We've reviewed 25 Sony TVs. 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 A1E 4k OLED TV. It has the best picture quality we've ever reviewed, mostly thanks to its use of OLED technology. This allows the TV to reproduce perfectly deep and uniform blacks, giving it an infinite contrast ratio.
In addition to its striking design and great picture quality, the A1E is a very versatile TV overall. It will do well with just about every usage, thanks to its great handling of motion, great viewing angles and great handling of reflections. Its ability to reproduce a wide gamut of colors also makes it a top performer for HDR, which is a more important feature nowadays. It's no slouch for gaming either; while its input lag isn't quite the best we've seen with a 1080p source, 4k consoles like the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X will be well fitting with the TV's low 30 ms of latency.
Overall, it's difficult to find a better TV today. While it does come at a premium, the Sony A1E is an excellent 4k HDR TV and the best Sony TV currently available.
Best mid-range Sony 4k TV
The Sony X900E packs a punch and makes a great mid-range recommendation. In its price range, it's very difficult to beat. This Sony LED TV offers most of the performance of the more expensive X930E, 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 X930E edges it on that aspect a little bit and gets significantly brighter, but that still makes for a fairly small difference. The Sony 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 looking to get an entry-level Sony 4k HDR TV, the Sony X800E is the best one we've reviewed this year. It has a wider than average viewing angle, so it's well suited for a living room where you'll often be watching it from the side.
It doesn't have as good a picture quality as the pricier TVs above, but it will still provide a good experience, especially if you don't plan on watching your TV in a dark room all the time. It's especially good for watching sports and playing video games thanks to its low input lag and low motion blur. Games feel snappy and fast moving element aren't blurry or followed by long and distracting trails. It has some HDR capabilities too, thanks to its wide color gamut and 10-bit color support.
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
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.