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Sony Bravia XR X90K Smart TV (XR-55X90K) review: Best of both worlds

A wholesome package.

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Sony Bravia XR X90K Smart TV (XR-55X90K) review: Best of both worlds
X90K price in India starts at Rs 1,23,490. (Photo credit: Sony)

OLEDs are great. The A80J 2021 (review), for instance, offers pure cinematic bliss at a reasonable price. Sony has since launched the A80K 2022 series in India and we expect that it would take the legacy forward and push for even more greatness. But here’s the thing, as good as they are –in fact, some might say they’re the best— these OLED TVs also cost a lot of money. The A80J is currently listed for Rs 1,61,490 for a 55-inch model. A 65-inch version is selling for Rs 2,46,990. The 65-inch A80K price in India is set at Rs 2,65,990. Not everyone has that kind of money or even the patience to deal with OLED’s own set of challenges like burn-in anxiety.

Quantum dot full-array LED TVs are generally seen as the second-best option –to an OLED— though with Mini LEDs starting to get more mainstream and traction, we might see some shift in momentum, eventually down the line. Regardless, much like everything else in tech, full-array LED TVs are also getting better year on year with picture quality getting so close to OLED levels, especially in the higher end, it would all narrow down to personal choice and budget. Both have their advantages and disadvantages but strictly on colour and contrast, it may be time to retire the saying that only OLEDs can deliver true blacks and rich contrast. The X90K we’re reviewing today proves this point conclusively.

SONY BRAVIA X90K PERFORMANCE & FEATURES

This is the most premium full-array LED TV that Sony makes at the time of writing. It’s a watered-down A80K in almost every perceivable way which is to say its design and feature set have been meticulously curated to achieve its relatively lower price tag, but it’s based roughly on the same blueprint. The attention to detail is, still, distinctly Sony. The 55-inch model we have for review costs Rs 1,23,490. You can also get it in 65-inch for Rs 1,70,990.

Sony is using a high-quality VA panel here with full-array backlighting and a total of 54 dimming zones (which is more than twice compared to its predecessor) leading to darker blacks and, by extension, higher contrast ratio. Only and only if you’ve had first-hand experience seeing an OLED in person, would you be able to tell the difference. Sony has really upped its colour and contrast game this year, putting many rivals on notice. What’s impressive, though, is the overall colour accuracy. It is simply spot on even right out of the gate. For those finicky about it, the X90K gives you ample settings to fine-tune the display including, among other things, a dedicated Netflix calibrated mode.

Sony Bravia XR X90K Smart TV
Sony has really upped its colour and contrast game this year. (Photo credit: Sony)

The panel can, also, get very bright even by LED standards but viewing angles could be slightly better. Again, LED TVs like these aren’t known for stellar off-axis viewing but Sony has some neat workarounds to get past this shortcoming or improve it in general in some of its other TVs. It would have been nice if those were included here. There is a light sensor in this TV that is said to automatically tweak brightness levels based on ambience, which is a nice touch.    

The X90K is a 4K TV with support for HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision playback. At its heart lies the next-generation Cognitive Processor XR that’s basically doing all the heavy lifting in the background. Sony’s processing is easily among the best in the business with big focus on delivering true-to-life colours with some extra zing or pop that adds a bit of spice and flavour to content without going overboard or anything. The balance is just about right and the experience, almost cinema-like. The X90K handles HDR very well. Motion and upscaling, too, are fine though sometimes fine details in SDR content can get overpowered particularly in darker scenes. In Sony’s defence, TVs like the X90K are primarily designed for high-res content and for what it’s worth, you can fix some of these minor issues in settings.

Being a high-end Sony TV would imply, it should work well with latest consoles, particularly the PlayStation 5 and it does do that very well. There are four HDMI ports in this TV, two of which are HDMI 2.1 with 4K@120Hz and Variable Refresh Rate support— one of them doubles as an eARC port. Auto low-latency mode is also available.

Rounding off the package are support for hands-free Google Assistant, Alexa, Apple’s AirPlay (with HomeKit), and built-in Chromecast.

The X90K comes with two full-range bass-reflex speakers and two tweeters for a combined output of 30W and while overall sound quality is nice, it could have been a bit louder. Sony says the TV can optimise sound output depending on your position using acoustic auto calibration technology. There is support for Dolby Atmos and DTS Digital Surround.

SONY BRAVIA X90K DESIGN & SOFTWARE

The design of the X90K, while premium, is more functional and utilitarian relative to its OLED counterpart. It uses more plastic, it’s not as sleek, too, but it’s – still—built well and looks nice especially from the front. It’s very minimal emphasising a great deal on immersion with its pitch-black front, barely there bezels, and subtle branding.

Table installation stands out with Sony giving you a 2-way adjustable stand that lets you prop the TV up nicely so you can, for instance, easily align a sound bar below it. Like the TV, its remote, too, is very minimal. It’s nice and sleek with fewer buttons (than some of Sony’s other premium TVs) including hotkeys for YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video. Batteries are included.

Sony Bravia XR X90K Smart TV
The design of the X90K, while premium, is more functional and utilitarian. (Photo credit: Sony)

Setting up the X90K is a straightforward process. The TV runs Android TV 10 software with the new Google TV user interface on top. You get a more active home screen than say with regular bare-bones Android TV from the past. The traditional way to focus on specific apps is out of the window in favour of content aggregation with a smart array of content from multiple apps with dedicated tabs for movies and TV shows available to watch instantly. The idea clearly is to keep you engaged with relevant content that’s tailored for you—based on your viewing pattern— without the hassle of sifting through every service you’ve subscribed to one by one. We quite like it.

There is a handy option to use —setup— the X90K as a basic TV as well if you want to use cable or any other media streaming device and not be bothered by Google TV at all. Connectivity options include 4x HDMI, 2x USB Type-A, Optical Audio-out, Ethernet port, 3.5mm audio jack, in addition to Bluetooth 4.2 and dual band Wi-Fi. You get 16GB of on-board storage in this TV.

SONY BRAVIA X90K | SHOULD YOU BUY IT?

The X90K punches above its weight class on so many levels, it’s hard to not come out impressed with it. This TV, in fact, blurs the line between traditional LED and OLED with such a fine degree of attention and craftsmanship unseen or unheard of before, it’s become one of our favourite no-nonsense high-end TVs of 2022. And while it’s not perfect, it surely gives people looking for the best of both worlds — which is close to OLED-level colour and contrast at a relatively more mainstream pricing– a wholesome package deal.

ProsCons
Good designViewing angles could be slightly better
Great colour accuracy and contrastSound could be louder
Plenty of customisation options
Slick software
Plenty of ports
VRR, ALLM available
Great value

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