The Sony X900F is a great 4k TV with impressive picture quality, especially in a dark room due to the high native contrast ratio and full array local dimming support. The TV excels at HDR as it can produce bright, vivid highlights. Motion handling is also excellent due to the fast response time and ability to flicker the backlight to clear up motion. The only main negative is the narrow viewing angle, so the best image quality is reserved for those directly in front of the TV.
The design of the Sony 2018 X900F is great. It is quite different to the 'traditional' Sony aesthetics from the last few years, such as the X900E. The wide-set legs are the most noticeable difference, and do require a larger table but are designed so that the Sony soundbar can fit between them. There is basic cable management similar to the X900E down the back of the stand, but it isn't as good as the X930E which includes routing through the back panel. The build quality is very good and the TV feels solid.
The stand is much wider than most other Sony TVs, as it leaves space for a soundbar between the two legs. It supports the TV well and feels secure. It also provides a channel at the rear of the legs to route cables through, which is good.
Footprint of the 55" TV stand: 39.2" x 10.6"
The rear of the TV is quite basic, and is very similar to last year's model. There are two groups of inputs on the rear of the TV. One is inset and directed down, and can be difficult to access if the TV is placed close to the wall. The second group is directed out the side of the TV and provides easier access.
The borders of the TV are quite thin, and look good. They look almost identical to other Sony TVs.
The TV has an average thickness when viewed from the side. It will stick out from the wall a bit more than some other TVs such as the X930E, but this isn't too much of an issue.
The X900F runs fairly cool, thanks to its local dimming saving power where peak brightness isn't needed. The TV has vents along the bottom edge and on the back near the top, which likely won't be blocked when the TV is wall mounted, which is good.
The build quality of the X900F is good, and although the TV is almost entirely plastic, it does feel well constructed and solid.
The Sony X900F has a very good picture quality. When set in a dark room, the deep black it can produce help greatly with dark scene reproduction. This is mostly due to the impressive contrast ratio, good black uniformity, and decent local dimming feature. When set in a brighter room, the TV is also very good since it got a great SDR peak brightness and the screen finish is great at dealing with reflection and glare. The gray uniformity is good and dirty screen effect is not visible while watching sports like football or ice hockey.
When it comes to the viewing angle, the performance of the Sony X900F is disappointing and as such, the best picture quality is relegated to a sweet spot right in front of the TV. Finally, HDR looks great and this is mostly due to the high HDR peak brightness, which when paired with the local dimming, can reproduce very bright specular highlights.
The native contrast ratio is excellent. When set in a dark room, it can display really deep blacks, making the TV a very good option if you have a dark home theater room.
When the local dimming is turned on, the contrast ratio on the checkerboard pattern goes up, but not by much since the zones are not small enough to have an impact on this pattern.
The full array local dimming of the Sony X900F is decent and better than most LED TVs. It is a small upgrade when compared to the 2017 X900E. The X900F performance is more similar to the 2017 Sony X930E when set side by side, although the X930E has slightly less abrupt transitions of the zones on movements.
Very similar performance to the Samsung Q8FN. The X900F has deeper black levels, but there is more visible blooming.
When set to 'High', the feature is very good at limiting blooming and keeping a good overall black level, but on some occasions, it may be a bit too aggressive, as small highlights can get dimmed on fast movements. Therefore, if you notice this behavior, you can set it the 'Medium', and it should behave more conservatively.
Great SDR peak brightness, good enough for even a bright room. The TV's local dimming does a good job of boosting bright sections of the screen when other sections are dimmer, shown by how the smaller window tests are brighter than the larger ones. Overall, this brightness is a marked improvement over last year's X900E, and is far better than the brightness of many competing TVs like the Samsung MU8000 and LG SJ8500, though still not as bright as last year's X930E.
Great HDR peak brightness; bright highlights in HDR content will be shown fairly bright, though not quite as bright as the 1000-4000 cd/m² they're intended to be. The TV's local dimming is able to boost highlights to be very bright, because the rest of the scene in HDR content is usually fairly dim when compared to SDR content, so the TV has more power budget for the hightlights. Overall the HDR brightness is better than last year's X900E.
The gray uniformity is good. The 50% gray uniformity looks good, and the issues are mostly situated near the edge and corners, which are darker than the center of the screen. Besides that, dirty screen effect is not problematic since the center of the screen is even and it is not noticeable when watching sports like hockey, a sport where the slightest uniformity issues are usually very easy to see.
Looking at the 5%, we can see that both bottom corners are a bit brighter than the center and this is mostly due to the clouding of the panel, as the same brighter zone are also visible on the black uniformity. In any case, this is almost not noticeable when watching normal content, and as such, is not problematic.
Bad viewing angle, but fairly typical for a TV with a VA panel. Colors and blacks degrade significantly when viewed from even a small angle, while brightness degrades less at an angle. This bad viewing angle makes this TV not well suited for a room where people often sit to the side of the TV and view it at an angle; in such cases an IPS TV with a good viewing angle, like the LG SJ8500, may be better.
The Sony X900F black uniformity is very good. Looking at the native black uniformity picture (when the local dimming is turned completely off) our unit has some faint flashlighting, especially near the edge and the corners of the TV. The clouding is not too strong and when looking at normal content, should not be too apparent.
Turning on local dimming hides most issues, but it comes at the cost of blooming around bright objects (like the center cross in this picture).
Note that the screen uniformity varies per unit, and another X900F could be better or worse than the unit we bought.
The reflection handling of the Sony X900F is great. The semi-gloss finish does diffuse reflections slightly, but not as much as more hazy TVs such as the Samsung MU8000. The anti-reflective coating works well to reduce the total reflections and provides very similar performance to last year's X900E. This should be fine for most rooms, but reflections may be distracting in a very bright room or if sunlight falls directly on the TV.
Out of the box, the accuracy of the Sony X900F is excellent, and for most people, this TV could be used right away without the need for any calibration.
The most accurate picture mode out of the box is the 'Custom' picture mode, and it is also one of the picture modes that gives you the most control over all the picture setting available.
The 'Cinema Pro' is also very accurate, but this picture mode targets a gamma closer to 2.4, rather than our desired 2.2 target.
The accuracy is outstanding after calibrating the white balance. Unfortunately, the lack of color management system on Sony's TVs can't be corrected further.
Overall, the calibration here did only bring some small corrections, as the TV was already very accurate out of the box, and the process was very fast and without issues.
You can see our recommended settings here.
Upscaling of low quality 480p content such as DVDs is good. Some halo artifacting is visible along edges, but there is a good range of options to customize the upscaling depending on preferences.
720p content such as cable is upscaled well. Edges are smoothed to reduce blockyness, and some haloing artifacts are visible.
Native 4k content such as UHD Blu-rays or high quality streaming content is displayed without any issues.
Great wide color gamut; saturated colors in HDR content will be shown fairly well, but not quite as well as some other TVs like the LG OLED B7A. The TV's color accuracy for less saturated colors is also fairly good, so the overall HDR image will be accurate.
The TV's HDR EOTF follows the target PQ curve very closely up until it rolls off and clips at its peak brightness. The EOTFs in the 'Game' and 'Graphics' picture modes also follow the target closely. Users who want a brighter HDR image can increase the TV's 'Gamma' and 'Adv. contrast enhancer' settings, which will raise the EOTF to be brighter than the target curve.
Update 05/02/2018: The color gamut was erroneously measured at a 50% stimulus. It has been remeasured at 75% stimulus to be in line with our other TVs. The results remain almost identical.
Decent color volume in HDR. The Sony X900F's local dimming does a good job of extending its wide color gamut down to a range of different brightness, so darker colors will look as saturated as brighter colors.
Excellent gradient performance; no major banding is visible during normal usage when playing 10 bit content (such as HDR). When playing SDR some banding may be visible when the content is 8 bit, but this banding can be reduced by enabling Sony's "Smooth Gradation" feature.
No temporary image retention could be noticed on the Sony X900F white running our test. This is good for those wanting to use this TV as a PC monitor. Note that this is a different result from our 2017 X900E, as the later did show sign of very faint image retention.
We don't expect VA panels to experience permanent image retention, as the VA panel in our long-term test appears immune.
Motion looks great on the Sony X900F; it has a fast pixel response time, a backlight without much visible flicker, an optional flicker mode, 120 fps motion interpolation, and it can remove 24p judder from all common sources. However, there are some aspects of its motion that could be better; its fast pixel response time can make low frame rate content look a little stuttery at times, and its optional flicker mode doesn't flicker at 60 Hz.
Excellent pixel response time, good enough for fast-moving content. Most of the blur in the photo is caused by 60 fps persistence; almost no ghosting trail is visible behind the moving logo, which is excellent. One flaw though is the severe overshoot on the 0-20% transition; this means that some bright ghosting may be visible in dark scenes during fast motion.
The backlight does flicker, unlike some other Sony TVs like the 2017 X800E; and this flicker is always present, even at maximum backlight. However, because the flicker frequency is a very fast 720 Hz it will be almost unnoticeable to most people.
The 2018 Sony X900F can flicker its backlight at 120 Hz, which makes motion look clearer by reducing persistence blur. Unfortunately, it can't flicker at 60 Hz, so 60 Hz content will have visible duplications in its motion, but some may find it preferable to no flicker. On Sony TVs, BFI is activated by setting "Motionflow" to "Custom" and increasing the "Clearness" slider.
Sony has implemented a new BFI mode on "Clearness = 1", which they call "X-Motion Clarity". When in this mode the real scene brightness decreases by about 60 nits compared to with no flicker("Clearness = 0"), but as the brightness of the screen decreases its flicker becomes more severe, similar to how a TV with PWM dimming behaves. When this is combined with local dimming, dimmer zones of the screen will have clearer motion than brighter zones. This is different from the flicker behavior in "Clearness" 2 and Max, where zones of different brightness will have similar flicker and motion clarity. We recommend "Clearness = 1" when users want clearer motion but don't want to sacrifice too much screen brightness. Note that none of these 'Clearness' settings affect the input lag in the 'Game' picture mode.
The TV has a 120 Hz panel, and its processing can interpolate lower frame rate content to 120 fps to match the panel. This optional feature is also called the "soap opera effect". It produces smoother looking motion but can look unnatural to some people, and also adds small artifacts in its processing that can be bothersome to some.
The TV is decent at showing low frame rate content smoothly (like movies and 30fps video games), but the TV's fast pixel response time can make motion look a little stuttery, especially in wide panning scenes, because the frame stays static for 31 ms. 60 fps content looks smoother because the frames are on screen for a shorter amount of time.
The Sony X900F can display, without judder, 24p movies no matter from which sources they are playing. To achieve this though for every source including the native Netflix app, you need to set (from the Motion tab in the picture setting) the 'Motionflow' to 'True cinema' and set 'CineMotion' to 'High'. This isn't needed for direct 24p sources.
The TV doesn't support a variable refresh rate.
The Sony X900F supports all the common input signals, including HDR. It has great low input lag for 4k signals, and good low input lag for 1080p signals, so it will be very responsive when gaming. It also has some useful PC monitor features such as 4:4:4 chroma subsampling support and 1080p @ 120 Hz support. 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.
Great low input lag, especially when playing 4k video. The 1080p input lag is higher than for 4k, but is still good enough for most gaming. Overall, the input lag is very similar to last year's X930E, which is understandable because both use Sony's 'X1 Extreme' processing engine (unlike the 2017 X900E); however, many TVs from other brands have lower input lag, such as the Samsung MU8000, LG SJ8500, and TCL P607.
Update 08/13/2018: We have retested the input lag with the latest firmware (PKG6.5603.0175NAA) and it remains the same.
Update 05/08/2019: We retested the 1080p input lag in and out of game mode with the latest firmware PKG6.5830.0205NAA and it remains the same.
All common resolutions are supported. 4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 or 4:2:2 is only possible on HDMI inputs 2 and 3, and only when 'HDMI Enhanced Format' is enabled. 4:4:4 chroma subsampling is only shown properly in the 'Game' and 'Graphics' picture modes.
Update 06/11/2018: A note for Xbox One X and Xbox One S owners: 120 Hz from the Xbox will not work with this TV (and all 2018/2017 Sony's we've tested), because the TV requires a forced resolution for 120 Hz to be displayed.
Update 06/12/2018: It turns out 1080p @ 120 Hz is possible, 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. Find out more here.
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 one composite input (labeled 'Video In') however it is a 3.5mm jack, and so requires an adapter for most devices. An example of the correct adapter can be found here.
Update 06/11/2018: Dolby Vision support has been added as of firmware (PKG6.5603.0175NAA); the scores have been updated.
The sound quality of the Sony X900F is below-average. It does have a well-balanced sound, and it can get fairly loud. However, they don't have any sub-bass, and they are prone to pumping and compression artifacts under heavier loads. So adding a sound bar to your setup would be beneficial.