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Lifewire / Zach Sweat
Very deep blacks
Great image quality
Stunning cinematic motion and HDR
Expensive vs. similar competitors
Poor viewing angles
While packing in excellent performance and design, the Sony XBR49X900F 49-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV is far from the best option in terms of price. But if you want the Sony brand, it’s a great 4K LED option.
We purchased the Sony XBR49X900F 49-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
Much like phone manufacturers, TV manufacturers are continuously releasing new iterations of their latest TVs each year, often with only minor improvements over the previous generations. Sony is no different in this regard, and the X900F series is one of their relatively new lines.
Originally released in 2018, the X900F series is a slight step up over Sony’s X850F series (which we also recently reviewed) with a few noteworthy upgrades over the cheaper series. The question is, does the X900F offer enough in the way of improvements over the X850F to justify the higher price point? Check out our in-depth review below to get all the details on the Sony XBR49X900F 49-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV before you pull the trigger.
It comes as no surprise that Sony’s X900F series of TVs are beautiful and well-designed products, though there are some interesting deviations from the rest of their lineup with this specific series. Overall though, these are very solid systems that’ll look great in your home.
Once you’ve got the TV out of the box and set up, the first thing you’ll probably notice is the beefy legs this thing’s sporting. These are unlike any other on a Sony TV, sticking out at quite a wide angle. This means if you plan to use the TV with the included stand, you’re definitely gonna want some real estate to plop it down on. The upside of this is that you can easily fit your favorite soundbar, cable box, gaming console, or other device underneath the unit with lots of room to spare. These legs support the TV quite well, and we didn't notice any significant wobbling. The legs also allow for some clever cable management to tidy things up a bit.
As far as overall thickness goes, the X900F series is pretty average for TVs these days, so it may not be the best, but it’s just fine if you want to get it close to a wall. Thankfully, there are no annoying ports that force cables to stick straight out the back either. The bezels here are pretty similar to any other Sony TV, meaning they’re thin and unobtrusive.
At the back of the TV, your power cable is all the way off to the left, and there are two hubs for the rest of your inputs and ports. The side hub at the right allows for quick access to most of your needed ports, with a single HDMI, two USBs, an IR blaster, audio out and composite video in. The other hub holds three additional HDMIs, another USB port, RS-232 port (minijack), digital audio out, ethernet and your hookup for cable/antenna. Additionally, there is a VESA 300x300 compatible mount at the rear if you want to mount your TV and ditch the stand.
The X900F delivers excellent image quality, much more so than some of Sony’s cheaper lines.
Sometimes forced simplicity from manufacturers can be a real drag. We’re fans of minimal aesthetics, but the continuing trend Sony has taken with their on-TV controls, unfortunately, continues with this series. They’ve once again opted to use the same three-button layout found on all their current units. Sure, they get the basic job done, but they can be quite frustrating if you actually need to use them to do anything aside from powering on or off. Just don’t lose your remote.
Speaking of the remote, the XBR49X900F sticks with the same layout we’ve seen on other Sonys. It’s easy to set favorites, quickly jump to your favorite streaming app, change settings, and much more. The remote also provides easy access to the excellent Google Assistant. This allows you to perform a range of functions with just your voice.
With your Sony X900F unboxed and unpacked, plug in the power and boot it up. The setup process for any smart TV is a breeze these days, especially so with Android TV. All you really need to do is follow along with the steps on the screen by using the remote. During this, you’ll be asked your standard setup questions like selecting a language, location, internet connection, signing into necessary accounts, and more.
Upon completing this initial portion, you will likely be asked to update your firmware. For us, it popped up automatically, but check under the settings tab if it doesn’t to ensure you’ve got the latest version. Updating to the latest version of Android TV will not only improve the experience, but also provide security updates to protect your accounts and device. This might take a little while to complete, so just let it do its thing and make sure the power cable doesn’t get unplugged during this step.
Your TV will restart upon completion, and now it’s ready to use. Rejoice! Before you get carried away, don’t forget to sign in to all your streaming apps. This can be a little tedious, but connecting your Google account to Android TV should make things easier, as it’ll link accounts it has knowledge of automatically.
As with most other Sony 4K TVs, these devices aren’t cheap, so image quality should be top-notch considering the money you’re forking over. Fortunately, the X900F delivers excellent image quality, much more so than some of Sony’s cheaper lines.
The X900F uses a VA-type panel for their displays, which sit right between IPS and TN panels, taking some of the strengths of both and combining them into a happy medium. These panels are great for the most part, especially since IPS and TN have some pretty universal issues.
The biggest strengths of the X900F series are the impressive contrast ratio, color accuracy, and HDR capabilities. For contrast ratio, you get a whopping 5089:1 with native and 5725:1 with local dimming (for reference, the X850F gets a measly 894:1 native). What this translates to in the real world is deep blacks and especially superb performance in dark environments.
HDR peak brightness on the X900F is outstanding, ranking among some of the highest in modern panels. HDR-supported content will be bright and vibrant, creating an immersive experience for entertainment consumption, especially if you plan to use the TV for gaming. This is improved even further by the TV’s impressive color gamut.
Right out of the box the color accuracy is remarkable and should suffice for most people. If you want to improve it even more, you can do so by fine-tuning the settings and finding a premade profile online. We always recommend doing this to get the most out of your new purchase.
The backlight is flicker-free, the pixel response time is super quick, and we didn’t see any issues with ghosting.
While not quite as good, black uniformity and gray uniformity with the X900F series also get high marks. This varies from unit to unit, but with ours, we did not notice any real issues with screen uniformity, dirty screen effect, clouding or blooming. There are also no problems with backlight bleed, thanks to this series not using an IPS panel.
Though the X900F excels in dark rooms, it also does well in brighter rooms, and the anti-glare finish on the screen cuts down on reflections considerably. That being said, the viewing angles on VA panels are nowhere near as good as IPS, and the X900F might not be the best option if you have a wide viewing arrangement.
Moving on to motion performance, Sony has done an excellent job in this area, and this particular series gets some of the highest marks in their lineup. The backlight is flicker-free, the pixel response time is super quick, and we didn’t see any issues with ghosting. This TV sports a 120Hz refresh rate, a welcome addition particularly for gamers looking to plug a high-end PC into it and drive large FPS numbers.
It goes without saying that most TVs with built-in speakers aren’t going to perform as well as an external setup, but the X900F series is particularly bad in this realm. Sure, if you plan to use it in a quiet environment and don’t consider yourself an audiophile, it'll work okay, but it’s not good.
The XBR49X900F does indeed get loud, but with that comes distortion. If you want to get the best experience with your fancy new 4K TV, we recommend picking up some sort of external system like a soundbar or surround sound setup.
Though Android TV might not be everyone’s favorite for smart TV software, we were content with the X900F’s implementation of the OS. The first thing most people will notice is the sheer amount of content you have access to with Android TV. It’s a bit overcrowded, but with access to the Google Play Store, you’ll never be left wanting for potential apps or games. There are some ads here, but it’s not as bad as some platforms.
While browsing through the UI provides access to tons of content, the experience can be a bit daunting, and we had a few moments of lag and choppiness. Alternatively, if you know what you’re looking for, you can skip the hunt and use Google Assistant to take you straight to what you want.
Another cool feature with Android TV is the ability to use your phone as a remote. This works with both Android and iOS, and though it isn’t as fast as the physical remote, it’s nice to have as a backup in a pinch.
Throughout this review, we’ve mentioned that the X900F series is a bit on the expensive side. Now you shouldn’t really compare a brand like Sony to a cheaper, less reputable manufacturer, but even stacked against similar companies, Sony TVs are still pretty pricey.
Here’s a quick breakdown on the prices according to Sony’s website:
These prices are pretty accurate no matter where you buy them based on a quick scan of online retailers, but obviously they can be had for less if you find a nice sale. They’re not quite as bad as Sony’s OLED TVs (though the tech may justify those prices a bit more), but they’re also more costly than similar offerings from competitors.
Perhaps the closest competitor to the Sony XBR49X900F is Samsung's QN49Q70RAFXZA (view on Amazon). Each of these TVs are VA panels and they're priced very similarly, so let’s briefly compare the two and see how they measure up.
Kicking off with the Sony, the X900F performs better in bright environments than the Samsung, and can get brighter overall, and the motion is a bit better. This is thanks to the quicker response time from the Sony. The Sony is probably more ideal for big sports fans.
However, the Samsung pulls ahead in terms of darkroom performance, with an even better contrast ratio and black uniformity. For gamers, the Samsung might be the optimal choice. This is largely due to the lower input lag — a particularly important aspect for competitive gaming.
At the end of the day, these two TVs are so similarly matched that either will be a solid choice. The little minor details we pointed out might sway you to one over the other depending on how you plan to use the device, so choose based on your needs.
Interested in checking out more reviews? Take a peek at our roundup of the best Sony TVs.
One of Sony’s best 4K TVs.
Sony’s X900F is a particularly strong series from the reputable manufacturer—boasting high performance in most image quality factors that place them among the best 4K TVs—and while they on the more expensive end of the spectrum, you indeed get what you pay for with the Sony XBR49X900F 49-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV.
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