The Sony X900E is a great 4k TV that offers some of the best picture quality found in an LED TV. HDR content looks particularly good on this TV since it gets very bright, and it handles motion exceptionally well. Its only real downside is the degradation of the image when viewed at an angle.
- Deep blacks
- Bright, which is good for HDR
- Very fluid motion
- Picture quality deteriorates at an angle
The X900E has a very typical Sony design, with a small stand that supports the TV well and a very functional appearance. There are slots at the rear of the stand for cable management, but overall the design is quite minimalist.
The X900E is a fairly cool TV, and should never feel hot to the touch. However its power brick does get warm, up to 45 °C, though this isn't hot enough to cause any problems.
- 11% Contrast
- 6% Local Dimming
- 6% SDR Peak Brightness
- 6% HDR Peak Brightness
- 6% Gray Uniformity
- 7% Viewing Angle
- 4% Black Uniformity
- 2% Gradient
- 4% Pre Calibration
- 1% Post Calibration
- 6% 480p Input
- 9% 720p Input
- 11% 1080p Input
- 6% 4k Input
- 4% Color Gamut
- 4% Color Volume
- 1% Image Retention
- 6% Reflections
- 1% 3D
The Sony X900E has great picture quality. The excellent contrast ratio and good black uniformity results in good performance when viewed in a dark room. The X900E is also a good option for a bright room, since it has a high peak brightness and can handle reflections pretty well. It is best suited for people who sit directly in front, since when viewed from the side the picture quality degrades considerably. When it comes to HDR this TV is a great performer; it has a great HDR peak brightness, great color reproduction and when you add local dimming to the equation, you end up with a very good movie experience.
The native contrast ratio is very good on this Sony TV. With a ratio of around 5400, this is much better than the X930D. A high contrast ratio is crucial for good dark scenes performance while watching movies in a dark room.
Note that this test is done in SDR with local dimming off to showcase the true native contrast of the panel used in this TV. With local dimming set to high with the same test pattern, the contrast ratio was around 6500 with black level of around 0.015 cd/m², which is even better.
The local dimming feature is average on the Sony X900E. When set side by side with last year X930D, it is clearly an upgrade visually, and we recommend it for normal viewing. When set to maximum it can sometimes feel a bit aggressive. If you visually see that it too aggressive, you can set it to medium or low.
The X900E has great brightness for SDR content. With both 'Auto Local Dimming' and 'X-tended Dynamic Range' set to 'High', the X900e is able to make small areas like our 2% window very bright. The TV can't brighten larger areas as well as smaller areas but large areas are still very bright. The TV is able to maintain this high brightness indefinitely which is good.
Great all-round brightness. Even the worst cases such as sustained 100% window remain very bright. With 'Auto Local Dimming' and 'X-tended Dynamic Range' set to 'High' the X900E is able to make small areas very bright, and maintain this high brightness over time without fading.
The overall gray uniformity of the X900E is good. The 50% standard deviation is a bit higher than what would be considered a good value, and this is cause by the darker corners and the general unevenness near the frame of the TV. Luckily for sports fans there is not too much dirty screen effect, as the center of the display is pretty even.
As for the 5% uniformity, besides some brighter areas near the bottom corners there is not much to complain about which is great.
This viewing angle is bad, but is fairly typical for a TV with a VA panel. When sitting to the side of the TV and viewing it on an angle, blacks will look gray and colors will look washed out, though the brightness will stay fairly constant.
The X900E native black uniformity (whitout local dimming) is good and is similar to last year Sony X930D. Some clouding can be seen, especially near the corners, but with a standard deviation of 1.203, this is still a pretty good result.
With local dimming turned on, the result is equally good with a value of 1.014. This is a good sign that the local dimming is working well on the X900e
With local dimming turn on and with regular content, the faint clouding visible on our picture should not be noticeable.
The performance of this TV is excellent when displaying our gradient test image. Small imperfections can be noticed in the dark green and blue, but these are almost negligible. The TV can display gradients without any banding normally seen on an 8-bit panel and should provide excellent color reproduction, especially in sky scenes for HDR movies.
Out of the box in the 'Custom' picture mode the calibration of the TV is excellent and could be used without any further adjustments. The white balance is slightly too warm, but even then the white balance dE is only 2.15 which is still a good score. The color accuracy is also good, with only the green tracking a bit worse than the other colors.
Calibration of the X900E is very easy and fast to do with the provided 2 and 10 points white balance calibration. The white balance was quickly brought to a negligible 0.25 dE, and the gamma curve was flattened to track more closely to the 2.2 value. The color space dE was brought down a bit, but since there is no color space management on this TV, we could not bring it down further. In any case, with a dE of 1.97 it is still an excellent result that is well under our good value of a dE of 3.
The X900E has a wide color gamut which is good for HDR content. Overall, deep colors will be well represented but the TV underperforms when reproducing greens.
The X900E has decent color volume. It is able to show its wide color gamut at a range of brightness values, though it does struggle at the extreme ends of this range. Its color gamut for extremely bright colors is smaller than at moderate brightness, and its blue tinted black level also prevents it from accurately showing very dark deep color.
The Sony X900E has some image retention, which is pretty unusual for a TV with a VA panel. The retention is really faint and not as strong has seen on some IPS TVs. It is the first time we've seen image retention on a VA TV. Note that image retention is not a deal breaker in any way, but more a temporary annoyance, since it is not permanent.
The TV is great at handling reflections. The semi-gloss finish helps to diffuse light on the screen which reduces the intensity. Even in a fairly bright room, reflections aren't an issue.
The X900E doesn't support 3D.
Excellent motion handling. The TV's fast response time results in only a very small trail following moving objects which should be good even for fast content. The backlight does flicker at low levels, but at a high enough frequency that motion appears smooth. It is able to clear up the image with black frame insertion. Movies are played smoothly, and fans of the soap opera effect can interpolate content to 120Hz.
The response time of the X900E is very fast and results in only a short trail following moving objects. The 20%-80% and 80%-20% transitions take a bit longer than ideal, resulting in the blur visible in the moving logo image. Overall, this TV shouldn't have any problems with fast-paced content.
The backlight does use PWM to dim, but only at very low backlight levels. It flickers at a relatively high frequency of 720 Hz so content appears quite smooth. It is possible to reduce the flicker frequency to 120Hz by increasing the 'Motionflow' -> 'Clearness' slider. This does help to clear up motion but not as well as the 60Hz flicker available on other TVs.
The X900E can play movies from Blu-ray players, native streaming apps and cable/satellite boxes without any judder. Note that when playing the movie from a 60p/60i source like cable TV, the 'Motionflow' option must be set to 'True Cinema' and 'CineMotion' set to 'High' to have a judder-free experience.
The TV has a 120Hz panel and is able to interpolate lower frame rate content to produce a very strong 'Soap Opera Effect' (SOE). To do so, adjust the 'Motionflow' setting and increase the 'Smoothness' slider. The 'CineMotion' option changes the threshold for interpolation. Set it to 'High' for the most SOE.
The Sony X900E supports all common input signals and should be able to accurately display content from any device, even video output from a PC. The X900E also has low input lag in game and graphics mode and will be very responsive when playing video games and when using the TV as a PC monitor.
Very good input lag overall. In game or graphics mode the input lag is always lower than 35 ms, which should be good enough for all but the most competitive gamers. Outside of game or graphics mode though the input lag is quite high, making this TV unsuitable for gaming with interpolation enabled.
Update 05/23/2017: The TV has been retested after the update to Android TV 7.0 Nougat, and the input lag is unchanged.
- 20% 1080p @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4
- 20% 1080p @ 120Hz
- 20% 4k @ 30Hz @ 4:4:4
- 20% 4k @ 60Hz
- 20% 4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4
This TV supports all of the common input signals. Only HDMI inputs 2 and 3 are capable of showing 4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:2:2 or 4:4:4 color, and only when 'HDMI Enhanced Format' is enabled. 4:4:4 color is supported in both game and graphics mode.
Remarkably the TV also displayed a 1080p @ 120 Hz input without showing the vertical line artifacts seen on the X930D. However when displaying this resolution while in game or graphics mode only crude upscaling was done on the 1080p image, so the image looked almost as jagged as it would on a 1080p TV. Some people may prefer this look however because it retains most of the sharpness of the original image.
There is a shared component/composite port on the back, and an additional composite input on the side but an adapter is not included. An example of the correct adapter can be found here.
To enable audio passthrough, in the 'Action Menu' change the 'Speakers' to 'Audio System'.
The Sony X900E unfortunately doesn't produce a very good sound. While it isn't unusable, it would greatly benefit from adding a soundbar or a set of speakers.
Poor frequency response. Low-end cutoff of 160Hz means that this TV won't produce much bass. Additionally, even though this TV doesn't get very loud, pumping and compression is produced as the volume is increased.
Poor harmonic distortion performance. The overall amount of distortion at 70dB is very low, however, just like most of the other Sony TVs we've measured, there is a big spike in the overall harmonic distortion as volume is increased and the TV is put under heavier loads.
The Sony X900E uses Android TV as its smart platform. Android TV tends to be more difficult to navigate than many other smart platforms, so the interface may take some getting used to. The 'Action Menu' button on the remote helps to relieve this problem by providing a quick list of popular settings so the user doesn't have to navigate to the main settings menu. However one strength of Android TV is the Google Play Store, which contains many many apps that can be downloaded on the TV to extend its functionality. The X900E also has Chromecast built-in so content can be cast from a smartphone or tablet directly to the TV, and the TV has 3 USB ports so content can be played from USB flash drives. The included remote is rather large with many buttons, and has a microphone for Voice Search, which works well.
The main interface of the TV has no ads which is good. Apps themselves can still have ads, such as video ads in the YouTube app. There is an option in the TV's settings to opt out of personalized advertising for these ads.
By default the top row of the home screen is filled with suggested content, but the sources of suggested content can be disabled one by one in the settings until there is only two TV instructional videos left in the row.
There are three buttons on the back of the TV that allow changing the channel, volume and input. The center button selects either channel, volume or input while the (+) and (-) buttons increment the setting. The center button also serves as the power button and can power off the TV is it is held down for a few seconds.
The remote is fairly large and has a dizzying array of buttons, like the remotes of the X930D and X800D. The round arrow button pad is surrounded by a circle of other often used buttons, and serves as the centerpiece of the remote. There is a microphone in the remote for Voice Search, which works well.
Differences between Sizes and Variants
We tested the 55" (XBR55X900E). For the most part, we expect our review to be valid for the 49"(XBR49X900E), 65"(XBR65X900E), and 75"(XBR75X900E). Unlike the other sizes, the 75" variant has an internal power brick.
If someone comes across a different type of panel or if their Sony XBR-55X900E doesn't correspond to our review, let us know and we will update the review. Note that some tests such as the gray uniformity may vary between individual units.
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Compared to other TVs
The Sony X900E offers a compelling package that is very competitive considering its price point. Picture quality is great, and its local dimming is a strong selling point.
The X930E is a higher-end Sony TV that performs very similarly to the X900E. It's a better TV overall, with a better local dimming and much higher brightness levels, but it's hard to recommend over the X900E since the price difference is fairly large.
The Vizio P Series 2016 had the best local dimming we tested last year and will perform better than the X900E in most cases. The X900E is a better pick for watching TV shows however. Note that the 55 inch version of the Vizio P has a different type of panel that will perform worse in most of our tests.
The LG UH8500 is a rarely seen recommendation and when compared to the X900E, it falls short in almost every front. The X900E will be a much better pick with the exception of watching the TV from an angle. Most people should buy the Sony X900E.
The Samsung KS8000 was our top recommended TV last year and, if you can still find it in stores, will be a slightly better choice over the X900E. Its blacks are deeper and even more uniform, and it's able to produce colors that are even more saturated. Most people will be pleased with either TV, but the KS8000 is a slightly better pick since it is cheaper.