SONY HAS LAUNCHED 10 families of TVs this year, ranging from affordable 4K LCDs to premium 4K OLED and 8K LCD models, but the XH90 range is arguably the most interesting of the bunch. Why? It’s the only group of Sony’s 2020 TVs that’s prepared for silky-smooth 120Hz 4K gaming and packed with niceties such as Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and eARC support.
Before you get too excited, these screens – including the 75in KD75XH9005 model on test – don’t have all these HDMI 2.1 features out of the box. They’ll be added as part of a firmware update due later this year.
Thankfully, it’s not all about the gaming. The KD75XH9005 is simply a great all-around 4K TV with impressive HDR performance and incredible motion handling. And unlike most 75in rival TVs, it’s actually fairly affordable.
Full Flat Screen
The XH90 line-up replaces the XG85 from 2019, but with one huge upgrade: the old IPS edge-lit panel type has made way for a VA-type LCD with full-array local dimming (FALD). As a result, the KD75XH9005 delivers a higher maximum brightness, punchier images and better screen uniformity than its predecessor.
Sony has also equipped the KD75XH9005 with its X1 4K HDR picture processor, which is a step down from the X1 Ultimate chip you’ll find in Sony’s flagship models. That said, it still has X-Motion Clarity black zone insertion technology and supports the HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision HDR formats. Meanwhile, the KD75XH9005’s smart platform is based on Android TV 9.0 and grants access to all the streaming apps you’d expect, from Netflix and Disney Plus.
Considering that it’s using direct-lit LED backlighting with FALD, the KD75XH9005 is a sleek-looking beast. The chassis flares out at the rear to accommodate the FALD backlighting, but it has relatively thin bezels, which are finished in a snazzy silver trim. The only niggle is that those reflective bezels may draw unwanted attention to themselves.
The KD75XH9005 sits on a pair of metallic feet situated at either end of the TV, and this means you’ll need a suitably wide TV stand. If that doesn’t suit, you could always go for an XH907, XH9096 or XH92 variant; these models allow the feet to be placed inwards to suit narrower AV furniture.
All of the KD75XH9005’s connections are located to the left rear of the display. It has four HDMI ports, two of which – namely HDMI 3 and HDMI 4 – are HDMI 2.1. Of those, HDMI 3 is the only designated port for ARC and eARC sources.
The KD75XH9005 has what Sony calls an ‘Acoustic Multi-Audio System’ made up of dual speakers backed up by additional sound positioning tweeters. For TV speakers, the soundstage is solid and the bass has a kick, but they still can’t beat an external soundbar or home theater system. As for audio enhancement, the KD75XH9005 supports Dolby Atmos as well as DTS Digital Surround.
Sony includes a nice black remote with the same shape and layout as its more premium control – but without backlighting – and shortcut buttons for Netflix and Google Play.
Speaking of applications, the KD75XH9OO5 has all the usual paid-for streaming platforms: Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video and Rakuten TV, as well as Netflix and Google Play.
As in previous years, you can access catch-up apps through the integrated YouView service, although now it’s no longer essential to go directly through YouView. All you need to do is agree to YouView’s T&C’s during setup and all the individual apps, from BBC iPlayer to My5, will be available from the home screen.
The KD75XH9005 and its XH90 brethren are the only Sony TVs so far to use the new MediaTek MT5895 processor, which is supported by 3GB RAM. As a result, navigation is blazingly fast and super responsive.
Clean Bright Screen
While there are fewer color calibration controls on the KD75XH9005 than on Sony’s flagship X1-Ultimate powered TVs, it can still be calibrated to accurate levels. Following our calibration, we measured an average delta-E of only 1.27, and in real-world viewing the colors and skin tones look realistic and natural.
Panel uniformity is top-notch, too, especially considering this is a 75in LED LCD TV. On full-field grey slides, there was no banding whatsoever and only minimal dirty screen effect (DSE), with a slight darkening visible in the corners. In day-to-day use, you wouldn’t notice the DSE at all.
The KD75XH9005’s motion control is better yet. It’s capable of native 24p movie playback, even when the Motionflow setting isn’t engaged. This allows for smooth panning shots in 24fps films, without the faintest hint of judder. And even after cranking the smoothness right up to its maximum settings, 24p playback isn’t as thickly slathered with soap opera effect as we’ve seen on previous Sony TVs.
Technically speaking, the KD75XH9005 has a baseline motion resolution of 300 lines on 50/60Hz content. X-Motion Clarity – activated by setting Smoothness to 2 and Clearness to 1 – boosts the motion resolution all the way up to 1,080 lines, and it’s only at this point that soap opera effect is evident during 24p playback.
Overall, Sony’s motion interpolation tech is the best among the TV brands, introducing the least interpolation artifacts with no noticeable frame skipping or stuttering.
By LED LCD standards, the VA panel on the KD75XH9005 is able to achieve exceptionally deep blacks. It doesn’t use a viewing angle compensation film, however, so colors and contrast levels degrade when the TV is viewed off-axis. Just as with any other TV, it’s best to face the KD75XH9005 head-on when watching or gaming.
There are only 32 local dimming zones on the KD75XH9005, laid out on a 4×8 grid; that’s really not a lot, and it shows. Sony might have one of the best local dimming algorithms in the business but, due to the physical limitations, there is some inevitable blooming and backlight fluctuation.
The algorithm prioritises accuracy over blooming suppression, meaning that the KD75XH9005 exhibits more shadow detail and brighter subtitles than you’d see on a Samsung QLED, at the cost of having more noticeable blooming (or haloing) of faint light around bright objects on the screen.
Upscaling of standard-definition content to 4K is decent enough on the KD75XH9005, but clearly inferior to the results achieved by Sony’s top X1 Ultimate chipset. It’s particularly unforgiving with bit-starved, heavily compressed content, because theKD75XH9005’s black gradation is poorer than other Sony TVs we’ve tested, and there’s no Smooth Gradation control to smooth out in-content posterisation.
The KD75XH9005 can hit a peak brightness of 680cd/m2 on a 10% window after calibration and 540cd/m2 at full-field. Color coverage is good, too, with a DCI-P3 coverage of 95% that translates to a Rec 2020 coverage of 71%.
Bright HDR scenes look much more vivid on the KD75XH9005 than they do on similarly priced OLED TVs, mainly because it’s not held back by an Auto Brightness Limiter. With that said, images don’t have as much dazzling impact as on the higher-end Sony XH95 or Samsung Q95T ranges.
Sony’s tone-mapping algorithm favors preserving overall brightness over highlight detail and, on occasion, bright highlights may appear blown out. HDR10 content looks excellent, though the Dolby Vision playback isn’t quite so impressive.
The KD75XH9005 actually uses the low-latency (or player-led) version of Dolby Vision, which isn’t as effective as the standard TV-led version. This can have an impact on daily viewing. For example, we spotted some unsightly near-black posterisation when playing Netflix content in Dolby Vision.
The big selling point of the KD75XH9005- and indeed the other XH90 models – over its 2020 Sony stablemates is the promised support for HDMI 2.1 features. Sony indicates that the HDMI 2.1 firmware update will grant the KD75XH9OO5 access to features such as 4K 120Hz playback, ALLM for auto-enabling Game Mode and VRR for tear-free gaming. This makes it a solid choice for gamers looking to pick up a new TV before the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X hit the shelves.
Response times are extremely quick on the KD75XH9005 once Game Mode is engaged (we had to activate it manually), with an input lag of only 18ms. That’s speedy, but it’s not quite class-leading these days; the Samsung Q95T has an input lag of 10ms and the LG CX has a response time of only 6ms on a 4K/120HZ signal.
With the Sony PlayStation 5 on the way later this year, you’d think Sony would want to make sure all of its high-end TVs were HDMI 2.1-ready. As it stands – and provided Sony makes good on that firmware update promise- the Sony XH90 range is a better choice for gamers than the Sony XH95, which is limited to 60Hz at 4K and lacks VRR and ALLM.
Frustratingly, that HDMI 2.1 support has yet to materialise. With no deadline set for the firmware update, it’s a bit of a gamble buying from the XH90 family right now.
Once HDMI 2.1 lands, the KD75XH9005 will be much more tempting. And even without HDMI 2.1, this is a good all-rounder that represents excellent value for money, particularly so when compared to rival 75in models.
Yes, pricier Samsung and Sony full-array local dimming TVs offer a better all-round viewing experience, but they cost an awful lot more, too. The KD75XH9005’s picture quality is more than acceptable for a mid-range option, and it serves up vibrant HDR and exemplary motion handling.