode is enabled. For every test we conducted, the X900H’s light sensor (which adjusts the TV’s backlight setting based on ambient lighting conditions) was disabled.
We use a standard ANSI checkerboard pattern for most of our basic contrast tests—including the ones reported below—but we also use white and black windows ranging from 2% to 90% to test how well the contrast holds up while displaying varying degrees of brightness.
I’ll expand on our test results throughout the review, but for now, here are some key takeaways:
• HDR contrast (brightness/black level): 562.7 nits/0.077 nits (ANSI checkerboard)
• SDR contrast (brightness/black level): 359.5 nits/0.057 nits (ANSI checkerboard)
• HDR peak brightness: 771 nits (40% white window)
• HDR color gamut coverage: 91% (DCI-P3/10-bit)
• SDR color gamut coverage: 100% (Rec.709)
When it comes to upper-mid-range TVs in 2020, the X900H is ahead of most of the pack. It supports HDMI 2.1-adjacent features such as VRR, ALLM, and 4K gaming at 120 FPS, but these enhancements require a firmware update and only two of the TV’s four HDMI ports will support them. On one hand, these next-generation features are great to have in your back pocket, especially if you plan on investing in an Xbox Series X or a Playstation 5.
On the other hand, some users might find themselves juggling cables if they want to plug in more than two devices that take advantage of such features.
Take a peek at the back of the Sony X900H’s panel and you’ll find a cutout with the following connectivity options:
• 4x HDMI (2x HDMI 2.1)
• 2x USB (1x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0)
• LAN ethernet port, RF input, optical audio output, 3.5mm audio output
What We Like
Fantastic contrast and color reproduction
From a performance standpoint, the X900H is a well-rounded TV with good-enough grades across the board, but it excels particularly well in the always-important categories of contrast and color. It features Sony’s proprietary Triluminos display technology, which—despite the slippery nature of TV marketing terms—operates similarly to quantum dot technology. For evaluation purposes, here’s all you really need to know: The Sony X900H gets considerably bright for its VA-style panel due to its display hardware, which enhances brightness and allows for extra-wide, extra-vivid colors.
In fact, pretty much everything we threw at the X900H—from Netflix shows to UHD Blu-rays—looked fantastic. One reason for its impressive performance is the X900H’s overall contrast, which pairs bright highlights with steady, consistently low black levels. While sending the X900H a test pattern in HDR, we measured a peak brightness of around 770 nits. And although the TV’s average black level range of .05 to .09 nits isn’t as deep as some of its OLED-equipped competitors, the X900H does a tremendous job keeping the black levels in that range—darker picture elements tend to remain dark, even when brighter bits are introduced.
The X900H’s well-balanced performance sheet is also anchored by well-saturated, accurate colors. The TV covers 100% of the Rex.709 SDR color standard and bolsters its picture processing with terrific out-of-the-box calibration, so just about everything that airs on TV is sure to look great (just be sure to use the TV’s “Custom” picture mode). For newer, HDR-mastered content like big-budget Netflix productions and 4K Blu-rays, the X900H’s wide color gamut keeps things looking vivid enough to appreciate, but true color-chasers might be better off investing in a brighter, more-dazzling picture like the one found on the quantum dot-enhanced Samsung Q90T.
Sleek, minimalist design
The X900H may not feature the razor-thin panel you’ll find on an OLED TV, but its svelte design and clean lines are sure to look smashing in any room you happen to grace with its presence.
The panel emphasizes clean lines with minimal textures, and the metal feet that it rests atop are among the slimmest I’ve seen from TV stands of this particular design class. This, combined with the TV’s super-thin bezels, gives the X900H an air of levitation. The negative space underneath the TV is more than enough to accommodate a small armada of soundbars and streaming devices, though should you decide to wall-mount your new TV, the X900H is ready to hang, too.
The included remote control isn’t as sophisticated; its blocky form and meat-and-potatoes appearance won’t make it the star of your coffee table, but it’s familiar enough to navigate easily and Sony seems to be slimming it down with each passing year, which is appreciated. Believe it or not, this remote used to be chunkier!
A full package of features for all types of content
It would have been a bummer if a TV of this caliber didn’t feature finely-tuned motion handling, and thankfully, the X900H doesn’t disappoint. Backed by a 120 Hz native refresh rate, the TV is packed with various enhancements that compliment its hardware. The X900H features Sony’s X-Motion Clarity software, which essentially tweaks standard black frame insertion functionality by allowing the content itself to determine the size and duration of each black frame. In practice, this makes for improved motion performance that limits the amount of dimming that typically results from black frame insertion software. This feature, along with the more rudimentary motion smoothing options, can be disabled.
All of that is to say that the X900H looks great during fast-paced, motion-heavy content like sports, action movies, and video games. The specific manner in which you wish to see the TV’s motion enhanced is entirely up to you, and since Sony is releasing a firmware update that allows for 4K content at 120 FPS, future video game titles that push these boundaries will hopefully look (and feel) stellar on the X900H.
Another promised firmware update will include Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), the former of which eliminates screen tearing during gaming and the latter of which optimizes the TV’s settings when it detects a gaming device .
What We Don’t Like
Limited viewing angles
Like most VA-style TV panels, the X900H’s Achilles’ heel is its narrow viewing angles, which prevent the picture from looking its best when you move away from a direct, head-on position. Move just three or four feet off to the side and the picture will take on a washed-out appearance, its colors losing vibrancy as you step away from the center. As a result, the X900H is not a great TV for movie night, as only the folks with direct lines of sight will appreciate the TV at its best. This is a particularly tough pill to swallow when you consider that the smallest size in the series is a not-so-personal 55 inches.
Of course, the tradeoff to a VA panel’s typical viewing angle limitations is its propensity for excellent contrast, and as we’ve discussed, the X900H is no slouch in that department. Interestingly enough, the Sony X800H—also released this year—features an IPS-style panel, which allows for terrific viewing angles at the expense of its contrast.
Priced at a premium
If you compare the Sony X900H to some of the most competitive TVs in its price bracket, the results are all over the place, but the takeaway is clear: The X900H is a better pick than more affordable TVs that underperform (relative to their price range) but a not-so-great pick when compared to more affordable TVs that overperform.
A TV like the Hisense H9G—which features quantum dot-enhanced brightness, a 120 Hz refresh rate, and an excellent color gamut—is a few hundred bucks cheaper than the X900H but doesn’t come with the same array of features. Between the two, I’d recommend spending the extra $200-$400 on the X900H, if only for the inclusion of eARC (which is strangely absent in the H9G).
On the other hand, a TV like the TCL 6-Series—one of our Best of the Year award-winners—is cheaper than both the Sony X900H and the Hisense H9G, but it still manages to perform at their level. Plus, the 6-Series offers nearly all of the X900H’s special features, like eARC, VRR, and ALLM.
It’s yet to be seen whether or not the TCL 6-Series will prove to be a paradigm-shifting TV that forces companies like Sony and Hisense to offer out-of-the-box support for next-generation features at a fiercely competitive price, but for now, it’s hard to deny just how pricey TVs like the X900H look in comparison.
Should You Buy It?
Yes, but take a hard look at the alternatives first
The Sony X900H is a terrific TV with a respectable array of features that will check the boxes on most people’s wishlist, even A/V enthusiasts who want a taste of the high-end features of tomorrow. As a TV whose price tag is in the second-highest tier, however, the X900H is sandwiched between top-tier options that offer more than it ever could and third-tier options that are nipping at its heels. When TVs like the TCL 6-Series cost far less than the X900H and still manage to go toe-to-toe with it, it’s hard not to eliminate the second-highest price tier from consideration altogether.
For this reason, I’d recommend folks take a hard look at the TCL 6-Series if they’re in the market for a TV in the X900H’s price range. The TCL’s design elements aren’t as slick as Sony’s, but I’d put the 6-Series’ picture up against the X900H’s any day of the week, and being a Roku TV, it also comes with our favorite smart platform built right in. That said, while the 6-Series comes with VRR and ALLM right out of the box, it won’t display 4K content at 120 FPS.
If you’re amenable to spending a bit more, the Vizio OLED is a fantastic way to maximize your dollar. It offers perfect black levels, brightness capabilities that come close to the X900H’s, and an eye-poppingly thin panel.
The Sony X900H is a fantastic TV, but there are ways to wring more value out of your money.
Meet the testers
Senior Staff Writer
Michael Desjardin graduated from Emerson College after having studied media production and screenwriting. He specializes in tech for Reviewed, but also loves film criticism, weird ambient music, cooking, and food in general.
Julia is the Senior Scientist at Reviewed, which means that she oversees (and continually updates) the testing of products in Reviewed’s core categories such as televisions, washing machines, refrigerators, and more. She also determines the testing methods and standards for Reviewed’s “The Best Right Now” articles.
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