If you’re interested in a Sony TV with great picture quality and gamer-friendly features, the Sony X900H, which sits just below the X950H being reviewed here, would be a better choice. However, if you count yourself among the ranks of those for whom only the best picture quality in an LED TV will do, the X950H is where it’s at. If you want the best picture quality Sony makes this year — and indeed one of the best TVs you can buy in 2020.
For perspective, the X950H is available in 49-, 55-, 65-, 75-, and 85-inch versions for $998, $1198, $1698, $2798, and $3,998 ,respectively (nonsale pricing).
Once the TV is set up, you’ll likely admire its form factor. The X950H doesn’t have an especially thin profile due to its full-array local dimming backlighting system, but its bezels are almost nonexistent. Sure, it’s still a black slab in your room, but it’s a classy one.
Sony’s sound strategy with the X950H was to place small speakers on each side of the TV, located just below the top, in order to add a sense of directionality and spaciousness to the sound. Working with the two down-firing speakers at the bottom of the TV, these two added speakers pull off some impressive tricks. While I would not characterize the sound as high fidelity, I will say that the sound is far better than most TVs and adds some immersion to action-packed movies.
If you’ve spent any amount of time reading TV reviews lately, you’ve probably heard a lot about zones and nits. Zones refer to the number of local dimming zones a TV’s backlighting system has to help control black levels and improve contrast. Typically, more zones are better.
Nits refer to the measurement of peak brightness a TV is capable of and, as you can probably imagine, more is generally considered better. Sony breaks both rules. Please allow me to nerd out for a moment. Skip the next two paragraphs if you want the bottom line.
The bottom line is that the X950H is more than sufficiently bright to deliver an excellent HDR experience while maintaining excellent black levels, all without crushing out low-light details. The backlight control is very good, which means the halos you might see around bright objects on dark backgrounds are minimized quite well. This also translates into very black letterbox bars that don’t turn gray when the action on the screen gets bright, and no excessive screen brightening when closed captions are in use.
Until recently, Android TV was a frustratingly sluggish experience. Fortunately, the system on the chip now being used in most 2020 TVs handles Android TV without significant lag or load times. Fans of the Google experience will appreciate the ease of having any previously logged-in apps automatically updated so that repetitive entry of usernames and passwords can be avoided. Signing in to Google also allows YouTube users to keep their viewing history and suggested videos consistent across all devices.
Overall, the Sony X950H offers excellent picture quality, surprisingly good sound, and solid smart TV experience. Its picture processing improves the viewability of all sources thanks to excellent upscaling and the ability to clean up low bit-depth content. While it isn’t the best choice for gamers, it is an ideal TV for movie buffs.