Sony’s new benchmark in the mid-range 4K Full LED segment is called XH90. This television replaces the XG85 by changing in particular the backlight technology. Labeled “Perfect for Playstation” and “Ready for PlayStation 5”, the XH90 is positioned as the ideal TV for hard-core gamers. Is it true ? Answer in this comprehensive test.
The launch of the PlayStation 5 is an important event at Sony which obviously influences the other branches of the Japanese firm. One of the most impacted is of course the business unit which is responsible for the development of the ranges Bravia and all audio and video products. Preparing for the commercial arrival of the PS5, tested here in our columns, Sony has widely communicated on the compatibility of some of its new televisions with the new graphics possibilities of the console.
These therefore benefit from two labels called ” Perfect for PlayStation “And” Ready for PlayStation 5 “. You will notice the difference: only the second precisely names the new console. And for good reason, it is more restrictive. We will discuss in this test all the differences between the two labels in order to see a little more clearly. Two models released in 2020 are “Ready for PlayStation 5”: the excellent Z8H, with 8K HDR OLED display, and XH90, 4K HDR Full Array LED model, which we offer you the test today.
A test that answers two questions. First, is the XH90 the perfect companion for the PlayStation? And is it a good TV? Because there’s more to life than gaming! Note that, for the purposes of this test, Sony kindly lent us thehuge 85 inch version of the XH90. Fortunately, this is not the only size: it also comes in 55, 65 and 75 inches.
|Dimensions||WxHxD (without stand) 189.9 x 108.9 x 7.2 cm|
|Weight||Weight with stand: 47.7 kg
Weight without Stand: 45.8 kg
|Screen size||85 inches (215 cm)|
|Screen technology||Full Array LED|
|Definition||4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) Upscaling UHD
|Interface||Android TV 9.0|
Optical output: 1
Headphone jack: 1
USB Port: 2
Antenna input: 1
Satellite input: 2
Composite Entry: 1
Ethernet Port: 1
PCMCIA port: 1
|Consumption||Consumption (in operation): 223 W
Consumption (standby): 0.5 W
Average annual cost: 309 kWh
ECO class: A
|Connectivity||WiFi 802.11a / b / g / n / ac
Google Cast and Apple AirPlay
Price and availability
The XH90 series was launched commercially during the second half of the September 2020. The four sizes offered by Sony are available in France.
Excluding promotion, the price of the XH90 varies from 1690 euros in 55 inch version at 3299 euros in 85-inch version. Intermediate versions are available at 1990 euros (65 inches) and 2199 euros (75 inches). The best size-to-price ratio seems to be the 75-inch version. The worst is obviously the 85-inch version: 1100 euros to gain 10 inches is a lot.
Of course, these are indicative prices. We have regularly seen the 85-inch model for less than 3000 euros in specialized stores.
The prices are slightly lower than those of the XH95 range, tested previously in our columns. Count an additional size for the same price: this means thatat the price of the 65 inch XH95, you can buy the 75 inch XH90.
For the same price, you can buy a QLED TV from Samsung, in the 6 and 7 series in particular (or even 8 series if you come across a good deal). Two references for example: 85Q80T and 85Q60T, both in 85 inches. Few of the models have a screen diagonal of more than 80 inches. If they are multiplying this year at Samsung, there is only one at LG, for example.
The XH90 is based on Sony’s signature design, between modernism and minimalism. A large panel with very narrow edges (thanks to the replacement of Edge LED technology for Full LED backlighting). Two very slender and triangular design feet. And a very thin beveled back on the side and top edges and thicker in the center. Sony’s design is still very sober. A point on which the market has aligned itself in recent years, especially with the switch to Full LED, OLED and QLED technologies, for example.
At the back you find a polycarbonate frame gray with a finish reminiscent of brushed steel. The connectors (which we will detail very quickly) are placed on the right, in a dedicated space. On the other hand, you find the food intake. On the sides, you find two openings for two of the four speakers (the other two openings are placed in the lower edge). Finally, a hatch is visible. We will come back to this in the connection part.
In this 85-inch version, the television measures 1.90 meters wide, 1.09 meter high without feet and 1.16 meters including feet. Diagonally, the TV measures 2.17 meters. These might just be details, but of course they are not trivial if you live in an apartment building. Because the box is bigger still. Imagine that the 85-inch XH90 doesn’t fit in every elevator or stairwell when it’s packed.
The slab measures 84.6 inch very exactly, either 2.15 meters in diameter on the 2.17 meters calculated previously. The frame measures 13mm on the sides and above the slab. It is slightly thicker on the lower part: 21 mm.
Two small remarks about the frame. First, under the Sony logo, is a notification LED that lights up when you interact with the XH90. An interaction that can come from the remote control, the Android TV Remote application on a smartphone or a third-party Bluetooth accessory (a controller, keyboard, etc.). Then in the center of the top border, opposite the Sony logo, is a photo sensor. In our opinion, it serves as a light sensor. We have tried installing Google Duo to activate it as a webcam. But it doesn’t work. According to AIDA32, it is a sensor whose definition reaches 0.9 megapixel.
Let’s end this owner’s tour with the TV thickness measurements. The frame measures 12 mm. Then, this dimension gradually increases to reach 70 mm in the center of the TV. The feet, metallic, measure 44 cm in depth (so count about twenty centimeters behind the television) and 0.6 cm in thickness.
Two keyed locations are integrated in the lower edge. In the photos you can see the farthest position (width between the feet of 153 cm). But there is another position for smaller furniture (66 cm between the two feet). Of course, you can hang the TV. However, note that this version weighs almost 46 kilograms. So pay attention to the walls and ankles that you will use to support it.
The XH90 is obviously accompanied by its remote control. This is the same remote control that is offered with the XG85. So there is no change in this area. Neither in bad. Neither for good. This means that Sony is slightly behind on this point of detail. Because, even if it is complete and functional, it lacks modernity. In particular, it would need a small tactile surface to better navigate Android TV, applications and the virtual keyboard.
The XH90 remote control consists of a very slender rectangular block with an elegant design. You will find the usual elements of the brand’s remote controls. Number buttons. A directional cross for menu navigation. Buttons dedicated to Android TV. A few buttons for controlling related audiovisual devices (like a media player). And two keys for Netfix and Google Play Video. If you don’t have Netflix … it’s wasted space! And no one really uses Play Video …
The remote control is Bluetooth. There is therefore no need to point it towards the television to record your interactions. It also incorporates a microphone for voice commands in order to search for content using your voice and no longer with the virtual keyboard which is particularly impractical in Android TV.
Physically, this remote control is identical to that of the Bravia A8 (OLED 4K) and XH95 (the model above this XH90). However, there is a big difference: that of the XH95 is backlit. This means that you can see the keys in the dark. With that of XH90, this is unfortunately not the case. Fortunately, there are other ways to control TV in the dark, including the Android TV Remote app, available on Android and iOS!
This remote control works with two LR03 batteries. To insert them, just slide the textured part of the remote down. It’s very simple.
Let’s move on to the connectors offered by the XH90. They are therefore all grouped together on the right of the back of the TV (on the left when you face the screen). Once again, it’s almost a shame that a USB port isn’t more easily accessible when you want to display vacation photos or a little family movie. However, wireless connections are there to overcome this slight problem. And the XH90 is pretty well supplied in this area. We will see that in a few moments.
Let’s first talk about wired connections. They are numerous and sufficient. We are going to shell them from top to bottom. It starts with two USB type-A ports including one USB 3. They are used to read content, but also to connect hard disks to save your recordings. Then we have optical audio output if your sound system is not HDMI compatible. Then a 3.5 mm jack output for headphones (or an audio system without optics or HDMI). The next port is a composite video input.
We then move on to the HDMI ports. There are four. One of them is ARC compatible, acronym for Audio Return Channel. This means that the television will take control of your HDMI compatible audio system. Thus, the HDMI connection from your sound bar to the XH90 will transmit audio and video. No need to opt for an optical connection if your sound bar is also ARC.
The HDMI ports of the XH90 are also HEC and CEC compatible. Thanks to HEC, an HDMI cable transmits data like an Ethernet cable (so the television can share an Internet connection). And thanks to CEC, you can take control of the sound bar with your TV remote. In addition, if you have connected devices via HDMI to your sound bar (multimedia decoder, Blu-Ray player, game console), you can control them in the same way.
We tried it with the Freebox Pop, tested previously in our columns, and Apple TV. And it works. However, beware of the few limitations of this takeover. The proprietary buttons on the remote will not be compatible: the Netflix button will launch Netflix on your TV, even if you are browsing your set-top box interface and even if your set-top box also has a Netflix app. In addition, voice search will not be active on the controlled device (even if the latter is Google Assistant compatible).
If you plug a device into one of these four ports, the TV will ask you what type of device it is: set-top box, soundbar, game console, etc. Obviously, a Sony device will be recognized automatically (console and audio system). Thanks to the update rolled out at the end of November in France, the XH90 is HDMI 2.1 compatible. This means that the television supports 4K content at 120 frames per second. This is one of the prerequisites for being certified ” Ready for PlayStation 5 “.
Under the HDMI ports, you will find an Ethernet port, if your television is next to your modem router, as well as the connections linked to TNT and satellite tuners. There is one entrance for the first and two for the second. There is obviously no component input (three cards or five cards). And even less scart socket (taken what?). Finally, note that the hatch indicated above is used to insert PCMCIA cards. This port is used, among other things, to connect subscription cards to satellite television services. Thus, no need for external decoders.
Side wireless connection, the Bravia XH90 is rather well provided. Sony recognizes that the home consumer ecosystem is heterogeneous. Windows. Android. iOS. There is something for every taste. The television is therefore able to converse with all nearby devices. Sometimes with more success. Sometimes a little less.
We first find the two great classics. WiFi and Bluetooth. The WiFi standard supported by the TV is WiFi ac. No WiFi 6 so here. If it’s not bothersome today, it will become more and more so over time. If the XH90 is placed next to your modem router, you don’t have to worry about speeds for streaming movies and series, at least up to Full HD. In 4K, depending on the format (encoding, refresh, HDR, etc.), you may experience slowdowns.
The XH90 is compatible Bluetooth 4.2. This standard allows many accessories to be connected to the television. We tried plugging in a wireless keyboard, gamepad, and headphones. And everything is working perfectly. Note, however, that “True Wireless” headphones like AirPods or Freebuds will only connect in mono. Only Bluetooth 5.0 and higher compatible devices are able to handle the
In addition to WiFi and Bluetooth, the Sony XH90 is compatible Google Cast and Apple AirPlay. So you can view content from another device on your TV without having to plug in a cable. You can also show your entire screen or “cast” an app, like YouTube or Chrome. This Google Cast and AirPlay compatibility more than compensates for the lack of a remote USB port on one side of the television. This is a very good initiative from Sony.
Image: technical elements
Now let’s move on to the image quality. This is obviously one of the most important points of this test. Especially since, once again, Sony’s promise is very ambitious with the XH90. Not only with the 85-inch model that we use to carry out this test, but for all sizes in this series. Indeed, Sony positions the XH90 as the ultimate TV for gaming. We will come back to a section dedicated to the technologies dedicated to this use. And on their strengths once the controller in hand.
Let’s start by recalling the main characteristics of this slab. This is a screen 4K Full Array LED. It is backlit from behind over the entire surface using a set of small light sources. There are about thirty of them. Sony explains the choice of Full Array LED and not OLED because Full LED technology offers better brightness than OLED. Remember also that the television is equipped with an ambient light sensor that adapts the backlight (but this can be deactivated).
Image display (and scaling for HD and Full HD content) is supported by the X1 4K HDR processor and not its Ultimate version. The slab offers a 100Hz refresh rate. It is compatible Dolby Vision and HDR10. It displays the colors of sRGB, DCI-P3, Adobe RGB and BT.2020 samples. Several technologies improve rendering: X-Reality for clarity, Live Color for colors, X-Tended Dynamic Range for contrast, X-Motion Clarity for sharpness. Sony promises that some processing is managed object by object, in order to adapt contrast, light and color according to what is displayed.
The XH90 offers several color, contrast and brightness profiles: standard, expert, intense, photo, graphics (for PowerPoint presentations), game and cinema. When content is compatible, other modes appear, such as ” Netflix Calibrated Mode Which adapts colorimetry, contrast and brightness to the settings desired by the producer or director of a series or film. This is an automatic mode (it does not activate otherwise), but it can be deactivated.
Image: technical reports and impressions
Let’s move on to the test results. We have carried out several series of measurements with our probe for each mode that interests us the most: in photo mode (the purest), in intense mode, in game mode, in expert mode without HDR and in expert mode with HDR. The measurements were taken in the center of the slab. And the results are very surprising. Because the XH90 reveals excellent behavior in the most classic modes (standard, game, cinema and photo) as well as Expert mode without HDR. But the properties of the panel are totally out of the ordinary in intense mode. The luminosity draws towards the blue and the Delta E pierces the ceiling for half of the colors.
The game mode is clearly the best of all. It offers an average temperature of 6,666 Kelvin. The mean Gamma and the mean Delta E are below 3. This reveals a very faithful color reproduction. And the average contrast is slightly above 5000 points. Maximum brightness is 600 cd / m² in this mode (but other modes go well above, up to 650 cd / m²).
Note that these figures do not take into account the HDR which completely disrupts the values. We performed a series of tests in expert mode with HDR enabled. The Delta E takes off and the contrast drops dramatically. The average range is however very good and the average temperature remains excellent. This shows that the color processing by HDR is not always very successful. If you want a clean image, go for an expert mode or the excellent game mode.
Beyond these numbers, there is also the visual impression. On a daily basis, the XH90 offers a very beautiful image. The color accuracy isn’t as accurate with the X1 4K HDR processor as it does with the X1 Ultimate from the XH95 series, but it comes close enough to fill even the fussy of the eyes. The HDR is here very pronounced, to reinforce the colors. Sometimes a little too much, especially in blue tones.
The contrast is clearly lower than OLED panels. The illumination areas of the pixels are less precise. So much so that some imperfections may appear at the edge of very bright objects. It’s not too noticeable when you’re watching a movie, for example. But it’s more obvious with still images, like photos.
Another quality of the XH90: the homogeneity of the panel. Colors and brightness are consistent across virtually the entire display surface. Only the corners are less well lit.
Despite the good brightness of the panel, the XH90, like the XH95 as well as some OLED panels, suffers from some reflectivity. If you position your television in front of a window or next to a picture window, the sun’s rays will reflect there and reduce visibility. Sony has, however, worked a lot on this point. And the brightness of the Full Array LED display offsets a lot.
The screen resolution of the 85-inch version is low (especially when you compare to smartphones that display 1080p resolution with a screen size of around 6 to 7 inches). It slightly exceeds 50 pixels per inch. If you are a few tens of centimeters from the slab, you can distinguish the pixels. On this screen size, it is better to focus on 8K resolution (or reduce the size).
Of course, even today, you will certainly have a lot more content in Full HD than in 4K. Whether it’s video games or movies and series. This is where upscaling is important, to create a 4K image from a 1080p, 720p or even 480p image. The rendering engine handles upscaling quite well and only produces little extraneous noise. There are still a few with definitions lower than Full HD. Again, the size of our test copy does not work in its favor …
In terms of audio experience, the XH90 is equipped with four speakers. Two are placed in height, on the side edges (one on each side obviously). And two others are positioned on the lower edge. The set offers a power of 20 watts. With this setup, the TV does not propel sound back (hoping it reflects off a wall to reach the user’s ears), but sideways. Note also that the XH90 integrates Dolby Atmos for sound (in addition to Dolby Vision in video).
The first two loudspeakers serve above all to diffuse the midrange and treble, while the last two are used for bass and accompany the first two on the midrange. With these four speakers that surround the slab, Sony promises an almost spatial sound experience. You feel like the screen (and especially the characters on the screen) is the source of everything you can hear.
In practice, the experience is good. Details abound in treble and midrange, although it clearly lacks depth in the bass. We’re even surprised at the sound quality: the XH90 delivers high power and lots of detail. And above all, it does very well without having to necessarily be accompanied by a dedicated sound bar. Of course, if you have one, don’t hesitate to plug it in.
Warning, the 55-inch XH90 is not equipped with the two additional speakers (only those that are positioned in the bottom edge). In this case, it is obviously that a sound bar is highly appreciated (not to say essential.
Android TV interface
The XH90 works with Android TV, here in version 9.0. This is the most recent version that you can find on a television or media decoder today. Unlike Android, Android TV doesn’t allow for as much eccentricity in terms of design and customization. The organization of the interface is therefore the same as with many other devices operating with this OS: a succession of thematic “channels” and Google Assistant available at the top of the screen (or directly from the remote control).
These channels are suites of suggestions, sometimes depending on your uses, if not the popularity of the content. Netflix, YouTube, Play Store or Facebook Watch channels are preinstalled. There is also a Sony Select channel which accumulates video suggestions from various streaming and VOD services, such as Netflix, Salto, Disney +, MyCanal or Prime Video. You can change the order of appearance, add or remove.
On the application side, several are preinstalled, some of which are directly on the home page. Netflix, Prime Video, Disney +, MyCanal, Rakuten TV, YouTube, Facebook Watch, Play Store (and all the associated bricks). Typical of Android TV anachronism, you also find Play Music (which, if clicked, takes you to a page advising you to download YouTube Music). This is something unnecessary.
You will also find Apple TV +, thanks to the firmware update rolled out in November. Apple’s video streaming service is increasingly slipping out of the California brand’s ecosystem, and that’s great news. The larger the target, the greater the potential number of subscribers. More income will be important. And the more the potential investment will grow to create quality content to counter Netflix and Prime Video.
A media player and a music player are preinstalled. These are two applications that are able to connect to servers located on a home network (as here with a Freebox). The downside to these apps is that you need to have the movies and music files you want to watch. Be aware that you can install VLC to complete these multimedia functions. The advantage of VLC is that it is more open and able to access streaming streams if you give it an address.
Note that the television only has 4 GB of storage space (hence the importance of the USB 3.0 port). This is more than enough to install multimedia applications and the various VOD services. On the other hand, you will quickly become cramped if you put movies or games in the memory of the XH90. We recommend that you place these files on a USB key for example.
Performance and consumption
While that might not necessarily be the main use you might have for a TV, the XH90 could almost become a small add-on gaming console. Indeed, thanks to the Android TV system, you can install applications, including games and emulators, from Google Play. Then connect a Bluetooth controller and configure the keys in your emulator or your favorite game. Here we go.
Of course, not all emulators and games will run smoothly on this TV. Remember what are the components of the platform: a chipset MediaTek MT5895 (four Cortex-A53 clocked at 1.8 GHz with an ARM Mali-G52 GPU) accompanied by 3 GB of RAM. We did some benchmarks to measure the power available on the XH90. And we were relatively surprised. The scores obtained by television are three higher than those of the Freebox Pop, for example. But we are still very far from the big names on Android TV, in particular Nvidia’s Shield TV.
We tried out different games, including one of our stallion Dead Trigger 2 games. This last one let it master relatively well (after a session of setting up the Bluetooth controller). Emulators also work well, up to Nintendo 64 and PlayStation. For more recent consoles (like the Dreamcast) or less well optimized (like the Saturn), don’t expect to get a nice fluidity. Would you like a little Ocarina of Time in 4K?
On the consumption side, the XH90 consumes 223 watts in operation and 0.5 watt Standby. Its annual energy consumption is 309 kW / h, much higher than the consumption of a 75-inch panel and an OLED panel. Her energy class is A (according to the old standard which also includes A +, A ++ and A +++). If the energy consumption in relation to the size of the panel is higher for the 85-inch model than the 75-inch model, note that all sizes obtained the same A rating.
Pure and hard gaming!
You can install games and some emulators on the XH90. But what about outright gaming? In fact, this year, two 4K / 60 frames per second compatible consoles arrived on the market. And as we announced in the preamble, this model is certified “Perfect for PlayStation”, but especially “Ready for PlayStation 5”. And as we said in the preamble, only two Sony televisions in 2020 benefit from the second label.
Let us first recall the characteristics of these two certifications. The first is a label available to all Bravia released in 2020. It certifies that the television has a game mode, with more realistic colors (which we have seen with the XH90 previously), and offers fluidity and sufficient responsiveness for playing video games (on PlayStation, but also on Xbox, because there is no direct connection).
When a console is plugged into an HDMI port, the TV recognizes it (it works better with a PS4 and a PS5) and switches to game mode automatically when this equipment is turned on. Note that you can assign game console status to any device. The Bravia will then automatically activate game mode, just as if it were a console.
The certification ” Ready for PlayStation 5 (Which should change its name soon, now that the console is out) goes a step further. First of all, they are HDMI 2.1 compatible in order to be able to display 4K @ 120 frames per second (and no longer at 60 frames per second), offering better fluidity in the image and less image retention.
Then theInput Lag (the time between the moment you press a button and the moment the action is visible on the screen) is considerably reduced (it reaches 7.2 milliseconds, according to Sony). Finally, the television is compatible VRR (for Variable Refresh Rate), one of the great novelties of the PS5 and HDMI 2.1 This will allow the television and the PlayStation 5 to communicate with each other to smooth the flow of ‘picture.
L’amélioration de l’Input Lag, la technologie de rafraichissement d’écran variable, la compatibilité 4K @ 120 images par seconde sont autant de bonnes nouvelles pour les gamers en quête d’un écran. Et ce ne sont pas les seuls arguments. En optant pour la technologie Full Array LED et non l’OLED (alors que Sony est l’un des experts de l’OLED), la firme japonaise fait aussi aussi un choix de raison : la rémanence (les images fantômes qui s’affichent quand l’écran se met à jour trop rapidement) est plus faible en LED qu’en OLED. Et même si le contraste est moins élevé qu’en OLED, la XH90 offre de bons taux de contraste en mode jeu et une très bonne luminosité.
Nous avons essayé la Bravia XH90 avec les deux nouvelles consoles, la PS5 et la Xbox Series X. Et nous avons eu une très bonne expérience en termes de fluidité. Bien évidemment, avec un écran de 85 pouces, vous avez une excellente immersion avec un recul compris entre 2,5 et 4 mètres. Moins, vous risquez de voir les pixels. Plus loin, vous perdrez en immersion.
Nous avons deux conclusions différentes sur la XH90. La première concerne la série, de la 55 pouces à la 85 pouces. Nous y parlons qualité d’image, connectivité, interactivité et performances. La seconde concerne plus spécifiquement le modèle 85 pouces. Nous y parlons usage, résolution d’écran et consommation d’énergie.
D’abord, la première conclusion. Bien moins onéreuse qu’une série OLED et moins chère que la gamme XH95, la gamme XH90 fait partie des très bons rapports qualité-prix chez Sony. Elle est plus complète, grâce au support du HDMI 2.1 via une mise à jour déjà déployée. Elle quasiment aussi performante que les séries profitant du processeur d’image X1 Ultimate. Et la qualité d’image n’a rien à leur envier, avec des couleurs naturelles.
Bien sûr, nous regrettons une légère faiblesse en termes de contraste et un HDR parfois un peu frivole, mais la luminosité est forte, la réflectivité est maitrisée et l’homogénéité de la dalle est remarquable. Enfin, elle offre une rémanence plus faible qu’en OLED et un temps de réponse plus faible. Ce qui est idéal pour le jeu vidéo, notamment avec les nouvelles consoles, PS5 et Xbox Series X.
L’expérience audio est également de bonne qualité, grâce à l’inclusion des quatre haut-parleurs positionnés stratégiquement pour offrir un rendu presque spatial. Attention à la version 55 pouces qui n’en bénéficie pas. Nous vous conseillons donc de vous diriger vers les tailles supérieures si vous n’avez pas une barre de son pour compenser cette absence.
Deuxième conclusion, celle du KD-85XH9096. Cette télévision est hors norme et offre une immersion inégalée dans toute la série XH90. D’autant que le recul nécessaire est moins important que nous aurions pu le croire. Approchez-vous raisonnablement de l’écran, et vous serez happé au coeur des contenus.
Outre son encombrement, la KD-85XH9096 a un défaut inhérent à sa taille : la résolution. Elle est plus faible que sur les dalles 4K plus petites. Cette baisse de résolution a une conséquence sur l’upscaling : des artefacts sont plus rapidement visibles quand vous passez du Full HD au 4K (et nous ne parlons pas d’un simple film en 720p ou en SD…). L’upscaling n’est pas l’exercice où le XH90 excelle. Et la version 85 pouces en pâtit le plus. Nous vous conseillons donc de vous tourner vers les versions 65 ou 75 pouces de cette série où la résolution (et le piqué) sera au rendez-vous.