Sony XBR55X900E Review – Picture Quality At Its Best
It’s time for My Sony XBR 55X900E Review, because it’s one of the best 4K TVs I ever tried.
The TV’s ratings are indeed really good, especially in picture quality. Its audio system isn’t the very best one, that’s true. But its excellent up-scaling engine simply outweighs everything else.
But why is the X900E better than the rest? It’s time to have a closer look at this gorgeous piece.
So Let’s Get To The Review
Price: $1,298 at the time I wrote this review
Cheapest place to buy: Amazon
My rating: 9.70/10
Things I Liked
- Picture quality: excellent, with great contrast rates, brightness, color accuracy and black levels
- Up-scaling system: superior to most, as it can play 420p content decently
- Fast response time (10.4 ms)
- Motion blur and judder: absent even in 720p content
- Clear, elegant design
- Audio system: enough for an average listener
- Google Cast and Play Store included
- Voice control command: works great (it’s also compatible with Alexa)
- Gaming: fast pixel response time and low input lag, even in HDR (with gaming mode turned on)
Things I Didn’t Like
- Sound quality: not too good for a home theatre experience, so a soundbar can be a lot of use
- Viewing angles aren’t very good
1. Appearance & Design – Minimalism And Simplicity
Sony doesn’t seem to be influenced too much by the sophisticated designs of 2017. While LG brings in TVs with glass panels and Samsung prefers curved screens, Sony sticks to the essentials.
I really love the X900E’s design because of its simplicity.
The super thin borders cover a minimal section of the frontal part, making much more room for the screen view. That’s probably why many Minimalist fans are also in love this TV – it draws the attention on the picture, not on its own aspect.
The stand it comes equipped with is a sturdy metal-made piece, so the TV is rather made to be furniture placed, not mounted on the wall. However, according to the instructions, there is also this possibility, so it’s up to you.
Its thickness is definitely not the best on the market, but the 2.28″ screen allows it to rank among the averagely slim TVs easily. So even though “sophisticated” is not really the word for this TV, most users are still delighted with it.
2. Picture Quality – Contrast Beats It All
The X900E’s image quality is amazing for its price, and that’s something a 4K TV expert says.
This TV comes in with very high contrast rates (5411:1) and great color accuracy. Even though the X900E’s colors aren’t as vibrating as a$4000 TV’s, there isn’t much to complain of at this chapter. The brightness level can be kept very high for the whole time, without getting any “washed picture” surprises.
The local dimming rates aren’t the best I’ve seen in an LED TV, that’s true. However, they are good enough to offer a great picture quality, talking from the contrast’s point of view. The 5411 contrast rate stands as a witness. 🙂
When it comes to black levels, the X900E’s values are more than decent, considering we’re talking about an LED TV. Even in a dark room, the image quality is by no means damaged or lowered. And last not but least, the screen reflection filter works at its best – sunlight or reflections aren’t noticeable in any circumstances.
3. Viewing Angles – Don’t Go Beyond 30 Degrees
Sony cannot yet overcome the biggest LED problem – bad viewing angles. The X900E model is VA-based, so this pretty much explains the difficulties when watching from a side.
The contrast does keep a high level, but the color accuracy slowly drops once you exceed 30 degrees from the front. So the final image will appear clear, but rather flushed.
However, there’s a positive side too. Unlike other LEDs, the image degradation doesn’t increase once you go beyond 50 degrees from the front. You can as well sit 70 degrees, the picture you will see will be pretty much the same – clear in detail, but fading.
But despite this “little advantage”, the X900E’s viewing angles remain a problem. Not a major one, but still…So if you plan to watch it with a big group of friends or a large family, keep in mind that the user experience won’t be equal for everyone.
4. Up-scaling System – The Absolutely Best One Around
The X900E’ s up-scaling engine does its job very well when it comes to content as low as 720 pixels. Cable television’s content is converted well enough to make an over-averagely clear image. Clear not for 4K standards, but clear enough to look decent on an 65″ screen.
Blu-rays and other 1080 content pieces are obviously converted with an excellent detail, as the difference between them and an originally 4K content fragment is not huge. I think there’s no point mentioning the quality of original 4K content on this TV, is it?
However, a pleasant surprise comes from DVD-based content, the 420p one. Many 4K TVs are unable to play content that is lower than 720p, but that’s not the case of Sony’s X900E. In fact, it performs very well when converting content as low as 420p. Yes, the details are far from Blu-ray content and general quality is visibly lower, but the color accuracy is at high levels, just like the contrast and brightness.
Therefore, the X900E’s up-scaling system is probably the best one I’ve seen in under $2000 4K TVs. The DVD-based is the best proof for this.
5. Motion Blur – Not One Of The Problem
Just like it would be normal for a TV of its performance, the X900E keeps away the motion blur in all types of content, even in cable based one.
It has a response time as low as 10.4 ms, which means that fast scenes or rapid shows (such as sports) should’t suffer for any blurring. And they really don’t. 😉
The soap-opera effect isn’t a disturbing problem either when it comes to this TV. You only have to change a few of the basic settings in order to totally eliminate this effect (Motionflow to 3 and Cinemotion off).
On the other hand, if you want to increase this effect, in order to eliminate an eventual judder, set the Cinemotion to high and increase the Motionflow and Smoothness.
But speaking in terms of comparation, the X900E handles motion blur better than many TVs of similar prices. And it also gets a high grade for the easily customizable motion settings.
6. Audio System – Achille’s Heel
The X900E’s sound is not as bad as you might think. However, compared to all its other excellent features, it’s probably this TV’s worst chapter.
The sound itself is not bad, but volume is the missing part. The bass sound is also pretty insignificant, but unless you’re a sound freak, you will most likely not even notice it.
However, the X900E is compatible with most audio devices like speakers or soundbars. In fact, Sony themselves recommend the NT5 soundbar in order to improve the audio experience. It’s another extra $600, but if you care about excellent sound, it’s totally worth it.
7. Smart Engine – Performant Features On
Sony’s Android TV meets the high expectations even in the case of the X900E. To me it seems the most difficult-to-use smart system around, but its features are also among the best ones.
Just like its younger sibling, the X800D, Google Cast is an important feature of the X900E. It allows you to watch content from a source like laptop or smartphone without any additional hardware. Play Store is another Google-based app that raises X900E’s performance, as it lets you download absolutely anything you want.
The ads-free style of this TV is also a feature many 4K fans will enjoy, even though most TVs allow you to manually disable the eventual ads. However, I appreciated that they had this pre-installed.
The voice control button is probably the only excellent feature of the remote. As it is compatible with Amazon’s Alexa, the X900E can be easily controlled just by using the voice button. It may sound a bit too comfortable to be true, but it’s real. 😉
8. Gaming – Very Responsive
When it comes to gaming, things look very good from X900’s perspective.
Its main input lag is around 31.5 ms, which means this TV is suitable even for fast graphic modes. However, don’t forget to turn game mode on, as this will visibly increase your gaming experience.
Unlike many other 4K TVs, the X900E also offers great HDR gaming. That’s because the input lag in HDR is under 35 ms, which is still very low. This is the weak point of many top 4Ks, so it’s definitely worth mentioning this aspect of Sony’s 2017 model.
When it comes to picture quality in gaming mode, things are again very good. Motion blur is very rare in gaming, and it usually appear in very fast scenes. I mean, super fast scenes, so they’re not too common.
The pixels response time is also very fast itself, faster than in most 4K TVs, so the final picture is very smooth and accurate.
So Why Is This TV Better Than The Others?
Sony’s X900E may not be the absolute peak in picture quality, that’s why $3000 OLEDs exist. However, it is in top 3 among non-OLED TVs and it’s probably the very best option you have in terms of price/quality ratio.
The excellent contrast rates combines with superior color accuracy, unnoticeable smoothness and perfect brightness ensure a great final image. One of the best ones around, to be honest. Only the viewing angles aren’t perfect when it comes to picture, but this is not as worse as most TVs of the same price.
The up-scaling system does a great job, being able to play even 420p content decently. Gaming is also perfect on this TV, and the smart system is also on top.
What else could you wish for in an $1.300 4K TV? It’s already a piece of heaven!