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Reading through a quick, feature-focused Sony X90CJ review gives some insight into Sony’s offerings for the year. We get to see if the performance of this 2021 product line outstrips its predecessor: The Sony X900 series. Most importantly, we explore how well the performance and price point of the 2021 series match up.
The Sony X90J is a mid-range product line that offers many features you expect in a 4K smart TV. Costco carries the same line under the Sony X90CJ label. Let’s explore what this model of 4K smart TV has to offer.
Sony X90CJ Review: Design and build
Sony chooses a simple and elegant chassis for the X90J, with housing that’s just under three inches thick at its widest. The solid black plastic of the chassis is sturdy enough to protect the TV against a mild bump. Still, if accidents are a real risk in your home, consider mounting the TV via the 300×300 VESA mount pattern at the back.
The outwards-facing inputs are easy to access from the left side of the TV, which is a considerable design win on Sony’s end.
Inputs and connectivity
You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to the input selection of the Sony X90J. The ports are in a single, easy-to-reach column at the left end of the TV. They are arranged in the following order, from top to bottom:
- A pair of USB ports
- Digital optical output
- A 3.5mm audio jack
- One composite AV input
- Four HDMI ports; with the third and fourth ports carrying HDMI 2.1 capability
- One Ethernet port
- An RS232 port
- An IR sensor jack
- A coax connector for cable or antenna
The TV also comes with the requisite wireless adapter that allows you to connect to a Wi-Fi network or Bluetooth device. This is enough to connect all your devices, with room to spare for the kitchen sink.
Sony X90J Review: User interface
Sony’s 2021 product lines run Google TV, with no exceptions thus far. This is a content-rich, feature-rich OS that offers access to every app you could think of. The interface is also easy to personalize, a feature that may come in handy if you need to declutter your menus and home screen.
Google TV comes with its own voice assistant by default, but it offers native support for Alexa. The microphone on the TV remote will get you conversing with Google Assistant. Syncing an Amazon device with the X90J gives you access to Alexa.
Expect smooth transitions as you navigate the interface, with lightning-fast response times whenever you select a menu item.
Sony X90CJ Review: Hardware and picture quality
The Sony X90J is a VA panel with direct backlighting and a native refresh rate of 120 frames per second. Direct backlights allow the X90 to execute precise, full-array local dimming. This goes a long way in driving the black levels down to near-zero. Combine this feature with the brightness you expect from a VA panel, and the likelihood of excellent contrast is high.
Let’s dive into the different metrics of picture quality and put the X90J through its paces.
The 2020 predecessor of the Sony X90J has a slightly larger color gamut than the 2021 version. Still, the X90J has an expansive color gamut by SDR standards, though the palette falls just a little short for HDR content. This limitation is almost undetectable as you enjoy the excellent picture that the panel delivers.
Color reproduction is accurate, right out of the box, with little difference between the source signal and what you see on the screen. The colors may have the slightest tinge of blue, but you can adjust the color temperature via the panel’s on-screen menu.
In the end, you should be looking at rich, true-to-life hues that could very well transport you right into the screen.
2. Brightness, contrast, and HDR content
VA panels are bright, and Sony’s X90J panels are no exception. If anything, a peak brightness level of 780 nits puts the X90J at the top of the VA panel rankings. Better still, the full-array local dimming of the panel allows the TV to execute black levels that are nearly 6,000 times dimmer than the brightest color. How do these numbers translate in terms of your viewing experience?
For starters, the contrast that results from deep blacks and brilliant colors is breathtaking. The X90J renders a level of detail that comes second only to OLED and QLED screens. No matter how bright or dark a scene, you’ll be able to see every minute detail in stark relief. The scales on that terrifying reptile in the murky water will give you the warning that the predator’s dinner wished they had.
Lastly, we cover HDR content in a TV with a color gamut that is more narrow than we’d like. The superlative brightness of the TV expands the color volume that’s native to the panel. This makes up for the limitation in the native color palette; in a significant way. In the end, the Sony X90J still manages to deliver HDR content that is both accurate and vivid.
3. Screen uniformity
Direct backlights allow for a largely uniform screen in both grey and black modes. This translates to little if any dirty screen effect as you watch your favorite team win or wipe out. There’ll be no need to put up with phantom smudges of sand on an otherwise pristine football pitch.
4. Motion handling
Motion handling is where VA panels dominate their traditional rivals, and the X90J lives up to this reputation.
A response time of just over ten milliseconds eliminates the possibility of ghosting. If anything, the pixels change colors so fast that they create an artifact known as reverse ghosting. The TV is just as quick to render an input signal, with a lag of 13ms for 4K gaming content. Gamers know that these numbers allow for smooth, responsive gameplay with little stutter or judder.
That being said, you may notice a slight stutter in content that has a low frame rate. The manufacturer recommends a firmware update, or you could choose to activate motion interpolation instead. Go for the update; it’s a permanent fix, and you’ll have to do it at some point anyway.
Sony X90CJ Review: Sound
A pair of internal speakers deliver loud, clear sound that can hold its own in a noisy space. However, there are limits to what inbuilt speakers can do in terms of a sound stage. At peak volume, you will notice a loss of detail as the different audio elements merge into each other. The speakers are also light on bass frequencies.
You can connect your audio rig to the TV via one of the many inputs the Sony X90J houses.
- Sleek design
- An excellent selection of inputs
- An ATSC 3.0 tuner allows you to watch new-generation over-the-air content
- Google TV offers a wealth of content and tools
- Native support for Google Assistant as well as compatibility with Alexa and Apple Airplay
- Great picture quality
- The TV is a bit pricey when you compare it with similar TVs from other manufacturers
- Narrow color gamut by HDR standards
- Narrow viewing angles
- The TV’s reflection handling could be better
- The TV legs are non-adjustable, so make sure your entertainment stand can accommodate the width of the TV
- No variable refresh rate, an omission that could discourage avid gamers
Sony X90CJ review verdict: A good investment
This Sony X90CJ review reveals a TV that promises to deliver many years’ worth of excellent viewing and immersive gaming. The manufacturer also includes an ATSC 3.0 tuner that allows you to enjoy new generation content in 4K and HDR.
Should you choose this TV over comparable brands at the same price point? Yes, you should. The picture quality of the Sony X90J is just as good, if not better, than the competition. Superior build quality and a new-generation tuner put the X90J in the lead. Click here to learn more about this TV.