Sony BRAVIA XR X90J (2021) TV: Is this the year’s best mid-range TV? | Expert Reviews

2021-12-25 09:04:46 By : Mr. Evan Liu

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With solid performance and a great set of features for the cash, the Sony X90J looks to be one of the best-value TVs of the year

2021 was another big year for Sony’s TV department. The manufacturer rolled out nine new models, stretching from the budget Full HD W800 right up to the 8K-capable flagship BRAVIA XR Master Series Z9J. Sony’s top five models ushered in the latest Cognitive Processor XR chip alongside a range of fancy-sounding features, and here we’ll be discussing the most affordable of those five – the mid-range BRAVIA XR X90J.

It’s a tempting-looking package, combining support for Dolby Vision HDR with a trio of gaming-friendly features including HFR, VRR and ALLM. Sony also makes big claims for its Cognitive Processor XR chip. According to its marketing materials, this new chip constantly cross-analyses colour, contrast and detail in order to maximise the image quality for every single frame of video that’s displayed onscreen. Combine this cutting-edge video processing with a range of audio-enhancing features, and Sony might just have a mid-range marvel on its hands.

Buy 50in model now from John Lewis

Screen sizes available: 50in XR50X90J

HDR formats: HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG

HDMI inputs: x4 (HDMI 2.1 x2)

Streaming services: Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV and Discovery+, Spotify, Tidal, Amazon Music and Deezer

Wireless connectivity: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2

Smart assistant: Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa

Buy 55in model now from John Lewis

In a world of lookalike TVs, the Sony X90J’s sleek design stands apart, and – talking of stands – the bundled Slim Blade feet look right at home on any AV or TV furniture. The flush surface bezel design makes it ideal for wall-mounting, too.

Picture-wise, the 4K panel uses VA technology but doesn’t get the X-Wide Angle support found on pricier models – as a result, viewing angles aren’t as wide as they could be. Still, it’s good to see that you get two HDMI 2.1 ports which support high framerate (HFR) content out of the box, and VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) support is due to be added by firmware update. HDR support includes HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG formats.

Sony provides a barrage of picture-perfecting features. Contrast is masterminded by XR Contrast Booster 5, which balances light output across the screen to provide punchier images, and XR Motion, XR Motion Clarity and XR Smoothing all do their bit to refine motion handling, upscaling and improve overall image quality.

The X90J is equipped with a range of sound-enhancing features, too. XR Sound Position attempts to match the audio exactly to what is happening on-screen, and here Sony’s Acoustic Multi-Audio speaker array plays its part, with sound positioning tweeters at the back of the TV allowing audio to follow the action. XR Surround and 3D Surround Upscaling attempt to make the audio experience more immersive, or at least as immersive as you can expect given the modest 10W stereo speaker. For bigger, better sound, you can lean on the X90J’s eARC connection to ferry audio to an external AV receiver or soundbar.

The TV initially launched with Android TV but has since been upgraded to Google TV, a move that makes for a far smoother running, more intuitive interface. Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, Apple TV, NOW TV apps are all present and correct, and BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All4 and My5 are expected in a future software update.

Apple Airplay and Google Chromecast come built-in too, so you can cast content from your devices as well.

Buy 65in model now from John Lewis

The aggressive pricing makes the X90J a very tempting proposition for anyone looking for a mid-range TV. Both the 50-inch and 55-inch models retail for around £900, the 65-inch model bumps the price up to around £1,299 and the 75-inch version is still a relatively reasonable £1,699. Given the features on offer, this is a TV which majors on value for money, but there are some tempting rivals to consider.

The Samsung Q80A is one such alternative. It’s slightly more expensive on the whole, but for the money you get a very similar range of features: Samsung’s Quantum Processor 4K powers a direct-lit full-array QLED panel, the six speakers have Samsung’s Object Tracking Sound and AI Sound, plus there’s a 120Hz refresh rate for next-gen gaming. The range includes a 50-inch model for £900, a 55-inch for £999, a 65-inch option for £1400 and a 75-inch iteration for £1800. If that’s just not big enough for your living room, then the colossal 85-inch offering comes in at a bargain £3000.

The U8G from Hisense is another TV worth considering. The 4K Quantum Dot panel is partnered with Full Array Local Dimming (which is something of a coup at the price) and supports the HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision formats. Gamers will appreciate the 120Hz refresh rate and ALLM and VRR support, and it’s good to see Dolby Atmos, eARC on the specification list, too – it’s a very tempting package for the money. The 55-inch model retails for around £849 but the 65-inch model has seen some big price drops to bring it down to a whisker under the £1,000 mark – it’s a very tempting big screen midrange option if you can find it in stock.

Buy 75in model now from John Lewis

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