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OLED panels still offer deeper blacks, higher native contrast, and the most convincing colors. However, although the cost has dropped significantly and we can find models at a reasonable price, they still aren’t that affordable. This is precisely what makes LCD panel TVs with LED backlight and FALD matrix (Full Array Local Dimming) a very interesting alternative to OLED, and the Sony X900F (Check on Amazon.com) is a good example of what the latest advances in LCD technology have to offer.
Sony X900F – Features
The two most striking features of the Sony X900F are its 4K HDR X1 Extreme image processor, which is the same one Sony uses in its OLED TVs and its LED backlight with local dimming. Both are a decisive factor for the overall image quality of this TV.
Sony’s image processor executes, among other functions, three very important algorithms:
- The first one, known as Dual Database Processing, aims to eliminate noise and improve detail in real-time.
- The second, Object base HDR re-master, allows the processor to analyze each frame separately and identify the objects that make it up for the purpose of applying color correction and individual contrast for each one of them.
- And third, the Super Bit Mapping 4K applies a gradient of softer colors and lights to smooth the scenes with a lot of tonal richness.
In addition, the FALD backlight manages to control the light with much more precision thanks to the presence of a larger number of LEDs, which are placed behind the panel (and not on the edges).
Sony X900F – Design
The design follows Sony’s guidelines: stylized lines, thin frames and a huge base for added stability. This is an attractive TV, built with quality materials and impeccable machining. The back of the chassis is mostly good quality plastic that should not have any problem to stand the test of time.
The aluminum base is minimalist but somewhat long. It provides good stability but takes up a fairly large area.
Sony X900F – User experience
The operating system is Android TV, so its interface is very similar to other models that also bet on Google’s platform. The most straightforward and practical way to navigate the interface is via the conventional remote control. However Google’s voice assistant is also integrated into this TV, so you can do almost everything with voice commands.
One of the known handicaps of Android TV is the responsiveness of the interface, which, on occasion can become infuriating. Fortunately, it seems that Sony (and other manufacturers) are beginning to use more powerful processors that can better handle the load. There is still a way to go but the Sony X900F lets you navigate the interface much more smoothly than before.
On the other hand, the configuration menus haven’t changed and are not the most intuitive in the market, but not the most complex either. It will take the user some time to familiarize themselves with them. The three important picture modes you have to look out for are Professional Cinema, Home Cinema, and Games.
The first two are perfect for movies, although personally I prefer Professional Cinema since it grants the images with a similar aspect to the one I enjoy when going to the movies. The Game mode, on the other hand, is crucial if you are going to use the TV for gaming. It deactivates a good part of the image processing, and thus significantly reduces input latency.
Sony X900F – Connectivity
You can connect the Sony X900F to the internet via 802.11ac Wi-Fi or using an Ethernet cable. For A/V connections this TV features four HDMI ports that should be sufficient for most users. All of them are compatible with the HDCP 2.2 protocol, but only ports 2 and 3 meet the HDMI 2.0 standard. And the only HDMI port that incorporates the audio return channel (ARC) is number 3. Keep all this in mind when you connect this TV with a gaming console or external audio equipment.
Sony X900F – Performance
As expected, the FALD manages to illuminate the panel in a significantly more homogeneous way than edge backlighting. In addition, this technology performs much better when the panel must reproduce frames that show a very dark background and a few very bright areas, such as a starry sky. LCD televisions with edge backlighting are often unable to offer deep blacks and really bright dots on the same frame, but the FALD solutions offer a much better result.
Obviously, its blacks are not as deep as those of a good OLED panel, and its native contrast is not as high, but if you do not view it side by side to an OLED TV, believe me, the image quality of the Sony X900F is striking!
The colors are also spot on. Sony engineers have equipped the X900F with nanocrystals (a technology that the Japanese brand calls TRILUMINOS) that, in addition to the algorithms that we talked about before manage to adjust the color with a lot of precision and show excellent color gradients. Of course, to appreciate all that you will need a video signal of good quality, such as a Blu-ray 4K Disc or at least 4K UHD content from Netflix.
The other good news is Sony X900F’s fantastic HDR. Once again, the presence of the FALD matrix makes all the difference in the world. The level of brightness that this TV is capable of generating is almost unparalleled.
But what happens when the signal is not 4K? The upscaling from 1080p, especially from Blu-ray Discs, is wonderful. So much so that it tricked me a couple of times in believing that I was watching a 4K Blue-Ray Disk. On the other hand, when the video signal has a resolution of 720p or lower, the scaling cannot work miracles, and the image quality clearly suffers. In any case, with movies and video games at 1080p or higher resolutions, this TV feels great.
Add to all this Sony’s motion processing technology (X-Motion Clarity) and you have the whole package. Sony’s engineers have been refining this technology for years and have become the industry’s standard. Of course, the native 120Hz refresh rate and the inherent low response time of the VA panel clearly help out.
Last but not least: gaming. Input latency is the key measurement here. In Game mode, the Sony X900F has a low input latency of 40ms at 1080p@60Hz, and just 20ms at 2160p@60Hz, figures that will allow you to enjoy even the most demanding FPS titles.
Sony X900F – Verdict
The Sony X900F (Check on Amazon.com) is a prime example of what LCD TVs can still do. Its overall image quality can be characterized as a premium. It offers deep blacks (although not OLED deep), a lot of detail in dark scenes, and solid HDR (with some blooming).
Its weak points are the narrow viewing angles (VA panel) and its sound. It is not bad for TV standards, but if you want to truly enjoy a movie or a video game you will have to get at least a good soundbar.
If you are looking for a “premium” TV but your budget doesn’t extend to OLED prices, the Sony X900F is an excellent alternative.