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Sony X900H/XH90 4K HDR TV review

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All the TVs you will ever need (or have enough room for)

By Simon Lucas Last updated December 3, 2021

TechRadar Verdict

The XH9005/X900H is a versatile camera that offers outstanding picture performance, great upscaling, and promises of HDM1 2.1. It’s hard to miss.

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Pros

  • +
    Dynamic, convincing 4K HDR

  • +
    Incredible upscaling

  • +
    A full-bodied sound

Cons


  • HDR10+ is not available


  • HDMI 2.1 is not supported


  • Interface for Brash Android

Although the Sony X900H/XH90 4KHDR TV may be second in the TV range, it is first in our hearts.

When choosing wine at a restaurant, it’s good manners to choose the second-cheapest bottle. There’s also an argument to suggest that it’s sensible to pay attention to the range below the flagship models when looking for a new TV. The theory says this is where the true value for money lies, and where the ‘performance-per-pound’ ratio is strongest.

 

The Sony 4K LCD TV series includes six ranges. In the order of preference, the XH90 (called in America the X900H) is ranked above the Sony XH95/X950H. The series starts at a very affordable PS1,299/$999 for its smallest version ( 55 inch). However, it is well-equipped with excellent picture processing, full array local dimming, and some extremely complicated upscaling algorithms. You can also get the attention-grabbing Dolby sound standards Vision, and Atmos.

 

The 75 inch version is being tested here. It’s available in a range of sizes that spans 55-inch up to 85-inch. The XH90 delivers, regardless of screen size. Is it going to make your eyes linger a bit longer on the menu?

Prices and availability

The Sony XH90/X900H is available in the US and UK for $2,499 / PlayStation2,199 (around AU$3,600 for a 75-inch model).

 

The smallest size, 55 inches, is available for $999/PS1,299; the 65-inch model will cost $1,399/PS1,499 and the 85 inch will run you $2,799/PS3,299.

The XH90/X900H costs a fraction less than the XH95/X950H which starts at $999 / PlayStation1,199 for a smaller 49-inch model. If you have a bit more money, it might be worth upgrading.

(Image credit: Sony)

Design

Sony XH90/X900H Specs

(Image credit: Sony)

HDR: HLG, HDR10, Dolby Vision

Sony has very few lessons to learn from the industrial design of a large television. The XH90/X900H is no exception.

The thin and discrete bezels that surround the huge screen are slim and discrete, while the feet which support it are a similar flattened V shape. Although it seems unlikely that a TV of this size will be wall-mounted (even considering its 33kg weight), there is plenty of space below the screen to accommodate a soundbar.

The Sony has a depth of just a touch over 7cm, so it isn’t exactly thin. However, its full array of local dimming arrangements is bound to increase the size by at least a millimetre.

This panel is a VA-type LCD. It can be described as an upgrade to the IPS edge-lit panel Sony used on its last-year’s model. A full-array VA panel promises a brighter, more vibrant screen and better uniformity than IPS. However, the XH90/X900H does not have the X-Wide viewing angles technology that Sony’s flagship XH95/X950H range has. Prospective customers need to be certain that every viewer can sit directly in front their TV.

The remote handset is unremarkable and allows you to control your TV. It is longer than necessary, considering the many buttons it contains, and it is far from being a paradigm of common sense and legibility (apart naturally from the large ‘Google Play’ or ‘Netflix buttons). Google Assistant is responsive in this application, with the exception of the’mic” button.

Four HDMI inputs at HDCP2.3 provide connectivity, as well as a pair USB inputs and an Ethernet socket. There are also aerial posts for two satellite TV tuners and one terrestrial TV tuner. Bluetooth 4.2, Apple AirPlay and wi-fi are the wireless connections. Outputs include a headphone socket as well as a digital optical out.

The HDMI inputs are all at 2.0 standard, with one being ARC-enabled. However, this appears to have changed from our initial review. This Sony set was updated to HDMI 2.0 in October. It now supports 4K/120Hz passthrough and Variable Refresh Rate.

HDMI 2.1 allows for a variety of gaming features, including Variable Resfresh Rate which reduces image stutter, smoothes motion, and fluidly changes the frame rate during gameplay. You can also enable Auto Low Latency Mode to reduce lag and make your play more responsive.

Design TL:DR: The design is no bulkier than one might expect, with a complete suite of connections. Future updates promise to make this package even more appealing. The VA panel type is welcome as long as you are not swaying off-axis.

Android TV (Image credit: Google)

Smart TV (Android 9.0)

The operating system and smart TV interface are a combination Android (9.0 in this case) and YouView (in order for UK TV catch-up to be available on board). It’s both a mix of the useful and annoying, just like any other Sony TV running Android.

The’really quite practical’ side has some of the most straightforward and useful set-up menus that you’ll find on the TV market. There’s also a wide range of apps, including Disney Plus and Amazon Prime Video as well as Tidal, its new Dolby Atmos selection, and Google Assistant and Google Chromecast.

“Downright annoying” is covered by the Android example of hogging the screen while browsing and the ridiculous number of hoops one must jump through to turn off the button press ‘chirp’ when navigating in the onscreen menus.

Apple TV Plus was not available at the time this TV was first released. However, support for Apple TV has been added.

SmartTV TL;DRIt is Android TV with all the good and evil that it implies.

HD/SDR Performance

Sony has spent a lot of time improving its ability to enhance sub-4K content with its 4K TVs. It combines the power of its X14K HDR picture processing chips with an ever-expanding library of 4K-relevant photos to provide greater detail and texture to 4K content. It proves that to a great extent.

The XH90’s impressive upscaling abilities are demonstrated admirably by a 1080p Bluray disc of The Big Lebowski by the Coen Brothers. High detail levels, strong contrasts, and a vibrant West Coast palette look natural and convincing are all part of the XH90’s impressive capabilities. The pivotal rug’s texture and other textures are well-defined and stable, making motion smooth and effortless in even the most difficult situations.

However, there are limitations. There are limits. A black sky with bright stars or equally bright bowling pins shows no smearing and clouding. Instead, there is straight-edged differentiation.

The Big Lebowski (Image credit to Amazon Prime)

The picture noise is also low and the edge definition is impressive. Even the most complicated patterns (such as that rug) can cause the XH90 to be a little bit sloppy. This can be mitigated by changing the picture mode, but there are also trade-offs.

Cinema can help calm the XH90’s extreme edginess, but there is a slight softening of the overall image and a noticeable drop in detail. It is possible to find a balance that works, and the results are generally very positive. The Netflix Calibrated mode isn’t really a problem, but it does add a layer of protection to the image. Netflix Calibrated is for you if you prefer it dark and indistinct. It’s not recommended to be used.

1080p gaming follows the exact same pattern and is almost as successful. The Sony is excellent at lighting and motion-tracking. If the game contains detail, the XH9005 can reveal it. With the HDMI 2.1 update, which will be compatible with next-gen consoles that support 4K at 120Hz, the response time, which is already very good, should get even faster.

HD/SDR performance: A sub-4K experience is possible thanks to High-quality upscaling, excellent backlight control, and high detail levels.

Performance in 4K/HDR

The switch to native 4K content will amplify and improve every one of the Sony’s HD/SDR performances, especially if there is an HDR component.

The KD-75XH9005 is like every Sony 4K HDR television. It does not support HDR10+ dynamic meta-data – Sony, unlike many other TV manufacturers, cannot bear to admit when a competitor has a great idea. The XH90 manages to keep up with HDR10, HDR10, and Dolby Vision HDR compatibility – which is more than enough to enjoy the wider colour gamut promised HDR material.

Dolby Vision (Image credit to Dolby).

This was tested with a 4K UHD disc from the Dolby Vision-assisted The Joker. The KD-XH9005 excels in sharpness and detail. Images are clear and dense with information. However, images are free from any restlessness, graininess, or picture noises that sometimes accompany such high levels of insight. The skin-tones and textures are convincing regardless of whether the actor is wearing pancake makeup. Once you have mastered the settings, it is possible to achieve incredibly natural and consistent movement-tracking by just finessing the Sony Motionflow positioning.

It is worth noting, however, that the XH90 only offers three presets for DolbyVision signals when it detects one. These are DolbyVision Bright, DolbyVision Dark, and Vivid. This is for people who feel they aren’t getting their money’s worth unless they are being shouted at.

Contrasts are strong all through, even when the XH9005 has to balance dark blacks against brightly colored whites. The uniformity of the backlighting is also admirable. You can even adjust the distance between ‘dark and ‘bright’ with Sony’s X-tended Dynamic Range feature. This feature is available on any setting other than its most active. Pictures don’t look forced or unnatural.

Even content that isn’t quite at the cutting edge technology – a Netflix UHD streaming of That’s My Boy execrable – can’t help but look vibrant, dynamic and well-judged when handled by the XH90. The colour palette is vibrant, but it doesn’t look overdriven. There’s also refinement in how edges are drawn, motion described, and an intensity in the colour selection. It is almost impossible to use the XH90, which makes it an engaging and fascinating watch.

4K/HDR performance. TL;DR Excellently balanced images with great detail and contrast. This makes it even more frustrating that HDR10+ dynamic metadata compatibility is not available.

(Image credit: Sony)

Sound

The XH90 range includes all models except the 55-inch, which feature Sony’s AcousticMulti Audio system. This equates to 20 Watts for two full-range drivers and a few tweeters located near the top of each side of the chassis. This is meant to provide some sonic tracking for the on-screen motion. It’s something both LG and Samsung are currently testing with their higher-end TVs.

The XH90 is surprisingly assertive and full-bodied when producing the Dolby Atmos soundtrack for Da 5 Bloods. Although it is unlikely that there is a meaningful correlation between movement of objects on the screen, and sound made by the Sony, the XH90 delivers a lot of punch, attack, and muscle. It is loud enough to not be too shouty or edgy and can provide significant low-level detail.

A sensible person should not spend more than two thousand pounds on a large TV. However, the XH90 can be convincing enough to make a new soundbar less urgent.

Sound TL:DR:A better TV than most, and a good compromise to an expensive and high-quality audio system.

The Samsung Q80T is a strong competitor to the Sony XH90/X900H. (Image credit: Samsung)

There are other TVs you might like

Dolby Vision can be traded for HDR10+. Do you want a smart TV interface which doesn’t consider it the most important feature of your TV? You want great native 4K upscaling and corking performance at 1080p. Samsung’s Q80TQLED range is a great choice.

It’s also available in a 75-inch screen size, just like this Sony TV. It tries to make its sound track as clear as possible. However, unlike the Sony TV, it has HDMI sockets that are at 2.1 standard. However, it is a lot more expensive than the Sony.

Samsung’s QLED technology is a great choice for colours, contrasts, and dynamism. But it doesn’t get any better when it comes to motion-handling and detail. The Samsung Q80T is lightning fast, while the Sony XH90/X900H are respectably fast for gaming.

Final verdict

The Sony XH90/X900H series accomplishes everything it set out to do and more. The picture quality is remarkable when the conditions are right, and its sound is excellent by current standards. It is easy to use and doesn’t mind if content is of lower resolution.

There’s enough to make Android TV forget about HDR10+. You absolutely must test it if you have the money for a TV this size.

 

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