The Sony X720E is a decent entry-level 4k TV with a better than average viewing angle and low input lag for gaming. It lacks the fully-featured smart platform found on other Sony TVs and instead, offers only a limited set of apps distributed through the Opera TV Store. Due to the mediocre picture quality in a dark room, it is better placed in a brighter environment where the less uniform blacks won't be an issue.
The Sony X720E has a similar design to most other Sony TVs. It has the iconic central stand which supports the TV well and has a small footprint. Note that the 43" model we reviewed and the 49" model both have an external power brick, but the 55" model does not. This may make the smaller sizes a bit more difficult to wall-mount depending on your setup.
The stand of the X720E is very similar to other Sony TVs. It has a fairly small footprint, so fits well on most tables. Despite the small footprint it feels sturdy and provides good support.
Footprint of the 43" TV stand: 9.4" x 21.9"
The rear of the TV is quite basic, and the majority of it is plastic. Most of the inputs run parallel to the back of the TV and so are fairly easy to access if wall mounted. There are a couple of inputs directly out the back of the TV that may be difficult to use when placed close to a wall.
The borders are quite thin, and look good. They are black plastic, like the rest of the TV.
The TV appears a bit thick when viewed from the side. The thickest part is near the base of the TV, and as such it may stick out a bit if wall mounted.
The bottom of the screen gets quite warm, but fortunately, the bottom of the frame only gets a little warm to the touch. Most of the TV's vents are along the bottom so this shouldn't be a problem.
The build quality is fine. The TV is almost entirely plastic, but it still feels quite well made and strong due to the use of screws throughout the body, rather than just glue or clips.
The Sony X720E IPS TV has an average picture quality. When set in a dark room, the low contrast ratio and poor black uniformity make for a mediocre experience since blacks are not deep and look more grayish than really black. This is particularly noticeable when watching a movie with a lot of dark scenes. On the opposite, when set in a bright room, the X720E is far much better since it can get bright enough to fight glare and can do an okay job dealing with reflections. The gray uniformity is good and dirty screen effect is not a problem on the X720E, which is good news for sports fans. Moreover, since the viewing angle is also good, this makes a good option to watch a big event with a lot of people as even when sitting off center, the picture quality is still pretty good. When it comes to HDR, the low HDR peak brightness, the lack of local dimming and lack of wide color gamut really hurt its performance.This means this TV is compatible with HDR but unable to display HDR content to its full potential.
The contrast ratio of the Sony X720E is disappointing, even for an IPS TVs, which usually have a lower contrast ratio than VA TVs. When set in a dark room, the low contrast ratio means that blacks look more grayish than really black and dark scenes look washed out. Because of this low contrast ratio, the X720E is better suited for a bright room setting, where ambient light will prevent the low contrast from being noticeable.
The Sony X720E does not have a local dimming feature. The video is for reference only.
Update 11/29/2018: The X720E was incorrectly listed as having a Direct backlight. It is actually Edge-lit.
Good SDR peak brightness, good enough for a fairly bright room. The brightness also stays nearly constant no matter the content shown, which is great. Surprisingly, increasing the 'Contrast' setting from its default 90 to maximum raises the peak brightness by ~10%. The X720E is slightly less bright than the higher tier X800E, roughly equal to the LG UJ6300 in 'Standard' mode, but far less bright than the TCL P607.
Mediocre HDR peak brightness. Even though it is effectively identical to the SDR brightness, HDR demands higher brightness because highlights are mastered for 1000-4000 cd/m², which is far brighter than this TV is able to produce. On the plus side, the TV is very consistent with its brightness, which is good. Overall, the brightness is a little better than the LG UJ6300, but worse than the Sony X800E and TCL P607.
The X720E overall gray uniformity is good. The 50% gray uniformity test picture shows some dark patches on each side of the screen, but besides that, the screen is pretty even, which is great since dirty screen effect is very limited and not really a problem.
Looking at the 5% gray test picture, not much comes up which is good and no problems can be seen here.
Good viewing angle, better even than most other TVs with IPS panels like the LG UJ7700. The black level stays fairly consistent at an angle which is great, while colors shift and brightness decreases when viewed from a large angle. This TV is a great fit for a room where people often sit to the side of the TV and view it at an angle.
The X720E has a poor black uniformity. Flashlighting is visible on both top corners and also on the bottom left side. Note that in this test the black level is not taken into account, only the screen uniformity.
The reflection handling of the Sony X720E is decent. It has a semi-gloss finish which diffuses reflection across the screen but also reduces their intensity. It is fine for an average room but may be an issue in a bright room.
It is the best budget outdoor TV we've tested, but since this TV wasn't intended for outdoor use, so it is important to have a proper enclosure for outdoor use.
The X720E has a decent accuracy even without calibration when the 'Scene Select' is set on 'General', the 'Picture Mode' set to 'General' and the 'Color Temperature' set to 'Expert 1'. Other color temperatures like 'Expert 2' and 'Warm' are in the same range of accuracy, but 'Neutral' and 'Cool' are the more inaccurate by far. The white balance dE is a bit high and tending toward the warm side, with the brighter IRE being more affected. Gamma is not too off, tracking close to our 2.2 target.
The color dE is a bit better than the white balance dE and more of the issues could be related to the fact that the white point is a bit off target and as so, the rest of the color are all drifting in the same direction. But even with this, the color accuracy is still acceptable.
After calibration, the X720E is very accurate. The white balance dE was brought down to 0.54, which is imperceivable. The only problem that came up in the calibration was that some IRE point control (5 and 6) were overlapping each other, making it very difficult to adjust them correctly. This is reflected on our white balance calibration image, where the 50 and 60 point have a higher dE than the rest. After calibration, the gamma was also spot on our 2.2 target, with once again the little bump near the 50 and 60 IRE.
Like most of other Sony TVs, there is no color management system and as such, the only correction to the color accuracy was done via the white balance calibration. The white balance did correct the white point and most of the color repositioned themself with the same correction and the dE was brought down a bit, to reach 2.18, which is good enough that even the enthusiasts would not really notice the color inaccuracy.
You can see our recommended settings here.
Upscaling of DVDs or other low-quality content is good. Lines aren't smoothed as much as some other TVs but this helps to retain details.
720p content such as cable looks good. Some more artifacts from the camera are visible in the photo, but this isn't present on the TV. Very few haloing artifacts are visible.
Full-HD sources such as Blu-rays are upscaled well. The image remains sharp and details are preserved.
Standard color gamut, only good enough for SDR content using the Rec 709 color space. Deep colors in HDR content won't look as saturated as intended, however most of the scene will have reasonably accurate colors.
The EOTF in the 'HDR Video' picture mode of the 'HDR' 'Scene Select' follows the PQ curve fairly closely up until it clips at the TV's peak brightness. Raising the 'Gamma' setting to max raises the EOTF nicely and brightens nearly everything, as shown here, making it useful for watching HDR content in a bright room. HDR content is only shown properly in the 'HDR' 'Scene Select'; in any other 'Scene Select' such as Game and Graphics the EOTF follows the SDR gamma curve rather than the HDR PQ curve, making dim parts of the scene too bright and bright parts too dim.
Poor color volume, mostly limited by the TV's standard color gamut. The TV's disappointing contrast ratio also prevents it from accurately showing dark colors, as seen in the bottom of the color volume.
The Sony X720E does a decent job at displaying our gradient test image. Looking at our test picture, some bands are very visible, especially in the dark green and blue areas, but these obvious bands are fortunately few. With this TV banding won't be problematic when watching most content, such as HDR movies.
The X720E does not suffer from image retention at all and this is very interesting as this TV has an IPS panel, which often suffers from image retention. This is a very similar result as seen on the Sony X800E, which is also an IPS TV but does not suffer from image retention.
Although some IPS panels can suffer from temporary image retention, this doesn't appear to be permanent as seen in our long-term test.
The motion performance of the X720E is good. It has a decent response time, which results in only a short trail following moving objects. It uses DC backlight dimming, so the screen doesn't flicker by default, but BFI can be enabled to add 120Hz or 60Hz flicker and clear up motion. Movies from a DVD or Blu-ray player can be played smoothly, but movies from cable or satellite boxes show some minor judder. The TV is able to interpolate content up to 60Hz for a moderate soap opera effect.
Response time for the X720E is good, resulting in short trails following moving objects. This is good when watching fast-paced content. The LCD panel response is similar to the X800E, but this TV overdrives the pixels more, which causes some overshoot in all of the low-to-high transitions.
Like most Sony TVs, the X720E doesn't flicker, and instead shows each image for a full frame. Oscillations at a frequency of 10 kHz appear at low backlight settings, but this is much too fast to be noticeable without specialized equipment. The absence of flicker makes motion appear slightly smoother, but does result in persistence blur.
It is possible to add 60Hz or 120Hz backlight flicker, which helps to reduce persistence blur. To add 120Hz flicker, set the 'Motionflow' option to 'Custom', and move the 'Clearness' slider to '1'. To clear up motion even more with a 60Hz flicker, set the 'Clearness' slider to 'Max'. Note that the BFI option on this TV has a very short duty cycle, which dims the image considerably when the Clearness option is enabled.
The Sony X720E has a 60Hz panel which can interpolate lower frame rate content. To enable interpolation, set 'Motionflow' to 'Custom' and increase the 'Smoothness' slider. Note that any motion interpolation will introduce artifacts, so use a small value unless you really like the soap opera effect. Interpolation on the X720E showed more artifacts than normal on our test pattern, so a low Smoothness value is recommended.
The Sony X720E is great at producing a smooth image, without stutter. This is because the pixel response time smooths the image between what would be jarring frame changes. For the worse case scenario of long panning shots in low frame rate movies it may be noticeable, but otherwise the image is smooth.
The X720E can only display 24p movies without judder when those movies are played via 24p sources like DVD or Blu-ray players and this without the need to turn on any specific option from the picture setting. On the other hand, the TV can't correctly display at the right cadence 24p movies playing via 60p/60i sources like cable/satellite boxes. When the 'CineMotion' turned on or set to 'Auto', the TV did actually try to change the cadence but was not able to correctly display it as seen in this picture.
As with other 2017 TVs, the X720E doesn't support a variable refresh rate.
The X720E can properly display nearly any content when in the correct mode, including HDR content. It also has excellent low input lag, which should please all but the most competitive gamers. Note: Only HDMI ports 2 & 3 support full bandwidth, but HDMI port 3 is also the audio return channel. If you have a receiver which supports ARC and more than 1 device which requires the full bandwidth of HDMI then you might have some issues connecting all of your devices. In this case it may be best to connect your receiver using an optical (Toslink) cable.
Excellent low input lag, which will please all but the most competitive gamers. Both the Game and Graphics 'Scene Select' modes always have low input lag and show 4:4:4 color properly, but never show HDR content properly. The 'HDR' 'Scene Select' surprisingly has low input lag as long as 'Motionflow' is turned off, but it does not show 4:4:4 color properly. Overall the input lag is significantly lower than almost all Sony TVs, and roughly equal to Samsung TVs, but a little higher than most TCL and LG TVs.
Update 10/18/2017: There is currently a bug on the Sony X720E that causes the the input lag to rise after the TV is restarted. To make use of the low input lag, it is necessary to change picture mode to something other than "Game" or "Graphics" then back to either for them to function properly.
Update 12/28/2017: The input lag bug is now fixed in firmware v4.503, which you can download here.
The TV supports most common resolutions. 4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 or 4:2:2 color is only supported on HDMI inputs 2 and 3, and only when 'HDMI Signal Format' is set to 'Enhanced'. 4:4:4 color is only displayed properly in the 'Game' and 'Graphics' modes in 'Scene Select'. 'Graphics' mode is recommended for PC monitor use as the TV's CE dimming is completely disabled. HDR content is only displayed properly in the 'HDR' 'Scene Select', which unfortunately does not display 4:4:4 color properly.
HDR is only displayed properly in the 'HDR' 'Scene Select'. HDR content is detected when 'Scene Select' is set to 'Auto', and the TV changes to 'HDR' automatically. When HDR content is viewed in any other 'Scene Select' it will not be displayed properly (darks will be too bright, brights will be too dark, etc).
Unforutunately, the Sony X720E doesn't sound very good. Most soundbars would be a significant upgrade to its sound system. It does get pretty loud though.
Poor frequency response. The X720E has a strong overemphasis on lower frequencies and a very poor bass extension, causing it to sound muddy and to lack clarity. At 97.1 dB of maximum volume though, it does get fairly loud for a TV.
Mediocre distortion performance. While it does decently at lower volumes, THD levels spike up with higher volume settings reaching noticeable levels.
The X720E runs a custom Sony operating system and uses the Opera TV app store. The smart OS is fairly simple but does have almost all the functions users expect on a smart TV, and has Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Video built in. However, the organization of the interface is unintuitive in some areas, especially picture settings, which can cause confusion for first time users.
The TV's interface has no animations and is very responsive, so navigation is fast. However, it has some very unintuitive organization choices, mostly involving the picture settings. When content is playing, there is an 'Options' menu containing quick settings. The first item is 'Picture Adjustments' and the sixth item is 'Scene Select', yet the contents of 'Picture Adjustments' depend on which 'Scene Select' (ex Auto, Game, Movie, HDR) is active. There is also a 'Picture Mode', which is easily confused with 'Scene Select'. There is no indicator that content is playing in HDR, and HDR is only displayed properly in the 'HDR' Scene Select, so it's possible to play HDR content in a different Scene Select and have it shown improperly (darks too light, brights too dim) without knowing this is happening. Leaving 'Scene Select' on 'Auto' should avoid most of these cases, but it's still a very unintuitive way to organize picture settings.
When changing channels or inputs there is an info bar that displays the video information at the top of the screen. This bar cannot be disabled and appears any time there is a change detected (navigating through Netflix, changing channels on an Apple TV, etc..).
The TV has no ads in its main interface or suggested content in its home screen, which is great.
The TV has a few apps built in, such as Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Video. It also has the OperaTV app store, which doesn't have many major apps.
The remote is large with many buttons like other Sony remotes, but it has no smart features such as voice control. It is fairly light for its size, but its build quality isn't very good and its rubber chunk buttons aren't as easy to press as the buttons on other remotes. Overall it's very similar to the remotes of the X800E and X850E, but without voice control and with some button differences due to their different smart platforms.