Across-the-board improvements made this one of 2019’s best 4K LED LCD TVs
- Class-leading motion performance
- Excellent video processing, especially when upscaling less-than-perfect sources
- Limited viewing angles
- Reflective screen
- Some blooming around bright objects
Our original review continues below:
There’s no other way to say it: Sony’s 2019 range of TVs is enormous. It’s crowned with a couple of 8K monsters that you’d need to sell your house to afford, and covers pretty much every screen size and price point from there on down.
However, it’s Sony’s upper mid-range screens that have offered the best combination of performance and value. If you can’t stomach the price of Sony’s OLED and 8K models, the company’s latest flagship 4K LED LCD TV range – the XG95 – looks very promising indeed.
Sony KD-65XG9505 review: What you need to know
The XG95 is available in four screen sizes, starting at 55in and rising through a 65in model, which we’re reviewing here, to reach 75in and 85in.
Alhough the XG9505 is essentially just a slight step up from last year’s (very well regarded) XF90, it takes over from the ZF9 as Sony’s top-ranking 4K LCD TV. The ZF9 will be discontinued as soon as the stock is exhausted. The XF90 will soldier on, but only in 55in and 65in screen sizes – it’s been on sale for well over a year now and its price has dropped accordingly.
The HD-65XG9505’s £2,499 price puts it directly up against the 65in version of Samsung’s Q80R QLED, which is also a FALD 4K TV, albeit with additional quantum dot technology. We’re looking to get our hands on that for review shortly.
Sony XG95: Key specifications
|Screen sizes available||55in KD-55XG9505|
|HDR formats supported||HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG|
|Streaming services supported||Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, FreeView Play,|
BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, Hulu etc.
|Wireless connectivity||Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi Certified 802.11a/b/g/n/ac|
|Panel type & backlight||VA-type LCD LED FALD (Full-Array Local Dimming)|
|HDMI inputs||3 x HDMI 2.0b ( HDCP 2.3), HDMI 2.0b (eARC, HDCP 2.3)|
Sony KD-65XG9505 review: Design, build and features
Take a closer look at the XG9505’s specifications and it seems a more than worthy successor to both the ZF9 and XF90. It’s got a lengthy list of goodies: full-array local dimming (FALD) LED backlighting; Sony’s X1 Ultimate video processor; HDR support for HLG, HDR 10 and Dolby Vision formats; and Sony’s proprietary X-Motion Clarity black zonal insertion technology.
The two biggest variants of the XG9505 also feature X-Wide Angle technology to improve viewing angles. The 55in and this 65in version go without, presumably because the smaller screens are less prone to off-axis degradation.
If you loved the look of the XF90, you’ll be equally smitten with the XG95. The gunmetal grey bezel is impressively thin for a FALD LED LCD and there’s a nice accent along the bottom border. The feet are a thinner, more streamlined shape, but as they’re located near the ends of the panel, you will need a wide AV rack to accommodate them.
Cable-management is first-rate: both feet have grooves and channels to route cables through, which leaves the front of the TV looking nice and clean.
Connections are mostly on the left rear of the chassis and include four full-bandwidth HDMI 2.0b ports with HDCP 2.3 compliance. Enhanced ARC (eARC) has only been implemented on the third HDMI socket, though.
An Android Oreo 8.0-based operating system takes the helm and includes Youview and Freeview Play catch-up services, alongside all the usual streaming suspects – barring Now TV. The SoC’s 2.5GB of available RAM is lower than the ZF9 or XF90, but the screen is still lightning-fast when navigating menus, especially when compared to previous Android-powered Sony TVs.
The new remote control is a huge improvement on its cheap-feeling predecessor, too. Its brushed metallic finish and textured rear make it a pleasure to use, the length and weight is just right, the buttons are well laid out and tactile feedback is more gratifying than from the soft buttons of Sony’s previous remotes. It isn’t backlit, which is a shame, but it’s still a big step forward.
Sound quality isn’t bad at all, either, with audio given width and presence by a couple of side-firing tweeters mounted at the rear of the chassis. This is what constitutes the grandly named “Acoustic Multi-Audio” system. Make no mistake, though: you’ll still hanker after a proper external audio system.
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Sony KD-65XG9505 review: Image quality and HDR performance
Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way: this 65in model doesn’t have the X-Wide Angle technology of its bigger siblings so, unless you’re sitting directly in front of its VA-type LCD panel, colours and contrast drop off fairly quickly. The screen itself is also more reflective than equivalent OLEDs and QLEDs, which you should bear in mind if your new TV is going in a bright room.
Sit in the sweet spot, though, and colours such as skin tones look natural and realistic. The Sony’s backlighting deserves praise, too: we reckon Sony’s local dimming algorithm is the best in the business, striking a wonderful balance between preserving black depth and restricting blooming. It very rarely draws attention to itself.
That performance is particularly impressive given that the Sony’s backlighting consists of a mere 60 independently dimmable zones. There are some haloing artefacts visible, particularly so in HDR, but these are inevitable when the image is of a bright object against a dark background. We would recommend using some gentle bias lighting – subtle lighting positioned behind the TV – to reduce blooming and make letterbox bars appear darker.
Screen uniformity is nevertheless outstanding – there’s no significant banding or dirty screen effect (DSE) on full-field grey slides. Corners are slightly darkened, but this is typical of Sony LED LCDs.
We’ve long held Sony’s MotionFlow interpolation technology in high regard, in no small part because it doesn’t introduce as many artefacts or “soap opera” effects as certain alternatives from rival brands – as long as it’s properly set up. You’ll need to manually enter the correct settings to activate the X-Motion Clarity technology, but it’s worth it in order to boost motion resolution from the sample-and-hold baseline of 300 lines to 1,080 lines (or even higher) without any visible increase in flicker or drop in light output.
Needless to say, 24fps films are handled smoothly, with no sign of judder even in slow pans. Upscaling is also excellent, retrieving sharp detail from low-resolution sources without excessive fizziness or ringing artifacts.
The Smooth Gradation features also works well to reduce posterisation from less than stellar quality video. Strangely, it can be a little over-aggressive with Dolby Vision content and we noticed that it caused a loss of detail even on the lowest setting.
In general, though, HDR content looks impressive. After our standard calibration to D65 white point, the XG95’s peak brightness measured 1100 nits on a 10% window, which is slightly higher than the XF90 but not as bright as the ZF9. Full-field brightness (measured across the whole screen) comes in at a whopping 720 nits – one of the highest we’ve so far measured. This gives HDR content the sort of dazzling impact even the best OLED TVs can’t match.
And, for those who seek even greater colour accuracy, there’s support for CalMAN auto-calibration, too. For 4K HDR content, DCI-P3 colour gamut coverage measures 94%, which is similar to last year’s XF90 but still short of OLED and QLED equivalents. In real-world viewing, 4K Blu-ray images look fine, even if they do lack the ultimate vibrancy of pricier TVs.
Gamers won’t just appreciate the XG95’s prodigious brightness, however, as input lag is also up there with the very fastest TVs. We measured a very agreeable 21ms in both 1080p SDR and 4K HDR modes, which is an improvement over the XF90.
Sony KD-65XG9505 review: Verdict
The Sony KD-65XG9505 offers some worthwhile upgrades over the outgoing XF90, including four full-bandwidth HDMI 2.0b inputs, reduced input lag, more calibration controls, enhanced eARC, better Android TV navigation and – last, but by no means least – a far better remote control.
All of that would be scant consolation without the image quality to match, but thankfully the XG95 hits the mark here too. With accurate colours, superb video processing and mesmerising motion performance, it storms into our top tier of 4K LED LCD TVs and earns a well-deserved Recommended award.