Sony Bravia X90L TV – is this the end of an era? (TV review)

The Sony Bravia X90L is a mid-range Full Array Local Dimming (FALD) LED/LCD TV jam-packed with some of Sony’s high-end tech.

But now we have seen an enormous shift in 2023 to Mini-LED LCD, so we should ask if the Sony Bravia X90L can compete with the hordes of fairly good mini-LEDs at fairly low costs?

The smartest thing going for it is that out of the field, the Standard/Cinema settings are fairly good. That is as a result of FALD can obtain an honest stability between brightness, distinction, and color. Mini-LEDs usually can solely get two out of three proper. For instance, a a lot brighter mini-LED offers you saturated colors at the expense of color accuracy or distinction and vice versa.

A segue on TV varieties

I’ve been reviewing TVs for over 20 years – proper again to Panasonic’s glorious and horrifically costly Plasma flat screens ($10K for a 42”). Then we noticed the cheaper LCD know-how arrive with fluorescent backlights (sure, like the Fluro tubes you set in mild fittings). Don’t knock it – it gave an honest (we gained’t outline first rate) image for the time – higher than CRT and with out the points of Plasma.

The subsequent massive step was Edge-Lit, the place a financial institution of LEDs throughout the backside of the TV panel used fibre optics to unfold the mild behind the LCD gate panel. This is nonetheless the commonest low cost TV know-how. From that was direct-lit (a whole bunch of LEDs behind an LCD gate panel – no dimming zones), then FALD (a number of hundred LEDs behind an LCD gate panel that had been dimmable by zones).

Mini-LED replaces the massive LEDs with 1000’s of tiny LEDs and infrequently many a whole bunch of dimming zones. As it is succesful of extra mild, it is suited to utilizing Quantum Dot color for extra vibrant, oversaturated hues. However, it nonetheless suffers from the LCD gate know-how – issues like the Dirty Screen Effect, blooming, haloing, stutters, tears, movement smoothing, and so forth. Mini-LED has pushed the cheaper LCD gate know-how to the restrict.

The different present tech is OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode), the place each one of the 8.3 million pixels is a lightbulb – all impartial dimming zones. Early OLEDs circa 2015-2017 lacked just a little brightness for Aussie open-space loungerooms however had been spectacular in lower-light areas. I’ve a 65” 2017 LG E7 (high end) that price over $6,000, and its color and Dolby Vision film functionality nonetheless places LCD TVs to disgrace. Imagine how good LG’s 2023 C3 and G3 are.

Disclaimer – a evaluate primarily for videophiles and nerds

We check TVs objectively utilizing software program evaluation, {hardware} sensors and subjective judgement. The outcomes are given considerably unvarnished, definitely with out being influenced by the producers’ advertising hype compelled on unwitting customers.

But now we have been accused of being videophiles anticipating TVs to satisfy the ‘preferrred’. It is like making an attempt to check each smartphone to the OPPO FindX5/N3 or Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra😏.

In reality, the reverse is true. We choose TVs by what you’ll be able to count on for the worth bracket. After all, the finest TV is the largest you’ll be able to afford. We base all opinions on 65” for comparability.

The evaluate is centered on image high quality and, to a level, whether or not you need to spend money on FALD or go to Mini-LED and OLED.

Spoiler alert: Sony Bravia X90L FALD is higher than entry-level however inferior to mid-range Mini-LED or entry-level OLED.

Read  Confused about TV tech? That’s simply what they need! (Q3 2023 mini-LED replace)

Australian Review: Sony Bravia X90L FALD TV (65” examined)

WebsiteProduct Page  RRP55/65/75/85/98” $1680/1984/2485/3675/7687 (Prices at 22/11/23 and could also be topic to promotional reductions – store round)FromSony Online  and main CE RetailersWarranty1-yearMade inAssembled in MalaysiaCompanySONY is a Japanese multinational conglomerate company headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. As a serious know-how firm, it operates as one of the world’s largest shopper {and professional} digital merchandise producers, the largest online game console firm, and the largest online game writer.MoreCyberShack Sony information and opinions

We use Fail (under expectations), Pass (meets expectations) and Exceed (surpasses expectations or is the class chief) in opposition to many of the gadgets under. We sometimes give a Pass(in a position) score that is inferior to it needs to be and a Pass ‘+’ score to indicate it is good however doesn’t fairly make it to Exceed. You can click on on most photographs for an enlargement.

First Impression 65” – Pass

FALD backlighting means heavy (25kg) and thick (57mm). The boxed package deal is 33kg, so it is a two-person carry. One of the first issues we seen was that the legs had been fairly far aside (55/65/75/85/98 – 1067/1209/1426/1549/1536mm). Compared to a centre pedestal stand, you want a 1500mm vast space to put a 65”. The legs make it 345mm deep. Thankfully, they’ll use the raised place (about 100mm) to suit a soundbar below

The Sony Bravia X90L is 300×300 VESA mountable. Power enter is on the proper, and video ports are on the left. No cable administration system means you can not flush wall mount this. You want a tilt/swivel kind of wall mount. The real Sony SU-WL850 is a staggering $550, and the non-swivel SW-WL450 is not at the moment accessible in Australia and prices about $300 to import. Generic mounts are cheaper.

Other than that, it is a giant glass slab with small bezels.

The distant – Pass

One of the issues I cherished about Sony TVs (and I’ve three throughout two properties) was the complete distant with numeric buttons to pick out channels. Sony might imagine a brand new slimmed-down distant is progress, however many older viewers don’t. Our 5 shopper check panellists mentioned they’d be compelled to purchase the $55 bigger distant as a substitute of navigating on-screen EPG and menus. While voice help is useful to some, most older viewers don’t use Google Assistant.

It is each infrared and Bluetooth, which means you don’t want a transparent line of sight to the TV.

The center distant is the new model however is lacking numeric channel keys which means you need to use teh EPG and scroll by way of a number of pages to seek out HD TV channels.

Google TV OS – Pass+

The Sony Bravia X90L (L for 2023 mannequin) makes use of a Google TV interface (2021) overlaid on Android TV 10 (launched 2020) with a June 2023 safety patch.

This is barely disappointing as different manufacturers use Google TV primarily based on Android 11 or 12 (13 coming in 2024). The distinction is that Google TV, from Android 11 onwards, commits to at the very least 4 years of updates versus no formal dedication.

In my expertise, Sony has not had replace file. For instance, my 65” OLED A9G (2019) has Android 9 and a safety patch 1/4/21. My 55” X9300E (2017 mannequin) has Android 9 and a safety patch 9/1/22.

Update: Ironically, on 22 November (as I wrote this), Sony began rolling out Android TV 10 (Australia) for its 2020+ G and H fashions however with a February 2023 safety patch. Frankly, smaller gamers are doing a greater job, which means you’ll be able to hold your TV longer.

Setup – Pass however skip Samba

Like all good TV OS, Google monetises your viewing habits by serving product promoting or program suggestions – it is advisable to register with a Google Account (electronic mail and password). This is as benign as TV OS get – some are extremely intrusive, feeding undesirable content material and suggestions.

Sony has Bravia Core (Sony Pictures film streaming) that requires a Sony account (extra information monetisation). If you don’t register, the TV nonetheless works as a wise TV.

During setup, it requests you signal into Samba TV, which hoovers up all of your information and sells it to advertisers for content material suggestions. Don’t settle for this – ditto.

And you’ll have to signal into each streaming app – extra information!

Settings – Pass+

Out of the field, the default Standard setting produces an eminently watchable SDR image. It strikes an honest stability between brightness, distinction and color. Vivid mode is too saturated, and Cinema has extra pure colors however is finest for darkish room viewing. We experimented with customized settings, however default settings are advantageous.

How does it look?

This has many parts – all are examined, and the outcomes are under. As a fast upfront abstract.

Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) free-to-air and HD/FHD streaming presents an glorious picture out-of-the-box in Standard mode in daylight and Cinema mode at night time.

HDR/HDR10/Dolby Vision is sufficient however under par in comparison with Mini-LED and means under OLED. That is the place our technical evaluation later is available in.

We assume it is one of the finest FALD panels now we have ever seen, however the know-how is now outclassed in two methods. First is Mini-LED brightness and saturated colors (which generally is a two-edged sword, as seen from our Mini-LED opinions). Second, it makes use of 2019 processor tech, which has considerably superior by 2023, and onboard AI outguns it.

Colours and purity – Pass

Primary RGB and secondary colors correct.

Better TVs have extra ‘shaded packing containers’ in the major RGB colors. This is not dangerous for SDR however not for HDR/DV.

Video modes – Pass

The Sony Bravia X90L has Vivid, Standard, Cinema, IMAX Enhanced, Game, Graphics, Photo, Custom, Dolby Vision (Vivid/Bright/Dark), Netflix calibrated, and BRAVIA CORE calibrated. There is no AI video or audio mode discovered on later TVs.

Standard is finest for many viewing, and Cinema (with brightness barely elevated) is finest for Dolby Vision.

Sharpness – Pass

You can learn right down to 24-point the place Mini-LED will get to 14-point and OLED to 10-point.

Dimming Zones – Pass

The TV is divided up into 88 independently dimmable zones. Where mini-LED has many a whole bunch to 1000’s, and OLED has 8.3 million, this should do the job. Overall, it is fairly profitable at decreasing blooming, however learn on.

Blooming – Pass

There is noticeable blooming round transferring textual content and objects (white objects over a darkish background), however not as dangerous as some. The drawback is that the extra the dimming zones attempt to repress blooming, the extra HDR/shadow/spotlight element is misplaced.

Motion smoothing – Pass

There is tearing and stuttering in fast-moving scenes (4K@50/60fps), particularly as they transfer over the edge of a dimming zone. The forefront seems darkish, and the trailing edge has a light-weight bloom/path. There are halos and artifacts round fast-moving objects.

This makes use of easy black body insertion and our display seize catches the 4K@60fps judder.

You can activate and off Black Frame insertion.

Brightness – Pass+

Window SizeHDRSDR2percent1150110010percent1230120025percent95090050percent750700100percent700650

This is a vivid TV, succesful of Dolby Vision and to be used in vivid Aussie lounge rooms. We suggest you flip the Automatic Light Sensor off.

It exhibits first rate white ranges.

2 to five% are clearly identifable.

Contrast – Pass+

The VA Panel has the next native distinction at 5000:1 (check 4780:1), nevertheless it is like an IPS panel with a static distinction of 1500:1.

You can not get excellent black with LCD, however the ranges are fairly good.

Clear 10% increments.

Clear 5% increments.

Clear 1% increments.

SDR content material – Pass+

Free-to-air and SDR HD/FHD streaming is good. The 4K upscale doesn’t overtax the processor or require AI processing. The colors are first rate, with good brightness, distinction, and cheap sound – an glorious SDR TV.

HDR/DV – Passable

To be truthful, we examined on Standard Mode (for consistency) once we might have calibrated a greater customized mode consequence.

Being subjective, it is vivid sufficient, however the element in HDR highlights and shadows is missing. It is evident in quick motion scenes that the processor couldn’t sustain.

Sony X90L – overly vivid with crushed Dolby Vision particulars and artifacts.

Properly calibrated mid-level Mini-LED for reference.

LG G3 OLED Evo reference shot – fairly excellent.

Uniformity/DSE – Pass

Unfortunately, the evaluate unit was not overly uniform, with darker corners and DSE (soiled display impact) manifesting as vertical stripes on a white background. DSE is not a relentless – 99 out of 100 TVs might not present it, and when you get DSE, you’re properly inside your rights to alternate it.

Viewing angle – Pass

VA panels usually have a narrower subject of view, and this is no exception. It begins washing out at 115° and color shifts at 120°. You most likely might get to 135° earlier than it turned irritating.

You want to sit down straight on; will probably be most noticeable if wall-mounted too excessive.

Reflectivity – Pass

Reasonable. Ensure you haven’t any lighting behind the seating space.

Upscale – Pass for 480/720p and Pass+ for 1080p

It is usually appropriate for this stage of know-how utilizing on-board database object recognition, however some scenes are over-sharpened. Later fashions use AI to help in upscaling.

480p upscale is very gentle.

The LG G3 480p upscale is far clearer and cleaner.

Delta E color accuracy – Pass+

It is an 8-bit+FRC/1.07 billion color panel. Out of the field, it is <2, {and professional} calibration might see that <1. DCI-P3 – Pass It can show about 92% of the 1.07 billion colors and tones. Later TV can get near 100%. Gradients – Pass+ Overall, colors gradate properly from 50-100% with some banding in the RGB colors. Gaming – Pass We will not be players and didn't check with PS5 or Xbox X. When you connect a PS5, it mechanically switches to video games mode, and HDMI 2.1 Port 4 helps VRR/ALLM, 4K@100/120Hz (AU energy is 50Hz). Gaming lag is 18ms in comparison with OLED at <2ms. There are not any specs for NVIDIA G-sync or AMD FreeSync, so we doubt it helps that. Pulse Width Modulation PWM – Pass It is above 700Hz, which is thought of acceptable for these affected by PWM. Formats – Pass The Sony Bravia X90L helps 480p/720p/1080p upscale, SDR free-to-air TV and streaming content material and HDR/HDR10/Dolby Vision content material. Sound consists of all 2.0 to 7.1 encompass and Dolby Atmos/DTS:X to five.1.2. Ports – Pass 2x HDMI 2.1 48Gbps (ports 3 eARC and 4) 2 x HDMI 2.0 (ports 1 and a couple of) Wi-Fi 5 AC half duplex – may cause buffering on 4K DV/DA content material. Use Ethernet when you intend to stream HDR content material. Bluetooth 4.2 no multipoint Chromecast, AirPlay 2, Miracast 2 x USB A 5V/.5A/2.5W (appropriate for flash drive solely – not streaming dongles) IR blaster port (why when the distant is Bluetooth) 3.5mm earphones Optical output (Toslink) DBV Tuner Ethernet This exhibits the age of the venerable X9000 sequence with solely 2 x HDMI 2.1 ports (one is eARC for a soundbar), and Wi-Fi 5 AC is barely sufficient to stream 4K Dolby Vision content material. Power – FALD is power-hungry SDR Free-to-air with the ALS on (at night time) makes use of about 200 watts per hour – 40 cents each 5 hours. During the day, with ALS on, that drops to 120-140W. Power use in sleep mode is <1W. Dolby Vision/Atmos content material goes as much as 300W. SDR Sound – Pass+ The Sony Bravia X90L has Standard, Dialog, Cinema, Music, Sports, and Dolby Audio/DTS (not Dolby Atmos) modes. Acoustic auto-calibration helps to focus the sound subject in your seating place. It makes use of the remote-control mic positioned at the furthest seating place. From what we will see, it has 2 x 5W Left/Right side-firing tweeters mounted mid-height on the facet and two x 10W Left/Right down-firing easy frequency crossover full-range audio system on the backside body. Maximum quantity is 80dB (common), and the sound stage is as vast and excessive as the TV. Left/Right separation (directionality) is good. Mid-bass out of the blue kicks in at 60Hz and quickly builds to 100Hz, the place high-bass takes over, and it builds once more to 200Hz, the place low-mid kicks in and the tweeters add to the full-range audio system. It is then flat (good) to 6kHz, the place you get a slight dip to keep away from harshness, after which comparatively flat to 20kHz. The audio system (at full quantity) are inclined to clip mids, however for the most half, it is fairly acceptable TV sound. Dolby Atmos sound – Pass Dolby Atmos (DA) content material provides a small 3D peak barely above the TV however no spatial encompass sound. If all you hearken to is free-to-air TV, this is fairly good for TV sound. We reviewed this with the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus ($2599 -more than the TV prices), and of course, it takes you to the ‘digital’ Dolby Atmos 7.1.4 dimension – extra in that evaluate. Sony has a variety of DA soundbars like its HT-A7000 7.1.2, however not having reviewed it, we can not remark past that it is a digital all-in-one DA sound bar counting on psychoacoustics to bounce sound round the room. Aussie lounge rooms are infamously dangerous for that. Our decide could be the JBL BAR 1300 – 1170 Watts, 11.1.4 Dolby Atmos soundbar, or the JBL Bar 800 (5.1.2 with devoted rear audio system) or Bar 1000 (7.1.4 with devoted rear audio system). Our finest recommendation is if good DA and 5 or 7.1 encompass sound is essential (and it is 30% of the TV viewing expertise), please learn Five Tips for Better TV Sound – Dolby Atmos for newcomers (2023 soundbar information). Sony communicate – translator wanted Sony is the grasp of Sony Speak, so listed below are what the phrases on its web site imply. Cognitive Processor XR is a MediaTek MT5895, 28nm, 4-core 1.8GHz and ARM Mali G52 M2/800MHz 2EU 1.6 TOPS, circa Q3 2019 that powers hundreds of thousands of Sony and different model TVs. It has no AI/machine studying performance and may decode as much as 4K@60Hz. Sony provides its firmware to it to name it an XR processor. Google/Android TV is the working system and is fixed throughout all manufacturers and fashions. AI began with Android TV 11. XR 4K Upscale Dual Database processing makes use of the CPU/GPU to upscale utilizing an on-board database of objects like strains, shapes, buildings, individuals, pets, and so forth., to refine the upscale. If it can not discover a comparable object, it wraps the similar color pixels round the major pixel. While 1080p (16:9) upscale solely wants 4 pixels, 720p (16:9) wants 9 pixels, and 480p (4:3) wants an enormous 27. XR Motion Clarity means inserting a black body (BFI) between every precise body to easy out the transferring picture since you don’t see the black body. Later, AI-based TVs use a mixture of evaluating the frames earlier than and after and inserting a barely totally different body. XR Triluminous Pro is merely Quantum Dot color like QLED, ULED, and so forth. XR Contrast booster means 88 dimming zones, permitting for extra granular distinction management. Any TV with dimming zones has this. continued Acoustic Centre Sync means you should utilize the TV audio system with appropriate Sony Soundbars. It is like Samsung Q-Symphony or LG WOW Orchestra. Acoustic Multi-audio sound implies that sound is phased between the audio system to look to come back from the supply, e.g., an individual talking. This is customary for many manufacturers and fashions. Not to be confused with Sony Acoustic Surface Audio, the place the audio system are behind the display – can’t do this with FALD. Voice Zoom 2 means it cuts the bass and treble sound and focuses on 1-4kHz. Most manufacturers name this clear voice or dialogue mode. Some even have Night Mode, which modifications the sound profile for quiet viewing. Auto HDR Tone mapping relates solely to make use of with a PS5. Netflix calibrated mode: Most current TVs have this – it is like Filmmaker mode. Upscale to 3D sound, then downscale to the TV 2.0 audio system. There is no spatial sound stage on this TV. Auto Genre Picture mode solely swaps between Standard and Games mode when related to a PS5. Voice management. All Google Android TVs have this so long as the distant has a microphone. Ambient Light Sensor (ALS) determines room mild ranges and adjusts panel brightness. Most suggest turning it off. Eco Dashboard is an App to regulate Eco settings – most leading to an inferior picture. Kids Profile: Google TV means that you can arrange grownup and children profiles, prohibit content material, and so forth. Gesture management – not examined. Enables the use of gestures for a restricted quantity of distant instructions. Proximity Alert – most TVs now have non-compulsory distance alerts (normally with the addition of a webcam). CyberShack’s View – Sony Bravia X90L TV is most likely the end of the highway for FALD Three years in the past, we'd have extolled the virtues of FALD, however not in 2023. Today, it is a step up from Edge-or-Direct-lit LED LCD and a step down from entry-level mini-LED with dimming zones (some entry-level Mini-LEDs ‘cheat’ and use them for Edge-lit or Direct-lit with no dimming zones!). Three years in the past, the XR MT5895 Processor was thought of high drawer. Today, it is outdated tech missing an NPU co-processor for AI know-how and extra energy like MediaTek’s new Pentonic sequence with AI Picture Quality adjustment, AI upscaling, AI voice, Wi-Fi 6, true 4K@120Hz, and extra. Competition So we come again to RRP – 65” for $1984. Considering that it was $2795 RRP when launched, the new pricing is very a lot fairer. Remember that it does Dolby Vision. Samsung downscales DV frame-by-frame metadata to the vastly inferior HDR10 movie-by-movie metadata, so it is not included. Prices are RRP, adopted by present promotional costs. So before you purchase, learn the opinions and make up your thoughts. Sony Bravia X90L rankings Features: 85 – An older model of Android TV, processor, and so forth., put it behind different manufacturers. If you need a good SDR TV, it's going to do this, however for HDR/DV, look to Mini-LED (comparable worth) or OLED (LG C3 is about $800 extra). Value: 80 – it is outclassed by different manufacturers on options and worth. Performance: 90 for SDR and 80 for HDR. The lack of AI enhancement is evident. Ease of Use: 85 – Google TV is like a comfortable pair of slippers. It does every little thing you want in a comparatively easy-to-use interface. Plus, it has extra streaming and Apps than different User Interfaces. But the 1-year guarantee is brief compared to 3-years provides by opponents. Design: 80 – FALD is thick and heavy, the legs want a big desk/desktop, and the non-compulsory swivel mount system is terribly costly. Sony Bravia X90L FALD TV 55/65/75/85/98” $1680/1984/2485/3675/7687 (Prices at 22/11/23) Pros Good out-of-the-box calibration – customary for SDR and Cinema for HDR Colour accuracy is higher than oversaturated QD/Mini-LED. Reasonable sound for SDR TV. It is a Sony! Cons VA panel has comparatively slender viewing angles. No AI when the 2023 competitors has tons. 1-year guarantee, the place the competitors provide 3-years. Old tech processor, Wi-Fi 5, BT 4.2

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