Review of the Sony Master Series XR-55A90J

Sony has a history with OLED TVs, having pleased us with the Master A9G Series two years ago. Sony’s latest flagship OLED model, the Master Series A90J, is also the company’s greatest TV to date. It’s one of the brightest OLED panels we’ve ever seen in the lab, and it also has one of the widest color gamuts. It also comes with advanced capabilities like far-field microphones for hands-free Google Assistant voice control and an XR Sound system capable of replacing a specialized soundbar. The 55-inch XR-55A90J we tested costs $2,999.99, but it’s a worthwhile home theater splurge that easily gets our Editors’ Choice award.

8.5
Review of the Sony Master Series XR-55A90J

Sony Master Series XR-55A90J Brightest OLED Panel

The Sony Master Series A90J TVs have a bright OLED display with one of the largest color ranges we’ve seen, as well as excellent audio performance on par with dedicated speakers, making them well worth the hefty price tag.
PROS
  • Color gamut is extremely broad
  • For an OLED display, it’s quite bright
  • Excellent audio quality
  • Google Assistant with no need to use your hands
  • Design that is appealing
CONS
  • Expensive
  • The display isn’t as brilliant as a high-end LCD

SONY MASTER SERIES XR-55A90J SPECS

Panel TypeOLED
Screen Size55 inches
Resolution3,840 by 2,160
Video InputsComposite, HDMI, RF, USB
HDRDolby Vision, HDR-10
HDMI Ports4
Streaming ServicesYes
Screen Brightness632.35 nits
Black Level0 cd/m^2
Contrast RatioInfinite
Refresh Rate120 Hz
VRRYes
Input Lag (Game Mode)9.9 ms
AMD FreeSyncNone
Nvidia G-SyncNone

Sony has a history with OLED TVs, having pleased us with the Master A9G Series two years ago. Sony’s latest flagship OLED model, the Master Series A90J, is also the company’s greatest TV to date. It’s one of the brightest OLED panels we’ve ever seen in the lab, and it also has one of the widest color gamuts. It also comes with advanced capabilities like far-field microphones for hands-free Google Assistant voice control and an XR Sound system capable of replacing a specialized soundbar. The 55-inch XR-55A90J we tested costs $2,999.99, but it’s a worthwhile home theater splurge that easily gets our Editors’ Choice award.

A Premium Look and Feel

Review of the Sony Master Series XR-55A90J

The A90J is a slim, straightforward, and fashionable watch. The OLED panel’s glass covers the whole surface, with only a quarter-inch black border around the active image. The single bezel, a similarly small brushed metal strip at the bottom of the screen, houses the TV’s far-field microphones and indication light. Though the aluminum-laminated OLED display is only a quarter of an inch thick, the rear of the TV is 1.6 inches thick with plastic casings for the electronics that operate the screen and the two sound actuators located behind the panel.

The A90J stands upright on flat surfaces thanks to two narrow, rectangular gunmetal feet. The feet’ basic function is to keep the TV steady, with the bottom of the screen almost flush with your entertainment center. If you want to put a soundbar under the TV, the feet may be moved to raise it a few inches. The 83-inch model offers a third configuration that brings the feet from the sides of the TV closer to the center, allowing you to put the huge screen on a smaller area.

Except for the power line, all ports and connections are located on the left side of the TV’s back. An HDMI port, two USB ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a 3.5mm composite video input and center speaker channel input, a 3.5mm remote receiver, and a pair of center speaker channel speaker terminals are all on the left side. The center speaker channel inputs allow you to use the TV’s built-in speakers as the center channel for a bigger surround system by connecting an A/V receiver. Just past the left-facing ports are three more HDMI ports, another USB port, an Ethernet port, a 3.5mm RS-232C port, an optical audio output, and an antenna/cable connector. Two HDMI ports (3 and 4) support 4K120 resolution, while the other two only support 4K60.

The accompanying remote has a lot of buttons, but it’s also gorgeous, due to a brushed metal plate on top that gives it a premium feel. It’s a long, slender wand with a central circular navigation pad. Above the navigation panel is a number pad and specialized service buttons for Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Netflix, and YouTube, as well as a Google Assistant button and a pinhole microphone. Below the pad are volume and channel rockers, as well as playback controls. It’s easy to hold and connects to the TV wirelessly, so you don’t need a straight line of sight to use it.

Google Assistant and Google TV

Review of the Sony Master Series XR-55A90J

Sony is abandoning Android TV in favor of Google TV as its preferred smart platform. It’s essentially an improved, streamlined version of Android TV, with many of the same apps, services, and capabilities as Android TV, but with a friendlier interface that organizes and recommends content more quickly.

Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, Twitch, and YouTube are among the major streaming services available. Using Apple AirPlay or Google Cast, you may mirror your phone, tablet, or computer screen to the TV.

Google Assistant is also available through Google TV. It allows you operate connected smart home devices (which at this time covers almost all major smart home brands) and the TV itself with voice queries, as well as search for content to watch or listen to and obtain general information like weather reports and sports scores.

Google Assistant is a standard feature on all televisions running Android TV or Google TV, and it’s often accessed by pressing and holding the Google Assistant button on the remote and speaking into the microphone. You can do this with the A90J, but you don’t have to because it has far-field microphones that let you utilize Google Assistant without hitting any buttons by simply saying, “OK, Google.” It’s great if you just want to instruct the TV what to do without having to pick up the remote. If you’re concerned about privacy, a switch on the back of the TV can be used to turn off the microphone.

Performance of the Sony Master Series A90J

Review of the Sony Master Series XR-55A90J

The Sony A90J is a 4K OLED TV with a 120Hz refresh rate and a 120Hz refresh rate. It supports HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR) video.

With methodology based on Imaging Science Foundation’s calibration processes, we test TVs with a Klein K-80 colorimeter, a Murideo SIX-G signal generator, and Portrait Displays‘ Calman software.

The A90J can’t go as bright as recent high-end LED-backlit LCD TVs because it’s an OLED TV. With revolutionary panel innovation and its OLED XR Contrast Pro image processing, Sony is pushing the technology’s brightness as far as it can go. The A90J has a peak brightness of 180.833cd/m2 with a full-screen field of white when using an HDR10 source. This is poor, but to be expected from an OLED panel that has been fully illuminated. The less area that needs to be fully lighted, the brighter OLEDs get, and with an 18 percent field of white, the TV’s peak brightness climbs to 632.348cd/m2. It rises even further to 775.534cd/m2 when the field is increased by 10%.

This isn’t as bright as high-end LCD TVs like the Hisense H9G (1,146.921cd/m2), but it’s impressive for an OLED. Because it’s an OLED, it can achieve perfect black levels for effective “infinite” contrast, something LCDs can’t.

Color is where the A90J really shines, especially when it comes to HDR content. Color levels with an SDR signal are compared to Rec.709 broadcast standards, while color levels with an HDR source are compared to DCI-P3 digital cinema standards, both using the TV’s Cinema picture mode. SDR colors are balanced and accurate right out of the box, with reds and greens shooting a little further in range than typical for a somewhat more vivid image. Meanwhile, HDR colors encompass nearly the whole DCI-P3 color gamut. Greens are a little short, and reds are a little too red, but the TV still has a lot of variation. The only issues about color performance out of the box are that whites are a touch pink and yellows are a little red, but these are small differences.

See how we put TVs through their paces.

Planet Earth II by the BBC looks stunning on the A90J. From the greens of leaves to the blues of water, the colors are rich and saturated while still appearing genuine. The picture appears to be quite lifelike due to the great contrast and color. Fine features like fur and bark are sharp and clear, regardless of whether they’re in direct sunlight or shade.

Review of the Sony Master Series XR-55A90J

Deadpool also looks fantastic on the A90J, with the red of Deadpool’s suit standing out against the cloudy lighting of the first scene. The battle in the blazing lab demonstrates the TV’s high contrast, with shadow features visible in the darkness against the intense light of the flames.

The A90J shines brightly in The Great Gatsby’s party scenes. Even with the dramatically contrasted whites in the same frames, the cuts of black suits and the textures of dark hair are all visible. Against the usually starkly monochrome sets, skin tones appear rich and realistic.

We measured the length of time between when a TV receives a signal and when the screen updates using an HDFury Diva HDMI matrix. The A90J has an input lag of 151.9 milliseconds in Cinema mode, which is simply too long to be comfortable. Switching to the Game picture mode, though, reduces the lag to just 9.9 milliseconds. That’s less than half of the 20ms benchmark we apply to determine if a television is suitable for gaming.

Sound That Stands Out

Review of the Sony Master Series XR-55A90J

Speakers are frequently an afterthought on a television, consisting of a set of downward-firing drivers with a few watts each to produce enough sound to hear what you’re watching. The A90J‘s XR Sound system, which combines traditional drivers with actuators positioned under the screen, shows that Sony put more consideration into it. For more audio power than normal TVs, the TV has a pair of 10-watt actuators for higher frequencies and a pair of 20-watt drivers for lower frequencies.

The actuators are used for much more than just generating sharp sound. The sounds they produce appear to originate directly from the screen, rather than from the TV’s near vicinity. As a consequence, you’ll have audio that’s more accurate to what you’re watching, as well as a capable center channel that can be linked into a surround sound system.

The A90J has an auto-calibration feature that has the TV play a series of tones that the microphone in the remote measures from your main viewing area in the room and then adjusts the speaker tuning based on the acoustics it picks up. Though it lacks the strength of a soundbar and subwoofer combination, it sounds excellent enough to make you reconsider adding a soundbar.

An OLED Display Worth Investing In

Review of the Sony Master Series XR-55A90J

The Sony Master Series A90J is an excellent example of a high-end OLED television. Yes, it’s pricey, but it delivers a great picture with lots of brightness for an OLED panel and one of the largest color gamuts we’ve ever seen in a TV. Thanks to Google TV and its far-field microphones, it also comes with a slew of other functions, including hands-free Google Assistant voice control. When you add in the A90J‘s excellent audio and gaming capabilities, it’s easy to see why it’s our Editors’ Choice.

If you want a decent picture and a lot of features but don’t want to spend a lot of money, the Hisense H9G is a fantastic option. It runs Android TV, which is less streamlined than Google TV but delivers hands-free Google Assistant and excellent picture quality, including far more brightness than any consumer OLED can produce. Consider Vizio’s OLED TV series, which isn’t as bright as the A90J and lacks several smart features (like a voice assistant), but still provides a great picture for less than half the price.

8.5
Review of the Sony Master Series XR-55A90J

Sony Master Series XR-55A90J Brightest OLED Panel

The Sony Master Series A90J TVs have a bright OLED display with one of the largest color ranges we’ve seen, as well as excellent audio performance on par with dedicated speakers, making them well worth the hefty price tag.


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