Sony X90J series review: Polished experience, excellent picture
Sony’s best 2021 TV value makes another powerful case for spending a bit more.
David reviews TVs and leads the Personal Tech team at CNET, covering mobile, software, computing, streaming and home entertainment. We provide helpful, expert reviews, advice and videos on what gadget or service to buy and how to get the most out of it.
- Although still awaiting his Oscar for Best Picture Reviewer, David does hold certifications from the Imaging Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology on display calibration and evaluation.
In my years of reviewing I’ve learned that the best TVs made by brands like Vizio and TCL can perform as well as better-known nameplates like Samsung and the TV granddaddy of them all, Sony. The question TV buyers face is whether to pay a couple hundred dollars more for the sleeker design and superior cachet of an “S” brand. The midpriced X90J is Sony’s strongest attempt yet to convince you to pony up.- just a bit.
Sony X90J series (2021)
- Excellent image quality
- Capable Google TV Smart system
- Solid connectivity
- Subtle, understated design
The X90J has a better picture than last year’s commendable X900H. and while the X90J didn’t perform quite as well as the TCL 6-Series. the two were very close in my side-by-side comparisons. The Sony is bright with great contrast for both standard and HDR content, and while it doesn’t match the punch of the TCL or the Hisense 65U8G.- both of which cost less.- it’s still an excellent performer.
Sony’s sleek looks and the Google TV operating system score additional points in its favor, as does its next-gen console support (it has 4K/120fps inputs and Sony promises VRR. sometime) and built-in NextGen TV tuner. But whether you buy this TV really comes down to how much you value Sony’s brand. The X90J is probably the best value in Sony’s TV line this year. but if you want the best value overall. it’s still the TCL.
Lean back in black
The X90J doesn’t deign to use silver or off-gray to differentiate itself.- it simply wears all black, all the time. From a distance it looks like every other black slab of TV, but closer inspection reveals touches like the beveled frame edge and a narrow slit under the subtle Sony logo. The stand’s legs angle the panel back slightly from plumb, an effect visible in profile but not straight-on.
The remote is old-school Sony: Way too many buttons, most of which you’ll never use. I prefer the sleeker, simpler clickers of Samsung and Roku, as well as the motion-infused wands of LG.
Google TV, no Chromecast required
Until TCL’s Google TVs arrive later this year, Sony is the only TV maker to build in Google’s latest big-screen operating system. Google TV, also available on the new Chromecast. has a few upgrades and improvements compared to the older Android TV system found on TVs from Hisense and others. Both systems offer the same selection of thousands of apps.- more than Samsung and LG, and on par with Roku and Fire TV.- but Google TV is more polished to use.
The For You section lets you choose which services appear in Google TV’s list of recommended shows. Choices include major names like from Amazon Prime Video. Apple TV Plus. Disney Plus. HBO Max and Sling TV. but as usual Netflix isn’t included. Search leans heavily into Google Assistant voice commands, with suggested phrases like “Show me free movies” front-and-center, and I appreciate the ability to dive deeper into sections like Comedy TV Shows or New Movies. All told, I still prefer the simple, app-based menus of Roku, in part because Google TV still seems cluttered with stuff I don’t want, but it’s a more capable system than Samsung, LG or Vizio.
New for this year is Sony’s Bravia Core streaming service, which delivers Sony Pictures and some Imax movies in “UHD BD equivalent quality with streaming up to 80Mbps.” If you’re a stickler for image quality and like the selection, it may be worth buying the films there instead of a competing service like Vudu, Apple or Amazon, but personally I’d choose the greater compatibility of another service. I did appreciate that my X90J sample unlocked five free movies, however.
Local dimming, meet game-friendly connections
The X90J’s input selection is very good, if not yet as capable as some competitors. The first two HDMI inputs are basic HDMI 2.0 while Input 3 and 4 work with some HDMI 2.1 features. namely 4K resolution at up to 120 frames per second.- great for gamers who want to take advantage of high frame rates from an Xbox Series X or Sony Playstation 5. Input 3 also supports enhanced audio return channel.
No input handles VRR (variable refresh rate) however, an extra most competitors offer. Sony says VRR will arrive with a future firmware update, but didn’t specify when. It said the same thing about the X900H from last year, and that TV still doesn’t support VRR. Neither does Sony’s own PS5 console, yet.
The X90J’s antenna input features a built-in ATSC 3.0 over-the-air tuner, which allows it to receive NextGen TV broadcasts. Those are still only available in a small number of markets so I didn’t get the chance to check out this feature, but it’s nice to know that once the broadcasts become more widespread, X90J owners won’t have to connect an external tuner box to watch. The X90J is the cheapest 2021 TV with a NextGen tuner.
Unlike many of Samsung’s and LG’s sets, the Sony actually has an analog video input, albeit composite-only, and I also appreciate having a headphone jack.
Picture quality comparisons
Sony’s baseline local dimming model has superb image quality, with deep black levels, bright highlights and excellent accuracy. It can’t get quite as bright as either the TCL or Hisense I used for this comparison, a difference that showed up in bright rooms and with bright HDR images in particular, but its contrast and black levels in mixed content were on par and in many areas it was more accurate than either one.
Dim lighting: The X90J performed well in home theater situations, as I saw during the dark Dol Guldur section of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies on standard Blu-ray (Chapter 3). With brightness calibrated for a dim room, the Sony, TCL and Hisense all looked very similar in terms of black level in areas like the letterbox bars and shadows of Gandalf’s cage, for example. Details in near-black areas like the stone stairs and ruined crags of the fortress appeared natural and well-defined on all of the TVs, and while the Sony had a slight edge it was close enough to require a side-by-side comparison to discern.
Bright lighting: The X90J is a bright TV, with similar luminance to the X900H last year. It didn’t outshine the competing TCL or Hisense models in my side-by-side comparison, however.
Gaming: Although it lacks the fancy game extras like dedicated modes and status displays found on 2021 models from LG and Samsung. the X90J is still a very good gaming TV. Playing Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla on Xbox One X, its default 4K HDR image was excellent, with better shadow detail than Hisense and about the same as the TCL.- crucial for making out hidden enemies. Highlights and overall brightness were dimmer than the other two but the Sony still had plenty of HDR punch.
With both the PS5 and Xbox Series X, the X90J handled 4K/120 fps input on HDMI 3 and 4. At first that didn’t seem to be the case, however.- both consoles indicated that they’d maxed out at 4K/60 when I initially connected them. I surfaced the issue with Sony and was told to make sure the HDMI setting (found at Settings Channels Inputs External Inputs HDMI signal format) was correct.
Changing it from Enhanced format (Dolby Vision).- which limits input to 4K/60.- to Enhanced format did the trick; only in the latter setting will the X90J handle 120fps input at 4K. Playing Ori and the Will O Wisps on Series X looked suitably smooth. It’s worth noting that non-Sony TVs delivered 4K/120 automatically in my tests, without me having to adjust those kinds of settings.
The X90J served up low input lag in game mode at around 17 milliseconds for both 1080p and 4K HDR. That’s a couple milliseconds more (worse) than the X900H last year and a couple more off the pace of the least-laggy TVs, if you’re counting, but I doubt even the twitchiest of gamers would notice.
Best 4K Blu-rays
HDR and 4K video: The Sony X90J delivered an excellent HDR image. While it didn’t match the impact of the other two, both of which looked consistently brighter, the Sony was more pleasing with mixed theatrical content and also showed less blooming. Between the three I preferred the TCL in most scenes overall, but the Sony is a close second.
Watching the montage from the Spears and Munsil 4K Blu-ray. for example, bright natural scenes looked very good on all three TVs, but the TCL and especially the Hisense were markedly brighter, an impression confirmed by spot measurements. The setting sun above the lake, for example (2:10) measured 391, 560 and 621 nits on the Sony, TCL and Hisense respectively, a difference that was easily visible. Another obvious difference came with the objects on largely black backgrounds, such as the peacock feather (2:59), where the Sony’s “black” appeared as more of a dark gray around the edges of the feather and the corners of the screen, compared to the deeper black of the other two, especially the TCL.
To its credit the Sony hewed closer to the target EOTF than the Hisense, which showed some brighter shadows among the buildings and a flatter, less-natural look on the crocodile, for example, but the difference wasn’t drastic. The Sony’s HDR color also looked very good, despite its smaller gamut measurements. The flowers and butterflies appeared lush and well-saturated, better than the TCL and about the same as the Hisense.
When I switched back to the 4K HDR Blu-ray of Five Armies, the Sony came into its own. Highlights and brighter scenes were still dimmer than the others but in mixed dark scenes, like Dol Guldur in Chapter 9, the X90J maintained darker letterbox bars than the other two, in particular the Hisense, for a more theatrical look. Between the three the TCL looked best, striking the most pleasing balance between brightness and black level for the most consistent contrast, but the Sony was very close.
The Sony’s letterbox bars also betrayed less blooming, or stray illumination, then either of the others, with the ultrabright Hisense again the worst offender. Comparing colors in the film, from the raging red of Sauron’s flames to the gentle hillside of the Shire, the Sony and Hisense looked the most pleasing once again, with the TCL just a step less-saturated.
Sony X90J picture settings, HDR notes and charts
CNET is no longer publishing advanced picture settings for any TVs we review. Instead, we’ll give more general recommendations to get the best picture without listing the detailed white balance or color management system (CMS) settings we may have used to calibrate the TV. As always, the settings provided are a guidepost, and if you want the most accurate picture you should get a professional calibration.
Prior to calibration, the Cinema, IMAX Enhanced and Custom settings were the most accurate on the X90J, with the slight edge to Custom for its more linear gamma. All three modes showed somewhat bluish color temperature and higher brightness than my dim-room target. After adjusting brightness to hit my 137-nit target, the basic two-point color temperature controls worked superbly to calibrate the blue cast away, to the extent that I didn’t need to touch the available 10-point system at all. Primary and secondary color accuracy was a similar story: accurate enough that I didn’t even miss the Sony’s lack of a CMS.
Dark room settings
Display Sound, Picture menu
- Brightness: 5
- Contrast: 90
- HDR tone mapping: Off [grayed out for SDR]
- Black level: 50
- Black adjust: Off
- Adv. contrast enhancer: Off
- Auto local dimming: Medium
- Peak luminance: Off
- Sharpness: 20
- Reality Creation: Off
- Random noise reduction: Off
- Digital noise reduction: Off
- Smooth gradation: Low
Adv. color adjustment sub-menu
Bright room settings
[no other changes from above]
HDR notes: Custom delivered the most accurate image for HDR, tracking the target EOTF slightly better than Cinema or IMAX Enhanced and much better than any of the other modes. Among the three HDR Tone Mapping settings (Off, Gradation Preferred and Brightness Preferred), Off followed the EOTF closest but the Cinema default, Gradation, was also quite close. Color gamut measured relatively low at 87% of P3 while secondary color measurements were both very good.
Portrait Displays Calman calibration software was used in this review.
Sony Bravia X90J XR-65X90J 65-inch Ultra HD 4K Smart LED TV
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|Screen Resolution||4K, 3840 x 2160 pixels|
|Number Of Speakers||2|
|HDMI Ports||4 (Side)|
Sony Bravia X90J XR-65X90J 65-inch Ultra HD 4K Smart LED TV price in India is ₹1,65,890. You can buy Sony Bravia X90J XR-65X90J 65-inch Ultra HD 4K Smart LED TV online on Flipkart at lowest price. Sony Bravia X90J XR-65X90J 65-inch Ultra HD 4K Smart LED TV was last updated on May 29, 2023
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Sony X90J review: “A top contender
The Sony X90J is the best midrange 4K HDR LED TV we’ve seen from the brand in absolutely ages. It combines an innovative feature set, with class-leading AI-enabled image processing and a specification that should satisfy the most demanding spec chasers. HDR (High Frame Rate) 4K support, novel PS5 auto game optimising features. which take it firmly into best TV for PS5, and best gaming TV territory. and a sound system that rewards all-action games.
What’s more, it’s now available at a price that won’t break the bank (having just had a welcome price cut). There are a couple of caveats though, so keep reading…
You’d expect a Sony Bravia flatscreen to have dinner-date good looks, and the X90J doesn’t disappoint. Because it uses a full-array backlight, it’s a little chunkier than rival edge-lit models, at 70mm, but given the picture benefits that FALD backlighting brings we’re happy to accommodate some extra inches.
Helpfully, the set has adjustable feet, which slot in (no fiddly screws required), either to the edge of the set or towards the centre. Sony describes this as a 2-way Slim Blade stand, and it really helps when it comes to AV furniture choice; it also provides room for a (matching Sony) soundbar if you want to add one. The 50-inch model doesn’t have adjustable feet though, just so you know.
Connectivity comprises four HDMI inputs, and while only two HDMIs support 4K 120fps, this is still enough for those with a dual console setup, and certainly enough for this to be a firm contender to shoot up our best 120Hz 4K TV guide. At the time of writing, Variable Refresh Rate support was awaiting a firmware update to enable it. Other connections include a digital optical output, two USBs, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, plus Ethernet if you prefer a wired network. Rather cleverly, the X90J will optimise picture parameters automatically for Playstation 5 HDR games, and automatically acknowledge whether the console is playing video content or a game, swapping presets accordingly.
The set’s basic gaming performance is fine, with a reassuringly low input lag. We measured latency at 17.2ms (1080/60) with Game mode engaged.
The X90J uses the new Google TV Smart platform, which seems a more content-focused version of the regular Android TV OS. There are plenty of show recommendations on the home page.
We get a good selection of apps, including Netflix, Apple TV, Disney, and Prime Video, however, the set is poorly served when it comes to catch-up TV. With no Freeview Play tuner for UK buyers, it’s missing basics like BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, and My5. We do get All4 though. At least Android staples Chromecast and Google Assistant are on board.
The X90J doesn’t shortchange when it comes to image clarity, its pictures boast depth and drama. The magic ingredient here is undoubtedly Sony’s innovative new Cognitive XR processor. The Japanese major has taken a very different approach to AI picture processing to its rivals, allowing its silicon to FOCUS on areas that naturally dominate your gaze. The technology aims to replicate how we see objects in real life, by concentrating on natural focal points. To do this it divides the screen into zones to determine where said ‘focal point’ is. It then concentrates its efforts on those parts of the picture; rival AI techniques mainly attempt to identify specific picture elements across the whole frame.
Picture modes comprise of: Vivid, Standard, Cinema, Graphics, Photo, IMAX Enhanced, and Custom. Standard and Cinema were my go-to presets for most content. Contrast is punchy, with decent black detail. As we’ve established, the X90J employs full array local dimming, which proves precise enough for deep blacks and subtle shadow detail, without excess blooming. The set also has good overall picture brightness, making it eminently usable in rooms with high ambient light. Sony’s XR Contrast Booster technology, along with XR HDR Remaster technology, gives an HDR uplift to regular HD SDR content.
An Ambient Optimization sensor dynamically monitors available light in your viewing room, making picture adjustments in the background. Take care where you place the screen though, as it drops contrast and loses colour intensity when viewed off-axis.
HDR performance is top-notch. We measured HDR peak brightness around 900 nits, which is more than enough to add believability to glinting specular highlights, lens flares, and lighting effects. There’s support for Dolby Vision content, as seen on Netflix and Disney shows, but not HDR10, as favoured by Amazon Prime Video. It also boasts a Netflix calibrated movie mode and IMAX Enhanced certification, just for good measure.
Playstation 5 users will also appreciate the set’s Auto HDR Tone Mapping and Auto Genre Picture modes. When triggered by a PS5, the TV self-optimises picture balance for maximum detail and colour fidelity. Similarly, an Auto Genre Picture Mode automatically switches into Game Mode when gaming, in order to minimise input lag, but returns to Standard Mode if you’re watching movies from a streaming service or a Blu-ray disc.
The X90J’s Cognitive Processor XR isn’t just for video. It also gets to grips with audio, dissecting the audio signal to better match what’s happening on screen. The TV employs Sony’s Acoustic Multi Audio System, which sounds pretty good. In addition to downward-firing drivers, there are two additional side tweeters positioned towards the top of the set. These help create a surprisingly large soundstage, with aggressive sonic panning left, right, and up. They can be a little toppy, emphasising treble, if the set’s 2x10W power plant is used a little too enthusiastically, so go easy.
Overall. should you buy it?
If you’re after a high-performance 4K LED with good gaming performance, HFR 4K support, and excellent image quality, then the X90J should be considered a top contender. I rate this as a particularly good screen for bright room gaming, although being limited to just two HFR HDMI inputs is a bit of a bind, and its poor showing on the Catch-up TV front is surprising.
Ultimately, the Sony Bravia XR X90J represents terrific value, offering a high level of performance for an upper mid-range 55-inch UHD LED TV. Its Cognitive XR processor-powered picture performance is excellent, and it looks beautiful with both HDR games and movies, while its audio reaches higher and goes wider than many rivals. We also like the new Google TV Smart platform, and dedicated Playstation 5 auto optimisation modes. The set only really falls short when it comes to basic catch-up TV amenities.
Sony X90J review: one of 2021’s best mid-range 4K TVs
Sony’s X90J delivers on the promise of its predecessor by addressing many of its issues, with the inclusion of HDMI 2.1 support and a brand new processor making it a good option for next-gen gamers and videophiles.
- Excellent color reproduction
- Great upscaling
- Ready for next-gen consoles
- Fresh Google TV interface
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This Sony X90J review is happening just as a huge number of TVs arrive on the scene, including Sony’s own stunning OLED sets (A90J and A80J), so this mid-range 4K LED TV is in danger of being lost in the churn, and that would be a huge shame.
That’s because the Sony X90J is an excellent TV bringing a middle-of-the pack price with some high-end features. And, happily, it’s more flexible for sizing than last year’s equivalent model, which frustrated us by only offering big sizes – and there are some great Black Friday deals on this TV at all sizes, making it even more tempting.
Sony kicks off its size options with a 50-inch version, and goes all the way up to a hefty 75-inch model. However, for the purposes of this review, we’re looking at the 65-inch variant.
As a replacement for the Sony XH90/X900H, the X90J improves upon its predecessor in a variety of ways, with the star of the show being the brand new processor. Crucially it also keeps the two HDMI 2.1 ports of the previous model, making it a good option for PS5 and Xbox Series X gamers and one of the best gaming TVs, with 4K 120Hz and VRR support on board.
Beyond that, the Sony X90J delivers a solid viewing foundation, with stunningly vibrant colors, decent blacks, excellent upscaling and a bevy of processing smarts. It’s one of the best TVs you can buy right now for its price, and this 65-inch version is absolutely one of the best 65-inch TVs.
Sony X90J review: Price release date
The Sony X90J was released in May 2021. As mentioned earlier, the model we’ve tested is the 65-inch Sony X90J (XR65X90J), which is available to buy now at the very reasonable price of 1,599 / £1,799 / AU2,695.
Of course, the range starts cheaper than that for smaller models, with a 50-inch version (XR50X90J) priced at 1,099 / £1,249 / AU1,895, and a 55-inch model (XR55X90J) which’ll cost you 1,299 / £1,399 / AU2,185. Additionally, a larger 75-inch option (XR75X90J) is also available, priced at 2,399 / £2,599 / AU4,299.
You can find the current lowest for all models here.
Sony X90J review: Features what’s new
Being a Sony television, you’ll find that the X90J supports all the major HDR standards (Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG) with the exception of the Samsung-led HDR10 format. HDR10 is the one of the those we’re most happy to live without (it’s only major supporter is Amazon Prime Video, and you still get normal HDR10 even without it), but there are TVs that support all four, so it’s a shame the this doesn’t.
There are four HDMI ports in total – two of which support the new HDMI 2.1 specification, which is great for future-proofing. One of those ports also offers eARC for lossless transfer of high-end audio codecs.
Granted, we would have liked for every HDMI port on the X90J to offer support for the next-gen 2.1 spec, but at least it’s more than some other TVs in 2021 are offering. Many cheaper sets won’t include the new connection type at all.
The inclusion of HDMI 2.1 support on the X90J means gamers can take advantage of next-gen features such as 4K at 120fps. Sony has also added VRR support in an update (so you might need to update your model after buying to activate it).
The X90J is also one of Sony‘s ‘Perfect for Playstation’ TVs, which means that when a PS5 is connected, the console auto-adjusts its HDR output to map perfectly to the TV’s capabilities, meaning that you should get the best detail in highlights and lowlights from this TV compared to similar models (though obviously other TVs may have image advantages in other areas).
For many, the X90J’s biggest selling point will be Sony’s new Cognitive Processor XR, which has been implemented across all of its 2021 televisions. According to Sony, It brings “cognitive intelligence” to its TVs for the first time, allowing it to process images a way that matches how our brains perceive things.
The other big difference between the X90J and last year’s model is that it’s ditched the dated Android TV interface in favor of the all-new Google TV platform, which populates your home screen with content pulled from all of your installed streaming and catch up services.
Sony X90J review: Picture quality
Like the XH90/X900H before it, Sony’s X90J sports a VA-type LCD panel with a direct Full Array backlight, which means it offers brilliant colors and exceptional brightness at a slight expense to viewing angles. It still looks pretty good from the side, however, you’ll want to sit directly in front of the X90J for the best possible viewing experience.
Sony’s TVs are well known for offering gorgeously vibrant colours, and the X90J is no exception. Much of this is thanks to its Cognitive Processor XR and the XR Triluminos Pro engine, which is used to sweeten the TV’s saturation and hue in a way that’s especially pleasing to the human eye.
XR Triluminos Pro works in conjunction with several other XR-specific features. XR Contrast Booster 5 is used to balance light and shadow dynamically, with extra attention paid to showing fine detail in both light and dark areas, while 4K XR Smoothing works to reduce banding, allowing for a seamless transition between color gradations.
In practise, we found that the X90J was able to handle all of these things deftly and without a single hiccup or hint of image processing issues. 4K images remained sharp and consistent without any noticeable aliasing.
Dark areas tend to be the weak point of mid-range TVs compared to high-end ones, but the Sony A90J impresses here, thanks to the local dimming of its backlight. Even in complex night scenes with lots of motion and action, it handles itself well, keeping detail and clarity at the forefront.
Admittedly, contrast wasn’t quite up to what the best OLED TVs can do – or the what the spectacular new Mini-LED-powered Samsung QN95A is capable of – but we were pleased by what the X90J’s dimming zones were able to achieve nonetheless, especially since OLED and Mini-LED TVs are much more expensive.
The X90J exhibited minimal blooming around bright objects and was able to deliver solid blacks for the most part. For most content, it will be more than sufficient.
In bright and beautiful daylight scenes, you can see an astonishing amount of detail in 4K sources. Color is exceptionally vibrant and lifelike, with plenty of nuance of tones. Edge detail is also sharp and smooth, and skin-tones are realistic and natural.
Another key feature of Sony’s Cognitive Processor XR is in the way it’s able to redirect its processing smarts to the most important areas of your chosen content. As Sony describes it, the XR processor will find the focal point of what you’re watching and make sure it looks as good as possible.
We noticed this feature in action most clearly in scenes with shallow depth of field, where the rest of the world is blurred around the in-FOCUS subject. It’s in these moments where the Cognitive Processor XR made whatever’s in FOCUS look especially detailed and vivid (though this is obviously the easiest test of its capabilities).
Like the X1 4K HDR picture processing engine featured in Sony’s TVs last year, the Cognitive Processor XR also does a remarkable job of upscaling sub-4K content. When streaming an HD movie, there’s a surprising level of clarity, with minimal picture noise throughout. Granted, the X90J won’t make you think you’re watching true 4K content, but it does make Full HD material look about as good as it can.
For gaming purposes, the X90J‘s HDMI 2.1 support means it’s equipped for 4K at 120Hz gameplay. We saw this in action with a number of supported PS5 games, and were pleased by how pretty it made them look in particular. Gameplay was exceptionally smooth, without any instances of judder.
As mentioned, while the X90J actively advertises Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) compatibility, the feature isn’t actually available yet. Sony promises the feature will arrive in a future update, however, it said the same thing about HDMI 2.1 functionality on the XH90/X900H and that took months to arrive.
It’s worth mentioning that the X90J suffers from a substantial amount of glare in well-lit rooms. It isn’t as discernible when viewing especially bright and colorful content, though the glare is quite visible during darker scenes.
Sony X90J review: Sound quality
In terms of built-in audio, the X90J’s X-Balanced Speaker setup employs a pair of 10W full range drivers and two side tweeters. That’s a far cry from Sony’s higher-end A90J, which turns the entire display into a massive object-based speaker with built-in subwoofers.
Of course, the X90J is a mid-range television, so while you can’t expect a truly revelatory sound experience, you can rely on it to perform commendably for the most part.
We found the X90J’s speakers to be fairly quiet, forcing us to really crank the volume higher than you’d expect to get it at an acceptable level.
In these instances, you do run the risk of the TV’s volume being too high when something especially loud happens on screen, but thankfully, the X90J offers a choice of three sound modes which you can select from the TV’s pop-up settings menu. These include Standard, Dialogue (super handy for late-night viewing when you don’t want to push the volume so high) and Cinema.
Sony’s X90J is also said to offer simulated 3D audio, and while there was at least some level of dimensionality produced from the TV’s built-in speakers, it wasn’t a patch on a real Dolby Atmos setup.
The lack of up-firing speakers means you won’t hear anything flying overhead, and we never really felt like we were surrounded by sound, either. If that’s the kind of audio experience you’re after, you’ll need to step up to one of the best soundbars, or a full receiver-and-surround system.
Thankfully, the TV does provide Dolby Atmos passthrough (HDMI 3 eARC port only), allowing you to get a proper 3D audio experience when connected to supported audio equipment.
Sony X90J review: Design usability
Sony’s industrial design is generally very good, and the X90J keeps that going. From front on, the X90J’s design looks as pretty as any other television in Sony’s 2021 lineup, with relatively small black bezels and a small and tasteful Sony logo under the screen.
Admittedly, the rear of the TV feels a bit cheaper, with a plastic backing that reveals the X90J’s mid-range positioning. It’s also not the thinnest TV around – the 65-inch model starts thin at the top then curves outwards as it heads down, measuring around 71mm at its thickest point. That means it will noticeably stick out a bit if wall-mounted.
That said, we’re big fans of the X90J’s thin, triangular feet. They’re classy and understated, giving the TV a propped up look when placed on a unit or desk. They also provide a good deal of stability, avoiding the wobble that was evident in some of Sony’s 2020 models.
As for the X90J’s remote control, you won’t find anything here that hasn’t already been included in the ones that came with the last few Sony TVs. You get some quick access buttons for YouTube, Netflix, Prime Video and YouTube Music, and the usual circular direction button in the middle of the remote for navigation.
In a clear upgrade from the Android TV interface featured in last year’s Sony televisions, the Sony X90J runs on the all-new Google TV platform, offering users a refreshed home screen that’s populated with content from a variety of streaming and catch-up services.
Those who’ve used the recent Chromecast with Google TV will be immediately familiar with the X90J’s home screen, which presents the user with big, beautiful imagery and a content selection that’s driven by your viewing habits.
The platform’s Google-powered smarts are able to suggest content that it thinks you might like, seamlessly mixing in shows and movies from a variety of readily-available sources.
And, it being a Google platform, you have easy access to Google Assistant search functionality, allowing you to simply ask for movies in a particular genre, or shows starring a specific actor.
Sony X90J review: Verdict
Sony’s X90J provides a noticeable step up from last year’s models in that it offers HDMI 2.1 support, an improved processor and a refreshed Smart TV interface in the Google TV Platform.
Its color reproduction is just wonderful, with some clever processing techniques which allow images to look as good as can possibly be on an LED TV. It also offers excellent upscaling and motion processing to back it all up.
That said, there are a few areas in which it could stand to improve. The X90J has one of the glariest screens we’ve seen in a while, and, while its speakers do a decent job, they could stand to be a bit punchier – though if you add a soundbar, this issue goes away, of course.
Overall, the Sony X90J is a great mid-range TV for its price, offering terrific picture quality, decent black levels, smooth motion and nice usability.