Sony Bravia X90H review – The best reason to get a TV license

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Here’s something that I am quite proud to admit given my 34 years on this planet – I don’t own a TV license.

While many will see it as a rite of passage to purchase a TV, I’ve never really needed one and as such haven’t had the need to acquire a TV license. Instead I consume my content through the internet on a PC.

However, in the last few weeks and one review item has me considering taking up the life-long responsibility of a TV license.

That item is the Sony Bravia KD65X9000H or as we will refer to it, the X90H. The Bravia is a 65inch behemoth of a smart TV that features a maximum resolution of 3840 x 2160 and maximum refresh rate of 120Hz.

Let’s take a closer look.

Inside

Smart TVs require more than just a panel to be, well, smart. Inside the X90H you’ll find what is more like a mid-range smartphone than a beefy PC.

The TV’s brain is a MediaTek MT5893 which sports a quad-core ARM Cortex-A73 CPU @ 1.8GHz, 3GB of memory and a Mali G-52 GPU. There is also 16GB of onboard storage.

As for an operating system, the X90H is Android 9.0 Pie which means you have access to a range of apps for your TV through the Google Play Store.

These apps include 3DMark and its benchmark Slingshot.

The short story here is that this system on chip (SoC) isn’t meant to run games at a full 4K resolution. For those interested we hit an average of 6.8fps in Slingshot. We’ll get to running games on the TV itself, streaming and other use cases for this TV in a bit.

In terms of audio there are two 10W speakers in the TV and while the audio is fine, if you want booming bass and better quality audio, then you may want to opt for a sound bar.

Regarding ports you will find:

  • 2 x USB
  • 1 x Ethernet
  • 1 x HDMI 2.0
  • 2 x HDMI 2.1
  • 1 x Antenna port (F-type female)
  • 1 x AV Composite In
  • 1 x Optical Audio out
  • 1 x 3.5mm audio out
  • 1 x RS232
You’ll find a bevy of ports behind the X90H.

There is also support for WiFi up to WiFi 5 (802.11ac), Bluetooth 4.2, DLNA and WiFi Direct.

As for the panel itself, it measures in at 64.5inches and uses a VA panel which features support for HDR10, Hybrid Log Gamma and Dolby Vision. The panel can also hit a 120Hz refresh rate with the necessary firmware update.

In terms of temperature, even on the hottest day in our testing we never recorded temperatures of over 42.4 degrees Celsius which was just 12 degrees above ambient. There is a lot of tech driving this TV and the fact that it’s cool and quiet is welcome.

One last thing worth mentioning is the remote which connects to the TV via Bluetooth and lets you search with your voice which is very convenient when you’re browsing Netflix or YouTube.

Dedicated button for Netflix and the Google Play Store came in handy numerous times.

The 4K120 experience

So, the big draw card for reviewing this TV was the fact that it was being marketed with support for 4K120 (3840 x 2160 resolution and maximum refresh rate of 120Hz) which while not unique, would make this 65inch behemoth all the more tempting.

So, we set about testing and never managed to hit higher than 60FPS in our testing.

As it turned out, we hadn’t downloaded the appropriate firmware nor activated the appropriate setting. You can find out how to do that here.

Once that setting is enabled, well, then this TV shifts from okay to great.

Using a notebook with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070, we were able to get Shadow of the Tomb Raider running at 120fps on the lowest possible settings and despite the dip in visual fidelity, the smoothness on a display this size, at a 4K resolution is quite spectacular.

But as we mentioned, the only reason we were able to hit that frame rate was by sacrificing visual fidelity. While we don’t have a next generation console in to test along side a PC, we’re confident in saying that if an Nvidia GeForce RTX 30-series GPU is struggling, the new consoles will as well unless games are optimised for that resolution and frame rate.

4K video looks incredible on the X90H.

As for what we’re going to call mobile games, these appear to be running at FullHD and then upscaled to 4K resolution. They aren’t going to make you ditch your console but if you want to kill time between shows the X90H can do that for you.

It’s worth talking about the 4K HDR X1 processor and 4K X-Reality here for a moment. Together these technologies upscale content to 4K and it works way to well. So well in fact that unless you’re right up against the TV examining every pixel in a frame you likely aren’t going to notice the difference between 2K and 4K content. When upscaling 1080p content we did notice a bit of a dip in image quality but at the distance we were sitting it didn’t ruin the experience.

Upscaling can even make 1080p comedy videos look good.

But what about content?

As you can infer, I don’t have access to a TV signal so all of my testing was done online through streaming services and local files.

We’ve come to expect great visuals from Bravia TVs and the X90H’s picture quality is incredible. The contrast is perfect and even home movies taken with a shaking hand will look great on this panel. Viewing angles are superb with visuals only really impaired between the 170 to 180 degree mark. This is normal though and we don’t expect any display to look great when looking at it from the side.

Even in high-speed sports such as Formula 1, the TV keeps up and we were always impressed at what we were seeing.

Honestly there is little more we can say than – the X90H is a fantastic centre piece for your TV room.

Conclusion

The X90H really is a TV for a modern family.

There is not only support for Android smartphones but iOS devices as well through AirPlay. The menus are quick and the TV powers up and is ready to work in seconds. There are enough HDMI ports for a console (though only one port supports 4K120) and a DStv decoder, and having Android means you can install an app like Steam Link if you want to extend the gaming capabilities.

The one criticism we have of this TV is that it’s too big to set up on your own and you might have to call a neighbour or ask the delivery folks really nicely to give you a hand.

Even the price is agreeable. While the X90H has a recommended retail price of R26 999, you can often find it for cheaper at local retailers. This TV also carried a price tag of R39 999 at launch so the price may come down even further in the next few months.

That might seem like a lot of money to spend on a TV but given the features you have access to and the stratospheric refresh rate of this 4K TV, you’re getting a really great deal on a TV that will serve you well for the next few years at least.

The Sony Bravia X90H gets a recommendation from us. Now, does anybody know how to apply for a TV license?

The Sony Bravia X90H was sent to Hypertext for review by Sony. The TV will be sanitised and returned.

Sony Bravia X90H

8 Score

The Sony Bravia X90H is the perfect TV for gamers and the modern, connected family. The performance is superb and the visuals are astounding. It's a bit pricey but the cost is worth it considering what you're getting.

Review Breakdown

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Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.

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