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Sony TVs - 2018
Reviews and Smart Features

We've reviewed 28 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.

Updates

Compared to other brands

  • Good Handling of Motion. Sony, as a TV company, is a pioneer of motion features, and it shows. They usually have the best interpolation and most of their TVs have an image flicker feature to enhance motion clarity.
  • Great Upscaling. Sony TVs, even the cheaper models, do better than average when it comes to upscaling lower resolution content.
  • Sluggish Smart Features. While Android TV itself isn't bad, and sluggishness is common with other brands, Sony TVs are prone to having common slowdowns while using their features.
  • 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 are pretty competitive with each other. A big difference between the two is the physical build quality, especially with higher-end models.

Sony vs LG

Sony TVs will generally have better picture quality than LG TVs. Even their IPS models, which use the same panels as LG, will tend to have better uniformity and get brighter. They both offer OLED models now, and LG offers the cheapest one, which is a plus.

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) is 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.

Best Sony Smart TVs

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,

  • *F = 2018

  • *E = 2017

  • *D = 2016

  • *C = 2015

  • *B = 2014

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.

Best Sony 4k TV

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

Test Benches:

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2015
  • 0.9: Winter 2014
  • 0.8: Winter 2013
8.8
Mixed Usage
What it is: General purpose. The TV will be used for a variety of content and usages. Movies at night, TV shows during the day, video games from time to time, etc.
Score components:
9.3
Movies
What it is: Movies in the dark. The TV will be used for watching movies in a controlled environment, directly in front, in a home theater way. Mostly only high quality content, like Blu-rays, UHD Blu-rays, streaming and a little bit of HDR.
Score components:
8.5
TV Shows
What it is: TV Shows in a bright living room. The TV will be used in to watch TV shows, in a bright room during the day, from multiple viewing positions at different angles. The content watched has an average quality: cable, streaming, SD channels, etc.
Score components:
8.6
Sports
What it is: Sports in a living room. The TV will be used to watch sports during the day, like football or hockey. Usually watched with a group, so from multiple viewing position.
8.9
Video Games
What it is: Video games. The TV will be used to play video games, directly in front, in a controlled light environment. Usually fast games, like online FPS, where motion blur and input lag is important.
9.2
HDR Movies
What it is: HDR Movies and TV shows. The TV will be used to watch 4k UHD HDR content, with a wide color gamut and a high peak brightness. Either via UHD Blu-rays or HDR streaming.
Score components:
8.9
HDR Gaming
What it is: HDR Gaming. The TV will be used to play HDR video games using consoles that support it or on current generation gaming PCs. Xbox One S, PS4 Pro, GTX 10 series and AMD RX series graphics cards.
8.2
PC Monitor
What it is: PC Monitor. The TV will be used as a PC monitor, from 2-3 feet away, either for productivity purposes or gaming. Sharp text is important, as well as a high resolution.
Score components:
Type : OLED
Sub-Type
What it is: Type of display technology used by the TV.
When it matters: Different technologies have different performance and are suited to different uses
Good value: IPS maintains good color accuracy at an angle, but has a poor contrast ratio from in front. VA has great picture quality in front, but loses saturation at an angle. OLED maintains good color accuracy at an angle without any of the other issues seen with IPS and VA, as they keep good brightness and contrast at an angle.
:
WRGB
Resolution : 4k
Sizes : 55" 65"

The best Sony TV we've reviewed is the A9F 4k OLED TV. It has the best picture quality we've ever reviewed, similar to the LG C8 and LG B8, mostly thanks to its use of OLED technology. This allows the TV to reproduce perfectly deep and uniform blacks, giving it an infinite contrast ratio.

In addition to its striking design and great picture quality, the A9F is a very versatile TV overall. It will do well with just about every usage, thanks to its great handling of motion, great viewing angles and great handling of reflections. Its ability to reproduce a wide gamut of colors also makes it a top performer for HDR, which is a more important feature nowadays. It's no slouch for gaming either; it has excellent low input lag and outstanding motion performance.

See our review

Best mid-range Sony 4k TV

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

Test Benches:

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2015
  • 0.9: Winter 2014
  • 0.8: Winter 2013
8.2
Mixed Usage
What it is: General purpose. The TV will be used for a variety of content and usages. Movies at night, TV shows during the day, video games from time to time, etc.
Score components:
8.3
Movies
What it is: Movies in the dark. The TV will be used for watching movies in a controlled environment, directly in front, in a home theater way. Mostly only high quality content, like Blu-rays, UHD Blu-rays, streaming and a little bit of HDR.
Score components:
8.2
TV Shows
What it is: TV Shows in a bright living room. The TV will be used in to watch TV shows, in a bright room during the day, from multiple viewing positions at different angles. The content watched has an average quality: cable, streaming, SD channels, etc.
Score components:
8.0
Sports
What it is: Sports in a living room. The TV will be used to watch sports during the day, like football or hockey. Usually watched with a group, so from multiple viewing position.
8.3
Video Games
What it is: Video games. The TV will be used to play video games, directly in front, in a controlled light environment. Usually fast games, like online FPS, where motion blur and input lag is important.
8.2
HDR Movies
What it is: HDR Movies and TV shows. The TV will be used to watch 4k UHD HDR content, with a wide color gamut and a high peak brightness. Either via UHD Blu-rays or HDR streaming.
Score components:
8.1
HDR Gaming
What it is: HDR Gaming. The TV will be used to play HDR video games using consoles that support it or on current generation gaming PCs. Xbox One S, PS4 Pro, GTX 10 series and AMD RX series graphics cards.
8.2
PC Monitor
What it is: PC Monitor. The TV will be used as a PC monitor, from 2-3 feet away, either for productivity purposes or gaming. Sharp text is important, as well as a high resolution.
Score components:
Type : LED
Sub-Type
What it is: Type of display technology used by the TV.
When it matters: Different technologies have different performance and are suited to different uses
Good value: IPS maintains good color accuracy at an angle, but has a poor contrast ratio from in front. VA has great picture quality in front, but loses saturation at an angle. OLED maintains good color accuracy at an angle without any of the other issues seen with IPS and VA, as they keep good brightness and contrast at an angle.
:
VA
Resolution : 4k
Sizes : 49" 55" 65" 75"

The Sony X900E packs a punch and makes a great mid-range recommendation. In its price range, it's very difficult to beat. This Sony LED TV offers most of the performance of the more expensive X930E, but for about 60% less money.

It's overall a very similar TV. Contrast is about the same, and both feature a nice local dimming feature that enhances it even more. The X930E edges it on that aspect a little bit and gets significantly brighter, but that still makes for a fairly small difference. The Sony X900E will please most buyers minus the pickier enthusiasts that really want the best of the best when it comes to HDR.

The X900E has been replaced by the X900F. While the X900F is slightly brighter and offers a bit less input lag, it is not worth the price difference.

See our review

Best budget Sony 4k TV

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

Test Benches:

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2015
  • 0.9: Winter 2014
  • 0.8: Winter 2013
7.1
Mixed Usage
What it is: General purpose. The TV will be used for a variety of content and usages. Movies at night, TV shows during the day, video games from time to time, etc.
Score components:
5.9
Movies
What it is: Movies in the dark. The TV will be used for watching movies in a controlled environment, directly in front, in a home theater way. Mostly only high quality content, like Blu-rays, UHD Blu-rays, streaming and a little bit of HDR.
Score components:
7.7
TV Shows
What it is: TV Shows in a bright living room. The TV will be used in to watch TV shows, in a bright room during the day, from multiple viewing positions at different angles. The content watched has an average quality: cable, streaming, SD channels, etc.
Score components:
7.4
Sports
What it is: Sports in a living room. The TV will be used to watch sports during the day, like football or hockey. Usually watched with a group, so from multiple viewing position.
7.6
Video Games
What it is: Video games. The TV will be used to play video games, directly in front, in a controlled light environment. Usually fast games, like online FPS, where motion blur and input lag is important.
6.0
HDR Movies
What it is: HDR Movies and TV shows. The TV will be used to watch 4k UHD HDR content, with a wide color gamut and a high peak brightness. Either via UHD Blu-rays or HDR streaming.
Score components:
7.1
HDR Gaming
What it is: HDR Gaming. The TV will be used to play HDR video games using consoles that support it or on current generation gaming PCs. Xbox One S, PS4 Pro, GTX 10 series and AMD RX series graphics cards.
7.8
PC Monitor
What it is: PC Monitor. The TV will be used as a PC monitor, from 2-3 feet away, either for productivity purposes or gaming. Sharp text is important, as well as a high resolution.
Score components:
Type : LED
Sub-Type
What it is: Type of display technology used by the TV.
When it matters: Different technologies have different performance and are suited to different uses
Good value: IPS maintains good color accuracy at an angle, but has a poor contrast ratio from in front. VA has great picture quality in front, but loses saturation at an angle. OLED maintains good color accuracy at an angle without any of the other issues seen with IPS and VA, as they keep good brightness and contrast at an angle.
:
IPS
Resolution : 4k
Sizes : 43" 49" 55"

If you're looking to get an entry-level Sony 4k HDR TV, the Sony X800E is the best one we've reviewed this year. It has a wider than average viewing angle, so it's well suited for a living room where you'll often be watching it from the side.

It doesn't have as good a picture quality as the pricier TVs above, but it will still provide a good experience, especially if you don't plan on watching your TV in a dark room all the time. It's especially good for watching sports and playing video games thanks to its low input lag and low motion blur. Games feel snappy and fast moving element aren't blurry or followed by long and distracting trails. It has some HDR capabilities too, thanks to its wide color gamut and 10-bit color support.

See our review

Sony Smart Features

7.0Interface
10Ad-Free
9.0Apps & Features
8.0Remote
7.0Remote App

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, but it is 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 gradually improved over the year to a point where it's a bit less of an issue than it used to be.

Interface

Sony Smart TV 2

The interface is clean, and pretty simple to navigate. The top row is video and game content from YouTube, Crackle, and the Play Store.

Sony Smart TV 3

Below that is a row of ‘Featured’ apps. ‘Sony Select’ is a collection of apps and games Sony suggests downloading. It’s mostly basic stuff.

Sony Smart TV 3

‘Input’ is just the selection of whatever devices you have connected to your TV.

Apps & Features

Sony Apps

‘Apps’ lists everything you have downloaded to your TV, as well as the Play Store.

The Play Store selection is quite large. Because of the immense Android ecosystem, most popular apps are available, even some you wouldn't think of using on a TV.

Sony Gameloft

There is a 'Games' Row, too. It used to be separate to the play store, but it now just houses the installed apps that are tagged as games in the play store.

Voice Search

Sony voice search

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. In Android 7.0, it integrates with Google home and the Google assistant if you are 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 though, but the search is still what you'd expect of a Google service.

USB Playback

Sony Smart TV 8

USB playback is interesting on Android TV. The video player is decent and was able to play our video files just fine. The TV couldn't see any of our image files though (.jpg and .png), which wasn't great.

VLC

Sony Smart TV 8

It's also possible to download VLC. For the most part it works better than the stock app. There is some frame skipping with more demanding files.

Web Browser

2018 Sony TVs do not have a built in web browser in North American models, and Android TV doesn't have a lot of choices. Sony recommends the Vewd browser, which is based on Opera. We tested compatibility with an HTML5 test, and it scored 496/555. It will work with most websites but some sites with heavy multimedia won't work properly.

The only other browser available on the play store is TVWeb TV Browser. It is based on the Chromium web browser and scored 504 / 555 on the HTML5 test.

Overall, while it is possible to use, it isn't worth the time and the experience is quite disappointing.

   

Google Cast

Sony Smart TV 8

Thankfully, even if the browser on the TV itself isn't any good, Android has a casting feature that allows you to mirror the screen of another device.

You still need to scroll and move about using your computer or phone, which can be inconvenient, but it is still quite a bit faster and intuitive than using the included browser.

Casting works even better for “Google Cast Ready” websites like YouTube, Netflix, HBO Go, and Plex as well as similar application on your mobile device.

Codec Support

H.264 (AVI, MP4, MKV) Yes
H.265 (AVI, MP4, MKV) Yes
VP9 (WebM) Yes
 

Remote

Sony Smart TV Remote

The remote included with Sony Android TV is very reminiscent of 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 number pad and even the player controls entirely and instead using on-screen controls and very simple remotes.

It has quick access to both Netflix and Google Play Movies, and it features a microphone which lets you use the excellent Google voice search. It doesn't go as deep with the features as What Samsung does, but it is unmatched for recognition and is more akin to what you would find on an Android phone or through Google home. It can help you find content easily, or just get answers about general information like news or weather quickly.

The higher-end 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 A1E and Z9D feature the rubber finish, but they also have a brushed metal back that give the remote a nice premium feel in the hand.

Remote App

Sony Smart TV Remote App

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.

Conclusion

While they tend not to be the cheapest available, Sony produces great TVs. They'll generally be quite versatile, which helps with making 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 in time, it's fairly safe to say that their overall reputation holds true, and rare are the people that will find themselves disappointed by purchasing one of their TVs.

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