The Sony X85J is a good TV overall. Its direct predecessor never released in North America, so the closest model we've tested was the 2019 Sony X850G. It uses a VA panel, delivering outstanding contrast and excellent black uniformity, making it a great choice for dark-room viewing, but there's no local dimming, which is disappointing. This TV also has great brightness, but glare can still be an issue with direct reflections. Like other 2021 TVs, it runs the new Google TV interface instead of Android TV. This is a good TV for gaming, with two HDMI 2.1 ports, low input lag, and a great response time. Unfortunately, some of the advertised gaming features of this TV aren't available yet, but they've been promised in a future firmware update.
The Sony X85J is a good TV for most uses. The excellent contrast and outstanding black uniformity are great for watching movies in the dark, but it lacks a local dimming feature, which is a bit disappointing. It's a good TV for watching sports or TV shows during the day, and its low input lag and fast response time make it a good choice for playing games.
The Sony X85J is a decent TV for watching movies. It has outstanding contrast and excellent black uniformity, so dark scenes look great in a dark room, but, unfortunately, there's no local dimming feature. Older, low-resolution movies upscale well, and this TV can remove judder from any source. Unfortunately, there is some stutter when watching movies, especially in slow, panning shots.
The Sony X85J is a very good TV for watching TV shows. There's a large selection of apps, so you don't have to worry about an external box for your streaming service of choice, and it upscales older content well, with no noticeable issues. It has great peak brightness, but direct reflections can still be distracting in a bright room. Unfortunately, the image degrades when viewed at an angle, so it's not a great choice if you like to move around.
The Sony X85J is a good TV for watching sports. It has a great response time, resulting in little blur behind fast-moving objects (like the players). It also has a large selection of apps, so you should be able to find your favorite sports streaming app, and if you're watching on cable, it upscales lower resolution content well. This TV has great peak brightness, but direct reflections can still be distracting. Unfortunately, the image degrades when viewed at an angle, which isn't ideal for watching the big game with lots of friends.
The Sony X85J is a good TV for playing video games, and it's expected to get even better with a future update. It has low input lag, a great response time, and great peak brightness in SDR, and it's future-proof, with two HDMI 2.1 ports. Unfortunately, most of the advanced gaming features advertised by Sony for this TV aren't available yet, including support for variable refresh rate technology (VRR), but they've been promised in a future firmware update.
The Sony X85j is a decent TV for watching the latest movies in HDR. It has outstanding contrast and excellent black uniformity, but it lacks a local dimming feature. It has decent peak brightness in HDR, but some small highlights aren't as bright as they should be. Unfortunately, there is some stutter when watching movies, especially in slow, panning shots.
The Sony X85J is good for gaming in HDR. It has outstanding contrast and excellent black uniformity, so blacks look black in a dark room. It delivers a great gaming experience, with low input lag and a great response time, for a responsive gaming experience with little blur. Unfortunately, although it has two HDMI 2.1 ports for next-gen gaming, some advertised gaming features aren't available yet.
The Sony X85J is a good TV for use as a PC monitor. It has low input lag, so the cursor feels responsive and lag-free, and the fast response time results in relatively clear motion, with little blur behind fast-moving objects. Although it has great peak brightness, glare from direct reflections can still be an issue. Unfortunately, the image degrades at an angle, which can be an issue if you're too close, and it uses a BGR subpixel layout, which can cause text clarity issues on some computers.
The Sony X85J is a mid-range 4k from Sony's 2021 4k lineup, sitting above the Sony X80J and below the Sony X90J. Its direct predecessor, the Sony X850H, was never released in North America, so the closest model we've tested is the 2019 Sony X850G. We expect the 2021 model to compete with the Samsung AU8000 or the Hisense U6G, which we haven't tested yet.
The Sony X85J has a nice but simple design. It doesn't look as premium as the Sony X90J, and it's mainly plastic, but it should look nice in most decors. The inputs face to the side, which is nice, especially if you wall-mount it.
The stand is nearly identical to the one on the Sony X90J, and it supports the TV well, but there's a bit of wobble. Unfortunately, like the X90J, the feet aren't adjustable, but there's an alternate model known as the X89J that has two stand positions.
Footprint of the 55" stand: 41.9" x 13.3".
The back of the TV is nearly identical to the Sony X90J. It has a grid-like pattern across most of the back panel, but unlike the X90J, there's no brushed aluminum square in the middle. There's a clip on each leg for cable management. Although pretty basic, it can help to keep the back of your TV neat.
Due to the direct-lit backlight, this TV is a bit thicker than edge-lit TVs, like the Samsung Q60/Q60A QLED.
The Sony X85J has good build quality. It's entirely plastic, and there's some noticeable flex on the back panel, especially near the VESA mount and around the bottom edge. There's also a bit of concerning pull around the border. The TV leans a bit, but this isn't noticeable from the front at all. The stand supports the TV well overall, but there's a bit of wobble.
The Sony X85J has fantastic contrast, so blacks look black in a dark room. The native contrast of this TV without local dimming is similar to the Sony X90J's contrast with local dimming, but this varies between units.
Note: We've seen some reports that the 43 inch model might have an IPS panel. If this is the case, we expect it to have much lower contrast but better viewing angles.
This TV has great peak brightness in SDR. It's about as bright as the Sony X90J, but not as bright as the Hisense U8G. There's no noticeable variation in peak brightness with different content, which is great.
We measured the SDR brightness after calibration in the 'Custom' Picture Mode, with Brightness at max, Contrast at '90', and Color Tone set to 'Expert 1'.
If you want a slightly brighter image, the 'Vivid' Picture Mode with Contrast at 'Max' results in a slightly brighter image, but this mode is less accurate.
Although the Sony X85J uses a direct-lit backlight similar to the Sony X90J, there's no local dimming feature. The video is for reference only, so you can see how the local dimming feature on other displays compares to one without local dimming.
Unlike the Sony X90J, this TV doesn't have a local dimming feature. The video is for reference only, so you can see how the local dimming feature on other displays compares to one without local dimming.
The Sony X85J has decent peak brightness in HDR. It's bright enough that most scenes look almost like they should, but small specular highlights don't stand out as much as they should in some content.
Unfortunately, the TV doesn't follow the EOTF curve, so some scenes are displayed brighter than they should be. This isn't as noticeable as on the Hisense U8G, but if you care about the most accurate image possible, this might bother you.
If you want to make HDR content brighter and don't mind losing image accuracy, change to the 'Vivid' Picture Mode, and set Contrast to 'Max'. These settings result in a much brighter image, as you can see in this EOTF plot.
We measured the HDR brightness in the 'Custom' Picture Mode, before calibrating the TV, with Brightness at max, Contrast at '90', and Color Tone set to 'Expert 2'.
The brightness in 'Game Mode' is identical to the 'Custom' Picture Mode. The TV still doesn't follow the EOTF properly, but this isn't as much of an issue, as most games have an option to adjust the HDR brightness.
The Sony X85J has very good gray uniformity, but the corners of the screen on our unit are noticeably darker than the center. The center is much more uniform, though, with very little noticeable dirty screen effect. In near-dark scenes, the uniformity is even better, with almost no noticeable uniformity issues. Gray uniformity varies between units, so let us know if yours looks better or worse than this.
The unit we tested has excellent black uniformity, but this can vary between units. There's a bit of cloudiness in the screen, which can't be reduced as there's no local dimming, but this isn't very noticeable in most content.
Unfortunately, as expected of a VA-type panel, the Sony X85J's viewing angles are disappointing. Colors stay accurate to a wider angle than the Hisense U8G, but dark shades look washed out at a narrow angle. A TV with an IPS-type panel, like the LG NANO90 2021, is a better choice for a wide seating arrangement.
Note: We've seen some reports that the 43 inch model might have an IPS panel. If this is the case, we expect it to have much better viewing angles but worse contrast.
This TV has decent reflection handling, but direct reflections might still be distracting in bright environments. The semi-gloss finish reflects bright lights directly back and only partially diffuses them.
Out of the box, the Sony X85J is remarkably accurate. Gamma is very close to our target of 2.2, and the white balance is nearly perfect. There are some inaccurate colors, especially highly saturated blues, but they're close enough to the targets that we don't expect most people to notice them. Note that the exact accuracy out of the box can vary between units.
Calibration improved the white balance and gamma to near perfection, but as there's no color calibration on this TV, we weren't able to correct any of the color issues.
You can see our recommended settings here.
720p content, including most cable TV stations, is upscaled well by the Sony X85J, with no noticeable issues.
Like most TVs we've tested, 1080p content looks almost as good as native 4k content.
Like most TVs on the market, the Sony X85J uses a BGR (Blue-Green-Red) subpixel layout instead of the traditional Red-Green-Blue layout. For video content, this doesn't cause any issues, but if you're planning on using this TV as a PC monitor, it might be an issue for text clarity. You can read more about this here.
The Sony X85J has a great color gamut. It can display nearly the entire DCI P3 color space used by most current HDR content, but it falls short on highly saturated greens, although this won't be very noticeable with most content. It also has okay coverage of the wider Rec. 2020 color space, but it's not as good as the Hisense U8G.
The X85J we tested displays a wider color gamut than the Sony X90J, which is unexpected. This can vary between units, though, and the difference isn't very noticeable. We also found that the X90J has better tone mapping, and in person, with real content, the X90J looks better.
The Sony X85J has decent color volume. It's limited by the incomplete color gamut and, like most LCDs on the market, blues aren't as bright as other colors. Thanks to the high contrast ratio, this TV can also display dark, saturated colors well, but not as well as the Hisense U8G.
Update 06/15/2021: We incorrectly stated that this TV has a Smooth Gradation feature. That feature is only available on 2021 models with the Cognitive Processor XR, including the Sony X90J.
The Sony X85J has excellent gradient handling. There's some banding in darker shades, especially greens, but it's not very noticeable with most content.
There are no signs of temporary image retention on our unit, but this can vary.
We don't expect VA panels to experience permanent image retention, as the VA panel in our long-term test appears immune.
The Sony X85J has a great response time, but it's a bit worse than the Sony X90J. Like most TVs with VA-type panels, dark scenes have slower transitions, causing more noticeable blur. There's very little overshoot, though, which is great.
The Sony X85J uses direct (DC) dimming to dim the backlight. Like the Sony X850G, there's some noise at very low backlight levels, but this isn't noticeable at all, and the backlight never turns completely off. This is different from the Sony X90J, which uses Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) to dim the backlight. PWM can bother some people, as it can cause eye fatigue and/or headaches.
This TV has an optional Black Frame Insertion feature that can reduce the amount of persistence blur. Like the Sony X90J, it can only flicker at 120Hz, which can cause duplications when watching 60Hz content. Note that our scoring is based only on the refresh rates that support Black Frame Insertion, and do not reflect how effective it is.
To use BFI, set Motionflow to 'Custom' and Clearness to max.
The Sony X85J has an optional motion interpolation feature that can improve the appearance of lower frame-rate content. Subjectively, it seems to perform well, but we did notice some artifacts in busier scenes.
Due to the fast response time of this TV, there is some noticeable stutter when watching movies. This is mainly noticeable in slow panning shots. If stutter bothers you, enabling motion interpolation can help to reduce it, but this can introduce the soap opera effect, which some people don't like.
The Sony X85J can remove judder from all sources. For 24p sources, it's automatic, you don't need to change any settings;. For 60p/60i sources and native apps, set Cinemotion to 'High' with Motionflow set to 'Custom', and Smoothness and Clearness at their minimum.
At the time of publication, the Sony X85J doesn't support any variable refresh rate technologies like FreeSync. Sony has promised that it will be added with a later firmware update, but we don't know when that will happen.
The Sony X85J has outstanding low input lag, which is especially important when gaming or for use as a PC monitor. Overall, it's a tiny bit slower than the Hisense U8G but a bit faster than the Sony X90J. The input lag outside of 'Game Mode' or with motion interpolation is significantly lower than the Sony X90J, though we're not sure why.
The Sony X85J supports most common resolutions, except 1440p, which requires a forced resolution. It displays proper chroma 4:4:4 in all natively supported resolutions; you only need to be in the 'Game' or 'Graphics' Picture Mode. For signals that require full bandwidth, set HDMI Signal Format to 'Enhanced Format'.
The Sony X85J doesn't support 4k @ 120Hz and Dolby Vision at once, so you have to choose between them by changing the HDMI Signal Format setting. This TV doesn't support Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), but it recognizes when it's connected to a Sony PlayStation 5 and automatically enters 'Game Mode'.
The Sony X85J has two HDMI 2.1 ports. Unfortunately, one of these is also the eARC port, so if you're planning to connect a home theater system, you'll only be able to connect one HDMI 2.1 device directly to your TV.
Unlike the Sony X850G, there's no dedicated component or composite input. Instead, there's a single composite in port, which requires a breakout adapter that's sold separately.
The Sony X85J supports eARC on HDMI port 3. This allows the TV to pass high-quality, uncompressed audio to an external home theater system or soundbar. To enable this feature, go to Audio Output in the Display & Sound settings menu, then set eARC to 'Auto', Digital Audio Out to 'Auto 1', and Passthrough to 'Auto'.
The Sony X85J has a decent frequency response. Like most TVs, the low-frequency extension (LFE) is high, as it can't produce any deep thump or rumble. Above the LFE, the frequency response is very balanced, resulting in clear dialogue. It can get very loud, but there's a bit of pumping at max volume.
Decent distortion performance. At lower volumes, there's very little total distortion, but it increases drastically at max volume.
The Sony X85J runs on Google TV instead of the Android TV interface used in previous years. The core of the smart interface is the same, but the overall layout and some functionality have changed.
Unfortunately, like almost all TVs on the market now, there are ads throughout the interface. We noticed them in the app store and on the main page, but the exact location varies.
Through the built-in Google Play Store, this TV has a massive selection of apps.
The remote is identical to the one included with the Sony X90J. It's a bit larger than most remotes currently on the market, as Sony is one of the last brands to still include a full numpad and full controls on the remote. The remote has a built-in mic for voice control, but it must be paired over Bluetooth with the TV for this feature to work. The voice commands work well, allowing you to change inputs, search for content, or even adjust some settings.
We tested the 55 inch Sony X85J TV (XB55X85J), and it's also available in a 43 inch, 50 inch, 65 inch, 75 inch, and 85 inch size. We expect our results to be valid for the other sizes as well, but we've seen some reports that the 43 inch model might have an IPS-type panel, so it might perform differently. As Sony doesn't provide any panel information, if you have any information on the panel types for the other sizes, let us know in the discussions below.
The Sony X85J is also available as the X89J in some regions. We expect our results to be valid for it as well; the only difference is that the X89J has an adjustable stand.
|Size||Model Number||Alternate Model|
If you come across a different type of panel or your Sony X85J doesn't correspond to our review, let us know, and we'll update the review. Note that some tests, like the gray uniformity, may vary between individual units.
Our unit was manufactured in April 2021; you can see the label here.
The Sony X85 is a good mid-range 4k TV and Sony's cheapest TV with HDMI 2.1. There are better options available from other brands at a lower price point, though, so this might not be the best choice for everyone.
The Sony X90J and the Sony X85J are very similar overall. The Sony X90J has a full array local dimming feature that can improve contrast and reduce blooming in dark scenes, but the X85J has better native contrast and a flicker-free backlight. The Sony X90J is brighter in HDR and HDR content displays at the correct brightness. If you care about calibrating your display for the most accurate image possible, one important difference here is that the X85J doesn't have a color management system.
The Sony X80J and the Sony X85J use different panel technologies, each with strengths and weaknesses. The X85J is better for a dark room, as it has much better contrast and better black uniformity. The X80J is better for a wide seating area, as it has better viewing angles.
The Sony X900H and the Sony X85J are very similar overall. The X85J has a higher native contrast ratio, but the X900H has a full array local dimming feature that can reduce blooming in dark scenes and improve contrast. On the other hand, the X85J has a flicker-free backlight, and the more recent Google TV interface is a bit faster than the older Android TV 9.0 interface on the X900H.
Although the LG C1 OLED and the Sony X85J use very different panel technologies, the LG is much better for most people. The LG delivers a perfect dark-room experience, with true inky blacks and perfect uniformity. The LG also has much better viewing angles and better reflection handling. On the other hand, the Sony is brighter, and unlike the LG, there's no risk of permanent burn-in with static content.
The Samsung Q70/Q70A QLED and the Sony X85J are nearly identical. The Sony that we tested has better gray uniformity, but this can vary between units. The Samsung is a bit better for gaming, as it supports the latest gaming features, including variable refresh rate technology (VRR). Those features are advertised for the Sony as well, but they're not yet available and will be added in an upcoming firmware update.
The Sony X85J is better than the Samsung Q60/Q60A QLED. The Sony has slightly better contrast, a much faster response time, and can remove judder from any source. The Sony is also better for gaming and more future-proof, as it has two HDMI 2.1 ports, a 120Hz refresh rate, and it's supposed to receive support for variable refresh rate technology (VRR) with a future firmware update.
The Sony X950H is much better than the Sony X85J. The X950H has a good full-array local dimming feature, and it's much brighter than the X85J. The X950H also has much better reflection handling and slightly better viewing angles. On the other hand, although the X85J lacks a local dimming feature, it has better contrast. The X85J is also a bit more future-proof, as it has two HDMI 2.1 ports.
The Hisense U8G is much better than the Sony X85J. The Hisense has a full array local dimming feature to improve contrast and reduce blooming in dark scenes. The Hisense also has much better reflection handling and can overcome glare in most rooms. The Hisense is also much brighter, and small highlights in some HDR content stand out much better.