Sony Bravia X90L TV – is this the end of an era? (AV review)

The Sony Bravia X90L is a mid-range Full Array Local Dimming (FALD) LED/LCD TV jam-packed with some of Sony’s high-end tech.

But we have seen a massive shift in 2023 to Mini-LED LCD, so we must ask if the Sony Bravia X90L can compete with the hordes of pretty good mini-LEDs at pretty low prices?

The best thing going for it is that out of the box, the Standard/Cinema settings are quite good. That is because FALD can achieve a decent balance between brightness, contrast, and colour. Mini-LEDs typically can only get two out of three right. For example, a much brighter mini-LED gives you saturated colours at the expense of colour accuracy or contrast and vice versa.

A segue on TV types

I have been reviewing TVs for over two decades – right back to Panasonic’s excellent and horrifically expensive Plasma flat screens ($10K for a 42”). Then we saw the cheaper LCD technology arrive with fluorescent backlights (yes, like the Fluro tubes you put in light fittings). Don’t knock it – it gave a decent (we won’t define decent) picture for the time – better than CRT and without the issues of Plasma.

The next big step was Edge-Lit, where a bank of LEDs across the bottom of the TV panel used fibre optics to spread the light behind the LCD gate panel. This is still the most common cheap TV technology. From that was direct-lit (hundreds of LEDs behind an LCD gate panel – no dimming zones), then FALD (several hundred LEDs behind an LCD gate panel that were dimmable by zones).

Mini-LED replaces the big LEDs with thousands of tiny LEDs and often many hundreds of dimming zones. As it is capable of more light, it is suited to using Quantum Dot colour for more vibrant, oversaturated hues. However, it still suffers from the LCD gate technology – things like the Dirty Screen Effect, blooming, haloing, stutters, tears, motion smoothing, etc. Mini-LED has pushed the cheaper LCD gate technology to the limit.

The other current tech is OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode), where every one of the 8.3 million pixels is a lightbulb – all independent dimming zones. Early OLEDs circa 2015-2017 lacked a little brightness for Aussie open-space loungerooms but were spectacular in lower-light areas. I have a 65” 2017 LG E7 (top end) that cost over $6,000, and its colour and Dolby Vision movie capability still puts LCD TVs to shame. Imagine how good LG’s 2023 C3 and G3 are.

Disclaimer – a review mainly for videophiles and nerds

We test TVs objectively using software analysis, hardware sensors and subjective judgement. The results are given somewhat unvarnished, certainly without being influenced by the manufacturers’ marketing hype forced on unwitting consumers.

But we have been accused of being videophiles expecting TVs to meet the ‘ideal’. It is like trying to compare every smart phone to the OPPO FindX5/N3 or Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra😏.

In fact, the opposite is true. We judge TVs by what you can expect for the price bracket. After all, the best TV is the largest you can afford. We base all reviews on 65” for comparison.

The review is focused on picture quality and, to a degree, whether you should invest in FALD or go to Mini-LED and OLED.

Spoiler alert: Sony Bravia X90L FALD is better than entry-level but not as good as mid-range Mini-LED or entry-level OLED.

Read  Confused about TV tech? That’s just what they want! (Q3 2023 mini-LED update)

Australian Review: Sony Bravia X90L FALD TV (65” tested)

WebsiteProduct Page  
RRP55/65/75/85/98” $1680/1984/2485/3675/7687 (Prices at 22/11/23 and may be subject to promotional discounts – shop around)
FromSony Online  and major CE Retailers
Made inAssembled in Malaysia
CompanySONY is a Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. As a major technology company, it operates as one of the world’s largest consumer and professional electronic products manufacturers, the largest video game console company, and the largest video game publisher.
MoreCyberShack Sony news and reviews

We use Fail (below expectations), Pass (meets expectations) and Exceed (surpasses expectations or is the class leader) against many of the items below. We occasionally give a Pass(able) rating that is not as good as it should be and a Pass ‘+’ rating to show it is good but does not quite make it to Exceed. You can click on most images for an enlargement.

First Impression 65” – Pass

FALD backlighting means heavy (25kg) and thick (57mm). The boxed package is 33kg, so it is a two-person lift. One of the first things we noticed was that the legs were quite far apart (55/65/75/85/98 – 1067/1209/1426/1549/1536mm). Compared to a centre pedestal stand, you need a 1500mm wide area to place a 65”. The legs make it 345mm deep. Thankfully, they can use the raised position (about 100mm) to fit a soundbar under

The Sony Bravia X90L is 300×300 VESA mountable. Power input is on the right, and video ports are on the left. No cable management system means you cannot flush wall mount this. You need a tilt/swivel type of wall mount. The genuine Sony SU-WL850 is a staggering $550, and the non-swivel SW-WL450 is not currently available in Australia and costs about $300 to import. Generic mounts are cheaper.

Other than that, it is a big glass slab with small bezels.

The remote – Pass

One of the things I loved about Sony TVs (and I have three across two homes) was the comprehensive remote with numeric buttons to select channels. Sony may think a new slimmed-down remote is progress, but many older viewers do not. Our five consumer test panellists said they would be forced to buy the $55 larger remote instead of navigating on-screen EPG and menus. While voice assistance is helpful to some, most older viewers don’t use Google Assistant.

It is both infrared and Bluetooth, meaning you don’t need a clear line of sight to the TV.

Google TV OS – Pass+

The Sony Bravia X90L (L for 2023 model) uses a Google TV interface (2021) overlaid on Android TV 10 (released 2020) with a June 2023 security patch.

This is slightly disappointing as other brands use Google TV based on Android 11 or 12 (13 coming in 2024). The difference is that Google TV, from Android 11 onwards, commits to at least four years of updates versus no formal commitment.

In my experience, Sony has not had a good update record. For example, my 65” OLED A9G (2019) has Android 9 and a security patch 1/4/21. My 55” X9300E (2017 model) has Android 9 and a security patch 9/1/22.

Update: Ironically, on 22 November (as I wrote this), Sony started rolling out Android TV 10 (Australia) for its 2020+ G and H models but with a February 2023 security patch. Frankly, smaller players are doing a better job, meaning you can keep your TV longer.

Setup – Pass but skip Samba

Like all smart TV OS, Google monetises your viewing habits by serving product advertising or program recommendations – you need to sign in with a Google Account (email and password). This is as benign as TV OS get – some are highly intrusive, feeding unwanted content and recommendations.

And you will have to sign into every streaming app – more data!

During setup, it requests you sign into Samba TV, which hoovers up all your data and sells it to advertisers for content recommendations. Don’t accept this – ditto.

Sony has Bravia Core (Sony Pictures movie streaming) that requires a Sony account (or sign-in with Google). As a gift with purchase, customers receive 10 free movies and 24 months of Sony Pictures back catalogue streaming at the highest quality in the world, 80Mbps pure stream. 

Settings – Pass+

Out of the box, the default Standard setting produces an eminently watchable SDR picture. It strikes a decent balance between brightness, contrast and colour. Vivid mode is too saturated, and Cinema has more natural colours but is best for dark room viewing. We experimented with custom settings, but default settings are fine.

How does it look?

This has many components – all are tested, and the outcomes are below. As a quick upfront summary.

Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) free-to-air and HD/FHD streaming presents an excellent image out-of-the-box in Standard mode in daylight and Cinema mode at night.

HDR/HDR10/Dolby Vision is adequate but below par compared to Mini-LED and way below OLED. That is where our technical analysis later comes in.

We think it is one of the best FALD panels we have ever seen, but the technology is now outclassed in two ways. First is Mini-LED brightness and saturated colours (which can be a two-edged sword, as seen from our Mini-LED reviews). Second, it uses 2019 processor tech, which has significantly advanced by 2023, and onboard AI outguns it.

Colours and purity – Pass

Video modes – Pass

The Sony Bravia X90L has Vivid, Standard, Cinema, IMAX Enhanced, Game, Graphics, Photo, Custom, Dolby Vision (Vivid/Bright/Dark), Netflix calibrated, and BRAVIA CORE calibrated. There is no AI video or audio mode found on later TVs.

Standard is best for most viewing, and Cinema (with brightness slightly elevated) is best for Dolby Vision.

Sharpness – Pass

You can read down to 24-point where Mini-LED gets to 14-point and OLED to 10-point.

Dimming Zones – Pass

The TV is divided up into 88 independently dimmable zones. Where mini-LED has many hundreds to thousands, and OLED has 8.3 million, this must do the job. Overall, it is reasonably successful at reducing blooming, but read on.

Blooming – Pass

There is noticeable blooming around moving text and objects (white objects over a dark background), but not as bad as some. The problem is that the more the dimming zones try to repress blooming, the more HDR/shadow/highlight detail is lost.

Motion smoothing – Pass

There is tearing and stuttering in fast-moving scenes (4K@50/60fps), especially as they move over the edge of a dimming zone. The leading edge appears dark, and the trailing edge has a light bloom/trail. There are halos and artifacts around fast-moving objects.

You can turn on and off Black Frame insertion.

Brightness – Pass+

Window SizeHDRSDR

This is a bright TV, capable of Dolby Vision and for use in bright Aussie lounge rooms. We recommend you turn the Automatic Light Sensor off.

Contrast – Pass+

The VA Panel has a higher native contrast at 5000:1 (test 4780:1), but it is like an IPS panel with a static contrast of 1500:1.

You cannot get perfect black with LCD, but the levels are pretty good.

SDR content – Pass+

Free-to-air and SDR HD/FHD streaming is good. The 4K upscale does not overtax the processor or require AI processing. The colours are decent, with good brightness, contrast, and reasonable sound – an excellent SDR TV.

HDR/DV – Passable

To be fair, we tested on Standard Mode (for consistency) when we could have calibrated a better custom mode result.

Being subjective, it is bright enough, but the detail in HDR highlights and shadows is lacking. It is evident in fast action scenes that the processor could not keep up.

Uniformity/DSE – Pass

Unfortunately, the review unit was not overly uniform, with darker corners and DSE (dirty screen effect) manifesting as vertical stripes on a white background. DSE is not a constant – 99 out of 100 TVs may not show it, and if you get DSE, you are well within your rights to exchange it.

Viewing angle – Pass

VA panels generally have a narrower field of view, and this is no exception. It starts washing out at 115° and colour shifts at 120°. You probably could get to 135° before it became irritating.

You need to sit straight on; it will be most noticeable if wall-mounted too high.

Reflectivity – Pass

Reasonable. Ensure you have no lighting behind the seating area.

Upscale – Pass for 480/720p and Pass+ for 1080p

It is generally suitable for this level of technology using on-board database object recognition, but some scenes are over-sharpened. Later models use AI to assist in upscaling.

Delta E colour accuracy – Pass+

It is an 8-bit+FRC/1.07 billion colour panel. Out of the box, it is <2, and professional calibration could see that <1.

DCI-P3 – Pass

It can display about 92% of the 1.07 billion colours and tones. Later TV can get close to 100%.

Gradients – Pass+

Overall, colours gradate well from 50-100% with some banding in the RGB colours.

Gaming – Pass

We are not gamers and did not test with PS5 or Xbox X. When you attach a PS5, it automatically switches to games mode, and HDMI 2.1 Port 4 supports VRR/ALLM, 4K@100/120Hz (AU power is 50Hz). Gaming lag is 18ms compared to OLED at <2ms.

There are no specs for NVIDIA G-sync or AMD FreeSync, so we doubt it supports that.

Pulse Width Modulation PWM – Pass

It is above 700Hz, which is considered acceptable for those affected by PWM.

Formats – Pass

The Sony Bravia X90L supports 480p/720p/1080p upscale, SDR free-to-air TV and streaming content and HDR/HDR10/Dolby Vision content. Sound includes all 2.0 to 7.1 surround and Dolby Atmos/DTS:X to 5.1.2.

Ports – Pass

  • 2x HDMI 2.1 48Gbps (ports 3 eARC and 4)
  • 2 x HDMI 2.0 (ports 1 and 2)
  • Wi-Fi 5 AC half duplex – can cause buffering on 4K DV/DA content. Use Ethernet if you intend to stream HDR content.
  • Bluetooth 4.2 no multipoint
  • Chromecast, AirPlay 2, Miracast
  • 1 x USB A 5V/.5A/2.5W and 1 x 5V/.9A/4.5W (suitable for flash drive, external SSD or HID devices – streaming dongles usually require 10W)
  • IR blaster port
  • 3.5mm earphones
  • Optical output (Toslink)
  • DBV Tuner
  • Ethernet

This shows the age of the venerable X9000 series with only 2 x HDMI 2.1 ports (one is eARC for a soundbar), and Wi-Fi 5 AC is barely enough to stream 4K Dolby Vision content.

Power – FALD is power-hungry

SDR Free-to-air with the ALS on (at night) uses about 200 watts per hour – 40 cents every five hours. During the day, with ALS on, that drops to 120-140W. Power use in sleep mode is <1W.

Dolby Vision/Atmos content goes up to 300W.

SDR Sound – Pass+

The Sony Bravia X90L has Standard, Dialog, Cinema, Music, Sports, and Dolby Audio/DTS (not Dolby Atmos) modes. Acoustic auto-calibration helps to focus the sound field on your seating position. It uses the remote-control mic placed at the furthest seating position.

From what we can see, it has 2 x 5W Left/Right side-firing tweeters mounted mid-height on the side and two x 10W Left/Right down-firing simple frequency crossover full-range speakers on the bottom frame. Maximum volume is 80dB (average), and the sound stage is as wide and high as the TV. Left/Right separation (directionality) is good.

Mid-bass suddenly kicks in at 60Hz and rapidly builds to 100Hz, where high-bass takes over, and it builds again to 200Hz, where low-mid kicks in and the tweeters add to the full-range speakers. It is then flat (good) to 6kHz, where you get a slight dip to avoid harshness, and then relatively flat to 20kHz.

The speakers (at full volume) tend to clip mids, but for the most part, it is quite acceptable TV sound.

Dolby Atmos sound – Pass

Dolby Atmos (DA) content adds a small 3D height slightly above the TV but no spatial surround sound. If all you listen to is free-to-air TV, this is pretty good for TV sound.

We reviewed this with the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus ($2599 -more than the TV costs), and of course, it takes you to the ‘virtual’ Dolby Atmos 7.1.4 dimension – more in that review.

Sony has a range of DA soundbars like its HT-A7000 7.1.2, but not having reviewed it, we cannot comment beyond that it is a virtual all-in-one DA sound bar relying on psychoacoustics to bounce sound around the room. Aussie lounge rooms are infamously bad for that.

Our pick would be the JBL BAR 1300 – 1170 Watts, 11.1.4 Dolby Atmos soundbar, or the JBL Bar 800 (5.1.2 with dedicated rear speakers) or Bar 1000 (7.1.4 with dedicated rear speakers).

Our best advice is if good DA and 5 or 7.1 surround sound is important (and it is 30% of the TV viewing experience), please read Five Tips for Better TV Sound – Dolby Atmos for beginners (2023 soundbar guide).

Sony speak – translator needed

Sony is the master of Sony Speak, so here are what the terms on its website mean.

  • Cognitive Processor XR is a MediaTek MT5895, 28nm, 4-core 1.8GHz and ARM Mali G52 M2/800MHz 2EU 1.6 TOPS, circa Q3 2019 that powers millions of Sony and other brand TVs. It has no AI/machine learning functionality and can decode up to 4K@60Hz. Sony adds its firmware to it to call it an XR processor.
  • Google/Android TV is the operating system and is constant across all brands and models. AI started with Android TV 11.
  • XR 4K Upscale Dual Database processing uses the CPU/GPU to upscale using an on-board database of objects like lines, shapes, buildings, people, pets, etc., to refine the upscale. If it cannot find a similar object, it wraps the same colour pixels around the primary pixel. While 1080p (16:9) upscale only needs 4 pixels, 720p (16:9) needs 9 pixels, and 480p (4:3) needs a massive 27.
  • XR Motion Clarity means inserting a black frame (BFI) between each actual frame to smooth out the moving image because you don’t see the black frame. Later, AI-based TVs use a mix of comparing the frames before and after and inserting a slightly different frame.
  • XR Triluminous Pro is simply Quantum Dot colour like QLED, ULED, etc.
  • XR Contrast booster means 88 dimming zones, allowing for more granular contrast control. Any TV with dimming zones has this.
  • Acoustic Centre Sync means you can use the TV speakers with compatible Sony Soundbars. It is like Samsung Q-Symphony or LG WOW Orchestra.
  • Acoustic Multi-audio sound means that sound is phased between the speakers to appear to come from the source, e.g., a person speaking. This is standard for most brands and models. Not to be confused with Sony Acoustic Surface Audio, where the speakers are behind the screen – can’t do that with FALD.
  • Voice Zoom 2 means it cuts the bass and treble sound and focuses on 1-4kHz. Most brands call this clear voice or dialogue mode. Some also have Night Mode, which changes the sound profile for quiet viewing.
  • Auto HDR Tone mapping relates only to use with a PS5.
  • Netflix calibrated mode: Most recent TVs have this – it is like Filmmaker mode.
  • Upscale to 3D sound, then downscale to the TV 2.0 speakers. There is no spatial sound stage on this TV.
  • Auto Genre Picture mode only swaps between Standard and Games mode when connected to a PS5.
  • Voice control. All Google Android TVs have this as long as the remote has a microphone.
  • Ambient Light Sensor (ALS) determines room light levels and adjusts panel brightness. Most recommend turning it off.
  • Eco Dashboard is an App to adjust Eco settings – most resulting in an inferior image.
  • Kids Profile: Google TV allows you to set up adult and kids profiles, restrict content, etc.
  • Gesture control – not tested. Enables the use of gestures for a limited number of remote commands.
  • Proximity Alert – most TVs now have optional distance alerts (usually with the addition of a webcam).

CyberShack’s View – Sony Bravia X90L TV is probably the end of the road for FALD

Three years ago, we would have extolled the virtues of FALD, but not in 2023. Today, it is a step up from Edge-or-Direct-lit LED LCD and a step down from entry-level mini-LED with dimming zones (some entry-level Mini-LEDs ‘cheat’ and use them for Edge-lit or Direct-lit with no dimming zones!).

Three years ago, the XR MT5895 Processor was considered top drawer. Today, it is old tech lacking an NPU co-processor for AI technology and more power like MediaTek’s new Pentonic series with AI Picture Quality adjustment, AI upscaling, AI voice, Wi-Fi 6, true 4K@120Hz, and more.


So we come back to RRP – 65” for $1984. Considering that it was $2795 RRP when launched, the new pricing is very much fairer. Remember that it does Dolby Vision. Samsung downscales DV frame-by-frame metadata to the vastly inferior HDR10 movie-by-movie metadata, so it is not included.

Prices are RRP, followed by current promotional prices.

So before you buy, read the reviews and make up your mind.

Sony Bravia X90L ratings

  • Features: 85 – An older version of Android TV, processor, etc., put it behind other brands. If you want a good SDR TV, it will do that, but for HDR/DV, look to Mini-LED (similar price) or OLED (LG C3 is about $800 more).
  • Value: 80 – it is outclassed by other brands on features and value.
  • Performance: 90 for SDR and 80 for HDR. The lack of AI enhancement is evident.
  • Ease of Use: 85 – Google TV is like a comfy pair of slippers. It does everything you need in a relatively easy-to-use interface. Plus, it has more streaming and Apps than other User Interfaces. But the 1-year warranty is short in comparison to 3-years offers by competitors.
  • Design: 80 – FALD is thick and heavy, the legs need a large table/desktop, and the optional swivel mount system is extraordinarily expensive.

Sony Bravia X90L FALD TV

55/65/75/85/98” $1680/1984/2485/3675/7687 (Prices at 22/11/23)







Ease of Use





  • Good out-of-the-box calibration – standard for SDR and Cinema for HDR
  • Colour accuracy is better than oversaturated QD/Mini-LED.
  • Reasonable sound for SDR TV.
  • It is a Sony!


  • VA panel has relatively narrow viewing angles.
  • No AI when the 2023 competition has lots.
  • 1-year warranty, where the competition offer 3-years.
  • Old tech processor, Wi-Fi 5, BT 4.2