Sony TVs are generally a pretty safe bet. They tend to have great picture quality and a good amount of polish. Their build quality also tends to be better than average. Their budget models are not the most competitive TVs, but their high-end and especially their mid-range TVs are amongst the best, albeit usually at a price premium.
Compared to other brands
- Good Handling of Motion. Sony, as a TV company, is a pioneer of motion features, and it shows. They usually have the best interpolation and most of their TVs have an image flicker feature to enhance motion clarity.
- Great Upscaling. Sony TVs, even the cheaper models, do better than average when it comes to upscaling lower resolution content.
- Sluggish Smart Features. While Android TV itself isn't bad, and sluggishness is common with other brands, Sony TVs are prone to having common slowdowns while using their features.
- High Price. Sony TVs will most often be priced above their competition in their category.
Sony vs Samsung
Samsung TVs have a picture quality comparable to Sony TVs, and in general, they are pretty competitive with each other. A big difference between the two is the physical build quality, especially with higher-end models.
As a rule of thumb, it's pretty hard to be wrong when buying a Sony TV. Their more entry-level offerings aren't great, but any of the "Bravia" branded models (XBR model name) is a pretty safe bet. Their Android TV smart platform isn't the best, but it isn't bad either. You might end up paying a slight premium over competing models, but you'll usually end up with a good TV.
Best Sony Smart TVs
Sony's lineup of TVs isn't the widest. Their focus is mainly on mid-range and high-end models. They do offer some budget TVs, but they haven't shown to be very good,
*E = 2017
*D = 2016
*C = 2015
*B = 2014
Budget models will start with "KDL". The rest of the Sony range will start with "XBR". The first digits in the code are the size, the last 3 are the model. The higher the model number, the more expensive it will be. For example, XBR55X900E is a high-end 2017 55 inch model, while the KDL32W600D is a budget 2016 32 inch model.
Best Sony 4k TV
The best Sony TV we've reviewed is the X930E. It's an impressively bright TV that does HDR better than any other LCD TV while remaining a very versatile set that can deliver for almost every use-case.
Picture quality is great, and as stated, we haven't measured a brighter TV. This has a great impact in HDR since it helps to produce very bright highlights that pop. Contrast is also among the best, and its local dimming feature is better than average. Thanks to the very quick motion and responsiveness of inputs, it's an equally great choice for gamers out there.
Its only real downside is the price. This Sony television isn't extravagant and is one of the lowest of its class, but its little sister, the X900E, offers very similar performance for quite a bit less.
Best mid-range Sony 4k TV
The X900E packs a punch. In its price range, it's very difficult to beat. This Sony LED TV offers most of the performance of the X930E above, but for about 60% less money. It's overall a very similar TV. Contrast is about the same, and both feature a nice local dimming feature that enhances it even more. The X930 edges it on that aspect a little bit, and it gets significantly brighter, but that still makes for a fairly small difference. Considering this, the X900E will please most buyers minus the pickier enthusiasts that really want the best of the best when it comes to HDR.
Best budget Sony 4k TV
If you're not too interested in HDR, or if you'd like one of the best sports watching experience on a tighter budget, get the Sony X700D. It won't have quite as good a picture quality as the more expensive models, but it still packs a lot of value and will often perform better than TVs multiple times more expensive for TV shows and sports. If a home theater isn't your main focus, you might not see much of a benefit on spending more than what the X700D can offer.
The X720E replaces the very popular X700D from 2016. It lacks the Android smart features of other Sony TVs.
Sony's Smart Features
If you've ever used an Android phone or tablet, you'll find yourself to be surprisingly familiar with Sony's Android TV platform. It isn't the slickest available nor the fastest, but it is feature-packed and provides great interaction with mobile devices, making accessing content that much faster. While the interface itself hasn't changed much, the performance gradually improved over the year to a point where it's a bit less of an issue than it used to be.
The remote included with Sony Android TV is very reminiscent of what used to be found with non-smart TVs. It features a full number pad, as well as a directional pad and player controls. A lot of remotes nowadays omit number pad and even the player controls entirely and instead using on-screen controls and very simple remotes.
It has quick access to both Netflix and Google Play Movies, and it features a microphone which lets you use the excellent Google voice search. It doesn't go as deep with the features as What Samsung does, but it is unmatched for recognition and is more akin to what you would find on an Android phone or through Google home. It can help you find content easily, or just get answers about general information like news or weather quickly.
The higher-end models such as X900E feature a rubberized coating to protect from spills and crumbs, while the cheaper variants have a fully plastic layout with traditional rubber buttons. Flagship models such as the A1E and Z9D feature the rubber finish, but they also have a brushed metal back that give the remote a nice premium feel in the hand.
The interface is clean, and pretty simple to navigate. The top row is video and game content from YouTube, Crackle, and the Play Store.
One area where the Android TV excels is with voice search. Press the voice search button on the remote and say what you’re looking for, and Android TV will deliver suggestions from the Play Store, Google Play Movies & TV, and YouTube, as well as relevant results from downloaded apps. It’s a convenient way to navigate to content quickly, and it's often much faster than using the remote. It's also constantly being updated. In Android 7.0, it integrates with Google home and the Google assistant if you are logged in, which means stuff like news and weather is a few seconds away.
It isn't quite as good for internal features as the Samsung voice search, which can execute commands such as "brightness" and "contrast" to adjust individual settings though, but the search is still what you'd expect of a Google service.
USB playback is interesting on Android TV. The video player is decent, and was able to play our video files just fine. The TV couldn't see any of our image files though (.jpg and .png), which wasn't great.
Android TV doesn't have a lot of choices when it comes to web browsers nowadays. Opera TV is the only one left on the Google play store, and it's not very good.
It scored a pitiful 496 on the Peacekeeper test (compared to over 1400 on current Samsung TVs), which is quite representative of the experience it delivers. The controls aren't very good, since it relies on the remote's directional pad for moving the cursor, and it is exceptionally slow.
Overall, while it is possible to use, it isn't worth the time and the experience is quite disappointing.
Thankfully, even if the browser on the TV itself isn't any good, Android has a casting feature that allows you to mirror the screen of another device.
You still need to scroll and move about using your computer or phone, which can be inconvenient, but it is still quite a bit faster and intuitive than using the included browser.
Casting works even better for “Google Cast Ready” websites like YouTube, Netflix, HBO Go, and Plex as well as similar application on your mobile device.
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While they tend not to be the cheapest available, Sony produces great TVs. They'll generally be quite versatile, which helps with making them suitable for most people. The smart features aren't the most intuitive, but the overall package offered by their TVs is still better than average. At this point in time, it's fairly safe to say that their overall reputation holds true, and rare are the people that will find themselves disappointed by purchasing one of their TVs.