The new TVs are generally launched in the spring and it is not unusual to see high-end models drop significantly in the second half of the year. It is expected that the XF9005 will follow the same trend. Let it be clear: this is a great TV with excellent picture quality with its deep blacks and beautiful colors. His style is minimalist and elegant and the Sony brand appeal always plays. The Android OS is mixed: excellent features but a lack of responsiveness. A defect that can always be overcome by opting for an external streaming box.
There are two problems for TVs in this Sony’s price range and more expensive. The first is that LG’s Oled TVs offer even better picture quality for a not much higher price, especially if you opt for a model from last year. The second is that the TV TCL Series 6 have a picture quality as good as the Sony and cost less.
But the XF9005 is available in larger sizes than TCLs. And those who value the Sony brand and the superb design of this model can agree to pay more. But finally, we will appreciate even more the XF9005 when its price will have dropped in a few months.
The style of Sony TVs is often more “business” than that of the competition and that of the XF9005 is no exception. Last year’s model had only one central foot, while this year’s model gave way to the double foot.
Android TV by Sony: good but slow
Sony TVs use Google’s Android TV which is superior to Samsung and LG’s home OS in a vital area: apps. But the responsiveness of the interface is not as good as these competitors and Roku. Sometimes, the home page has glosses to load them. In applications like Netflix or YouTube, browsing, opening tabs or other actions is not as fast. Sony could have made an effort on the power of the processor.
That said, the use remains tolerable in most cases and the offer of applications and features are top notch. Add to that the compatibility with Google’s Cast function that allows to broadcast content and applications from a smartphone.
As expected from an Android system, the voice features are above the competition. New in 2018, a button dedicated to the Google Assistant on the remote control. As this button replaces the activation phrase “Ok Google”, it further simplifies the use.
We were able to start playing music, ask for the weather and make other basic voice commands. Overall, we found this Sony version of the wizard a little slower than its version on the Nvidia Shield.
You can also pair a Google Home or Mini connected speaker for hands-free voice control.
Rich in options
The best option for the image quality of the XF9005 is the full-array local dimming (FALD) which improves black levels and contrast by illuminating different parts of the screen separately as needed.
Let’s also mention the native refresh rate of 120 Hz. Sony says it has also improved the video processing thanks to the same Extreme X1 processor that equips its Oled A1 model.
Sony has introduced the Dolby Vison HDR on some of its 2017 models with a firmware update and says it will do the same with the XF9005 which is otherwise compatible HDR10.
- 4 HDMI inputs with HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2
- 3 USB ports
- Composite video input
- Ethernet port
- Optical digital audio output
- Audio subwoofer / headphone output
- Antenna input
- Minijack port
The connectivity of the XF9005 is rich and, unlike many TVs Samsung, it offers an analog video input. And we also appreciate the presence of a headphone jack. All HDMI inputs are compatible with Ultra HD and HDR devices, but Sony recommends using HDMI 2 and 3 with 4K Blu-ray players because they have higher bandwidth and enable “enhanced HDMI” mode. Unlike LG and Samsung TVs, the XF9005 does not automatically detect this setting for editing, which is unfortunate.
2018 is an excellent vintage for the image quality of LCD screens thanks to the local full-array dimming technology (FALD). We compared the Sony to other FALD TVs. All got excellent ratings for image quality.
Compared to competitors at TCL and Samsung’s Q8, Sony’s black levels are a little shallower but still very good. The XF9005 surpasses rivals on video processing and color fidelity. On the other hand, none of these models can do as well as Oled displays like the LG C8. But they are also cheaper.
Soft lighting: with the exception of the Q7 which is set back, all LCD TVs in our comparison have been excellent in home theater mode in a dark room. On the Blu-ray of Black Panther, we could not really separate the Sony, Q8 and TCL that were very close. We have sometimes been able to see some slight differences in black levels on some scenes to the advantage of TCL and Q8. But in the end, the level of quality is very good on all these models.
Lighted room: among our reference TVs, the Sony has been beaten only by the Samsung Q8 in terms of pure light production with HDR and SDR content. In these strong lighting conditions, we recommend using Cinema Home mode which is less bright but offers better color fidelity. Again, advantage to the Samsung on the black levels that the Sony does not maintain as well. However, the XF9005 is excellent in these lighting conditions.
Color fidelity: this is the area where the Sony outclasses the competition both by our measures and viewing content. The shimmering colors of Black Panther are magnified with excellent saturation. The only TV that can do better in this area is LG’s Oled. That said, the differences are minimal and we should put the two TV side by side to detect something.
Video Processing: This is where Sony made the most progress over last year with its new X-Motion Clarity feature. This is an algorithm that adjusts the brightness and the backlight duration of the different areas of the images to preserve the sharpness of the moving elements. Only Samsung TVs do as good as Sony for video processing. Like its predecessor, the XF9005 does not have to worry about keeping the 1080p / 24 frame rate with the default TruCinema MotionFlow setting for the Cinema Pro mode that’s best for purists.
In video game mode, the latency with 1080p sources is average at 41 milliseconds. But it is surprisingly better with Ultra HD HDR content (23.4 ms). A good excuse to afford a PlayStation 4 Pro.
Uniformity: as you would expect from a FALD TV, the XF9005 ensures a very good image uniformity. The other FALD models do as well.
Off-axis, the Sony loses black levels and color fidelity about as fast as the Samsung. Not surprisingly, Oled models do better than LCDs in this area.
HDR and Ultra HD: with its prodigious brightness, local dimming and its faithful colors, the XF9005 is a cador with HDR content. But this is also the case for the other 2018 models. However, none of these LCD TVs can compete with Oled screens in a general way. But they have all their assets. The Samsung arrogates the palm of the contrast, the TCL that levels of black while the Sony is the most balanced and faithful to the colors. On the excellent Blu-ray HDR Black Panther, the Sony displays black levels less deep and contrast less pronounced than the other models in our comparison, except the Q7. On some scenes, we do not find the same brilliance or the same dynamism although the rendering is still very good.
We concluded our test by streaming with Lost in Space on Netflix via a Roku Ultra. Once again, the Sony is slightly lower in contrast and black levels than the TCL, but we still preferred the image of the XF9005 that better preserves the details in dark scenes.