Sony X90J TV Review

Tested using Methodology v1.6
Reviewed May 03, 2021 at 09:45 am
Sony X90J Picture
8.1
Mixed Usage
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
8.6
Movies
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
7.7
TV Shows
Value for price beaten by
: Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED
7.5
Sports
Value for price beaten by
: LG CX OLED
8.4
Video Games
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
8.3
HDR Movies
Value for price beaten by
: Vizio OLED 2020
8.3
HDR Gaming
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
7.8
PC Monitor
Value for price beaten by
: Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED
Type LED
Sub-Type
VA
Resolution 4k

The Sony X90J is a great 4k TV. It replaces the Sony X900H from 2020 and has largely the same features as its predecessor. It uses a VA panel with an outstanding contrast ratio, and it has a full-array local dimming feature that further improves the black level. It has decent reflection handling and gets very bright to fight glare, but its viewing angles are quite narrow, so it's not the best for wide seating areas. It has good response times, low input lag, and a 120Hz refresh, making it a great choice for gaming. However, its advertised variable refresh rate (VRR) support isn't available yet. Unfortunately, while it has a good color gamut, it isn't technically considered a wide gamut for HDR. That said, it still provides a very good HDR experience. Like other 2021 Sony TVs, it runs on Google TV, which is user-friendly and has tons of apps available.

Our Verdict

8.1 Mixed Usage

The Sony X90J is a great TV for most uses. It's best suited for watching movies and HDR content due to its high contrast ratio, full-array local dimming, and high HDR brightness. It has low input lag, fast response times, and a 120Hz refresh rate, making it a great choice for gaming. However, you'll have to wait a bit for its advertised VRR support. It's good for watching TV shows or sports because it upscales lower resolution content well and gets very bright to combat glare, but its narrow viewing angles make it less ideal for watching with a big group of people.

Pros
  • Outstanding contrast.
  • Great response time.
  • User-friendly smart interface.
  • Gets very bright to combat glare.
  • Upscales lower resolution content well.
Cons
  • Poor viewing angles.
  • Struggles with direct reflections.
  • Doesn't support wide color gamut.
8.6 Movies

The Sony X90J is excellent for watching movies. It's well-suited for dark room viewing thanks to its high contrast ratio and full-array local dimming. It upscales lower resolution content well and can remove 24p judder from all sources. However, there's a bit of stuttering in movies.

Pros
  • Outstanding contrast.
  • Great full-array local dimming.
  • Removes judder from all sources.
  • Upscales lower resolution content well.
Cons
  • Stutters a bit in low frame rate content.
7.7 TV Shows

The Sony X90J is good for watching TV shows. While its reflection handling is only decent, it gets very bright, so visibility in well-lit settings shouldn't be an issue unless you place the TV opposite bright lights or open windows. Its Google TV interface is easy to use, and there are tons of apps available. Its viewing angles are quite narrow, making the image appear washed out when viewed from the side, so it's not the best choice if you like walking around while watching.

Pros
  • User-friendly smart interface.
  • Gets very bright to combat glare.
  • Upscales lower resolution content well.
Cons
  • Poor viewing angles.
  • Struggles with direct reflections.
7.5 Sports

The Sony X90J is good for watching sports. It has a great response time to deliver clear images in fast-moving scenes and a Black Frame Insertion feature that further improves motion clarity. Its reflection handling is only decent, but it gets very bright to combat glare. Like most VA panel TVs, the viewing angles are pretty narrow, so it's not the best option for watching with a big group of people.

Pros
  • Great response time.
  • Gets very bright to combat glare.
  • Upscales lower resolution content well.
Cons
  • Poor viewing angles.
  • Struggles with direct reflections.
8.4 Video Games

The Sony X90J is great for gaming. It delivers an incredibly fluid and responsive gaming experience due to its low input lag, fast response times, and 120Hz refresh rate. It has an outstanding contrast ratio and a full-array local dimming feature, making it well-suited for gaming in the dark. Unfortunately, its advertised VRR isn't available yet, so you have to wait until Sony implements it through a firmware update.

Pros
  • Outstanding contrast.
  • Great full-array local dimming.
  • Low input lag and 120Hz refresh rate.
  • Great response time.
  • Gets very bright to combat glare.
Cons
  • VRR not available yet.
  • Struggles with direct reflections.
8.3 HDR Movies

The Sony X90J is great for watching movies in HDR. It has an outstanding contrast ratio that's further enhanced by a full-array local dimming feature, so it's ideal for dark rooms. It has a good color gamut even though it isn't technically a wide gamut, and it gets very bright in HDR, bright enough to make highlights pop. Low frame rate content like movies stutters a bit due to its quick response times, but on the bright side, it can remove 24p judder from all sources.

Pros
  • Outstanding contrast.
  • Great full-array local dimming.
  • Removes judder from all sources.
  • Upscales lower resolution content well.
  • Good HDR brightness.
Cons
  • Stutters a bit in low frame rate content.
  • Doesn't support wide color gamut.
8.3 HDR Gaming

The Sony X90J is great for gaming in HDR. It has very low input lag, a 120Hz refresh rate, and quick response times, so gaming feels smooth and responsive. It displays deep blacks due to its outstanding contrast ratio and full-array local dimming, making it well-suited for dark rooms. It has a good color gamut even though it isn't technically a wide gamut, and it gets very bright to make highlights pop. Sadly, its advertised VRR support isn't available yet, and it can't display 4k @ 120Hz in Dolby Vision.

Pros
  • Outstanding contrast.
  • Great full-array local dimming.
  • Low input lag and 120Hz refresh rate.
  • Great response time.
  • Good HDR brightness.
Cons
  • VRR not available yet.
  • Doesn't support wide color gamut.
  • Can't display 4k @ 120Hz with Dolby Vision.
7.8 PC Monitor

The Sony X90J is good for use as a PC monitor. It has low input lag and quick response times, and it supports most common resolutions as well as chroma 4:4:4 for better text clarity. Its reflection handling is only decent, but it gets more than bright enough to combat glare. Unfortunately, it has pretty narrow viewing angles, so the image might look inaccurate at the edges if you sit up close.

Pros
  • Low input lag and 120Hz refresh rate.
  • Great response time.
  • Supports most common resolutions and chroma 4:4:4.
  • Gets very bright to combat glare.
Cons
  • Poor viewing angles.
  • Struggles with direct reflections.
  • 8.1 Mixed Usage
  • 8.6 Movies
  • 7.7 TV Shows
  • 7.5 Sports
  • 8.4 Video Games
  • 8.3 HDR Movies
  • 8.3 HDR Gaming
  • 7.8 PC Monitor
  1. Updated May 10, 2021: Fixed a mistake in the gradient box.
  2. Updated May 07, 2021: Fixed a mistake with the judder settings and confirmed proper 4:4:4 with 4k @ 120Hz.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The Sony X90J is an upper mid-range TV from Sony's 2021 4k lineup, sitting between the lower-end X85J and the flagship X95J. It replaces 2020's Sony X900H. We expect it to compete with the Samsung Q80/Q80A QLED and the LG NANO90 2021.

Design
Design
Style
Curved No

From the front, the Sony X90J looks almost identical to the Sony X900H from 2020. It's simple and minimalist, with thin borders on all sides. However, the glossy plastic bezels and feet look somewhat cheap.

Design
Stand

The feet are set almost as wide as the TV, and there's no option to position them closer, so you need a fairly large surface to put the TV on. You don't need to screw them in; they just slide into the TV.

Footprint of the 55 inch TV: 41.92" x 13.35".

Design
Back
Wall Mount VESA 300x300

The back looks very different from the Sony X900H. It now has a grid-like pattern with a larger square in the middle containing the Bravia branding. All inputs are facing sideways, which makes it easier to access when wall-mounted. For cable management, there are two clips included to hold the cables behind the feet.

Design
Borders
Borders 0.39" (1.0 cm)
Design
Thickness
Max Thickness 2.83" (7.2 cm)

The Sony X90J has the same thickness as its predecessor, the Sony X900H. It's a bit thicker than most mid-range or high-end TVs on the market, but it shouldn't stick out that much when wall-mounted.

7.5
Design
Build Quality

The Sony X90J's build quality is good. It's entirely plastic, including the feet. While it feels sturdy overall, there's a lot of flex on the back panel. You can easily pull the borders from the screen, but this shouldn't be an issue for most people. The feet support the TV well, but it still wobbles a bit.

Picture Quality
9.0
Picture Quality
Contrast
Native Contrast
5600 : 1
Contrast with local dimming
6221 : 1

The Sony X90J has an outstanding contrast ratio, better than the Sony X900H, and it also has a full-array local dimming feature to improve the black level further. It displays deep blacks, which makes it well-suited for dark room viewing. Note that contrast can vary between units.

8.4
Picture Quality
SDR Brightness
Real Scene Peak Brightness
519 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
574 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
757 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
555 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
505 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
540 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
556 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
733 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
555 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
503 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
539 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.020

The Sony X90J has great SDR brightness. It's only slightly brighter than the Sony X900H in the real scenes. Its Automatic Brightness Limiter (ABL) isn't as aggressive, but brightness still varies depending on the content. The most notable changes are in the 2% and 10% windows, peak and sustained, which are significantly brighter. Overall, it's more than enough to combat glare in well-lit rooms.

If you want a brighter image and don't mind losing image accuracy, set the Picture Mode to 'Vivid', Brightness and Contrast to max, Color Tone to 'Neutral', Auto Local Dimming to 'High', and Peak Luminance to 'High'. We reached 857 cd/m² in the 10% window with these settings.

We measured the SDR brightness after calibration in the 'Custom' Picture Mode, with Brightness at max, Contrast at '90', Color Tone set to 'Expert 1', Auto Local Dimming set to 'High', and Peak Luminance set to 'High'.

We also tested the SDR brightness with Peak Luminance disabled. Turning it off makes the real scene brightness drop to 442 cd/m². It's more consistent, with most windows measuring between 468 cd/m² and 479 cd/m², but there's some frame dimming in the 2% windows, with both peak and sustained at around 349 cd/m².

8.0
Picture Quality
Local Dimming
Local Dimming
Yes
Backlight
Full-Array

The Sony X90J has a great full-array local dimming feature. There are 24 local dimming zones, and the zones are pretty large. Zone transitions are very visible with our test pattern, but not as much in actual content. It seems to light up a zone a little too early in anticipation of the incoming object, and it's a bit slow to turn off when the object leaves the zone. There isn't much black crush, and lighter areas still retain a good amount of details. Blooming is very noticeable with our test pattern, but less so in real scenes. That said, there are some scenes where it's very obvious, as it causes a haloing effect around moving people and makes some scenes look foggy or hazy. These issues are much more visible when viewing at an angle. Blooming around the FBI text is quite bad, but subtitles aren't as distracting because the entire bottom row lights up, making the blooming around them less noticeable.

We performed this test with Auto Local Dimming and Peak Luminance set to 'High'.

8.0
Picture Quality
Local Dimming In Game Mode
Local Dimming
Yes
Backlight
Full-Array

The local dimming in 'Game' mode is about the same as out of 'Game' mode. It looks a bit brighter in some zones, which makes some of the blooming look worse, but it's almost not noticeable. Same as out of 'Game' mode, it looks much better when viewing from directly in front of the TV than from the side.

7.9
Picture Quality
HDR Brightness
Real Scene Highlight
784 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
546 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
786 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
656 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
558 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
562 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
531 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
765 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
653 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
555 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
560 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.021

Sony X90J has good HDR brightness, a significant improvement over the Sony X900H. Just like in SDR, the ABL is less aggressive, and the most notable changes are also in the 2% and 10% windows, which are much brighter. It's not quite 1000 cd/m², but it's enough to deliver a great HDR experience. The EOTF follows the PQ curve perfectly, but the roll-off is quite sharp, which might cause the loss of some details in very bright areas of the screen.

If you want to make HDR content brighter and don't mind losing image accuracy, set Advanced Contrast Enhancer and Peak Luminance to 'High', Brightness and Contrast to max, and HDR Tome Mapping to 'Brightness Preferred'. 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 with Brightness at max, Contrast at '90', Color Tone set to 'Expert 2', HDR Tone Mapping set to 'Gradation Preferred', and Auto Local Dimming and Peak Luminance set to 'High'.

With Peak Luminance disabled, the brightness drops considerably, with real scene measuring at 498 cd/m². All windows are between 493 cd/m² and 565 cd/m², except the 2% peak and sustained windows, which are around 320 cd/m².

7.8
Picture Quality
HDR Brightness In Game Mode
Real Scene Highlight
775 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
513 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
778 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
641 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
557 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
561 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
502 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
758 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
639 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
554 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
560 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.022

The Sony X90J's HDR brightness in 'Game' mode is roughly the same as out of 'Game' mode. It's slightly dimmer, but the difference is tiny and shouldn't be noticeable. Normally, the brightness varies a bit in 'Game' mode, and it also varies slightly between each run.

We measured the HDR brightness in 'Game; mode with the same settings as out of 'Game' mode.

7.2
Picture Quality
Gray Uniformity
50% Std. Dev.
4.527 %
50% DSE
0.176 %
5% Std. Dev.
1.225 %
5% DSE
0.103 %

The Sony X90J has decent gray uniformity, although this varies between units. The corners are darker on ours, and there's a bit of dirty screen effect in the center. Uniformity is better in dark scenes, but the right edge of the screen looks lighter than the rest.

7.8
Picture Quality
Black Uniformity
Native Std. Dev.
0.858 %
Std. Dev. w/ L.D.
1.366 %

Black uniformity is good. Without local dimming, the screen is more dark blue than black, and there's a bit of clouding here and there. With local dimming enabled, most of the screen is black and more uniform, but there's noticeable blooming around the test cross. Note that black uniformity varies between individual units due to manufacturing tolerances.

5.3
Picture Quality
Viewing Angle
Color Washout
27 °
Color Shift
25 °
Brightness Loss
38 °
Black Level Raise
14 °
Gamma Shift
14 °

As is expected of a VA panel, the Sony X90J has poor viewing angles. This means that the image looks inaccurate and washed out when viewed from the side, so it isn't ideal for wide seating areas.

7.1
Picture Quality
Reflections
Screen Finish
Semi-gloss
Total Reflections
5.7 %
Indirect Reflections
0.6 %
Calculated Direct Reflections
5.1 %

The Sony X90J has decent reflection handling. Like the Sony X900H, it struggles with direct reflections, but it's worse here because the direct reflections are even more prominent and distracting. It's best to avoid placing it opposite a window or bright lights.

9.0
Picture Quality
Pre Calibration
White Balance dE
1.49
Color dE
1.21
Gamma
2.18
Color Temperature
6745 K
Picture Mode
Custom
Color Temp Setting
Expert 1
Gamma Setting
0

The Sony X90J's accuracy is outstanding out of the box. Most color and white balance inaccuracies are minor and hard to spot with the naked eye. The color temperature is just a bit colder than our 6500K target, which results in a very slight blue tint. Gamma follows the 2.2 target relatively well, but very dark scenes are too dark, and some bright scenes appear brighter than they should. Note that accuracy varies between units.

9.5
Picture Quality
Post Calibration
White Balance dE
0.35
Color dE
1.14
Gamma
2.20
Color Temperature
6536 K
White Balance Calibration
10 point
Color Calibration
No

Accuracy is exceptional after calibration. White balance has improved, but the color dE remains in the same ballpark because it was already outstanding out of the box. Color temperature is much closer to our 6500K target, and gamma is perfect.

You can see our recommended settings here.

8.0
Picture Quality
480p Input

There are no issues or visible artifacts with the upscaling of 480p content like DVDs.

8.0
Picture Quality
720p Input

The Sony X90J upscales 720p like cable TV well, without any artifacts.

9.0
Picture Quality
1080p Input

There are no issues with the upscaling of 1080p content like Blu-rays.

10
Picture Quality
4k Input

The Sony X90J displays native 4k content perfectly.

0
Picture Quality
8k Input

The Sony X90J can't display an 8k signal.

Picture Quality
Pixels

The Sony X90J uses a BGR subpixel layout. It doesn't affect picture quality, but it can cause blurry text in some applications when using it as a PC monitor. You can read more about it here.

7.7
Picture Quality
Color Gamut
Wide Color Gamut
No
DCI P3 xy
87.70 %
DCI P3 uv
90.34 %
Rec 2020 xy
63.47 %
Rec 2020 uv
66.67 %

The Sony X90J has a good color gamut, but it's just short of the required 67% Rec. 2020 coverage to be considered a wide color gamut. It's lower than the Sony X900H, although the difference is pretty small and shouldn't be noticeable to most people. It's very difficult to tell that it doesn't have a wide gamut just by looking at an image. We measured this multiple times with different settings and picture modes, and we also compared it side-by-side with the Sony X80J, with both TVs receiving the same 4k, 4:2:2, 10-bit signal through an HDMI splitter. We took the readings with a colorimeter and spectroradiometer set up three feet from the TV, and we also took a spectrum reading, which you can see here. The results were the same. It's possible that we received a unit with an inferior panel, but we don't know for sure. On the bright side, its coverage of the more commonly-used DCI P3 color space is excellent.

7.3
Picture Quality
Color Volume
Normalized DCI P3 Coverage ITP
78.0 %
10,000 cd/m² DCI P3 Coverage ITP
39.8 %
Normalized Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
68.0 %
10,000 cd/m² Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
33.6 %

Despite having a worse color gamut than the Sony X900H, the Sony X90J has a better color volume, mainly due to its higher contrast ratio and peak brightness. It still has trouble with bright blues and greens, though.

9.1
Picture Quality
Gradient
Color Depth
10 Bit
Red (Std. Dev.)
0.070 dE
Green (Std. Dev.)
0.087 dE
Blue (Std. Dev.)
0.057 dE
Gray (Std. Dev.)
0.084 dE

Update 05/10/2021: We fixed a mistake where we listed the Color Depth as N/A. It's now listed as 10 Bit.

Outstanding gradient handling. There's only a little bit of banding in the dark grays, greens, and reds. Setting Smooth Gradation to 'High' smoothes out most of it, but it can cause the loss of fine details in some scenes.

10
Picture Quality
Temporary Image Retention
IR after 0 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 2 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 4 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 6 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 8 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 10 min recovery
0.00 %

There's no image retention on the Sony X90J, but this may vary between individual units.

10
Picture Quality
Permanent Burn-In Risk
Permanent Burn-In Risk
No

We don't expect VA panels to experience permanent image retention, as the VA panel in our long-term test appears immune.

Motion
8.4
Motion
Response Time
80% Response Time
3.9 ms
100% Response Time
10.7 ms

The Sony X90J has a great response time. It's very similar to the Sony X900H, but the 0-20% transition is significantly better, resulting in less dark smearing behind fast-moving objects. It still has some overshoot in a couple of transitions that might cause some inverse ghosting in dark scenes.

9.5
Motion
Flicker-Free
Flicker-Free
No
PWM Dimming Frequency
720 Hz

The Sony X90J uses Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) to dim the backlight. It flickers at 720Hz in all Picture Modes. This flicker frequency is high enough that it shouldn't be visible to most people. However, enabling its Black Frame Insertion feature seems to cause the backlight to perform both a 120Hz and 720Hz flicker simultaneously. We're not sure whether this is intentional or a bug that may be fixed in a firmware update.

6.0
Motion
Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
Optional BFI
Yes
Min Flicker For 60 fps
120 Hz
60Hz For 60 fps
No
120Hz For 120 fps
Yes
Min Flicker for 60 fps in Game Mode
120 Hz

The Sony X90J has a Black Frame Insertion to help improve motion clarity. It can only flicker at 120Hz, even in 60Hz content, which might cause some image duplication. Enabling it also causes a drop in screen brightness. As mentioned in the flicker-free section, we also detect a simultaneous 720Hz flicker. You can see this in the photo because it causes fine lines in the logo. Note that the BFI score is based on the frequency at which it operates, not the performance.

To use BFI, set Motionflow to 'Custom' and Clearness to max.

Motion
Motion Interpolation
Motion Interpolation (30 fps)
Yes
Motion Interpolation (60 fps)
Yes

The Sony X90J can interpolate low frame rate content up to 120Hz to make motion appear more fluid. To use it, set Cinemotion to 'High', Motionflow to 'Custom', Smoothness to max, and leave Clearness at minimum. Motion looks good when there isn't much movement, but there are a lot of artifacts when the action gets intense, especially around heads and behind fast-moving objects.

6.9
Motion
Stutter
Frame Hold Time @ 24 fps
30.9 ms
Frame Hold Time @ 60 fps
5.9 ms

Low frame rate content like movies stutters a bit due to the TV's fast response times. If it bothers you, enabling motion interpolation helps. Some reviewers and users have reported constant stuttering in games, but it appears that Sony has already fixed the issue in the latest firmware update.

10
Motion
24p Judder
Judder-Free 24p
Yes
Judder-Free 24p via 60p
Yes
Judder-Free 24p via 60i
Yes
Judder-Free 24p via Native Apps
Yes

Update 05/07/2021: We incorrectly stated the settings needed to remove 24p judder from 60p and 60i sources. The review has been updated.

The Sony X90J can remove judder from all sources. For 24p sources, you don't need to change any settings; it does it automatically. For 60p/60i sources and native apps, set Cinemotion to 'Auto' with Motionflow set to 'Custom', and Smoothness and Clearness at their minimum. We encountered a bug that causes Cinemotion to turn off on its own when in a native app. This will likely be fixed in a firmware update.

0
Motion
Variable Refresh Rate