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Sony X90K: Two-minute review

Sony's XR X90K is an advanced series in the company's line of LCD TVs, sitting just below the flagship X95K models. A key difference between the two lines is that the X95K series uses mini-LED backlights, while the X90K features full-array LED backlights.

Even with that difference, the 90-inch X65K series TV we tested delivered impressively bright pictures, and the local dimming processing used by the team's full-array backlight created powerful blacks with good shadow detail and limited backlighting. For the price, the X90K's overall performance is very good and should satisfy even discerning viewers.

  • Sony XR-65X90K (65-inch HDR) at Amazon for €998 (opens in a new tab)

Sony's XR90K series Triluminos Pro XR panel combines with its Cognitive Processor XR and Contrast Booster XR features to deliver high dynamic range images with powerful contrast and a rich color gamut. The XR90K series TVs lack X-Wide Angle, a feature found on the flagship XR95K range that improves off-axis performance, but as long as you're looking within a 30-degree viewing angle (essentially, the widest of an average sofa) this should not be a problem.

The X90K's Acoustic Multi-Audio feature uses separate tweeters located on the top left and right of the TV and delivers above-average sound quality, with always-clear dialogue and even spatial effects with Dolby Atmos soundtracks. You can get much better audio quality with a separate soundbar system, but until you make that purchase decision, the X90K's built-in speakers will guide you.

The X90K series uses the Google TV interface for streaming and setup and can be controlled by voice using the TV's built-in microphone or Sony remote control. The most popular streaming apps are provided and Google users can sign in with their credentials to unlock other features like viewing Google Photos libraries. For US viewers, there's also an ATSC 3.0 tuner, a feature that makes the TV compatible with next-generation digital TV broadcasts with 4K resolution and Dolby Atmos sound.

Sony's core design for the X90K series is highlighted by a multi-position stand that can be flipped up to free up space for a sound bar. The device's small remote has a busy design, and the buttons are difficult to read in the dark. The on-screen menus are easy to access and navigate, but the many picture settings on offer will test the patience of those who don't like to mess around with settings, something this TV definitely benefits from.

With two HDMI 2.1 inputs and support for 4K/120Hz, VRR and ALLM, the X90K series TVs are an excellent choice for gaming. They're also perfect for PlayStation 5, a Sony initiative that enables both automatic HDR tone mapping and an automatic genre picture mode to optimize the picture when a PS5 console is connected.

The value of the X90K series is very good, especially now that we are approaching the end of 2022 and discounts can be found on all screen sizes. You'll pay twice as much to upgrade to Sony's flagship X95K series, while the scaled-down A85K series lacks the X90K's locally dimmable backlight. In the broader context of Sony's overall TV range, the X90K probably offers the best value for money.

Sony X90K review: Price and release date

  • Release Date: April 25, 2022
  • XR-55X90K: €999 / €899 / AU€1,675
  • XR-65X90K: €1,299 / €1,299 / AU€1,885
  • XR-77X90K: €1,699 / €1,699 / AU€2,785
  • XR-85X90K: €2299 / €2699 / AU€4265

Sony's X90K series televisions are available in screen sizes ranging from 55 to 85 inches. These are the company's mid-range LED models, falling between the budget X85K series and the flagship X95K series, the latter being Sony's first backlit mini-LED models. The X90K series uses full LED backlighting with local dimming processing.

The X90K's rear panel inputs include two HDMI 2.1 ports that support 4K 120Hz. (Image credit: Future)

Sony X90K review: Features

  • Google TV interface
  • Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG High Dynamic Range
  • HDMI 2.1 inputs with 4K 120Hz, VRR, ALLM and eARC
  • ATSC 3.0 tuner

Like other Sony TVs, the X90K series uses Google TV's smart interface for browsing and streaming and has the Google Assistant for voice searches, either hands-free using the TV's built-in microphone or remote control. of the television. Onboard apps include Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Apple TV, Disney Plus, and more.

Picture processing in the X90K TVs is handled by the company's XR Cognitive Processor and there's also an XR Contrast Booster feature to maximize contrast with the TV's active local dimming. An XR Triluminos Pro panel (quantum dots, essentially) ensures improved color gamut with HDR sources.

Of the TV's four HDMI inputs, two have the following HDMI 2.1 features: 4K/120Hz support, Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM). The X90K series models also feature a built-in ATSC 3.0 tuner, allowing them to receive next-generation US TV broadcasts with features like 4K resolution with HDR sound and Dolby Atmos.

Overall, the feature set of the X90K series TVs is competitive with models from other brands in the same price range, though it falls a bit short of some LCD models in our best guide. 4K TVs, specifically in terms of connectivity and lack of mini LED backlighting.

Sony X90K review: Image quality

  • Rich and accurate color
  • Deep blacks and good gloss.
  • Average off-center image uniformity

The XR90K had fairly accurate color out of the box in its default cinema picture mode, though there was too much red balance in images. The gamma was also off a bit, making the midtones appear too dark. Both issues were corrected using Portrait Displays' Calman color grading software.

We also used Calman to measure the DCI-P3 coverage of the set, the color gamut used to master movies for digital cinema, and the 4K Blu-ray disc, which reached 95%. That's below what we measured on Sony's A80K OLED TV, which fully covered DCI-P3, but it's in the same range as other affordable LED-backlit TVs like Vizio's M-Series QX.

The X90K's peak brightness measured 964 nits (within a 10% white window) in standard HDR picture mode and 450 nits in HDR Cinema mode. That's an average level of performance for a TV of this type, though it's significantly lower than what you'd get from a TV with a mini-LED backlight. (Some of the latest generation OLED TVs, like the LG G2 series, may also offer a higher maximum brightness level.)

One picture quality weakness that the X90K shares with many other LED-backlit LCD TVs is poor off-axis uniformity, with images looking pale and desaturated when viewed from a seat farther from the center. However, this won't be a problem for most viewing environments and situations, although some LCD TVs, like Sony's X95K series models with their X-Wide Angle feature, do a better job here.

Key specs

Screen size: 55, 65, 75, 85 inches
Resolution: 4K
Panel technology: QLED
HDR Support: Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG
Audio support: Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital, DTS
Smart TV: Google TV
HDMI Ports: 4 (2 HDMI 2.1)

Even with Sony's more limited maximum light output compared to mini-LED models, I didn't find myself wanting brightness when looking into a room with overhead lights on. And with the lights dimmed for movie watching, the image looked very punchy, with strong highlights and blacks.

Watching The Green Knight on Ultra HD Blu-ray, the shadows in the scene where the Green Knight enters the castle to interrupt the King's Christmas celebration looked well detailed and deep. I did notice a slight degree of backlighting in the opening titles and also in some later winter landscape scenes, but for the most part it was negligible with the local set dimming set to medium.

Elvis was a bit more difficult for the X90K, especially in wide shots of the Las Vegas skyline at night. In these, the overall level of image brightness seemed to be increased to a certain degree, though that's not something most viewers would notice or mind unless they were specifically looking for it.

Elvis' colors looked rich and clean. In the scene where the King (a different King here) is filming his Christmas TV special, for example, the green and red Christmas tones of the set were appealing. And in a later scene in which he performs during his Las Vegas residency, the giant red ELVIS sign onstage glowed surprisingly bright.

  • Image Quality Rating: 4/5

Sony XR-65X90K TV on stand showing sound bar below

A multi-position stand allows you to adjust the height to suit the soundbar's location. (Image credit: Future)

Sony X90K review: Sound quality

  • Uses separate tweeters for more precise sound positioning
  • Acoustic audio calibration tunes the sound for the viewing environment
  • Dolby Atmos with effective 3D surround sound enhancement

Sony's Acoustic Multi-Audio feature on X90K series TVs uses bottom-mounted speakers and tweeters located on the top left and right of the TV to deliver a more natural audio presentation, with sound appearing to come from the screen itself. (Note that this is not the same functionality as the company's Acoustic Surface Audio+, where the audio actuators are integrated behind the equipment's display panel.)

Other key audio features of the X90K series are acoustic audio calibration, which adapts audio output to your viewing environment, voice zoom to enhance dialogue, and 3D surround sound enhancement.

I found the TV's sound to be definitely above average, though it does have some treble quality, made more important by the lack of bass extension from the built-in speaker package. However, I was able to get around this somewhat by using an on-screen audio equalization feature, and then the music in the Elvis concert scenes was much easier on the ears.

The dialogue was crystal clear on the Sony TV. When watching Top Gun: Maverick on Ultra HD Blu-ray, the voices were still easy to make out, even in the flight practice scenes. This record also showed the advantages of Acoustic Multi-Audio, with the trajectory of…

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