Sony X900F 2018 4K HDR TV hands on preview

Sony's X900F promises flagship performance on a motorboat budget

Sony put out some impressive TVs in 2017 — the A1E OLED, X930E Bravia LED TV and the Z9D LED (held over from 2016) put Sony right up there with Samsung and LG as one the year’s top three TV producers in terms of picture quality. The common denominator among these TVs? Sony’s X1 Extreme video processor. Now, in 2018, we’re seeing that excellent processing tech trickle down to the company’s new X900F TV, which promises flagship performance without some of the competition’s lofty flagship prices.

Sony’s TVs pack a ton of technologies with fancy names like Triluminos Display, X-Motion Clarity, and Super Bit Mapping. For anyone other than a TV tech geek, all that may sound like code speak, but in fact, these are genuinely high-performance components of the X1 Extreme engine that combine to deliver some of the cleanest performance we’ve seen from an LED TV yet.

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The X900F’s standout advantage against competing LED televisions is its ability to resolve subtle grades of gray and color for an extremely smooth picture. ony’s demonstration included scenes from 4K HDR movies that we are quite familiar with, including The Revenant, Pan, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Moments where we are accustomed to seeing noise and artifacts in excess now faded into and out of black while exhibiting extremely clean blocks of color and subtle shade transitions.

Sony’s HDR processing once again proved itself to be quite impressive. While competing brands of TVs tend to favor energizing bright highlights to the TVs’ absolute maximum brightness levels, Sony shows favor to resolving detail. In a scene from Pan, when a ship flies into a sunset, the bright sun on the right-hand part of the screen usually appears as a big yellow blob, but with Sony’s X900F rendering the scene, the sun was clearly surrounded by cloud formations with distinct edges and a slightly orange tinge that gets washed out by most televisions not sporting Sony’s best processing.

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Color saturation and accuracy were other highlights during the time we spent with the Sony X900F TV. Particularly with HDR content, the display was able to maintain what appeared to be exceptionally accurate, properly saturated colors while driving them to high brightness levels. We’ll learn more when we are able to objectively measure the TV during our review process in the coming weeks.

For reference, Sony simultaneously displayed all demonstration scenes on one of its X300 professional RGB OLED monitors — the sort used by Hollywood mastering studios — which offered a representation meant to match what content creators saw during the mastering process. If Sony’s aim is to deliver what artists and content creators want us to see — and it is, because they repeatedly said so — we feel the X900F is fairly successful at doing so.

What remains to be seen is how the X900F fares outside of picture quality performance considerations. Android TV is back, as is Google Assistant, but last year they were sluggish and frustrating to use. Will that be the case again this year? Also, how does the X900F sound compare to other TVs in its class?

We’ll have answers to those questions and more in our full review, coming soon. Until then, we remain confident that the X900F will turn out to be one of the top-peforming TVs of 2018, especially for the price. See below for a rundown of suggested retail pricing:

  • Sony XBR-49X900F 49-inch (49.6-inch diagonally): $1,100
  • Sony XBR-55X900F 55-inch (54.6-inch diagonally): $1,500
  • Sony XBR-65X900F 65-inch (64.5-inch diagonally): $2,200
  • Sony XBR-75X900F 75-inch (74.5-inch diagonally): $3,800
  • Sony XBR-85X900F 85-inch (84.5-inch diagonally): $5,300