We've reviewed more than 35 Sony TVs in the last 3 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 are not the most competitive TVs, but their high-end and especially their mid-range TVs are among the best, albeit usually at a price premium.
The best Sony TV we've reviewed so far is the Sony A9G OLED. It's the successor of the excellent Sony A9F OLED, which is becoming hard to find. This is an exceptional OLED TV with outstanding picture quality and wide viewing angles. It delivers perfect blacks thanks to its emissive technology that allows it to turn off individual pixels. It has an excellent HDR performance with vivid colors and bright highlights thanks to the TV's wide color gamut and the decent HDR peak brightness. Sports fans will enjoy crisp motion, thanks to the almost-instantaneous response time.
Casual gamers will enjoy the TV's low input lag, but more serious ones might want something faster. This TV is better suited for an average-lit room as it can't get very bright in SDR. Finally, although we don't expect this to be an issue for most people that watch normal varied content, the A9G, just like all OLED TVs, has the risk of experiencing temporary image retention, or even permanent burn-in.
Overall, however, this is an excellent TV.
If the possibility of burn-in with the Sony A9G OLED concerns you, the Sony X950G is the best LED Sony TV that we've tested so far. It's a great 4k TV with impressive peak brightness, excellent out-of-the-box accuracy, and great motion handling. Like the A9G, it doesn't support HDMI 2.1, but it does support eARC, which is great if you have a recent sound system or are looking to upgrade soon, and want your TV to be ready-to-go. This TV is available in sizes ranging from 55" up to 85". The larger sizes, namely the 75" and 85", are a bit different as they make use of the 'X-Wide Angle' technology that improves viewing angles at the expense of contrast ratio.
Overall, this is a TV that'll keep its owners happy.
If you're looking for something cheaper, the best Sony 4k TV we've tested so far in the budget category s the Sony X800G. It's a decent 4k IPS panel TV with wide viewing angles and good peak brightness. Fast-moving content, like sports, looks crisp thanks to the remarkable response time, but unfortunately the TV can't deliver deep blacks in a dark room due to its low native contrast ratio and lack of local dimming support. It has a low input lag for casual gaming, but it isn't low enough for demanding gamers. Finally, this TV runs the Android TV interface, which is intuitive and easy to use.
Overall, it's a decent TV that performs well in many different uses.
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 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) 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 shown to be 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 3 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 8.0, known as Android Oreo. The interface is much faster than before and is very easy to use. It's a gradual roll-out though, and even some 2019 models haven't received the update yet.
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 such as "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. A lot of remotes nowadays 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.
Models such as X900F 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 A9F and Z9F feature a rubber finish, but they also have a brushed metal back that give the remote a nice premium feel in the hand.
The remote has been updated for 2019, and newer models, including the A9G OLED and the X950G, come with a new, slim remote with a metal finish (pictured). These new remotes are functionally similar to the old ones, but they fully support Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to control the TV even when you're not within line-of-sight.
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 the voice control features. It can't stream files from your device to the TV.
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.