So, Sony’s highest end 4k LCD of 2020 has hit the stores, and we bought the fifty-five inch model. On paper it appears to tick all the boxes – such as full-array local dimming, and the holy grail of LCD tech – a TV that balances both wide viewing angles with Sony’s ‘X-Wide Angle’ technology, and a VA panel with high contrast.
In this video, we’ll put the TV to the test and see if it lives up to the hype of it’s predecessor the X950G from last year. Hi, I’m Daniel from RTINGS.com where “WE HELP PEOPLE FIND THE BEST PRODUCTS FOR THEIR NEEDS”.
Make sure you subscribe to our channel for the latest videos, or check out our website for the full review! We’re going to start by looking at the design of the TV, and then move on to our picture quality tests.
We’ll also look at the motion handling and input lag for any sports fans or gamers. We’ll check out the sound and smart features, and then finish with an overview. As always, you can check out the timestamps in the description or the YouTube chapters to skip to what you care about.
We bought the fifty five inch model of the X950H, but we expect our results to be valid for the larger sizes as well, up to eighty five inches. There’s also a forty-nine inch model available which doesn’t have the ‘X-Wide Angle’ feature, but we’ll discuss the impact of this later in the review.
Depending on your region, this TV may be known as the XH95, but we expect the performance to be the same as the US model we bought. The design of this TV is very similar to other Sony TVs – which is good.
Sony TVs tend to have a minimalistic design, which works well and is very functional without looking too flashy. The stand is adjustable between two positions. This is the narrower position, but it can also be moved to the sides of the TV.
It supports the TV well and feels stable, but in either configuration it does have quite a large footprint and requires a large table. The borders are thin and look good, and definitely aren’t distracting which is great.
The single button to control the TV is located on the front, under the Sony logo. Unfortunately, there’s only a single button, which is a step down from the X950G which had three. This single button means you need to use a combination of presses and holds to change the input or adjust the volume.
Looking at the side, the TV is relatively thin and looks good so will look nice mounted against a wall. Also, the inputs are all located on the left-hand side of the TV, and are relatively easy to access.
There’s the usual range of inputs including 4 HDMI ports, as well as two USB ports and a digital optical out port. Unlike many newer TVs, there’s also an analog video input which is nice for those with older devices as you can buy an adapter to connect the TV to your older DVD player or camera with a composite port.
Now, this labelled HDMI port also be used for eARC to passthrough high quality sound from your TV to your soundbar or receiver. We’ll talk more about the capabilities of these HDMI ports later in the supported resolutions section of the review.
Like many Sony TVs, the X950H also has cable management. You can route cables through a clip on the back of the stand, to keep them out of sight for a clean setup which is nice. So that’s it for the design, and we’ll move on to the picture quality.
We’ll be comparing to currently available TVs but competing models may change as new TVs are released throughout the year. For an updated comparison with new models as we buy and test them, see the review page on our website which is linked below.
First up, the contrast ratio. The contrast ratio of a display is the relative brightness of the brightest whites in a scene when compared to the deepest blacks. We measure this on a checkerboard pattern, both with and without local dimming.
The contrast of the X950H is good, but on the lower range of typical VA TVs. This is because this TV has a wide viewing angle feature which we’ll check out later. We’ve found in the past that these wide viewing angle features can result in lower contrast ratios, but in the case of the X950H it doesn’t seem to be too hurt much which is great.
It does mean that the smaller forty nine inch model may have a slightly higher contrast, but we don’t know as we haven’t tested it. So now on to the local dimming. Local dimming is a feature which allows the TV to control or turn-off different areas of the backlight to produce deeper areas of dark scenes and improve the picture quality.
The X950H has a good local dimming feature. In normal content, there’s more dimming than blooming around bright objects, but not to the point of crushing small highlights or losing detail. Overall, we found that the local dimming is handled better than last year’s X950G or the Z9F.
So now onto the viewing angle – this is where we can really see the impact of Sony’s ‘X-Wide Angle’ technology. We don’t know exactly how this works, but suspect that there’s an additional layer that acts as a lens to diffuse the light from the screen horizontally.
The good news is this definitely offers an improvement over most VA type panels, and it should be fine for most people. Note that the forty-nine inch model doesn’t have this feature, so we expect it to have worse viewing angles than the larger sizes.
So now onto the reflection handling. Good reflection handling is important if you have a room with some lights, to prevent dark scenes from getting washed out by the ambient light. An interesting side-effect of the ‘X-Wide Angle’ feature is unique-looking reflections, where patterns and rainbows are diffused horizontally.
This isn’t too distracting though, and overall the reflection handling is excellent – even for a bright room. Now, also important for a bright room is the ability to get the screen nice and bright.
Overall the brightness varies depending on the scene as expected, but it is still very high with the ‘X-Tended Dynamic Range’ set to high. Combined with the excellent reflection handling, it should be fine for the brightest of rooms.
In HDR, a high peak brightness is important to make highlights stand out. The X950H gets really bright on our real scene test pattern which is excellent. It isn’t quite as bright as the X950G, but this may also be due to the viewing angle layer which diffuses light horizontally.
It is still a great result, and makes it a good choice for those who like bright HDR highlights. If you watch HDR and like an image that pops, then a wide color gamut and high color volume is also important to display the wider color spaces available in HDR.
The X950H has a great wide color gamut which is nice to see as an improvement over the older X950G. Now, we test the gray uniformity of each TV by taking a photo of a mid-level gray and a dark-gray. This shows uniformity issues which affect all colours, including dirty screen effect or vignetting which can be distracting when watching sports or playing video games.
The X950H has a good uniformity, so it won’t really be distracting for most people which is good. Note that this does vary between units due to tolerances in the manufacturing process, but we expect our unit to be representative.
Let us know in the comments below if you buy this TV and how yours compares! So now on to the motion handling, and we’ll start with the response time. To learn more about motion on TVs, check out our video series which should be linked up here.
In short, the response time is an average of the time it takes a display to transition from one frame to the next. A high response time results in blurry images when watching sports or playing video games.
The X950H has a fast response time which is great, resulting in clear images without much motion blur. Those sensitive to it may notice slight overshooting in dark scenes causing some artefacts, but we don’t expect this to be a problem for most people.
The photo of our moving logo also looks smooth and clear, and the backlight flicker at seven hundred and twenty hertz isn’t really noticeable, so while the TV isn’t flicker free it also shouldn’t be a problem for most people.
For those who really care about the clearest motion, black frame insertion is a feature which flickers the backlight, reducing persistence blur. On this TV and most other Sony’s, it can be enabled by increasing the Clearness slider in the ‘MotionFlow’ menu.
It works fairly well as you can see in our moving logo photo, however for 60 Hz content the minimum backlight flicker is one hundred and twenty hertz, which results in the duplication visible. Now, often one of the most important aspects for gamers is a low input lag.
At about nineteen milliseconds for sixty hertz signals, the X950H feels very responsive when changing to the ‘Game’ or ‘Graphics’ picture modes. Unfortunately, unlike some newer Samsung and LG models, the X950H doesn’t support the auto low latency feature to do this automatically.
The input lag does drop for 120Hz signals, so it feels even more responsive which is nice. Overall, it is a good result for gamers and within a few milliseconds either way of most newer TVs. Now, it came as a big surprise that when many other manufacturers were announcing HDMI 2.
1 features, Sony remained pretty quiet. Support for these features on the X950H are unfortunately lacking, even the ones that don’t require extra bandwidth, which seems a bit strange. This TV doesn’t support variable refresh rates, auto low latency mode, or higher than HDMI 2.
0 bandwidth. For most people this doesn’t matter too much, but if you want the latest and greatest features you may want to look elsewhere. So now on to the smart features. Like other Sony TVs, this one runs Android TV which works well and feels very smooth.
This is great, because Sony TVs have a bit of a reputation of a slow interface, but this seems to be changing. With access to the google play store there’s a huge variety of apps, and the large remote works well to browse through content or quickly get to Netflix.
And lastly, for the sound. The X950H has a microphone in the remote to apply room correction which is great, and results in a good well-balanced frequency response. It also gets very loud, but as usual if you’re after more thump or rumble from the bass then look for a soundbar or external speakers.
So overall, the X950H is a solid all-around performer. While it closely resembles the previous X950G, it does offer some small improvements with a slightly better color gamut, better reflection handling, and some improvements to the local dimming.
For most people though, the cheaper model is probably the way to go. So that’s it! What do you think of the Sony X950H? In the future we’ll do more of a head to head comparison with other models, so let us know in the comments below which TVs you’d like us to compare it to! You can check out all of the measurements on our website.
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