Sony X900F 49-inch 4K Smart LED TV Review

Sony X900F 49-inch 4K Smart LED TV Review

Last Updated on October 1, 2021 by Daniel Osakwe

Spring is a good time for new TVs to be released, and it’s not uncommon for prices to drop $1,000 or more on a mid-range to high-end set throughout the year. In November last year, the Sony XBR-X900E fell from $2,500 to $1,500 and that’s exactly what happened to the 65-inch TV. This will be the case with the X900F too.

The X900F is a superb television right now, don’t get me wrong. With a deep black level, bright highlights, accurate colors, and wonderful video processing, this device offers excellent picture quality. Its style is minimalist and sleek, and there’s that “it’s a Sony,” factor. Android TV is a mixed bag — good features, on the one hand, slow responses on the other — so you can always connect a good, cheap streamer.

Sony’s X900F features a minimalist design and maximum screen size

sony tv

At this price range and higher, LCD TVs have two inherent problems. There is the fact that LG’s OLED TVs are even more affordable than last year’s models, especially if you buy the older models. Another benefit of TCL’s 6 series is that the picture quality is virtually the same as that of Sony for a lot less money. For now, that makes the 6 series a far better deal than the X900F.

Compared to the TCL, the X900F has a wider selection of sizes. It might only make sense to pay the premium now if you value Sony’s brand or the X900F’s superior style. However, I’ll, even more, prefer the X900F when its price drops later this year.

Minimalist frame, substantial legs

TVs from Sony are typically more businesslike and have less flair than their competitors, and the X900F fits into that category. With a nice thin frame around the screen, one accent is made up of a thin line of translucent, reflective material that is sort of translucent and sort of reflective. Sony barely fits its logo in that space.

Unlike last year’s X900E, the X900F has a pair of legs for support instead of a single pedestal stand. While relatively close to the center and thick enough to look spindly, Samsung and TCL’s are otherwise fairly standard. They include a token cable management system on the back; however, more than a few HDMI cables would be too much.

Sony’s Android TV: Capable but slow

Unlike Samsung’s and LG’s homebrew solutions (if not Roku TV) Sony’s smart TVs run the Google TV platform. Also, it’s better in almost every way than Vizio’s SmartCast system.

Although the responsiveness of Sony’s Android TV system was not as quick as its competitors, such as LG, Samsung, and Roku, as seen on the X900E last year. It often took a very long time to load the home page. It was a bit slower within Netflix and YouTube apps to move around, load thumbnails, and perform other actions. Additionally, when I hit “Action Menu” during streaming to adjust the picture, the system slowed down. I think Sony should invest more in this TV’s processor speed.

While it wasn’t perfect, it was still tolerable to use, and it offered top-notch app coverage and features. X900F’s Amazon, Netflix, and Vudu apps all support 4K and HDR, as does Sony Smart TV’s exclusive Ultra app, which only offers Sony Pictures movies for purchase (typically $18-$20 per film). YouTube and Google Play Movies and TV are the only two apps that support 4K but not HDR, which is surprising since both are Google properties, and YouTube supports HDR for Roku.

Aside from Hulu, which still has the old interface (and which may be more appealing to some viewers) and does not offer live TV, Sony’s Android TV system has well-updated apps and broad support. YouTube TV, Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, DirecTV Now, MLB At Bat, PlutoTV, Facebook video, Twitch, and numerous other apps are available via Google Play Store (don’t get too excited; it only works on Android TVs). As for phones, they can cast many more apps to Sony via Google Cast, which works the same way as Chromecast.

Ready to listen, remote or hands-free

sony 4k tv

Considering the Sony TV is controlled by an Android device, voice features are superior to most competitors.

There is a new Google Assistant icon at the top of the remote, which invokes the full version of the voice assistant, just like a Google Home ($99 at Target), complete with a voice that talks to you through the TV speakers. The fact that pressing the button instead of saying “OK Google” is easier is also a plus, as Google now only “listens” when the remote microphone is hot (as indicated by the convenient orange LED).

The weather report, nearby pizza joints, and Spotify music (with playlists) work without any problem, but responsiveness is that of a smartphone. When watching something from an app instead of by input, the onscreen prompt sometimes took a second or more to appear. In the middle of an HBO stream, about 20 seconds after hitting the Assistant button, the entire system crashed. The basic voice commands, such as switching input and launching applications, also occasionally fail. In general, I found Sony’s Assistant slow and thus less satisfying than the version on the Nvidia Shield, and neither is quite as good as Alexa on the Amazon Fire TV Edition.

As with actual Alexa speakers, as well as Google Home speakers, Sony’s TV accepts voice commands hands-free (i.e. no remote necessary) when connected. The phrasing can be awkward and long on YouTube, but it worked best with a Mini. My favorite RVing couple appeared as soon as I said “OK Google, play Long Long Honeymoon videos on Lab TV.”. After that, I could just say “OK Google, play cat videos” and it would know to play them on the Lab TV (the Sony).

The video player does not support Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon, but it does support HBO Now and CBS All Access. It is awesome that I can say “play Westworld” and it starts up, without specifying any app or TV, and hopefully, this will lead to more apps in the near future. In contrast, a Google Home cannot power on Sony TVs. An Alexa can, however.

Fully featured and connected

Full-array local dimming (FALD) is the best picture-enhancing feature on the X900F. Different portions of the screen were individually illuminated to improve black levels and contrast. Unlike Vizio or TCL, Sony doesn’t disclose how many dimming zones it offers.

Key features

Display technology: LED LCD

LED backlight: Full array with local dimming

Resolution: 4K

HDR compatible: HDR10

Smart TV: Android TV

Remote: Standard

In addition, it offers a 120Hz native refresh rate, an improvement over the 120Hz fake (60Hz native) found on Vizio M and TCL P series. As part of the new 2018 lineup, Sony says that its X1 Extreme processor, which powers models like the A1E OLED, has improved video processing as well. 

Furthermore, there is a Precision Clarity mode which is said to boost motion resolution by insertion of black frames only where they are necessary, eliminating flicker and dimness caused by similar modes on previous sets. More information can be found in the section on picture quality.

As part of a firmware upgrade, Sony added Dolby Vision HDR to some of its 2017 TVs last year and said a similar update will be available for the X900F in 2018. Meanwhile, HDR10 is supported.

  • 4x HDMI inputs with HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2
  • 3x USB ports
  • Composite video input
  • Ethernet (LAN) port
  • Optical digital audio output
  • 1x headphone/subwoofer audio output
  • 1x RF (antenna) input
  • RS-232 port (minijack)

It has a very healthy selection of jacks. Sony’s televisions are unique in that they offer an analog video input, even if it is composite-only. I also like that the Sony has a headphone jack.

Inputs 2 and 3 (which have higher bandwidth than the others) are your best option for 4K Blu-ray players, but Sony recommends that you engage “HDMI enhanced” mode when using input 2 with 4K Blu-ray players. It’s unfortunate that the X900F can’t automatically detect and change the settings for you as LG and Samsung do.

Picture quality

The prevalence of full-array local dimming is the main reason why LCD picture quality is so good this year. Including the significantly less-expensive TCL and the significantly more-expensive Samsung Q8, I compared all three TVs directly to the Sony, and all scored an 8 in image quality.

If you asked for the brightest and best picture out of three, the Samsung would be the best choice. The TCL would have the best black levels. Black levels for Sony were lighter than the other two, but there was still a good contrast between them, and Sony is the most accurate of all in terms of video processing and color. Neither of them can match LG C8 OLED sets, but they’re also cheaper.

Pros Cons
The Android TV operating system offers more apps than many competitors and integrates Google Assistant. Not as good as Vizio and TCL TVs, but more expensive
Despite its modest price tag, it has a cutting-edge, minimalist design.  It is sometimes difficult to use voice control features and Smart TVs.
Sony’s XBR-X900F excels in image quality, with deep black levels, accurate color, solid video processing, and excellent high dynamic range performance.

Conclusion

With Sony’s XBR49X900F 49-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV, you get what you pay for, as they are exceptionally good in terms of performance in most image quality factors.