While everyone’s attention at Sony’s CES 2018 press conference was on its new OLED (the X9F) and the tantalising possibilities offered by the upcoming X1 Ultimate processor, the realities of the TV market continue to mean that LCD isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Enter the X900F (named the XF90 in the UK), which is Sony’s first 2018 LCD TV.
Available in sizes ranging from 49-inches to 85-inches, the set features the same full array local dimming system seen on last year’s Sony X900E. Considering we gave the previous set five stars when we reviewed it last year, we’ve got high hopes for its successor.
Design and Performance
In terms of specs, the X900F’s big improvement over last year’s model is that it now includes the X1 Extreme processor rather than the more limited X1 processor from last year.
That means it’s got the same excellent object-based HDR remastering technology that was found in last year’s flagship OLED, meaning that SDR content is brought tantalisingly close to the appearance of HDR content.
The visual impact of this technology is impressive, but with the models that used it last year, the processing had an impact on input latency, which was a problem for gaming.
Unfortunately, Sony doesn’t reveal specs such as input latency at a show like CES, so we were unable to confirm whether this has been addressed for this year, but since its the same processor it’s unlikely that it’ll be much better.
With only one LCD TV range announced for 2018 so far, it’s difficult to know exactly where the X900F will sit within the range. The ZD9 will continue to sit at the top of the company’s LCD lineup for the time being, which we’re thankful for since the X900F’s full array backlight doesn’t have quite the same per-pixel precision as the flagship LCD.
On the software side the set is running Android TV, which means full Google Assistant support for both controlling the TV and getting all your usual voice assistant services. It’s also integrated with external Alexa speakers, but this functionality isn’t built directly into the TV.
In terms of its picture quality the new set was in an awkward position on the show floor. It’s backlight control was decent, but placed next to the A8F OLED, it naturally couldn’t offer nearly the same black level performance.
It’s peak brightness was also decent, but then you stepped into Sony’s X1 Ultimate demo room which featured Sony’s new prototype TV alongside the flagship ZD9, and it seemed dim in comparison.
Regardless, this is still a fine-looking TV. The HDR might not be as accomplished as some of the other technologies on display at Sony’s stand, but with the set expected to have a mid-range price point, it’s price-to-performance ratio could end up being every bit as strong.
A set like the Sony X900F is almost impossible to judge without knowing its price.
The X900E impressed us because of how much it was able to do at its price, which starts at just over $1,000. It didn’t have the most stunning HDR or colors, but for the cost, these were compromises that were absolutely worth making.
If the X900F manages to hit the same price bracket then it could end up being very tempting thanks to the X1 Extreme processor, but we’ll have to wait for Sony to formerly announce pricing later in the year to know for sure.
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