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Sony X90J (XR-65X90J) review

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The Sony X90J offers almost everything you would expect from a mid-range 4K LED LCD TV. It is the best TV in its price range for mid-range models. This makes it the most expensive TV in its class.

The Sony X90J TV is a solid mid-range model. For all the same reasons, the 2020 Sony X900H/XH90 was the best TV of the year. Cognitive Processor XR has made the Sony X90J even more impressive, offering incredible upscaling as well as contrast control.

Since the Sony X90J was released, a newer version of the X90K has also been released. The Sony X90K has the same XR Cognitive Processor technology as its more expensive counterparts and a precise Full ArrayLED panel for clear picture quality.

We still love the Sony X90J because it is a native 120Hz TV with two HDMI 2.1 ports, variable refresh rate, and auto low latency mode. It also uses a full array panel with full array dimming for better black levels.

It is simple to set up and it uses Google TV, which puts recommendations front and center. It’s not surprising that the Sony X90J is featured in several of our top TV guides including our best 4K television guide, best 50-inch TV guide, and our best TV to play sport guide.

While there are some issues with the Sony X90J’s setup, as well as issues with the TV’s appearance in bright daylight and off-axis viewing, the Sony X90J delivers outstanding performance at a fair price. Check out our complete Sony X90J review.

Review of the Sony X90J: Price and availability

  • Part Of Sony’s 2021 TV Collection
  • Prices start at $1,299/PS1,149/AU$1,895
  • Competing against the LG C1 OLED, Samsung Q90A QLED

The Sony X90J makes up part of Sony’s 2021 TV Collection that includes the A90J and A80J OLED TVs as well as the X95J, X80J and X80J 4KLED-LCD TVs.

The Sony X90J, which we reviewed here is the middle child in the line-up, offers many of these best features without the Z9J’s color sensor or the X-Contrast Pro OLED of the A90J OLED. The good news is that it’s much cheaper than either of those two. The good news? It’s cheaper than either of these two.

Here’s what you should be looking at in terms of pricing and screen sizes:

  • Sony XR-50X90J: $1,299 / PS1,149 / AU$1,895
  • Sony XR-55X90J: $1,499 / PS1,249 / AU$2,195
  • Sony XR-65X90J: $1,799 / PS1,499 / AU$2,695
  • Sony XR-75X90J: $2,499 / PS2,599 / AU$4,299

Where does this place the Sony X90J in comparison to the rest? It’s somewhere in the middle.

Our TCL 6Series QLED review will show you a cheaper option. A 55-inch TV costs only $649.

The Sony X90J is not as expensive as other 8K TVs released around the same period. For a stunning 8K TV, check out our Samsung QN900A Review.

The Sony X90J ranks right at the middle, alongside a few other mid-range models. For two rivals that offer a higher peak light and better black levels, take a look at our Samsung QN90A and LGC1 OLED reviews. However, only the Sony X90J has the content-first Google TV.

However, the Sony X95J is the wildcard. The X95J is the upgrade to the X90J, offering X-Anti-Glare technology and higher brightness. It can be read in detail in our Sony BraviaX95J (XR65X95J review).

The X95J is more expensive at $1,799 / PSP1,799 / AU$3,295 the 65-inch model. This is why we recommend the Sony X90J over the X95J to our friends and family. The X95J is a more popular choice for cinephiles who are keen to see the film.

Sony X90J review: design

  • Full-array LED-LCD TV with Local Dimming
  • Not super thin, but very stable
  • Two HDMI 2.0 ports for 4K@120Hz (but you will need to dig into the menu settings)

The Sony X90J, a full-array LED-LCD TV with local dimming is not as slim as its OLED TV counterparts. However, it is still very attractive.

Sony X90J Specs

4K: Yes

Although the bezel is relatively thin, it does not offer edge-to-edge resolution like other 4K TVs. It also has two thin legs. The legs slide in place near the edge of the TV, and do a wonderful job of stabilizing it.

The Sony X90J’s slim screen is not the smallest on the market. However, it makes the most of the extra space. The TV has a full-array panel with local dimming and a solid sound system that includes two sound positioning tweeters at the sides of it and down firing speakers.

You’ll see your usual port selection when you turn it around to the back. There are four HDMI ports, two of which support 4K/120, and one that is eARC compatible. Plus, you have ethernet and digital optical audio output. There are also two USB ports.

Although we wish that all four ports were HDMI 2.1 compatible for dual 4K/120Hz gaming, at least having two ports will allow you to connect both a PS5 or Xbox Series X simultaneously. However, simply plugging it into HDMI port 4 won’t suffice. To actually change the format, you will need to go into settings: Channel & Inputs-> External Inputs-> HDMI signal format-> HDMI 4-> Enhanced format

You can also choose Enhanced format (Dolby vision), but it will prevent the TV from outputting at 120Hz. Right now, there is no way for the TV to simultaneously accept Dolby Vision and 4K/120Hz signals.

The Sony X90J comes with the most recent voice remote. It has a microphone built in and four shortcut buttons to YouTube, Netflix, Amazon and YouTube. It feels great in your hand, and it is not difficult to lose because of its size.

Sony X90J review: smart TV (Google TV)

  • One the first Sony TVs to be equipped with Google TV
  • A simple, content-first presentation
  • Chromecast support built-in and Google Assistant

We would normally be discussing Android TV at this point of a review for a Sony TV. But this year, we will be talking more about Google TV. This is because Google TV, which has been Google’s smart TV platform, has taken over Android TV. We’re happy it did.

We love Google TV because it is flashier, brighter and more dynamic than Android TV. It pulls content suggestions from all the services you use (and some you don’t), and places them in the center of your home screen. As long as you sign into Google when you first set up the TV, it will work.

You can also tap into your Google account to populate the Chromecast’s main screen with relevant and recommended content. This will look familiar to anyone who is familiar with Android TV. However, for those not, it’s a veritable buffet of content from many sources. On our home screen, we have Captain America the First Avenger (mostly because we watched all of the Marvel movies in sequence) and Parks and Recreation.

Scroll down from the recommended content row to find Netflix-style rows of content. These are organized by genre, a row with recommended videos from YouTube, and then finally, trending movies and shows. Rows for hand-selected shows and movies will also be displayed. These rows can be viewed while searching for something to watch, such as Oscar-award-winning films.

You can choose to immediately start watching the selected item or to add it to your Watch List to return later. Google TV uses a thumbs-up / down system to improve its recommendations. Last but not the least, Google TV has a decent built-in search function that can show you multiple ways to stream a particular movie or show. However, it isn’t as robust as Roku’s built-in Search engine.

There are many options for app selection. These include all the major services (Netflix and Amazon ) as well as Bravia Core, which is a service that no one else offers. An X90J purchased before February 23, 2024 will grant you 10 movie credits that can be used against a minimum of 300 movies. These films include the majority of Sony Picture Entertainment’s catalog, including Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse or Jumanji: The Next Level. This is a unique TV feature that no other TVs have at the moment. It’s also completely free so it’s worth trying.

We think that Google TV is a great addition for this year’s Sony TV sets. It also helps the X90J compete against Samsung and LG’s strong smart TV platforms.

Sony X90J review: picture quality

  • High quality image, color saturation and contrast
  • Amazing upscaling due to Cognitive ProcessorXR
  • Issues with off-axis viewing.

You’d be surprised at the stunning colors and highlights. The TV does an amazing job of taking HD content and scaling it to 4K. Native 4K HDR content, especially those shot in DolbyVision, also looks stunning. It’s not surprising that we felt exactly the same about the X90J, its predecessor, the Sony X900H.

What has changed in picture quality? The biggest change this year is the Cognitive Processor XR, which adds depth to certain scenes (especially older HD content) and better contrast control.

Let’s begin with the Cognitive Processor XR. It does something different. It can split up a scene into multiple parts and determine the focal point. The processor can recognize a bright neon sign and will increase its brightness and clarity. It can enhance the skin tone of a person if it recognizes them. All of this happens behind-the-scenes on a frame by frame basis.

The processor’s interaction with the full array panel as well as an integrated light sensor is what allows for enhanced contrast control. Sony told TechRadar that the TV uses a technology called XR Contrast Booster 5. This technology boosts bright areas and lowers black levels in the same scene. It also retains that contrast regardless if the lighting conditions in the room are poor.

Despite the fact that the room was bright, the Sony X90J never reached the same brightness levels that Samsung’s QLED TVs, such as the Samsung QN90A, which we reviewed earlier in the year. Direct light can cause problems. You might see some glare from a TV placed right next to an open window. This will help reduce the contrast.

This is doubly true if the screen is viewed off-axis. The X90J has limited viewing angles and struggles to see clearly. Although it’s not as severe as the Vizio V-Series which loses a lot of color saturation if you are only 30 degrees from the TV, it’s still noticeable no matter how far you sit.

The good news? Even when the TV is set to Standard picture mode, it looks great straight from the box. The picture out of the box is well saturated, and there are no motion artifacting or picture defects. You can switch to another mode to change the color tone or motion processing setting. This is useful if you need smoother sports viewing, but most of the time you will be fine with Standard and Custom with some tweaks.

Sony X90J review: audio

  • Sound quality is solid with a good mid-range, but weak bass
  • Two side tweeters and 10W speakers
  • Cognitive Processor XR provides audio upscaling

The Sony X90J is a powerful mid-range TV that doesn’t have an attached soundbar. The X90J produces clear and convincing audio that sounds great, using only two 10W full-range drivers and two side speakers.

The X90J, like other Sony TVs uses the new X-Balanced speaker from Sony. It delivers clearer sound at higher volumes with less distortion. The tweeters also help to broaden the TV’s soundstage. However, it does have some limitations in terms of bass response.

The TV’s sound quality was excellent, with clear dialogue and solid 3D sound. Although the simulated 3D audio may not be as good as full Dolby Atmos, it is still a useful feature that you can use while you wait to install a more advanced AV system.

Dolby Atmos is available through the TV’s HDMI 3 eARC port. This allows you to connect a soundbar to the TV and control it with your remote. You can use any Dolby Atmos soundbar to do the job. Take a look at our best Soundbar guide for our top picks.

Although there is still some room for improvement in terms of bass and simulated surround sound, it is one of the most powerful TV speakers we have heard on a 4K TV.

Conclusion

The Sony X90J TV is a great TV. If you have experienced poor upscaling and bad contrast in the past, we recommend this TV. Sony TVs excel at two things: upscaling from HD sources, and full array TVs that have local dimming with excellent black levels. Although the X90J won’t be able to surpass an OLED in this metric, it is still a league ahead of other LED-LCD televisions.

Here are some things to consider, such as where the TV will be placed. The limited viewing angles on the Sony X90J may make it difficult to view TV in your living room.

It doesn’t have enough brightness to withstand direct sunlight through an open window. This makes it a poor choice for people who want to watch a lot of daylight TV. The more expensive Sony X95J is a better choice. It’s a bit more expensive, but has X-Anti-Glare technology which eliminates one of the TV’s major issues. Additionally, it offers a greater peak brightness and even higher contrast.

The positioning issues aside, the Sony X90J is a great 4K HDR TV that offers exceptional performance and a very affordable price. You could spend more to get a few more features, or one of the newer 2022 TVs from Sony. You could also pay a lot more for a sub-optimal experience. But the X90J offers everything you would expect at this price.

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