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Sony's XBR-65X900E is one of the more affordable 4K TVs in Sony's lineup, selling for $1,499, which is thousands less than the jaw-dropping Sony OLED XBR-65A1E. But the moderately priced X900E is no slouch.
The 65-inch TV boasts 4K resolution and HDR support, a panel with true 120Hz refresh rate and Sony's Android-based smart TV interface. In addition, it offers pretty great overall performance.
The Sony XBR-65X900E would best be described as having a basic design that's enhanced with several thoughtful design touches. The display chassis is black with metal trim, but a sleek tapered back and modern-looking metal stand make it look a little better than the usual black boxes that average TVs are built into.
The Sony XBR-65X900E is a midrange UHD TV, a 65-inch class big screen that measures 57 x 32.8 x 2.4 inches. It weighs 48.5 pounds on its own and 51.2 pounds with the included stand.
Unlike it's more expensive counterpart, the Sony OLED XBR-65A1E, the X900E series has a traditional display and stand. The display chassis is a reasonable thickness, measuring 2.4 inches at its thickest, but it's tapered and segmented in such a way that at first glance it appears thinner than it actually is. The back of the chassis is basic black plastic, while the thin bezel has a bare metal accent stripe running along the outer perimeter.
The accompanying stand is sturdy metal with a wide front base and two legs that attach in back. The legs have cable management built in, which is nice for helping manage the potential snarl of cables that is common with home theater setups.
The stand has a larger footprint than the TV, measuring 19.6 inches wide and 10.25 inches deep. If you don't want to use the stand, the chassis will accommodate a 300 x 300 millimeter VESA mount.
Sony XBR-65X900E Specs
|3840 x 2160
|HDR 10, Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG)
|4 HDMI, 1 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0
|2 10-watt speakers
|Smart TV Software
|57 x 32.8 x 2.4 inches
On the back of the set you'll find four HDMI ports (three on the side, one in back), component and composite video inputs, three USB ports on the side (two USB 2.0, one USB 3.0) and a coaxial connection for an antenna.
You'll also want to connect your set to the web for full smart functionality, so the X900E has built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi and an Ethernet port on the side for wired connections.
The XBR-65X900E's 65-inch panel is a standard LCD display, with 3840 x 2160 resolution, full-array backlighting and a 120Hz native refresh rate. The result is a very good-looking panel that offers smoother motion than less expensive models that only offer 60Hz refresh rates.
Though it can't match the deep blacks of LG's B7 OLED display (currently on sale for $1,569) display, the Sony does manage to offer very good detail and contrast, and actually offers better visibility for details in deep shadow. In Arrival, shots of a black-gloved hand brushing the surface of an alien craft showed four distinct fingers, while the deeper blacks of the LG B7 display turned it into an inky black blob.
However, the LED-backlit screen couldn't quite match LG's set when it came to distinguishing light from dark. In Arrival, as the research team enters the alien craft, the tunnel-like shaft shows a bright light at the end, but the dimming zones of the Sony's backlight couldn't prevent some spillover as the backlight over-illuminated the surrounding black stone.
The XBR-65X900E also struggled a bit with some aspects of HDR. When showing a glowing object, such as a glow stick or a flashlight, the backlight kept the dark elements from being quite as dark, and the glowing items seemed a little less vibrant than they did on the LG B7's OLED display. Despite this, the overall HDR experience was fairly good for general content. In addition, the set supports HDR 10 and Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) formats.
The XBR-65X900E is a very good-looking panel that offers smoother motion than less expensive models that only offer 60Hz refresh rates.
The color was a little inaccurate in standard mode, but switching to Cinema Pro mode – the TV’s best picture setting – we measured a respectable Delta-E score of 2.1 (closer to 0 is better). That's pretty solid compared with the LG B7 OLED (3.4) and on apar with the the 55-inch TCL P-Series (2.2).
The XBR-65X900E produced a healthy 99.99 percent of the Rec. 709 color space, and anything close to 100 percent or better we consider to be excellent. While the LG B7 offers a wider color gamut overall (131 percent), the Sony was visibly better at bringing out lifelike skin tones, brightly hued costumes and vivid environments.
For most standard viewing angles (even those off-center), the color quality on the XBR-65X900E remains true with little to no color shifting. However, if you compare this to the LG B7, where colors stay true even at the most extreme angles, the X900E falls a little short. At 160 degrees, you begin to see some color shifting on the Sony.
The X900E comes with two 10-watt speakers with bass reflex and Dolby Digital Plus sound. Sony adds its own ClearAudio+ processing and simulated surround sound, and the overall sound quality was very good. Whether I was listening to quiet dialogue, swelling music or the crash-bang of car chases and gunfights, everything came through reasonably clear and with no glaring issues.
Listening to The Hollies "Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)," I heard a clear bouncing bassline that's usually lost in radio broadcasts, and the rest of the band sounded full. The bass was particularly impressive, maintaining a richness and depth at high volumes that aren't always heard in a TV this slim. The TV also has several preset sound modes to quickly optimize your audio to match specific content, with modes for movies, live sports and music.
Smart TV Features
Sony uses Android TV for its smart TV functionality. It's an excellent interface that matches well-refined navigation with Google's impressive selection of apps and includes Google Chromecast capability, opening up potentially thousands of additional apps that can be cast from your phone or tablet.
There are also plenty of native apps that can be installed, and the TV comes with popular apps like Netflix, Youtube, Hulu and more. And, since this is a Sony product, the XBR-65X900E has built-in support for Playstation Vue, the company's own livestreaming content platform.
Sony's remote design stands apart from most smart TVs on the market in that it eschews the sculpted wand style in favor of a rectangular design, dominated by a circle of menu buttons around a directional pad. The remote has a rubbery surface that should withstand spills and some roughhousing and a textured plastic backside. But the battery compartment isn't obviously accessible, requiring an easily overlooked button to remove the entire back of the remote.
Where others opt for simplicity, giving you just enough complexity to navigate through menus, Sony's remote is festooned with buttons. The directional pad is surrounded by six navigational buttons, going beyond basics like a Home and Back button. There's also a dedicated TV button, a Guide button for on-screen content information, an Action Menu button for quick settings, and a Discover button that pulls up content suggestions across several apps.
Add to this a full 10 number buttons, dedicated buttons for Google Play and Netflix, up and down controls for volume and channels and media control buttons for video playback. Also four mysterious buttons simply labeled Yellow, Blue, Red and Green. (They're actually contextual buttons that don't normally have a function.)
There's also a microphone button, which activates the voice control functions. By speaking into the remote, you can search for specific phrases, open apps and adjust your settings.
The Sony XBR-65X900E combines an excellent LCD display with great sound and robust smart features. The panel ticks a lot of boxes for the price, giving you 4K resolution, HDR support and 120Hz refresh rate. Combine this with Sony's excellent take on Android TV, complete with Google Chromecast built in, and it's a smart buy for anyone who wants a great TV without spending several thousand dollars.
If, however, you have your heart set on an OLED display, the LG B7 offers an OLED panel at the same price, making it one of the more affordable OLED options you can get. But don't rush to the LG too quickly. The Sony offers superior sound, a richer app selection. and surprisingly competitive display quality for an LCD panel.
Credit: Tom's Guide
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Brian Westover is currently Lead Analyst, PCs and Hardware at PCMag. Until recently, however, he was Senior Editor at Tom's Guide, where he led the site's TV coverage for several years, reviewing scores of sets and writing about everything from 8K to HDR to HDMI 2.1. He also put his computing knowledge to good use by reviewing many PCs and Mac devices, and also led our router and home networking coverage. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he wrote for TopTenReviews and PCMag.