Earlier this year Sony released a new mid-range 4K TV, the X90J, and we got a chance to get up close and personal.
The Sony X90J is by no means a top-of-the-range tellie. You won’t find 8K or any OLED panels here. And this is important because the TV manufacturing needs to offer quality at a lower price point, not just for those who can afford to drop tens of thousands on a new screen, or $130,000 on a rollable.
The X90J is a far more humble LED 4K television, but it has a bit to offer at just $1,995 for the 55-inch and $2,495 for the 65-inch.
Sony X90J picture and performance
Considering that we’re dealing with LED and not OLED here, the picture quality on the X90J was impressive. You’re not going to get the deep blacks and bright colours of a more expensive TV but it still does a really decent job for the price point particularly due to improved HDR and colour palette this year.
It also offers local dimming so only the necessary areas are lit up, as opposed to the entire panel. This is useful for creating a more complex and rich picture. And for a mid-range TV, it managed this well.
The picture quality itself is also great, largely due to its latest Cognitive Processor XR. A new addition in Sony’s 2021 TVs, the processor essentially analyses the image constantly, adjusting its focus to whatever will be the most likely focal point. For example, if a character is in the foreground and the background is blurred, the X90J’s processing power will concentrate on the person to really make them pop on-screen.
You can really see this at work in 4K content such as The Queen’s Gambit and Formula 1: Drive to Survive. The latter is particularly important as a show about F1 racing naturally has a lot of fast moving scenes requiring smooth transitions and really puts the Cognitive Processor through its paces.
Another fancy inclusion is Dolby Vision, but the Xbox Series X wouldn’t allow for the TV to run at 4K/120Hz when Dolby Vision was enabled.
Out of all of the X90J’s inputs, only two have access to the full bandwidth of the HDMI 2.1 spec. But one of those two ports — HDMI 3 — is the same port for eARC, which can be limiting if you have a soundbar.
Still, I appreciate the sheer amount of ports, as well as the ease of access to them on the back of the unit — a seemingly small but important quality of life inclusion.
When it came to gaming the X90J did a decent job at handling more demanding titles such as Destiny 2, as well as the more visually casual games like Slay the Spire and Tetris Effect: Connected. It’s worth adding that while the X90J does support variable refresh rate, as per the HDMI 2.1 spec, Sony is still yet to issue a firmware update to enable the feature.
While none of the games were as visually scrumptious on the LED as a recent 8K test, they still looked great. The blacks held up well in dark scenes and action-packed scenes remained surprisingly smooth. That said there was still some bleed, which was particularly noticeable in Tetris Effect. But to be fair, we also copped a lot of bleed in a recent Samsung 8K test, so this is certainly not unique to Sony.
Because the X90J was designed for 4K content, it’s not particularly surprising that it looks good. But what about lower quality content? I found the upscaling to be quite decent, particularly with HD content shows like Utopia.
Unsurprisingly, things got a little muddier when you dropped down to an even lower quality, such as older YouTube clips. While this may not seem particularly relevant, it’s worth keeping in mind if you have a Nintendo Switch which maxes out at 1080p when docked.
While I think the 55-inch will be fine (which is what I tested), you might notice it a little more with the 65-inch. That being said, this is just speculation as I didn’t have my Switch with me for this test.
What about the price?
What is perhaps most attractive about the X90J is the price. At the time of writing you can pick up the 55-inch model from JB Hi-Fi for under $2,000. If you’re after something a little bigger the 65-inch variant is just under $2,500. That’s not bad for a mid-level 4K TV.
But there’s reason to hold off, particularly as the end of financial year approaches.
For the same price as the X90J you can pick up a 55-inch LG OLED, with a Samsung QLED at the same size coming in a little cheaper. If you’re after the 65-inch X90J, it’ll set you back around $2,500, which is comparable to some discounted OLEDs in market right now.
So while I was certainly impressed by the X90J, I wonder if people will be tempted away by the promise of an OLED or QLED for the same price. I certainly couldn’t blame anyone wishing to go in that direction.
Still, the Sony X90J is a solid little tellie that allows you to dip your toes into the 4K/120Hz waters for quite an affordable price.