We've tested more than 10 Sony TVs in the last two years. 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 aren't the most competitive TVs, but their high-end and especially their mid-range options are among the best, albeit usually at a price premium.
The best Sony TV with an OLED panel that we've tested is the Sony A8H. Like all OLEDs, it delivers stunning picture quality due to its ability to turn individual pixels off, allowing it to achieve perfect blacks for a fantastic dark room viewing experience. On top of that, there are no issues with uniformity or blooming around bright objects because it doesn't require a backlight. It's incredibly well-built, and it has a simple and minimalist design that fits into most settings. It has excellent viewing angles, which is great for wide seating arrangements, as images look accurate even if you aren't sitting right in front of the TV. It has outstanding reflection handling, but its peak brightness is only decent, which means that you might have visibility issues in brightly-lit rooms. That said, it gets significantly brighter in HDR, enough to make some highlights pop. Accuracy is excellent out of the box, so you might not need to calibrate it to get accurate color reproduction.
As is expected, the response time is nearly instantaneous, resulting in clear images in fast-moving scenes and almost no motion blur. It has an optional Black Frame Insertion feature to further improve clarity, and it can interpolate low frame rate content up to 120fps for fans of the 'Soap Opera' effect. However, it doesn't have any HDMI 2.1 ports and can't display a native 4k @ 120Hz signal. Also, while its input lag is low, it's higher than most recent 4k TVs, and it doesn't support any variable refresh rate (VRR) technology to reduce screen tearing when gaming. There are risks of permanent burn-in, which happens when static elements remain on the screen for an extended period, but we don't expect it to be a problem for most people who watch varied content. Its Android TV interface is user-friendly, and there are tons of apps available through the Google Play Store. It's a TV that should please most people and one of the best Sony TVs that we've tested.
The Sony X950H is the best Sony TV with an LED panel that we've tested. It's a great all-around TV that's particularly well-suited to watching movies or gaming in the dark thanks to its high contrast ratio, excellent black uniformity, and full-array local dimming. On top of performing well in the dark, it also gets bright enough to overcome glare in well-lit rooms. Unlike the Sony A8H OLED, it uses a VA panel that's immune to permanent burn-in, so it's a great alternative if that's a concern. Sony has also implemented its 'X-Wide Angle' layer on this model, so it has wider viewing angles than you'd expect from a VA panel, although they're still only passable, so the image may look a bit washed out from the side. The wider viewing angles come at the expense of a slightly lower contrast ratio, but they let you accommodate a wider seating arrangement than you'd be able to otherwise.
Gamers may be disappointed by the lack of VRR support, but the TV has a low input lag for a responsive gaming experience, and it has a quick response time, resulting in clear motion in fast-moving content. Unfortunately, it doesn't have an HDMI 2.1 port and can't display a 4k @ 120Hz signal, so you can't take full advantage of next-gen gaming consoles on this TV. On the upside, though, it's a great TV for HDR content because it has a wide color gamut and gets bright enough to bring out most highlights, and the overall brightness of scenes is spot-on. It also has excellent accuracy out of the box, so you likely won't need to calibrate it to enjoy high-quality picture. If you're looking for a Sony LED TV, look no further than this one, which is among the best Sony TVs and should satisfy most people.
Although Sony tends to stay away from making budget-friendly models, the Sony X750H is the best Sony TV available for a budget-friendly price that we've tested. Even at that, it costs more than some other budget TVs, like from TCL and Hisense, and doesn't perform as well. Still, this is a simple 4k TV that most people should enjoy. It has a VA panel that provides remarkable black uniformity, so blacks appear as they should when viewed in the dark. It displays a wide color gamut for HDR content, but it doesn't get bright enough in that mode to truly bring out highlights. It's limited to a 60Hz panel, but casual gamers should appreciate its fairly quick response time and low input lag.
Unfortunately, it has narrow viewing angles, which is expected from a VA panel. If you have a wide seating arrangement, it may be better to spend a bit more money and get the Sony X800H, which has an IPS panel and wide viewing angles. Also, the X750H doesn't perform best in well-lit rooms because it doesn't get bright enough to combat glare, and the reflection handling is just decent. It lacks many features like local dimming and the ability to display chroma 4:4:4, but it can still upscale lower-resolution content well. If you're on a budget, you should consider it.
Samsung TVs have a picture quality comparable to Sony TVs, and in general, they're pretty competitive with each other. A big difference between the two is the physical build quality, especially with the higher-end models.
As a rule of thumb, it's pretty hard to go wrong when buying a Sony TV. Their more entry-level offerings aren't great, but any of the "Bravia" branded models (XBR model name) are 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.
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 been very good.
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 three are the model. The higher the model number, the more expensive it will be. For example, XBR55X900F is a high-end 2018 55 inch model, while the KDL32W600D is a budget 2016 32 inch model.
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 (although the latest version has improved considerably), but it's 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 has gradually improved over the years to a point where it's a bit less of an issue than it used to be.
Recent models have recently been updated to Android 9.0, known as Android Pie. The interface is much faster than before and is very easy to use. They gradually rolled it out in 2019, but 2020 models have it included out-of-the-box.
The interface is clean and pretty simple to navigate. It's divided into multiple rows, and each row presents content from different apps. These rows can be customized to your liking, or even disabled completely. The interface isn't very fancy, which makes it much easier to navigate.
Sony TVs have always had suggested content, but until recently, it could be completely disabled, and the interface was otherwise ad-free. On recent Sony TVs running Android 8.0, though, there is now a row of ads that can't normally be disabled. Thankfully, there is a workaround available, which can be found here. These ads aren't always present, and depending on your region, they might never appear.
Android TVs, including Sony's lineup and some of the high-end Hisense models, have access to the Google Play Store. This app store has one of the widest selections of apps available.
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. After Android 7.0, it integrates with Google Home and the Google Assistant if you're 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 like "brightness" and "contrast" to adjust individual settings, but the search is still what you'd expect of a Google service.
The remote included with Sony Android TV is very similar to what used to be found with non-smart TVs. It features a full number pad, as well as a directional pad and player controls. Nowadays, several remotes omit the number pad, and even the player controls entirely and instead use on-screen controls and very simple remotes.
It has quick access to both Netflix and Google Play Movies, and it features a microphone that lets you use the excellent Google voice search.
Sony released a new, sleeker-looking remote in 2019 compared to their older models, as seen in the picture above. It now has a brushed metal finish look to it, even though it's completely made of plastic. It has Bluetooth connectivity, so you don't need to point directly at the TV for it to work. Originally, Sony only included this remote with the higher-end 2019 models and it was silver, but in 2020, all models come with it and it's black.
The remote app available for Sony Smart TVs, known as Video & TV Sideview, is not as good as many other remote apps like the TCL Roku App. It can control almost all aspects of the TV, including opening certain apps directly, and it can also work as a microphone for voice control features. It can't stream files from your device to the TV.
Feb 25, 2021: Updated text for clarity and accuracy.
While they tend not to be the cheapest available, Sony produces great TVs. They'll generally be quite versatile, which helps to make 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, it's fairly safe to say that their overall reputation holds, and rare are the people that will find themselves disappointed by purchasing one of their TVs.