The Sony X900E is a great 4k TV that offers some of the best picture quality found in an LED TV. HDR content looks particularly good on this TV since it gets very bright, and it handles motion exceptionally well. Its only real downside is the degradation of the image when viewed at an angle.
The X900E has a very typical Sony design, with a small stand that supports the TV well and a very functional appearance. There are slots at the rear of the stand for cable management, but overall the design is quite minimalist.
The Sony X900E has great picture quality. The excellent contrast ratio and good black uniformity results in good performance when viewed in a dark room. The X900E is also a good option for a bright room, since it has a high peak brightness and can handle reflections pretty well. It is best suited for people who sit directly in front, since when viewed from the side the picture quality degrades considerably. When it comes to HDR this TV is a great performer; it has a great HDR peak brightness, great color reproduction and when you add local dimming to the equation, you end up with a very good movie experience.
The native contrast ratio is very good on this Sony TV. With a ratio of around 5400, this is much better than the X930D. A high contrast ratio is crucial for good dark scenes performance while watching movies in a dark room.
Note that this test is done in SDR with local dimming off to showcase the true native contrast of the panel used in this TV. With local dimming set to high with the same test pattern, the contrast ratio was around 6500 with black level of around 0.015 cd/m², which is even better.
The local dimming feature is average on the Sony X900E. When set side by side with last year's X930D, it is clearly an upgrade visually, and we recommend it for normal viewing. When set to maximum it can sometimes feel a bit aggressive. If you visually see that it too aggressive, you can set it to medium or low.
Excellent SDR peak brightness. With both 'Auto Local Dimming' and 'X-tended Dynamic Range' set to 'High', the X900e is able to make small areas like our 2% window very bright. The TV can't brighten larger areas as well as smaller areas but large areas are still very bright. The TV is able to maintain this high brightness indefinitely which is good.
Good all-round brightness. Even the worst cases such as sustained 100% window remain very bright. With 'Auto Local Dimming' and 'X-tended Dynamic Range' set to 'High' the X900E is able to make small areas very bright, and maintain this high brightness over time without fading.
The overall gray uniformity of the X900E is good. The 50% standard deviation is a bit higher than what would be considered a good value, and this is cause by the darker corners and the general unevenness near the frame of the TV. Luckily for sports fans there is not too much dirty screen effect, as the center of the display is pretty even.
As for the 5% uniformity, besides some brighter areas near the bottom corners there is not much to complain about which is great.
The X900E native black uniformity (whitout local dimming) is good and is similar to last year Sony X930D. Some clouding can be seen, especially near the corners, but with a standard deviation of 1.203, this is still a pretty good result.
With local dimming turned on, the result is equally good with a value of 1.014. This is a good sign that the local dimming is working well on the X900e
With local dimming turn on and with regular content, the faint clouding visible on our picture should not be noticeable.
Out of the box in the 'Custom' picture mode the calibration of the TV is excellent and could be used without any further adjustments. The white balance is slightly too warm, but even then the white balance dE is only 2.15 which is still a good score. The color accuracy is also good, with only the green tracking a bit worse than the other colors.
Calibration of the X900E is very easy and fast to do with the provided 2 and 10 points white balance calibration. The white balance was quickly brought to a negligible 0.25 dE, and the gamma curve was flattened to track more closely to the 2.2 value. The color space dE was brought down a bit, but since there is no color space management on this TV, we could not bring it down further. In any case, with a dE of 1.97 it is still an excellent result that is well under our good value of a dE of 3.
You can see our recommended settings here.
Upscaling of 1080p content such as Blu-rays is very good.
1080p content is handled differently from most TVs. Find out more in our Additional Review Notes.
The X900E has decent color volume. It is able to show its wide color gamut at a range of brightness values, though it does struggle at the extreme ends of this range. Its color gamut for extremely bright colors is smaller than at moderate brightness, and its blue tinted black level also prevents it from accurately showing very dark deep color.
The performance of this TV is excellent when displaying our gradient test image. Small imperfections can be noticed in the dark green and blue, but these are almost negligible. The TV can display gradients without any banding normally seen on an 8-bit panel and should provide excellent color reproduction, especially in sky scenes for HDR movies.
The Sony X900E has some image retention, which is pretty unusual for a TV with a VA panel. The retention is really faint and not as strong as seen on some IPS TVs. It is the first time we've seen image retention on a VA TV. Note that image retention is not a deal breaker in any way, but more a temporary annoyance, since it is not permanent.
Update 10/05/2017: We have retested the image retention on our replacement unit (see here) and there is only very faint retention. The result has been updated, but note that there may be some variance on a unit-by-unit basis.
We don't expect VA panels to experience permanent image retention, as the VA panel in our long-term test appears immune.
Excellent motion handling. The TV's fast response time results in only a very small trail following moving objects which should be good even for fast content. The backlight does flicker at low levels, but at a high enough frequency that motion appears smooth. It is able to clear up the image with black frame insertion. Movies are played smoothly, and fans of the soap opera effect can interpolate content to 120Hz.
Update 06/27/2018: This TV experiences frame drops and cadence issues with 50Hz content. Most likely content used in broadcast television systems in countries broadcasting at 625-line/50 field per second (PAL). (Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa and South America). See here for more info in our Q&A. This model is now discontinued and it's replacement, the X900F, does not have this issue.
The response time of the X900E is outstanding and results in only a short trail following moving objects. The 20%-80% and 80%-20% transitions take a bit longer than ideal, resulting in the blur visible in the moving logo image. Overall, this TV shouldn't have any problems with fast-paced content.
The backlight does use PWM to dim, but only at very low backlight levels (at a setting of 8/50 or below). It flickers at a relatively high frequency of 720 Hz so content appears quite smooth.
Update 04/18/2018: Note that with 'Local Dimming' and 'X-tended Dynamic Range' enabled, the TV always flickers (no matter the 'Brightness' setting.
It is possible to reduce the flicker frequency to 120Hz by increasing the 'Motionflow' -> 'Clearness' slider. This does help to clear up motion, but not as well as the 60Hz flicker available on other TVs.
The TV has a 120Hz panel and is able to interpolate lower frame rate content to produce a very strong 'Soap Opera Effect' (SOE). To do so, adjust the 'Motionflow' setting and increase the 'Smoothness' slider. The 'CineMotion' option changes the threshold for interpolation. Set it to 'High' for the most SOE.
The Sony X900E is decent at displaying content smoothly, but for low frame rate content such as movies it does appear a bit stuttery, especially for wide panning shots, as each frame is static for ~30ms during periods of motion. For 60 fps content motion is smooth.
The X900E can play movies from Blu-ray players, native streaming apps and cable/satellite boxes without any judder. Note that when playing the movie from a 60p/60i source like cable TV, the 'Motionflow' option must be set to 'True Cinema' and 'CineMotion' set to 'High' to have a judder-free experience without any motion interpolation.
The Sony X900E supports all common input signals and should be able to accurately display content from any device, even video output from a PC. The X900E also has low input lag in game and graphics mode and will be very responsive when playing video games and when using the TV as a PC monitor. 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.
Very good input lag overall. In game or graphics mode the input lag is always lower than 35 ms, which should be good enough for all but the most competitive gamers. Outside of game or graphics mode though the input lag is quite high, making this TV unsuitable for gaming with interpolation enabled.
Update 05/23/2017: The TV has been retested after the update to Android TV 7.0 Nougat, and the input lag is unchanged.
Update 07/18/2017: The TV has been tested with the newest firmware update (PKG6.2648.0065NAA). The input lag remains the same.
Update 09/20/2017: Tested 1080p @ 120 Hz input lag using our new input lag tool. It is much faster than the 1080p @ 60 Hz input lag, likely due to the TV bypassing some processing when it detects such an unusual signal.
Update 11/10/2017: Retested input lag with the latest firmware (PKG6.2669.0070NAA); there was no significant change.
This TV supports all of the common input signals. Only HDMI inputs 2 and 3 are capable of showing 4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:2:2 or 4:4:4 color, and only when 'HDMI Enhanced Format' is enabled. 4:4:4 color is supported in both game and graphics mode.
Remarkably the TV also displayed a 1080p @ 120 Hz input without showing the vertical line artifacts seen on the X930D. However when displaying this resolution while in game or graphics mode only crude upscaling was done on the 1080p image, so the image looked almost as jagged as it would on a 1080p TV. Some people may prefer this look however because it retains most of the sharpness of the original image.
Update 06/12/2018: A note for Xbox One X and Xbox One S owners: 1080p @ 120 Hz from the Xbox is only supported on this TV when the Xbox's connection type is changed from Auto-detect (Recommended) to HDMI: (Xbox > Settings > Display & sound > Video fidelity & overscan > Display > Connection > HDMI). Unfortunately in this mode 4k, HDR, 50 Hz and 24 Hz aren't possible, so this mode is only recommended when the higher refresh rate of 120 Hz is more important to you than these other features.
Update 06/18/2018: Correction, 24 Hz and 50 Hz are in fact possible with the Xbox's connection type set to HDMI.
There is a shared component/composite port on the back, and an additional composite input on the side but an adapter is not included. An example of the correct adapter can be found here.
To enable audio passthrough, in the 'Action Menu' change the 'Speakers' to 'Audio System'.
This TV does support a variable analog audio out, which means you can control the volume of wired headphones (like the Beyerdynamic DT 770) directly with your TV remote.
The Sony X900E unfortunately doesn't produce a very good sound. While it isn't unusable, it would greatly benefit from adding a soundbar or a set of speakers.
Poor frequency response. Low-end cutoff of 160Hz means that this TV won't produce much bass. Additionally, even though this TV doesn't get very loud, pumping and compression is produced as the volume is increased.
Poor harmonic distortion performance. The overall amount of distortion at 70dB is very low, however, just like most of the other Sony TVs we've measured, there is a big spike in the overall harmonic distortion as volume is increased and the TV is put under heavier loads.
The Sony X900E uses Android TV as its smart platform. Android TV tends to be more difficult to navigate than many other smart platforms, so the interface may take some getting used to. The 'Action Menu' button on the remote helps to relieve this problem by providing a quick list of popular settings so the user doesn't have to navigate to the main settings menu. However one strength of Android TV is the Google Play Store, which contains many many apps that can be downloaded on the TV to extend its functionality. The included remote is rather large with many buttons, and has a microphone for voice search, which works well.
Note that for readers watching 50Hz content (such as in Europe) there is a bug which causes some frames to be duplicated, skipped or repeated (see here).
The Android TV interface isn't as easy to use as some other smart platforms. On this TV it also sometimes has lag and choppy animations. The remote's 'Action Menu' button helps to alleviate this by providing a quick menu with common functions and settings.
The main interface of the TV has no ads which is good. Apps themselves can still have ads, such as video ads in the YouTube app. There is an option in the TV's settings to opt out of personalized advertising for these ads.
By default the top row of the home screen is filled with suggested content, but the sources of suggested content can be disabled one by one in the settings until there is only two TV instructional videos left in the row.
Out of the box most of the popular apps are preinstalled such as Netflix, Youtube and Amazon Video. Many more apps can be downloaded from the sizable Google Play Store.
The remote is fairly large and has a dizzying array of buttons, like the remotes of the X930D and X800D. The round arrow button pad is surrounded by a circle of other often used buttons, and serves as the centerpiece of the remote. There is a microphone in the remote for Voice Search, which works well.
Update 12/11/2017: Google Assistant has now been added to Android TV on Sony TVs, and it brings a lot of new features to the voice control: commands like 'open Netflix', 'switch to HDMI 1', 'pause video', 'how's the weather' and 'turn off TV' all work well, though commands to change picture settings like 'set the brightness to 20' and 'switch to Game mode' don't work. The remote score has been increased to reflect the new fuctionality.
The Android TV remote app has fewer features than the apps of some other smart platforms, but can still be useful.
Update 09/12/2017: Sony has an app called 'Video & TV SideView' that's better than the Android TV app in most ways. It adds a few features like launching both apps and inputs, and has three different remote modes, one being a mouse cursor on the TV. The score and data fields have been updated to reflect the Sony app.
Update 07/11/2018: Sony's Video & TV SideView remote app has been retested on version 5.5.0. The remote app can now stream video files and can only directly launch apps. The data fields have been updated.
Update 10/12/2018: The remote app can directly launch both apps and inputs, even on version 5.5.0; "Apps Only" was a mistake. The value has been corrected to "Both".
There are three buttons on the back of the TV that allow changing the channel, volume and input. The center button selects either channel, volume or input while the (+) and (-) buttons increment the setting. The center button also serves as the power button and can power off the TV is it is held down for a few seconds.
We tested the 55" (XBR55X900E). For the most part, we expect our review to be valid for the 49"(XBR49X900E), 65"(XBR65X900E), and 75"(XBR75X900E). Unlike the other sizes, the 75" variant has an internal power brick.
If someone comes across a different type of panel or if their Sony XBR-55X900E doesn't correspond to our review, let us know and we will update the review. Note that some tests such as the gray uniformity may vary between individual units.
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The Sony X900E offers a compelling package that is very competitive considering its price point. Picture quality is great, and its local dimming is a strong selling point. See our recommendations for the best flatscreen TVs and the best 4k TVs.
The 2018 Sony X900F is marginally better than the 2017 Sony X900E. The X900F has a better response time, so fast-moving objects have very little motion blur that isn't noticeable to most people. The X900F also received an update that enables Dolby Vision support with the native apps and some external devices.
The Sony X930E is slightly better than the Sony X900E. The Sony X930E has marginally better input lag when sent a 4k @ 60Hz + HDR input signal and can also decode a Dolby vision signal, and this is great if you play HDR games. The Sony X930E has slightly better SDR peak brightness which makes it suitable for watching TV shows in a brighter room and also has better local dimming which improves picture quality when you watch a movie. On the other hand, the Sony X900E has a slightly better response time that will please gamers.
The Sony X900E is better than the Samsung Q6FN. The Sony X900E has better local dimming performance and can display dark scenes better in a dark environment. When placed in the same bright room, the Sony X900E handles reflections better than the Q6FN. The X900E has a faster response time, and thus there is less blur in fast content. The Samsung Q6FN, on the other hand, is slightly better for gaming as it incorporates FreeSync VRR support and has a lower input lag that makes it very responsive.
The Sony X900E is better than the X850E. The X900E is brighter than the X850E in SDR and HDR, and the 900E has a decent local dimming feature that can dim dark areas of the screen. The Sony X850E has better black uniformity, good for viewing in a dark room, and has a better black frame insertion feature that can improve motion at the cost of some brightness. The 75" X850E uses an IPS panel, which is better for a wide viewing area.
The Sony X900E is better than the Samsung NU8000 for most people, unless your main usage is for gaming. The Sony X900E has a better local dimming feature and better reflection handling, making it better suited to a wider variety of viewing conditions. The Samsung NU8000 has lower input lag across all resolutions and supports AMD's FreeSync Variable Refresh Rate technology, making it a better choice for gamers.
The Sony X900E is better than the Samsung 2017 Q7F QLED TV. The X900E is brighter than the Q7F and has a better local dimming feature, which is great for movie lovers. Both models have excellent reflection handling, but the Samsung Q7F is better. The Samsung Q7F has a better color gamut and volume, and movies look closer to the content creator's intent.
The Sony X850F is a better choice for a room with wide seating due to its better viewing angles. The Sony X900E, on the other hand, is a better choice if you have a darker room with direct in-front seating. The Sony X900E can display better blacks due to higher native contrast ratio and better local dimming. Also, if you want a brighter TV to enjoy TV shows, then the Sony X900E is a better choice as it has better SDR peak brightness.
If you have a wide seating arrangement in an average lit room, the Sony X800E is a more suitable choice because of its better viewing angles. On the other hand, the Sony X900E has significantly better local dimming, much better contrast ratio and a bit better black uniformity that make blacks look great and improve picture quality in a dark room when you watch movies or HDR movies. The Sony X900E has slightly better motion handling features like motion interpolation and 24p judder removal that will please movie enthusiasts. Finally, the X900E has better reflection handling and this is good news for those who watch TV shows in brighter rooms.
The Sony X900E is better than the Samsung MU8000 in almost every usage. The Sony X900E has significantly better local dimming and slightly better contrast ratio and can display deeper blacks which is great if you watch movies or HDR content in a dark room. Also, the Sony X900E has better reflection handling, which is good news if you watch TV shows in a brighter room. On the other hand, the Samsung MU8000 has a bit better input lag, and this will please those who play video games.
The Sony X900E is a bit better than the Samsung MU9000. The Sony X900E has a bit better local dimming that delivers deep blacks and this is great if you watch movies in a dark room. The Sony also has a faster response time that leaves a shorter blur trail in fast action. On the other hand, the Samsung MU9000 has lower input lag for those who play video games a better reflection handling so that you can place it a bright room without issues.
The LG SJ8500 has slightly better viewing angles, and this is great if you have wide seating arrangements. The LG SJ8500 also has somewhat better inputs for use as a PC monitor and a bit better input lag, which makes it very responsive if you play video games. On the other hand, the Sony X900E has much better contrast and local dimming and better black uniformity that allows it to display deep blacks and improve picture quality if you watch movies or HDR movies in a dark room. Finally, the Sony X900E has better SDR peak brightness and can easily overcome glare which is great for watching TV shows in brighter rooms.
The Sony X940E and X900E are very similar and offer nearly identical performance. The X940E has better dark room performance due to the improved local dimming feature and better black uniformity. The X900E has a much better response time and motion looks much smoother with very little motion blur. The X940E has been updated with support for Dolby Vision.
The LG B7A is better than the Sony X900E, unless you watch a lot of static content and the possibility of burn-in concerns you. The LG B7A uses an OLED screen, which has the possibility of burn-in, but provides perfect dark room performance and great wide viewing angles. The B7A has lower input lag, great for gaming. The Sony X900E does not experience any temporary image retention, and appears to be immune to the effects of burn-in.
The Sony X900E is somewhat better than the Vizio P Series 2017. The Sony X900E has better upscaling which is important if you watch a lot of cable, and better gray uniformity. The Vizio P Series 2017, on the other hand, has a better input lag and a faster response time, which are important to those who play a lot of games. Finally, the Vizio P Series 2017 has better black frame insertion (BFI) which can result in a clearer image for gamers.
If you have a large room with wide seating arrangements, then the LG SJ9500 is a better choice, but for a dark room with seating directly in front, then the Sony X900E is better. The Sony X900E has significantly better local dimming, better contrast ratio, and better black uniformity, which is great for watching movies of HDR content. On the other hand, the LG SJ9500 has lower input lag, which is great for gaming, and because of its better viewing angles, you can use it as a PC monitor without worrying about the image deteriorating at the sides of the screen.
The Sony X900E is much better than the LeEco Super4. The X900E is brighter and has better reflection handling, making it a better choice for a well-lit room. The X900E has a local dimming feature that improves dark room viewing, and the X900E is able to remove judder from all 24p sources.