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TVs are in a good place right now when it comes to gaming. Most manufacturers are incorporating options like HDMI 2.1. HDR is getting good, and game modes are great at eliminating input lag. That leaves most people in a situation where you will struggle to go wrong. And while if you ask what TV to get for gaming, you’re likely to hear the same answer from a lot of people. What if your budget is a few hundred bucks short of the LG C1? Well, that’s where alternatives like the Sony Bravia X90J come in.
The X90J is available now for around $1,100 as a 50-inch model. You can get the 55-inch, 65-inch, and 75-inch for around $1,300, $1,500, and $2,400, respectively. This is an LCD TV that uses a VA panel, which means it sacrifices some viewing angles for a fast refresh rate. It also uses Google TV, which is the most recent iteration of Android for televisions. And I’m a big fan of that because it feels like a modern OS that also has support for nearly every video platform. You can even install apps like Steam Link or Moonlight from the Google Play Store to stream games from a local PC.
I tested the 65-inch model, which uses Sony’s XR processor. It’s a nice, responsive TV that is capable of delivering a sharp image. Let’s talk about it.
Sony’s Bravia X90J looks great
The X90J nails many of the most important features for a gaming TV. It has an excellent contrast ratio of 5,500:1, which delivers a rich image especially in a darker space. Thankfully, Sony also paired that with decent HDR performance. This TV can get above 700 nits in peak brightness, which is better than a lot of other TVs in this range. It’s still not quite the 1,000 nits that is considered the high-end standard, but again, it is fantastic in dark spaces.
The set also has solid local dimming zones. This is not like some more expensive TVs where you have dozens of zones, but a high-luminance object only has minor bleeding onto a dark background. At least, that’s the case if you’re square with the TV. The zone lighting is much more noticeable from an angle, but that’s usual for a VA panel.
The contrast, local dimming, and HDR are foundational to a great image, and the X90J has the HDMI 2.1 to enable you to reach the full potential of the new generation of consoles. This means you can get 120Hz at 4K from an Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5. But you’ll need to use the HDMI 3 or 4 ports. And that’s a bit frustrating because the HDMI 3 input is also the audio-return channel, so you may end up dedicating that to a surround device or sound bar.
Also, it’s important to note that the Bravia does not yet support variable refresh rate (VRR) like FreeSync. Sony is planning to add that in a firmware update, but I would recommend not taking a company’s word for that sort of thing. If VRR is important to you, go with a different set for now.
Easy to set up
Another key to why I like the X90J is that it is easy to set up. It comes out of the box with a picture that looks like it was just calibrated. With a few easy changes to contrast and brightness depending on your room, you’ll be ready to go without having to spend hours fiddling with settings.
The Sony TV has great color accuracy, but more importantly, it makes it really difficult to mess that up.
I also do appreciate the Google TV interface. It is breezy to navigate, and Sony does a good job of not burying the settings.
The reality is that the Sony X90J is a great television. The picture is great, and it’s easy to use. Its shortcoming include a lack of VRR at the moment, an overly reflective screen in bright rooms, and a lackluster set of speakers. But overall, I like it a lot.
The problem is that it sits in a tough place in the market. Sure, an LG C1 is significantly more expensive — $700 more at 65 inches. But you can get Samsung Q80A for around $1,400 at 65 inches or a 65-inch TCL 6-Seriers for $1,300. And the Sony doesn’t completely outpace either of those even if it could probably scratch its way to the top in a showdown between the three.
But I would recommend the X90J as long as you mind a fairly long list of caveats. If you don’t need VRR, want built-in Google TV, don’t mind disappointing speakers, primarily use a TV in a darker room, and want something that is going to last, then the X90J is the choice for you.
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