The 3 Best Sony TVs of 2021 Reviews and Smart Features

Updated
Best Sony TVs

We've tested more than 10 Sony TVs under the latest test bench. Sony TVs are generally a pretty safe bet when looking for the best TV for your needs. They tend to have great picture quality, a few extra features, and good color accuracy. 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.

Updates

Best Sony Smart TVs


  1. Best OLED Sony TV

    8.8
    Mixed Usage
    9.4
    Movies
    8.2
    TV Shows
    8.6
    Sports
    9.1
    Video Games
    8.9
    HDR Movies
    8.9
    HDR Gaming
    8.5
    PC Monitor
    Type OLED
    Sub-Type
    WRGB
    Resolution 4k
    Sizes : 55" 65" 83"

    The best Sony 4k TV with an OLED panel that we've tested is the Sony A90J OLED. It's the premium 4k OLED from their 2021 lineup, sitting above the Sony A80J OLED. It delivers exceptional picture quality as it can turn off individual pixels, resulting in perfect blacks. It means that there's no blooming around bright objects in dark scenes. Since each pixel emits light in all directions, it has wide viewing angles, which is great if you have a large seating area because the image remains accurate when viewing from the side. Like most Sony TVs we've tested, it has excellent out-of-the-box color accuracy, and it doesn't have any issues upscaling lower-resolution content.

    Sadly, OLEDs have the risk of permanent burn-in, and this one is no exception. Although we don't expect this to be an issue for those who watch varied content, it can be problematic if you leave it on the news all day or use it as a PC monitor. That said, Sony has included a few settings to help reduce this issue, like 'Pixel Shift' and 'Panel Refresh' options. This TV also lacks any gaming features like variable refresh rate (VRR) support, but that's supposed to come in a future firmware update. Still, it has low input lag and a near-instantaneous response time for gaming. Its peak brightness is just okay in SDR, but its brightness in HDR is better than most OLEDs, so it delivers an exceptional HDR experience. Overall, this is one of the best Sony TVs we've tested.

    See our review

  2. Best LED Sony TV

    8.2
    Mixed Usage
    8.2
    Movies
    8.4
    TV Shows
    8.1
    Sports
    8.4
    Video Games
    8.1
    HDR Movies
    8.4
    HDR Gaming
    8.2
    PC Monitor
    Type LED
    Sub-Type
    VA
    Resolution 4k
    Sizes : 65" 75" 85"

    The best Sony TV in the LED category is the Sony X95J. LED TVs have an advantage over OLEDs because they appear to be immune to the risk of permanent burn-in, so you can leave it on your favorite news channel all day and not have to worry about damaging the screen. Another advantage is that it gets much brighter, and combined with its excellent reflection handling, visibility shouldn't be an issue in even the brightest of environments. This TV is great for watching movies in dark rooms because it has a VA panel with good contrast and an excellent local dimming feature that improves the picture quality in dark scenes.

    Unfortunately, its native contrast ratio is lower than most VA panel TVs because it has Sony's 'X-Wide Angle' technology that aims to improve the viewing angles at the cost of the contrast. Blacks look gray without the local dimming, so it's best to enable it for the best movie experience. HDR content also looks great because it has amazing peak brightness in HDR, and even though it doesn't display a wide color gamut according to our testing standards, it's still good. It has two HDMI 2.1 inputs and a 120Hz panel, but like other Sony TVs, it doesn't have VRR support, but that may come in a firmware update. It's a premium TV that can get costly, so if you prefer something cheaper with better value, the Sony X90J is also a good choice. Overall, the X95J is the best Sony TV with an LED panel.

    See our review

  3. Best Sony TV To Use As A PC Monitor

    6.9
    Mixed Usage
    5.9
    Movies
    7.9
    TV Shows
    7.6
    Sports
    6.8
    Video Games
    5.8
    HDR Movies
    6.9
    HDR Gaming
    8.3
    PC Monitor
    Type LED
    Sub-Type
    IPS
    Resolution 4k
    Sizes : 43" 50" 55" 65" 75"

    If you prefer something to use as a PC monitor, then check out the Sony X80J. It's their entry-level model in the 2021 lineup, and although it's too expensive to be considered a budget model, it still offers great performance as a PC monitor. Its IPS-like panel provides wide viewing angles, so the image remains accurate no matter where you sit. It displays proper chroma 4:4:4 with 4k and 1080p signals at 60Hz, which is important for reading clear text, but it can't do it with 1440p signals. It also has low input lag for a responsive desktop experience.

    Unfortunately, it might be best to avoid using it in a well-lit room because its reflection handling and SDR peak brightness are just decent, meaning glare might be an issue in really bright rooms. Despite displaying a wide color gamut, it's not a good choice for watching HDR content either because it has low HDR brightness, a low contrast ratio that makes blacks look gray, and it lacks a local dimming feature. However, this shouldn't be an issue if you're using it as a PC monitor, and the gray uniformity is good. It's available in many sizes, including a small 43 inch model, but keep in mind the 50 inch variant has a VA panel, so it performs differently than the 55 inch model we tested. If you want something small and don't need wide viewing angles, the Sony X85J has HDMI 2.1 inputs. Overall, the X80J is the best Sony TV we've tested for PCs.

    See our review

Compared to other brands


  • Versatile lineup. Sony is one of a few companies that make both OLED and LED options. This means that you can choose whichever panel type you prefer, and both their OLEDs and LED TVs provide good picture quality.
  • Great upscaling. Sony TVs, even the cheaper models, do better than average when it comes to upscaling lower-resolution content.
  • Great color accuracy. Most Sony TVs we've tested have great out-of-the-box color accuracy. You likely won't need to get your Sony TV calibrated to enjoy the best viewing experience.
  • Lacking on gaming features. While Samsung and LG are industry leaders in gaming features like VRR support, Sony TVs generally lack VRR support. Sony has started to include it after firmware updates, but the rollout is slow.
  • 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're pretty competitive with each other. A big difference is that Samsung has better gaming features, but if you don't need that, either brand should be a good choice. Sony also offers OLED TVs, which Samsung doesn't.

Sony vs LG

Sony and LG each make OLED and LED TVs. LG is the dominant brand for OLEDs because they have more gaming features and generally cost less. However, Sony's LED models are far better than LG because they get brighter, have better uniformity, and usually have better contrast.

As a rule of thumb, it's pretty hard to go wrong when buying a Sony TV, especially if you don't need it for competitive gaming. Their more entry-level offerings aren't great, but any of the Bravia branded models are a pretty safe bet. Their Google TV smart platform offers a ton of apps to download. You might pay a slight premium over competing models, but you'll usually end up with a good TV.

Lineup

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 compared to the competition. Their product naming is also easy to understand. If the model starts with A, it's an OLED, if it's X, it's an LED, and their Z Series is 8k. Next comes the model number, and the higher the number, the better. Lastly, the suffix letter indicates the year. So for example, the Sony X800H is an entry-level LED model from 2020, while the A90J is the high-end OLED model from 2021.

  • *J = 2021
  • *H = 2020
  • *G = 2019

Sony Smart Features

Sony has traditionally used Android TV as its smart operating system, and as of 2021, they've started to use Google TV instead. It's pretty much the same as Android, with a redesigned look and a few extra features. Those who already have Google or Android-based devices should already know how to navigate the interface, while there might be a small learning curve for others. The great thing about Sony TVs is that they have Google Chromecast built-in, so you don't have to buy an external device to cast compatible content from your phone or tablet. If you already have other Google devices, like Google Nest speakers, they'll easily connect with the TV, and you'll be able to ask your speaker to play content directly on the TV.

Interface

Sony Smart Interface

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.

Ad-free

Sony Ads

While Android TV occasionally didn't have any ads and there was a way to disable them, Google TV pushes ads, and there's no way to disable them. You'll see suggested content directly on the home page, and often it will be the first thing you'll see with a large banner in front. You can opt-out of suggested content, but that just means you'll see untargeted ads instead.

Apps & Features

As expected, Google TV offers access to the Google Play Store, which offers a massive selection of apps to download, even more so than competing brands. You shouldn't have any issues finding your favorite streaming apps.

Voice Controls

One area where Google TV excels is voice search, which gives you access to Google Assistant. Press the Google Assistant button on the remote and say what you’re looking for, and Google TV will deliver suggestions from the Play Store, YouTube, and relevant results from downloaded apps. It’s a convenient way to navigate content quickly, and it's often much faster than using the remote. You can also use it to change certain settings, like asking it to switch inputs or increase the brightness.

Remote

Sony Smart TV Remote

The remote included with Sony is very similar to what used to be found with non-smart TVs. It features a full numpad, 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, so it's a nice touch if you like this stuff.

It has quick access to Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video, and it features a microphone that lets you use the excellent Google voice search. The remote with the 2021 Google TVs is nearly the same as the Android TV remotes from past years. Most of the included remotes are black, but the A90J has a silver backlit remote.

Recent Updates

  1. Oct 18, 2021: Replaced the Sony X90J with the Sony X95J because it's better overall; removed the Sony X750H as 'Best Budget' because it's hard to find for a low cost, and added the Sony X80J as 'Best For PC'.

  2. Aug 19, 2021: Updated text for clarity.

  3. Jun 22, 2021: Replaced the Sony X950H with the newer Sony X90J; updated text for clarity.

  4. Apr 26, 2021: Replaced the Sony A8H with the Sony A90J; updated the smart features section according to the new Google TV.

  5. Feb 25, 2021: Updated text for clarity and accuracy.

Conclusion

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 can take a bit of time to learn for some people, 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.

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