With OLED and Mini LED display technologies gaining prominence in the premium segment, quantum-dot LED tech has largely settled into a comfortable mid-range position. Buyers looking to spend a bit more for a promise of better performance often look to options from brands such as Sony and Samsung, both of which are well established when it comes to LED and quantum-dot LED TVs. Among the more popular options in the upper mid-range segment is the X90 series from Sony, which has now been updated for 2022 with the X90K range.
Priced at Rs. 1,23,490 for the 55-inch (XR-55X90K) variant on review here, the Sony Bravia X90K series is the company's most expensive and advanced LED television range in India right now. With this, Sony hopes to strike a balance between performance and price, with Triluminos quantum-dot technology, full-array local dimming, and support for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. There's a lot of promise here, but is the Sony 55X90K the best big-screen television you can buy under Rs. 1,50,000? Find out in this review.
The Sony 55X90K TV runs on Android TV 10 software, with the Google TV user interface on top
Sony Bravia XR-55X90K Ultra-HD LED Android TV design and specifications
The X90 series sits at the top of the pecking order for Sony's LED TVs, and is available in three sizes: 55 inches priced at Rs. 1,23,490, 65 inches priced at Rs. 1,70,990, and a 75-inch variant which will be launched in the coming weeks from the time of publishing this review. Apart from the size, there are no differences in any of the models, with all having Ultra-HD (3840x2160-pixel) Triluminos (quantum-dot) LED screens, and a refresh rate of 120Hz at up to 4K resolution.
Coming to the design of the TV, the Sony Bravia 55X90K is pretty much what you'd expect from a high-end Sony television. It's entirely black, with slim bezels around the screen, a discreet Sony logo in the bottom left corner, and little else to take any attention away from the screen itself, which is how televisions should be. The power button and a slider switch for the always-on microphones are at the bottom of the TV, alongside the main speakers.
Unlike many modern high-end televisions, the Sony 55X90K isn't very slim at any point. However, it isn't too bulky or thick either as it doesn't sit too far from the wall even when wall-mounted, and has a similar width as most TVs of its kind. The television weighs about 17.4kg without the stands attached, and supports VESA wall mounting.
The table mount stands are included in the sales package, and are easy to install. The stands attach to the bottom corners of the TV, so a wide table or television unit will be needed if you choose to stand-mount the Sony Bravia 55X90K TV. Interestingly, you can attach the stands to keep the TV at a lower position where the frame is almost resting on the stands. The higher position leaves some space between the bottom of the TV and the table, which should come in handy if you want to place a soundbar there.
Wall mounting can be availed through the free installation which comes with the TV. The installation technician will bring along the wall-mount kit and install it, if you choose. I used a third-party wall-mount kit, which attached easily onto the back of the TV thanks to the VESA standard.
The Sony 55X90K television has support for the Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG high dynamic range formats
All of the ports and sockets on the Sony XR-55X90K television face outwards to the left of the screen, while the power socket for the detachable power cable is on the right. Usefully, access to the ports and sockets is quite easy even when the TV is wall mounted. There are four HDMI ports (two are HDMI 2.1 with 4K 120Hz and Variable Refresh Rate support, one of which additionally has eARC support), two USB Type-A ports, one Optical Audio-out (Toslink) port, an Ethernet port, an antenna socket, and sockets for 3.5mm audio-out and Video In.
The Sony Bravia 55X90K television has support for the Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG formats for high dynamic range content, and Dolby Atmos and DTS Digital Surround audio formats. There is dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, along with 16GB of internal storage for apps and app data. The TV is powered by Sony's Cognitive Processor XR, and has a four-speaker system with 30W of total rated output. As with many of Sony's high-end televisions, there is full-array local dimming on the 55X90K TV.
Sony Bravia XR-55X90K Ultra-HD LED Android TV remote and features
Sony has typically included large, full-function remotes with its televisions, including the recently launched X75K series. However, the 55X90K television marks a notable departure from this trend. It has a smaller, more minimalistic remote with fewer buttons. This kind of remote is admittedly much easier to handle and store safely and has buttons for most important functions, so I wasn't too bothered by the change.
There is no number pad, but a ‘123' button brings up a virtual number pad in case you need it. The remote has hotkeys for YouTube, YouTube Music, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video, along with a Google Assistant button and a microphone on the remote to listen to voice commands. Other buttons include volume and playback controls, a D-pad for navigation, home and back buttons, and buttons for settings and source selection. The remote is powered by two AAA batteries, which are included in the sales package.
Key features of the Sony Bravia 55X90K TV include auto low-latency mode and variable refresh rate (VRR) for gaming, hands-free Google Assistant support thanks to the always-listening microphones on the TV, Alexa support, and a light sensor to automatically adjust the brightness of the screen according to lighting conditions in the room. Other useful connectivity options include built-in Google Chromecast and Apple AirPlay with HomeKit support.
Sony has gone with a smaller and more minimalistic remote with the X90K series
All of this worked as expected, including being able to use AirPlay without the need for a separate app; I could just select AirPlay from the source selection menu and the TV would appear in a list of available displays on my iPhone or MacBook.
Sony Bravia XR-55X90K Ultra-HD LED Android TV software and interface
The Sony Bravia XR-55X90K television runs on Android TV, similar to others in Sony's smart TV range over the past few years. However, recent models, including the Sony X75K series have had the newer Google TV user interface on top of the Android TV, unlike the older stock Android TV UI that many manufacturers still work with. That said, the X90K TV runs Android TV 10 with the Google TV UI, unlike the more affordable X75K series which has Android TV 11.
Although a bit old and naturally a bit short on updates and security patches, Android TV 10 delivers largely the same experience as Android TV 11, at least at the UI and feature level. Plus, the hardware in the TV ensures good performance for the user interface. The Google TV user interface on the X90K is the same as on the X75K series with key features including Google Play Movies embedded into the UI rather than as a separate app, and a content-centric approach that highlights and recommends movies and TV shows from various apps.
Interestingly, this TV also gets a ‘Netflix Calibrated Mode', which is said to optimise picture settings for specific content on Netflix. Other key UI functions, including accessing the settings, can be done from any screen on the interface by pressing the settings button on the remote.
Google Assistant can be used to search and access specific content, or even general information, and the Google Play store for Android TV provides access to over 5,000 apps and games built for use on televisions. It's a largely familiar experience for anyone used to Android TV, and remains my pick as the best television operating system right now.
Sony Bravia XR-55X90K Ultra-HD LED Android TV performance
The Sony Bravia XR-55X90K Ultra-HD LED TV uses its resolution, calibration, and Triluminos quantum-dot technology to deliver the kind of performance you would expect for the price. While not quite on par with good OLED TVs in this price range when it comes to black levels, the Sony 55X90K uses its full-array local dimming to good effect, to ensure decent blacks and rich contrast, while delivering impressive brightness and a level of colour accuracy that not too many televisions offer in this segment. Furthermore, I found performance to be consistently good across various types of content and resolutions.
Expectedly, the best experience was with high dynamic range Ultra-HD content, and the Sony 55X90K TV's support for the Dolby Vision format helped it deliver quality picture performance.
The Sony XR-55X90K television provided a bright, sharp, and clean picture, especially with Ultra-HD HDR content
Umbrella Academy Season 3 showed that the Sony 55X90K TV was not only very bright with Dolby Vision content, but also had colours that felt very accurate and on point. The TV also captured the slightly vintage aesthetic very well, while properly portraying the vibrant colours of the lavish sets of the show. There was a sense of warmth and comfort in the colours that made it possible to comfortably binge-watch the show on the Sony TV.
While the Sony Bravia television was quite bright, it didn't quite get as bright as the Mini LED-powered Samsung QN95B TV. However, it more than made up for this with its warm, soft tones, and its ability to handle motion well. That said, its brightness capabilities didn't falter even under bright daylight or when switching on all the lights in the room. Usefully, the Sony 55X90K is able to use a sensor to adjust its display brightness based on the light in the room; this worked well, ensuring brightness levels were always gentle on the eyes.
Black levels and contrast quality wasn't exceptional on the Sony X90K TV out of the box, but I was able to set it up to my liking quite easily. Once calibrated, the blacks were decent thanks to good local dimming, which also delivered excellent zone-based brightness as bright parts of the screen shone through, while darker zones maintained the quality of the black levels. There was some visible blooming from bright zones, but this wasn't distracting or bothersome in any way.
High dynamic range content did show a visible difference in brightness levels and colour accuracy when compared to standard dynamic range content, but it wasn't too far behind in quality. Watching select scenes of Spider-Man: No Way Home on Netflix in Ultra-HD resolution (but with standard dynamic range) was good, thanks to the TV's capable native brightness levels, sharpness, and clean overall approach to picture quality.
Upscaling of lower-resolution content was decent on the Sony XR-55X90K TV
Full-HD and standard definition content is usually iffy on high-end TVs, which are usually optimised for high-resolution content. However, the Sony Bravia XR-55X90K TV offered a clean picture, with good upscaling that made most low-resolution content look decent despite the large screen size.
There was occasional judder visible with the motion processing disabled, but turning on some of the motion interpolation and processing features made a visible difference in reducing the judder while keeping artefacts to a minimum even with low-resolution content. The Sony Bravia 55X90K also seemed to be able to adapt well to different types of content, prioritising sharpness or smooth, clean motion as needed.
Sound quality on the Sony Bravia 55X90K television was acceptable across formats and content types, although Dolby Atmos did make a noticeable difference in improving the spaciousness and detail in the sound. While the TV did sound alright even at soft and moderate volumes, it didn't get too loud, and was audibly held back a bit by its 30W speaker system which didn't deliver a very impressive performance as I'd have expected from a TV at this price.
Changes in technology and pricing in the premium television space means that it's now possible to buy an OLED or Mini LED television for less than Rs. 1,50,000, which makes the older quantum-dot LED technology feel a bit dated in comparison. However, it also makes it possible to buy a well-equipped, well-calibrated, and feature-rich quantum-dot LED TV such as the Sony Bravia XR-55X90K at a price which, while definitely on the premium side of things, isn't quite as high as other flagship options.
This is one of the better televisions you can buy for less than Rs. 1,50,000. It's a product that is well put together, and has a no-nonsense approach to performance, offering the kind of quality you'd expect at this price. There's very little to complain about with the Sony Bravia XR-55X90K TV; the underwhelming sound quality is perhaps the only real drawback here. If this television fits in your budget, it's well worth considering.
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