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The Sony X950G (Check on Amazon.com) model is the natural evolution of the X900F (Check on Amazon.com); an impressive TV for the money that was just one step below the Sony Z9F (Check on Amazon.com), which is the best LCD TV there is. The interesting thing is that the X950G has inherited many of the technologies devised by Sony engineers for the Z9F and thus it automatically becomes the Sony TV with the most attractive price to performance ratio.
Sony X950G – Features
The LCD panel used by Sony is of the VA type, a technology that is characterized by offering a very high native contrast, a medium response time, and hardly suffering from backlight bleeding. However, it also has an “Achilles heel”: its viewing angles are clearly narrower than those offered by OLED and IPS panels. This has caused manufacturers like Sony, who rely on VA panels, to develop technologies capable of improving their viewing angles. This TV incorporates the X-Wide Angle technology, but more on that later.
The Sony X950G uses a matrix of FALD (Full Array Local Dimming) LED diodes that, unlike edge lighting, is placed behind the panel. FALD is a much more accurate type of backlighting because it allows for local dimming, the attenuation of light in those areas of the panel where it is necessary to do so.
Another very interesting feature is that the Sony X950G is compatible with HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision standards, but not with HDR10+.
For image processing, the Sony X950G uses the X1 Ultimate chip, which is currently the most advanced image processor that Sony develops.
Connectivity-wise the Sony X950G doesn’t make the transition to HDMI 2.1. The four HDMI ports are only 2.0 compatible. This means that they cannot handle a 2160p signal at 120Hz, but “just” 1080p at 120Hz. For media consumption, this doesn’t change a thing but if you also want to game, and you have a powerful gaming rig or intend to buy the new consoles that will arrive on the market in 2020, this is a dealbreaker. Especially considering that all competing LG 2019 models are compatible with HDMI 2.1.
The only concession from Sony is the implementation of eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel). This technology allows us to use the HDMI 3 port to send the audio encoded in Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby Atmos or DTS to a compatible A/V receiver or soundbar.
Sony X950G – Design
Smart TVs have hit the same wall that smartphones hit before them. There is no more innovation here since design also has its limits. The bezels have become razor-thin and all devices have become more and more similar. In fact, it is relatively easy to confuse them if you don’t look at their brand logo. The only real way TV manufacturers can differentiate between brands and models is by introducing a recognizable design of the feet. The Sony X950G has a high-end finish. Both the frame and feet are made of aluminum, while the rear panel is made of plastic.
Sony X950G – Smart TV
The Sony X950G runs the Android TV 8.0 (Oreo) operating system, and this is great news since I was pleasantly surprised by the interface’s fluidity and overall responsiveness. Until now all Android TVs had behaved in a more cumbersome and clumsy way. This has a positive impact on the overall experience of the user.
And in addition to using the remote control, we can also interact with this TV via Google Assistant. The Sony X950G has two microphones. One of them is integrated into the television itself, and the other in the remote control. The procedure is very similar to that offered by any Android phone or Google Home device.
Sony X950G – Picture
The Sony X950G comes precalibrated from the factory and the results are stunning. So much so that, if I had bought this TV for my own house, I would have used it without touching any settings. OK, maybe I would have adjusted the brightness level according to the room, and also deactivated (or at least adjusted) the motion handling to suit my personal taste, but that’s all. Beyond this, the factory calibration is so good that if you want to improve it, it will be necessary to use professional tools.
Like the Sony Master Series family models, the Sony X950G also incorporates a calibration mode tailored made for Netflix content. This mode only comes into action when we use the app, and intends to offer us a picture very close to that devised by the creators of the films in the post-production phase. I cannot tell you if it really fulfills its objective since I can’t know the original intentions of the individual creators, but I was surprised by the overall image quality. In fact, in many instances, the image quality was comparable to that offered by Blu-ray 4K Ultra HD. And this speaks volumes.
The characteristic that impressed me the most was the Sony X950G’s colors… and I can hardly do justice to the way this television reproduces them. Maybe the best thing I can say is that it closely resembles the Z9F model!
The colors are vibrant and not overly saturated, and this subtle balance is not easy to achieve. So much so that, in my opinion, the Sony X950G eliminates any advantage that OLED TVs might have till now.
The level of blacks and detail in dark scenes is similar to last year’s model, the X900F. It sports deep blacks, although it cannot match OLED models, and the detail it manages to recover in dark areas is very high. In addition, it grants the images with a very cinematic finish that moviegoers will like very much.
Another virtue of this TV is its high brightness, significantly higher than the 1,000 nits required by the HDR10 standard. Moreover, the local dimming doesn’t let the backlight flood the highlights with light and thus allows for much more visible detail in the highlights themselves.
On the other hand, VA panels such as this have some inherent drawbacks, such as narrow viewing angles. To correct this, Sony has equipped the 75 and 85-inch models (but not the 55 and 65-inch) with the X-Wide Angle technology. This is an additional layer attached to the panel that modifies the way in which the light disperses without degrading the color once it passes through it. And it works, so there is nothing else to say…
The other problem is the reflections. It is not that dramatic, but when there is an intense light source in the room, it is relatively easy to see it reflect off the TV screen.
It is curious to see how TV manufacturers manage to always improve image quality but do nothing about the sound. Sony has introduced in this model a new audio technology that has a rather ambitious objective: to offer us the feeling that the sound comes out from the center of the screen.
To achieve this effect, the Acoustic Multi-Audio technology uses four front speakers housed at the top and bottom of the TV, and also two tweeters placed at the rear. And it works. The medium and high frequencies are convincing, but the bass doesn’t have the punch required by the soundtrack of some movies. For the best sound experience, we advise you to purchase a soundbar, preferably a Dolby Atmos one.
In order to evaluate factors that have a big impact on gaming, such as input latency and response time we fired up our Xbox One X (Check on Amazon.com) and played a handful of games, from Forza Horizon 4 to Halo 5: Guardians.
The gaming experience is great as long as you remember to activate the Game mode. Doing so deactivates most of the image processing, which significantly reduces input latency (just 20ms).
The other critical factor is the response time, but the VA panel has an advantage over the IPS ones, which have a longer response time. The Sony X950G has a response time of just 10ms.
Sony X950G – Verdict
The strongest asset of the Sony X950G (Check on Amazon.com) is, without a doubt, its overall image quality. The way it reproduces color is truly impressive. It also features deep blacks, although not as deep as OLED TVs. Its high brightness combined with the FALD backlight system allows it to reproduce HDR content with outstanding accuracy. In addition, it comes carefully calibrated from the factory, so its performance right out of the box is just great.
This is an all-round TV that will satisfy both cinephiles and gamers. The absence of HDMI 2.1 might rub some hardcore gamers the wrong way though. In any case, this is a solid TV and I would advise anyone to take a look at it, especially now that the price has come down.