Sony 55X9000H 4K HDR LED Android TV Review

October 23, 2020 - Comment

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It’s possible to buy a good 55-inch 4K LED TV such as the Mi TV 4X 55 for under Rs. 40,000 right now, so the idea of a television with similar specifications and features costing Rs. 1,29,900 might be a bit too much for many to stomach. You can even get decent QLED televisions from brands such as OnePlus and TCL for half as much, so what exactly is there to the Sony 55X9000H that justifies its rather high price?

There’s obviously more to the Sony 55X9000H than its brand name. Key features include full-array local dimming, support for HDR up to the Dolby Vision format, and Dolby Atmos, to name a few. Does all of this come together to make the Sony 55X9000H a worthwhile purchase for anyone looking for a new premium TV? Find out in our review.

sony 55x9000h 4k tv review our planet Sony

The Sony 55X9000H supports HDR up to the Dolby Vision format

 

Sony 55X9000H 4K HDR LED Android TV design and specifications

While it might be okay for budget big-screen 4K LED TVs to look simple and to-the-point, more is expected of a premium model such as the Sony 55X9000H. Indeed, this television delivers. It looks and feels particularly good compared to most 55-inch 4K TVs, thanks to a slim aluminium frame and an overall thickness that doesn’t have the television extend too far off the wall. The silver edges look good without being distracting, making this perhaps the most sophisticated-looking 55-inch television I’ve used in a while.

The Sony 55X9000H has the standard two bottom-firing full-range speakers, with a total output of 20W. Dolby Audio, Dolby Atmos, and DTS Digital Surround formats are supported through the TV’s speaker system. The 55-inch Ultra-HD (3840×2160-pixel) LED screen features full-array local dimming, with support for HDR up to the Dolby Vision format. The maximum refresh rate is 120Hz at full-HD resolution and 60Hz at Ultra-HD. All of this is driven by Sony’s X1 4K HDR picture processor, which, while not as capable as the X1 Ultimate in the Sony A9G OLED TV, is adequate for the LED screen on the Sony X9000H.

The TV comes with table stands included in the box, which are just as well designed and built as the TV itself. However, unlike many high-end Sony TVs, these stands are attached near the corners and are wide as well, so you’ll need a large table to place the Sony 55X9000H on.

You can opt for wall-mounting at the time of installation free of charge, with the technician providing the correct wall-mount equipment. This TV uses standard VESA hole pitch measurements, so you’ll be able to use any supported wall mount kit. Even when wall mounted, the ports to the left of the screen are quite easy to access.

There are four HDMI ports, two USB ports, one Ethernet port, a composite video input socket, one headphone output socket, and a TOSLINK digital audio output port. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are present, of course, with HDMI ARC and CEC also supported.

Sony 55X9000H 4K HDR LED Android TV remote and features

While many brands are going with more adventurous and minimalist remotes, Sony firmly sticks to a more traditional-looking and button-filled one. The Sony 55X9000H’s remote looks and feels good, with lots of buttons including a number pad which is admittedly quite rare these days. There are dedicated controls for playback and Android TV navigation, plus a microphone and button for Google Assistant, proper volume and mute keys, and hotkeys for Netflix and Google Play, among others.

sony 55x9000h 4k tv review logo Sony

The television looks good, as would be expected of an expensive LED TV

 

The remote features both IR and Bluetooth, and runs on two AAA batteries which are included in the sales package. All the buttons are well laid out and easy to distinguish, making it quite easy to use this remote even in the dark. Google Assistant functionality was useful, as I could control other connected appliances and gadgets as well, such as smart lights and cleaning robots. Standard Google Assistant features including fetching content and answering queries work fine too.

The Sony 55X9000H has built-in Chromecast Ultra functionality for casting at up to Ultra-HD resolution, and also works with Apple AirPlay and HomeKit. There’s also support for Netflix Calibrated mode, which automatically adjusts the TV’s picture settings to recommended levels when watching certain titles on Netflix, based on the content creator’s inputs.

Sony 55X9000H 4K HDR LED Android TV software and interface

Sony was an early proponent of Android TV OS, offering the complete experience with no limitations from the start. The company has also worked on standards certifications and proper integrations with streaming services such as Netflix. As a result, the Android TV experience on the Sony 55X9000H is as good as ever.

This television runs on Android TV 9 Pie, with key apps such as Netflix and YouTube preinstalled. There’s the Google Play Store to download other apps and games. All apps support up to the maximum resolution of each service (assuming you’re on the right plans), along with Ultra-HD, Dolby Vision, HDR10, Dolby Audio, and Dolby Atmos, where available.

sony 55x9000h 4k tv review android tv Sony

The Sony 55X9000H runs on Android TV 9 Pie, with support for all major apps

 

Android TV is among the better smart TV platforms available today, and Sony’s specific modifications and styling add value to the overall experience. It’s possible to access most picture and sound settings from anywhere within the interface including while watching content. You can change modes quickly and adjust detailed settings as well. The television is also quick to wake when powered on from standby, and worked well without any lag or software issues during my time with it.

Sony 55X9000H 4K HDR LED Android TV performance

LED backlighting on televisions is now usually considered to be a budget-friendly option, and most affordable large-screen 4K TVs go with this type of display. Buyers with higher budgets might be more inclined to opt for QLED or OLED TVs, so the Sony 55X9000H is already at a disadvantage thanks to its Rs. 1,29,900 price tag. That said, LED TVs do have some advantages over other display types, and the 55X9000H puts these factors to good use, making it one of the best LED TVs you can buy today.

The television has a VA panel and high peak brightness with both SDR and HDR content, along with full-array micro-dimming. These factors work together well to offer performance that is largely on par with what a good QLED television such as the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro or TCL 55C715 can deliver. As we’ve seen on premium Sony TVs before, the 55X9000H also offers a largely uniform viewing experience across resolutions, thanks to good upscaling and picture tuning.

Dolby Vision and HDR10 content expectedly brings out the best out of the Sony 55X9000H, with a good combination of brightness, colours, and black levels. Local dimming makes a big difference in producing good black levels, and in this regard the Sony 55X9000H’s performance is among the best I’ve seen from an LED TV. Watching Our Planet and Chef’s Table: BBQ on Netflix with Dolby Vision, this TV produced a vibrant, detailed, and pleasing picture that was visibly and considerably better than what I’ve seen on most other LED TVs. Images of the food on the grille in Chef’s Table looked beautiful and lifelike, with the TV doing a fantastic job of making the colours realistic and vibrant, without appearing too punchy.

Combined with the capabilities of Dolby Vision, local dimming on the television made for almost OLED-like deep blacks, and the high contrast ratio also helped with getting colours right across the range. Although Dolby Vision is typically visibly better than HDR10, the Sony 55X9000H did an admirable job of playing HDR10 content almost to the same level as good Dolby Vision content.

sony 55x9000h 4k tv review sd Sony

Good upscaling ensures that even standard definition content looks good on the Sony 55X9000H

 

All of this was particularly useful while watching The Boys Season 2, with the Sony 55X9000H getting the dark scenes right almost every time. The picture was sharp, giving impressive insight into Karl Urban’s devious expressions as the anti-hero Billy Butcher.

Where the Sony 55X9000H fell a bit short across resolutions was in its ability to handle motion. Switching off all motion enhancement features made for a jittery viewing experience, but keeping them on smoothened things only to a small extent. As was visible in many action scenes in The Boys as well as the climactic battle scenes in Jojo Rabbit on Disney+Hotstar, artefacts were often visible in scenes with rapid motion, and this was quite distracting. This happened across resolutions, but was particularly noticeable with 4K content with the otherwise sharp picture.

Most affordable 4K TVs tend to falter a bit when it comes to upscaling lower-resolution content, particularly 720p and standard definition video. It’s here that the Sony 55X9000H proves its worth, with good performance across resolutions. While there’s obviously a bit of data and definition lost in the process of upscaling, the Sony does a good job of minimising this and making all lower-resolution content look as good as it can, even considering the large screen.

Jojo Rabbit on Disney+Hotstar was bright, sharp, and enjoyable to watch, with only the aforementioned motion issues to complain about. Lower-resolution content, including children’s videos on YouTube and Netflix, looked decent as well, with the Sony 55X9000H getting colours, textures, and brightness right in most cases.

The Sony 55X9000H has a good screen, but doesn’t quite match up to other premium TVs when it comes to sound. With two simple 10W full-range speakers firing downwards below the screen, sound is just about adequate at high volumes. The tuning is decent and volume levels stay uniform, but the lack of power makes for sound that is not exceptional. It’s fine for basic viewing such as the news or sitcoms, but fast, loud, and punchy scenes sounded a bit dull through the TV’s speakers.

sony 55x9000h 4k tv review remote Sony

Sony has stuck to a traditional remote with plenty of buttons, including a now-rare number pad

 

Verdict

After spending a lot of time with the Sony 55X9000H 4K LED TV, I’m not completely convinced that there is enough on offer to justify the price. Sure, this is quite easily the best LED TV I’ve used, but does that justify paying a higher price than what a good 55-inch QLED TV goes for? Spending a bit more could also push you into OLED territory, so the Rs. 1,29,900 price tag of the Sony 55X9000H is a big drawback. That said, I have seen this TV sell for around Rs. 1,10,000 with discounts, which could sweeten the deal a bit for buyers who might be iffy about the price.

However, Sony’s brand value and the fact that this is an exceptionally good television, regardless of the type of screen in use, still make this a good enough purchase. Although there are some issues with motion, and sound quality is ordinary at best, the Sony 55X9000H more than makes up for its shortcomings with good picture quality, features, software, and ease of use. It’s expensive, and you might want to consider a good QLED TV instead, but if you do pick the 55X9000H, you won’t regret it.


Mi TV Stick vs Fire TV Stick Lite vs Mi Box 4K vs Fire TV Stick 4K: Which is the best budget streaming device for TVs in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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