The Sony X90J is the best midrange 4K HDR LED TV we’ve seen from the brand in absolutely ages. It combines an innovative feature set, with class-leading AI-enabled image processing and a specification that should satisfy the most demanding spec chasers – HDR (High Frame Rate) 4K support, novel PS5 auto game optimising features – which take it firmly into best TV for PS5, and best gaming TV territory – and a sound system that rewards all-action games.
What’s more, it’s now available at a price that won’t break the bank (having just had a welcome price cut). There are a couple of caveats though, so keep reading…
Features & Design
You’d expect a Sony Bravia flatscreen to have dinner-date good looks, and the X90J doesn’t disappoint. Because it uses a full-array backlight, it’s a little chunkier than rival edge-lit models, at 70mm, but given the picture benefits that FALD backlighting brings we’re happy to accommodate some extra inches.
Helpfully, the set has adjustable feet, which slot in (no fiddly screws required), either to the edge of the set or towards the centre. Sony describes this as a 2-way Slim Blade stand, and it really helps when it comes to AV furniture choice; it also provides room for a (matching Sony) soundbar if you want to add one. The 50-inch model doesn’t have adjustable feet though, just so you know.
Connectivity comprises four HDMI inputs, and while only two HDMIs support 4K 120fps, this is still enough for those with a dual console setup, and certainly enough for this to be a firm contender to shoot up our best 120Hz 4K TV guide. At the time of writing, Variable Refresh Rate support was awaiting a firmware update to enable it. Other connections include a digital optical output, two USBs, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, plus Ethernet if you prefer a wired network. Rather cleverly, the X90J will optimise picture parameters automatically for PlayStation 5 HDR games, and automatically acknowledge whether the console is playing video content or a game, swapping presets accordingly.
The set’s basic gaming performance is fine, with a reassuringly low input lag. We measured latency at 17.2ms (1080/60) with Game mode engaged.
The X90J uses the new Google TV smart platform, which seems a more content-focused version of the regular Android TV OS. There are plenty of show recommendations on the home page.
We get a good selection of apps, including Netflix, Apple TV+, Disney+, and Prime Video, however, the set is poorly served when it comes to catch-up TV. With no Freeview Play tuner for UK buyers, it’s missing basics like BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, and My5. We do get All4 though. At least Android staples Chromecast and Google Assistant are on board.
The X90J doesn’t shortchange when it comes to image clarity, its pictures boast depth and drama. The magic ingredient here is undoubtedly Sony’s innovative new Cognitive XR processor. The Japanese major has taken a very different approach to AI picture processing to its rivals, allowing its silicon to focus on areas that naturally dominate your gaze. The technology aims to replicate how we see objects in real life, by concentrating on natural focal points. To do this it divides the screen into zones to determine where said ‘focal point’ is. It then concentrates its efforts on those parts of the picture; rival AI techniques mainly attempt to identify specific picture elements across the whole frame.
Picture modes comprise of: Vivid, Standard, Cinema, Graphics, Photo, IMAX Enhanced, and Custom. Standard and Cinema were my go-to presets for most content. Contrast is punchy, with decent black detail. As we’ve established, the X90J employs full array local dimming, which proves precise enough for deep blacks and subtle shadow detail, without excess blooming. The set also has good overall picture brightness, making it eminently usable in rooms with high ambient light. Sony’s XR Contrast Booster technology, along with XR HDR Remaster technology, gives an HDR uplift to regular HD SDR content.
An Ambient Optimization sensor dynamically monitors available light in your viewing room, making picture adjustments in the background. Take care where you place the screen though, as it drops contrast and loses colour intensity when viewed off-axis.
HDR performance is top-notch. We measured HDR peak brightness around 900 nits, which is more than enough to add believability to glinting specular highlights, lens flares, and lighting effects. There’s support for Dolby Vision content, as seen on Netflix and Disney+ shows, but not HDR10+, as favoured by Amazon Prime Video. It also boasts a Netflix calibrated movie mode and IMAX Enhanced certification, just for good measure.
PlayStation 5 users will also appreciate the set’s Auto HDR Tone Mapping and Auto Genre Picture modes. When triggered by a PS5, the TV self-optimises picture balance for maximum detail and colour fidelity. Similarly, an Auto Genre Picture Mode automatically switches into Game Mode when gaming, in order to minimise input lag, but returns to Standard Mode if you’re watching movies from a streaming service or a Blu-ray disc.
The X90J’s Cognitive Processor XR isn’t just for video. It also gets to grips with audio, dissecting the audio signal to better match what’s happening on screen. The TV employs Sony’s Acoustic Multi Audio System, which sounds pretty good. In addition to downward-firing drivers, there are two additional side tweeters positioned towards the top of the set. These help create a surprisingly large soundstage, with aggressive sonic panning left, right, and up. They can be a little toppy, emphasising treble, if the set’s 2x10W power plant is used a little too enthusiastically, so go easy.
Overall – should you buy it?
If you’re after a high-performance 4K LED with good gaming performance, HFR 4K support, and excellent image quality, then the X90J should be considered a top contender. I rate this as a particularly good screen for bright room gaming, although being limited to just two HFR HDMI inputs is a bit of a bind, and its poor showing on the Catch-up TV front is surprising.
Ultimately, the Sony Bravia XR X90J represents terrific value, offering a high level of performance for an upper mid-range 55-inch UHD LED TV. Its Cognitive XR processor-powered picture performance is excellent, and it looks beautiful with both HDR games and movies, while its audio reaches higher and goes wider than many rivals. We also like the new Google TV smart platform, and dedicated PlayStation 5 auto optimisation modes. The set only really falls short when it comes to basic catch-up TV amenities.
The X90J is one of the best bits of PS5 companion tech going – why not browse other top PS5 gear in the shape of our guides to the best PS5 SSDs, best PS5 headsets, and best monitor for PS5 to round out your setup.
4 out of 5
Sony X90J review: “A top contender”
Sony’s Perfect for PlayStation mid-range LED TV sets the pace with clever Cognitive Intelligence image processor and immersive audio