We've reviewed 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 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 tested so far is the Sony A9G. It's their flagship TV from 2019 that uses OLED technology to turn off individual pixels, delivering an outstanding image quality. Like all OLED TVs, it has an infinite contrast ratio, perfect black uniformity, and extremely wide viewing angles, so it's an ideal TV for watching movies with the entire family at night. It's remarkably well-built and it comes with a plastic covering for the stand in the back that serves as cable management, so all your wires and cables go through one exit, keeping your setup clean. Although the TV doesn't get very bright, it still has outstanding reflection handling and HDR looks great due to its impressively wide color gamut.
Sadly, its out-of-the-box color accuracy isn't as good as other high-end Sony TVs as it's just decent. It also has a high input lag, which isn't ideal for gaming, but it still has a near-instant response time and a 120Hz refresh rate. Also, like all OLED TVs, it has the risk of permanent burn-in, which is only a real problem if you constantly watch content with static elements, like the news, or use it as a computer monitor, but it shouldn't be an issue for most people. There's also a cheaper version of this TV, the Sony A8G OLED, which has fewer features, as it doesn't support eARC. If you don't mind spending the cash, the A9G is an excellent overall Sony TV.
The best LED Sony TV we've reviewed so far in 2020 is the Sony X950H. It's the flagship 4k TV in their lineup and you don't have the permanent burn-in risk associated with OLED TVs with this one. It uses a VA panel that has a lower native contrast that most other VA panel TVs because Sony added the 'X-Wide Angle' layer to improve the viewing angles at the cost of its contrast ratio. It improves the viewing angles a bit, but they're still mediocre, so the TV isn't ideal for really wide seating arrangements. Also, there's a good full-array local dimming feature that slightly improves the contrast ratio.
It has the performance and most features you expect to find on a high-end TV. It has excellent peak brightness, enough to easily combat glare, and highlights pop the way they should in HDR. Its out-of-the-box color accuracy is also excellent and it displays a great wide color gamut for HDR content. It has an impressive response time and a 120Hz refresh rate, but it doesn't support any variable refresh rate technology. Sadly, this TV isn't future-proof as it doesn't have an HDMI 2.1 input. On the upside, it removes judder from any source and it upscales lower resolution content well. You can probably find the 2019 model of this TV, the Sony X950G, for a bit cheaper, but its overall performance isn't as good. All in all, the X950H is the best Sony TV with an LED screen we've seen so far.
The best budget Sony TV we've tested so far is the Sony X800H. The entry-level TV in the 2020 lineup is a pleasant upgrade over the Sony X800G, as it offers decent overall performance with excellent out-of-the-box color accuracy. It performs well as a gaming TV with its good response time, resulting in clear motion, and extremely low input lag in 'Game' mode, which is one of the best we've seen so far. It's also an excellent choice to use as a PC monitor since it can display proper chroma 4:4:4, which is important for reading text, and the impressive viewing angles allow you to share your screen easily with others or place it in a meeting room.
Unlike the Sony X950H, it has an IPS panel, so the contrast ratio is mediocre, and it's not ideal for dark room viewing. However, in bright rooms, it can get bright enough to combat glare and it has decent reflection handling. It also supports both HDR10 and Dolby Vision, displays a wide color gamut, but might not get bright enough in HDR to really make highlights pop. Still, the Google Play Store has a bunch of apps available, and it should please most people looking to save some money, making it the best budget Sony 4k TV we've tested so far.
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 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 X950G 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 gives 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 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.