Sony XBR-X900F 4K UHD HDR LCD TV Review (XBR49X900F, XBR55X900F, XBR65X900F, XBR75X900F, XBR85X900F)
Stephan Jukic – May 22, 2018
After a 2017 lineup of 4K HDR TVs that were good to great pretty much across the board, Sony has shown that it can keep things just as good or even better in some ways for 2018, at least with what we’ve seen from the excellent X900F 4K HDR LCD TV that we’re reviewing here. Released in early 2018, this model is sort of a successor to the 2017 X900E but with some notable differences and certain improvements in overall performance. In a very general sense we can say concretely that the X900E is excellent or at least very good pretty much across the board even if you’re used to seeing premium 4K TVs in action. For anyone who’s never before owned an ultra HD HDR television, this, TV will seem downright awesome.
Now let’s get down to the specific things we liked, and disliked, most about this particular Sony model.
- Good value for its price
- Excellent overall display brightness
- fantastic HDR content delivery
- high quality color performance across the board
- Great 4K TV for gaming
- Lots of content apps and Google Play
- Google Assistant
- poor viewing angles
- Peak brightness could have been higher
- weak native audio performance
The Sony X900F is one hell of a good 4K HDR TV with a reasonably high level of value for the price its sells at. We recommend it very much.
What We Liked
Overall TV and Movie Watching Performance
The X900F delivers some superb viewing performance for a very broad variety of content, from native 4K HDR movies or shows, which let it deliver its best possible performance, to regular upscaled non-4K content display, for which it also does a great job. This model not only delivers color and contrast spectacularly in almost every sense of the word, it also manages a very high contrast ratio and some truly great local dimming for nearly any kind of content you throw at it. Furthermore, with its extremely precise and refined motion handling specs, the X900F is a fine performer when it comes to fast-paced sports, action movie or console and PC gaming requirements. In other words. Whether you want to watch movies from external media devices, streaming media apps, regular cable TV or just have fun with console and PC games, the X900F will usually deliver fine performance and sometimes rise to downright stunning performance.
Motion handling quality in a 4K TV is measured by how well the display deals with motion blur, motion interpolation through picture frame rate handling and how well it plays media from assorted devices with lower or higher frame rates. The X900F is a fine performer on all of these fronts and manages this for nearly any kind of content from any content source. Further down in our Visual Performance Specs section (below General TV Specs) we go into the details of the X900F’s measurements for different motion handling metrics but sufficed to say right here that this television will give you some very smooth handling of your favorite movies, TV shows, sportscasts and other content regardless of their sources.
High dynamic range has become one of the most important features in today’s 4K UHD TVs due to the way in which it enhances the realism and vibrancy of HDR-mastered content. For 4K video sources, that HDR mastering has become practically universal at this point and the best possible home theater experience you can get your hands on comes from ultra HD HDR video or games. With this in mind, a 4K TV that supports different high dynamic range standards support for color and contrast is becoming an increasingly essential part of really having your home theater up to date.
Fortunately, the X900F has no problem on this front. This TV offers spectacular color quality for both high dynamic range color delivery and for ordinary SDR color (delivering it very precisely), and because this television comes with some excellent local dimming backed by full-array LED backlighting (see below), it’s management of contrast ratios and variations is fantastic.
Local Dimming and Backlighting
Unlike all but Sony’s very priciest 2017 4K LCD televisions, the X900F comes with full array LED backlighting. This means that backlight LEDs are distributed throughout the area behind the display and as a result, they can be activated or deactivated in highly specific areas for delivery of what is called local dimming. This local dimming means a much better and darker contrast performance in the X900F and as a result, darks stay darker while bright areas are exceptionally bright. The X900F thus creates a much better viewing experience for HDR content and ordinary TV content of any kind. Local dimming is one of the most important features for delivery of both of these extremely crucial picture quality specs and the X900F is fantastic at delivering it.
Gaming Chops for consoles and PC use
The X900F is also a very good 4K TV for gaming connectivity via consoles or for use as a PC monitor. There are TVs out there that support superior levels of input lag across different resolutions, color settings an HDR adjustments. Examples of these include Samsung’s MU-Series models from 2017 and 2018, Vizio’s 4K TVs and even TCL’s excellent P or C-Series models but for most gamers and PC users, the X900F does wonderfully in these areas and offers the fantastic picture quality we described above to boot. Gaming from consoles such as the Xbox One X or from external devices of other types
Smart TV platform and Google Assistant
On a final note regarding complex features we particularly like, the smart TV platform of Sony’s 2018 TVs is the latest version of Android TV and while it lacks a bit of the fluid, easy usability of rival smart TV platforms like WebOS from LG or the fantastic Roku TV, we still like it plenty. Android TV offers a tremendous selection of apps with many more available for download from the gigantic Google Play marketplace. All of the major streaming media apps such as Netflix, Amazon, HBO, Vevo, Spotify and even Sony’s own special 4K movie download service are present but most importantly of all direct access to Google Play means that you can download just about any TV-compatible app from what is one of the World’s largest app marketplaces. For this reason more than any other Android TV is a great smart interface for what is already a superb piece of hardware technology.
Furthermore, the X900F’s version of Android TV also includes the downright fantastic new Google Assistant voice command software, letting you speak to open numerous apps, check the weather, open access to connected devices and search for content across apps. Google is still refining its voice assistant technology but the version of Google Assistant in the X900F is pretty damn good already and stands out for its quality among similar technologies, which are becoming ever more popular in most of the 4K TVs of 2018.
Finally, the design of the X900F is solid. This isn’t by any means the most physically beautiful 4K HDR TV we’ve seen among the 2017 or 2018 models currently filling the market but it’s well made and elegant in its own slightly utilitarian way. On the one hand, the X900F has a body that’s almost entirely plastic but despite this, it still feels very robust and its stand holds it in place firmly. The X900F is also easily mountable to a wall due to a VESA setup on the back of the television. We should also note that the X900F’s display space is very nicely spread across the front of the TV, with only extremely thin 0.35 inch borders all around. Another thing we like is that Sony never fell victim to the functionally pointless craze for curved TV displays, allowing the X900F to stay flat and thus deliver optimal viewing performance.
On the other hand, due to its full array LED backlighting array, the X900F is quite a thick TV, so you can forget about the ultra-thin aesthetics that you’d see in some edge-lit Sony or Samsung models or anything in an OLED 4K TV. This isn’t a problem in our book however even if it does mean a bit of extra body weight for this model. Full-array LED backlighting is definitely worth a couple extra inches of TV volume due to the sheer picture quality improvements it also delivers.
As for the remote control of the X900F, it’s robust, highly functional and loaded with buttons. So while it doesn’t have the fancy look of many smart remotes such as those you’d find in one of Samsung’s 4K TVs, the X900F remote delivers everything you need for all TV controls and is tough enough to handle being sat on or dropped.
What We Didn’t Like
Very little can be called bad in any way about the Sony X900F in any of its different models. This 4K TV even comes with a fairly reasonable price for the quality you’re going to get with it. Right off the bat we essentially need to clarify that by conventional television standards, this model is excellent almost across the board, and will especially seem so to anyone who doesn’t have previous experience with premium 4K HDR TVs. With that said, take the following criticisms with a grain of salt. They are stated in terms relative to the best in 4K TV’s we’ve seen, not as outright deal-breaker bad aspects of the X900F.
Peak Brightness Issues
The single most notable complaint we could claim to have with the X900F, and even this if we stretch our definition of a defect, is that it delivers surprisingly inferior peak brightness to that of some 2017 Sony and Samsung premium HDR 4K TVs which don’t even offer full-array LED backlighting. Make no mistake about it, the X900F offers one hell of a bright display, especially when offering HDR content highlights and peak brightness over smaller areas of the screen but it doesn’t come close to matching Samsung’s best 2017 models or even Sony’s own almost identically priced X930E model from last year. The funny thing on this is that both of these alternative models come with edge-lit displays and thus you’d expect the X900F to beat them on maximum brightness. It doesn’t, though it does offer superior local dimming, and this is a good tradeoff to have.
The X900F comes with a type of display panel that uses what is called Vertical Alignment pixel layout technology. This essentially means that the onscreen pixels are aligned vertically and take up a narrower space from top to bottom. On the one hand, this design aspect means incredibly good contrast ratios and black levels (especially when combined with this TV’s local dimming capacity) but on the other hand, it also means that off-center viewing quality deteriorates rapidly after about 20 degrees to either side. The X900F will always deliver its best performance if watched from dead in front of the television.
Finally, we can’t say we love the native audio system of the X900F. It’s below average in its overall performance and that’s a bit disappointing to see in a premium TV like this from a company that we know to be capable of doing better (The Sony OLED TVs for 2017 and 2018 being an example of some very clever TV audio innovation). This isn’t to say that the X900F offers crappy audio, because it doesn’t but even a low-priced external speaker system or sound bar will improve this part of the TV’s performance enormously.
Value vs. Price & Bottom Line
In terms of value delivered per dollar spent, the X900F is one of Sony’s single best values for 2018. We said the same for last year’s excellent X900E 4K HDR model and Sony has managed to kick that trait into the X900F as well. This television is slightly pricier than the X900E was in 2017 and it costs about the same as the X930E still does but for that you get a notably better level of performance in certain key regards. The X900F is definitely a better value than any of Samsung’s ultra-premium 4K HDR LCD models. It offers nearly identical performance but costs a good chunk of change less.
Our bottom line for the X900F is that we highly recommend it for anyone looking to buy a premium 2018 ultra HD TV with the best in HDR specs from a name brand. Sony technology fans should particularly love this model.
Key X900F TV Specs
- Screen sizes: 49 in XBR49X900F, 55 in XBR55X900F, 65 in XBR65X900F, 75 in XBR75X900F, 85 in XBR85X900F (TV being reviewed is 55 inches)
- Smart TV: Android TV with Google Assistant voice assist
- HEVC (H.265) Included: Yes
- VP9 Included. Yes
- HD to UHD upscaling: Yes
- HDCP 2.2 Compliance: Yes
- HDR Support: Yes, HDR10, Dolby Vision (coming in 2018 update), Hybrid Log Gamma
- Refresh Rate: 120Hz native refresh rate
- Screen Lighting: full-array LED backlighting with local dimming
- Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels UHD
- Wireless Connectivity: Yes, includes both built-in WiFi and Ethernet port
- Remotes: Sony smart remote and Sony remote app for iOS, Android
- Connectivity: 4 HDMI (all of them 2.0a and HDCP 2.2) ports, 3 USB ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 Digital Audio Out
- Sound: 40W (WF: 20W) with ULTRA surround
- Contrast Ratio: 5802:1 (native, real contrast with local dimming activated), 5092:1 without local dimming
- Peak Brightness: 987 nits (cd/m2)
- 3D Technology: N/A
- TV dimensions without stand: (55 inch model): 48 3/8 x 27 7/8 x 2 3/4 in (1228 x 706 x 69 mm)
- Dimensions with stand: 48 3/8 x 30 3/8 x 10 5/8 in (1228 x 771 x 268 mm)
- TV weight (55 inch model): 42.1 lbs with Stand, 40.1 lbs without stand
- Processor: 4K X-Reality™ PRO Dual database processing
Sony X900F Display Performance Metrics
The following are the several categories of key display metrics for picture performance in the Sony X900F HDR TV. They may vary slightly from unit to unit so they should not be taken as absolutes. However, they should maintain a generally high level of similarity in all units that makes them good enough to be reliable indicators of quality. Different sizes of TV display can change some of these metrics slightly (for example, larger edge-lit 4K TVs tend to have weaker local dimming and peak brightness) and though the X900F maintains identical display specs in all of its sizes, some TV models come with display panel variations for certain specific sizes.
The following metrics of display performance for contrast, black level, color performance, brightness and motion handling (all of which are the most important aspects of display performance) essentially bear out what we said above about the X900F: That this is one tremendously good LCD 4K HDR TV with some genuinely great performance almost across the board. The X900F is not perfect and in a couple of minor details it underperforms what we expected of it but overall, it definitely lives up to its categorization as a premium 4K TV; even though there are cheaper models available on the market with the same HDR support levels and color capabilities, the X900F still outperforms most televsions on metrics such as peak brightness and local dimming quality.
Black Level, Local Dimming and Contrast:
Black levels, local dimming and contrast are all entwined together in any 4K TV and thus deserve being covered together. A 4K display’s contrast ratio is affected by how dark the screen can be made and this maximum black level is in turn affected by the presence and quality of local dimming technology. For those of you who don’t clearly know how local dimming works, it’s basically a method by which the LEDs behind an LCD 4K TV display actually turn off in specific patterns to minimize how much light leaks through into the blacks that the screen is supposed to display. Not all TVs have local dimming though and in cheaper models, the LED backlight is always on, with blacks being created by light barriers inside the pixels on the screen itself. The X900F does indeed have local dimming and because it’s a full-array LED TV, the precision with which LEDs behind the display can be deactivated is very high.
As a result of this high quality local dimming, the black level of the X900F is capable of extremely high levels of darkness, reaching into the range of 0.002 nits (well within HDR10 requirements for ideal black levels) and contrast can also be very high, reaching 5090:1 without local dimming activated and 5802:1 when local dimming is on and doing its job for shadowy areas of the screen.
Black uniformity in the X900F is not perfect but it is generally very good. There is some clouding that you might notice if seeing a large area of the screen in uniform black but most of this goes away if local dimming is kept on. On the other hand, the presence of local dimming does create a bit of a hallow effect around black objects in a dark background, but we’re talking about some very minimal levels of these sorts of defects.
Peak brightness is the maximum possible spot HDR or SDR luminosity of a 4K TV display or a section of it as measured in units of brightness called nits (or cd/m2, which is the same thing) under different conditions. Sustained brightness is the highest possible sustained HDR or SDR brightness that the TV screen can manage over different conditions or areas of illuminated display.
In terms of both peak brightness and sustained brightness the X900F is a great performer. Its maximum absolute levels of peak brightness over small areas of the screen during HDR content reproduction (which is when HDR 4K TVs tend to work at a higher level of luminosity) aren’t quite as high as those we’ve seen in some other ultra-premium 4K HDR LCD TVs such as Samsung’s Q9F or Sony’s own X940E from last year but where the X900F really does deliver stunning results is in terms of peak brightness over a larger percentage of its display and during the delivery of sustained screen brightness across most of its screen during reproduction of both SDR and HDR content. For this reason more than any other, the X900F is a great 4K TV for viewing even in brightly lit rooms and we note that it offers some of the best overall SDR brightness metrics we’ve ever seen in 4K LCD TVs.
- Overall SDR peak brightness for normal content: 643 nits
- Peak 2% display area display SDR brightness: 733 nits
- Peak 10% display area SDR brightness: 961 nits
- Peak 100% display area SDR brightness: 629 nits
- Sustained 10% SDR brightness: 940 nits
- Sustained 100% SDR brightness: 631 nits
- Overall HDR peak brightness for normal content: 898 nits
- Peak 2% display area display HDR brightness: 832 nits
- Peak 10% display area HDR brightness: 990 nits
- Peak 100% display area HDR brightness: 654 nits
- Sustained 10% HDR brightness: 969 nits
- Sustained 100% HDR brightness: 647 nits
The color delivery that the X900F can manage is downright great. We’ve seen better in some of Samsung’s 2017 4K HDR TVs that we’ve reviewed so far but we’re still more than impressed with the sorts of HDR and SDR color metrics that this model is capable of. For HDR content in particular, you can look forward to some excellent vibrancy and realism, with 10-bit color support smoothly blending color tones and values for onscreen content. Furthermore, support for DCI-P3 wide color gamut coverage is good, meaning that the total color space delivered by the X900F is very broad. The overall effect of both these HDR features is a rich, realistic and deeply virbrant capacity to render colors in the X900F’s screen.
More specifically, this 4K TV manages to deliver a solid 93.7% of the DCI-P3 wide color gamut space (we’ve seen some Samsung 4K TVs’ go as high as 98% but the visible difference is pretty small between these two figures). The X900F also delivers great overall (for both regular and HDR content) color volume, great shadow quality and fine definition of detail in shadowy areas of the screen. The color volume capacity of this model is also very good, with the X900F’s wide color gamut capabilities letting it show even darker colors and color in shadowy content with high saturation.
Gaming and Motion Handling:
The overall performance of the X900F in terms of motion handling is simply superb. This TV delivers content with extremely low motion blur and this applies even for fast-paced content from a multitude of sources in both native 4K and upscaled resolutions. Furthermore, it can play back 24p video sources from both native apps and external media devices or cable TV judder-free. Finally, in terms of motion interpolation delivery, it’s a robust performer, with its native 120Hz panel handling low frame rate movement smoothly and with minimal soap opera effect if the settings are adjusted correctly.
The Sony X900F is furthermore one very good TV for gamers who want to hit 4K and HDR notes with their console gaming if they have the right kind of accessory technology. We’ve seen better performance on this front from most of Samsung’s 4K TVs and, surprisingly, even their cheapest models as well as those of Vizio or TCL but the X900F still performs really well on the whole and with the spectacular benefit of its HDR chops to boost things further. The following are the specific specs for its gaming chops in different console setups:
- 4k @ 60Hz: 24.1 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz: 40 ms
- 1080p @ 120Hz: 13 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz + HDR: 24.3 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz + HDR: 41 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode : 104 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4: 24.3 ms
- 4K @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4 + 8 bit HDR: 24.1 ms
- 4K with interpolation activated: 81.1 ms (leave the interpolation off)
We should also note that Sony has built the X900F with some great functionality and compatibility with PC hardware for use as a giant sort of PC monitor. This TV offers up full 4:4:4 chroma subsampling support and 1080p @ 120 Hz support when coupled with PC rigs. Other supported resolutions include those mentioned above in our input lag listings.
The Sony X900F, like all of Sony’s newer 4K TVs, offers up a full package of today’s now standard and essential advanced connectivity specs. For connecting it to pretty much any external media device in the most useful possible ways, no user should have any problems with this model. In other words, it comes equipped with multiple HDMI, USB ports and other crucial connectivity slots. The television however lacks full HDMI 2.0 HDR supported bandwidth in all four HDMI ports. Instead only ports 2 and 3 offer this. The following are its ports and their specifications:
- HDMI : 4 (2 and 3 come with HDCP 2.2 and full HDMI 2.0a capacity)
- USB : 3 (USB 3.0)
- Digital Optical Audio Out : 1
- Analog Audio Out 3.5 mm : 1
- Tuner (Cable/Ant) : 1
- Ethernet : 1
- HDR10 support: Yes
- Hybrid Log Gamma HDR support: Yes
- Dolby Vision HDR: No but coming later in 2018 firmware update
The Sony XBR-X900F TV models also offer audio connectivity in the following types.
- 1 Passthrough ARC Dolby Digital
- 1 Passthrough ARC DTS
- 1 Passthrough Optical Dolby Digital
- 1 Passthrough Optical DTS
Sony X900F Pricing
The Sony XBR-X900F’s several different size ranges are selling for the following prices found in the links below at the time of this writing. Bear in mind that these are subject to sometimes frequent downward change and it’s a good idea to click the following Amazon links for real-time pricing and all available discounts on this model.
Check 55 Inch XBR55X900F Price