Sony is using miniLEDs on its top LCD model for the first time this year. A necessary step to keep the LCD TV somewhat competitive with the OLED variants. How much brightness and contrast can you expect from the XR-65X95K? And is it enough to keep the competitors at bay?
Sony XR-65X95K – specifications
|What||Ultra HD Full Array LED-LCD-tv met lokale dimming (36×12 segmenten)|
|Screen format||65 inch (164 cm), train|
|Connections||4x HDMI (2x 48 Gbps, 2x 18 Gbps, ARC/eARC, ALLM, 4K120, VRR), 1x composite video, 1x stereo minijack, 1x optical digital out, 2x USB, 3x antenna, Bluetooth|
|Extra’s||HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, WiFi (802.11ac) built-in, Google TV (10), Chromecast, Airplay 2, USB/DLNA media player, DVB-T2/C/S2, CI+ slot, Cognitive processor XR|
|Dimensions||1.443 x 907 x 343 mm (incl. voet)|
|weight||33.0 kg (excl. base)|
|Consumption||SDR 113 (F) / HDR 156 watt (G)|
Sony XR-65X95K – Design
Whichever way you look at it, the Sony XR-65X95K (X95K series) is finished to perfection. From the titanium-colored frame and feet to the playful square pattern on the back, this is a very nice TV. We’ve known for some time that mini-LEDs are no guarantee for a super slim device, but that’s not too bad on this Sony.
The feet are quite large, but you can mount them in three different ways. There is a narrow position, less attractive but useful if your TV cabinet is not wide enough, a standard position with the feet at the end of the device, and a soundbar position where the screen is about 7.5 cm above the furniture.
Do provide sturdy furniture or a large wall bracket, because this Sony is a heavyweight.
Sony XR-65X95K – Connections
The Sony XR-65X95K is equipped with two HDMI 2.1 connections that deliver the full 48 Gbps bandwidth. They offer the following HDMI 2.1 features : ARC/eARC, ALLM, 4K120 and VRR support. In addition, there are also two HDMI 2.0 connections. We would still like to see four HDMI 2.1 connections on models such as this one.
Don’t forget to switch the HDMI input to the correct setting in the settings (Channels and Inputs / External Inputs / HDMI signal format). Sony offers four different options, so think carefully about what exactly that HDMI connection should be able to do. For example, anyone who opts for Dolby Vision immediately excludes 4K120 and VRR. We also find two USB connections, a composite video and stereo minijack input, and an optical digital output. For headphones, you have to rely on Bluetooth. The connections all point downwards or to the side, there are clips for cable management, and you can finish everything neatly with a cover plate.
Ease of use and smart TV
The X95K uses the MediaTek MT5895 chipset, a quad-core ARM Cortex-A73 CPU, 3GB of RAM and the Mali-G52 GPU. That chipset dates back several years, but it provides a good user experience in Google TV (Android 10). Everything runs smoothly, the TV responds promptly and apps launch quickly.
You can install the TV as a ‘Basic TV’, then you get a Home Screen with pre-installed apps, but this setting is actually only intended to use live TV and the HDMI inputs. As soon as you need to update an app, you will almost certainly have to log in to access the Google Play Store. With the most recent updates, Google TV has also become a lot more fun. It provides genre-based recommendations across a limited number of services (Video, Apple TV, and Disney+). But you still get very limited control over what appears on the Home page. You can only really customize the list of apps.
We don’t think much has changed in the Sony menus. With the push of a button you get a ribbon at the bottom of the TV with all kinds of shortcuts. You can also adjust that if necessary. The input key not only shows all inputs but also apps, and is therefore a very quick way to switch to another app.
The X95K got the same redesigned remote that we also found on the A95K. This more compact remote no longer has numeric keys, but the keys that remain are not only well chosen, they are also clearly labeled. As a result, you can almost instantly find your way around this new remote. The keystroke is light and pleasant and the finish is excellent. The brushed metal surface is easy to clean and the keys light up as soon as you take the remote off the table. The ‘Find My Remote’ function in the Google Home App makes the remote control sound and light, so you can quickly find it if it is misplaced somewhere.
Sony also supplies a second remote, with an older design. It does have a numeric keypad. We see only limited added value in this, and we suspect that this will remain in the drawer for many people.
The X95K is equipped with a double TV tuner for digital TV (DVB-T2/C/S2) but only has one CI+ slot. Watching and recording another channel at the same time is therefore only possible with channels that are not encrypted. In addition to Chromecast, you can also use Apple Airplay 2 . The TV is also compatible with Apple Homekit. Sony has provided an excellent media player that knows what to do with all important video and sound formats.
Bravia Core also remains available, it is an exclusive offer for the Sony XR models. The streaming service provides access to a whole range of films from the Sony studios. Part of the offer is freely accessible for two years, another part you still pay with credits (the X95K gets 10). There is still no clarity on the future of Bravia Core, what will happen after two years? Can you buy additional credits? So that remains to be seen, for now it is best to consider it as an extra.
Sony XR-65X95K – Image processing
Sony has an excellent reputation for image processing, and it certainly deserves it when we look at the results of the Cognitive Processor XR. With excellent deinterlacing, upscaling and noise reduction, the XR-65X95K puts both live TV and your Blu-ray or streaming content on screen in pristine condition. If you want to give the HD image a little push for some extra detail, Reality Creation can take care of that. The processor also eliminates color bands well in soft color transitions. In very extreme cases, such as dark, heavily compressed video like the Game Of Thrones test scene, you might want to consider setting ‘Smooth Gradation’ even to the ‘Mid’ position. You may sacrifice some detail, but the ‘Low’ setting is generally safe.
The two only weaknesses that we also saw on the A95K remain visible here as well. Horizontally running overlays such as text (‘tickers’) can be slightly jerky. And in fast pan images, the processor cannot follow fast enough and we often see all kinds of image artifacts with motion interpolation. The X95K does have good motion sharpness. For the best detail we turned on ‘MotionFlow/Brightness’ a ‘black frame insertion’ (BFI). It works at 120 Hz and therefore did not cause any disturbing flickering, although it dims the image a bit. The X95K has light to spare, so that’s not a problem. Moving objects do get a nice double border, so it’s a bit of weighing up whether you think the extra detail and sharpness are worth it.
|Image control||Image||Colour||Sharpness / Motion|
|Wide Mode: Auto
4/3 Default: Normal
Auto Display Environment: Off
Image Range: +1
|Picture Mode: User
Auto Picture Mode: Off
Ambient Optimization Pro: On / OffBrightness: 35
HDR Tone Mapping: Gradation
Black Level: 50
Black Adjust: Off
Adv. Contrast Optimization: Off/Low
Peak Illumination: Off
|Color: 50 Color
Color Temperature: Expert 1
Live Color: Off
Reality Creation: Auto
Random Noise Reduction: Low
Digital Noise Reduction: Low
Smooth Gradation: LowMotionFlow: Auto, or Smoothness 1-2, Brightness Min or 1.
Film Mode: High
Sony XR-65X95K – Image quality
The X95K is equipped with a VA panel and a special X-Wide Angle and X-Anti Reflection film. Those things clearly have an impact on the contrast, because the panel itself provides an ANSI contrast of 1,500:1, surprisingly little for a VA panel. To improve that, there is of course the Full Array backlight with local dimming. Sony goes back to the name ‘Backlight Master Drive’, a term that dates back to the 2016 ZD9, but with 36×12 (432) zones it still falls short compared to the ZD9, which had 640 zones. Other competitors such as the Samsung QN95B are also well above that (720 zones). So the question arises whether this is sufficient, taking into account the relatively weak native contrast? With dimming activated, the ANSI contrast rises to 4028:1 and in other test patterns even exceeds 20,000:1. So there is potential in it. In any case, the screen has a very good uniformity, only in clear images is the edge of the screen slightly darker. That’s only a few cm, so you really have to look at it to see it.
In any case, the X95K shows all bright light accents very well, but it is also quickly clear that a lot depends on what you are looking at. In very dark scenes with isolated light accents you often see a clear halo, and starry skies look suspiciously dark gray instead of black. Certainly HDR images such as in the photos above really suffer from this. But in purely dark images you see a lot of black detail, and as soon as the image becomes brighter, you enjoy a more than decent contrast, the dimming really does a good job there. If you want a deeper black in dark scenes, you can optionally use ‘Adv. Set Contrast Optimization’ to ‘Low’, without any negative consequences.
The best calibrated image mode is ‘User’. The gray scale then only has a little too much blue, but the error is very small. Color reproduction is very accurate, also for skin tones. Those who watch in frequently changing lighting conditions can leave the light sensor activated, and can possibly set the ‘Peak lighting’ to a higher setting. The X95K not only adjusts the maximum brightness, but also controls the tone curve (gamma value) and color temperature based on the ambient light.
Sony XR-65X95K – HDR
The X95K already showed in SDR that it generates a lot of light, so we expect good results in HDR . The 10% window shows a maximum of 1,435 nits, the full white field reaches 685 nits. Those are very nice values, but less than Samsung QN95B , and more in the line of the TCL C835 .
The color range is very good, the Sony achieves 93% P3 and 68% Rec.2020. There is therefore more than enough muscle power for an impressive image.
Although the Sony processor ignores HDR10 metadata, it relies on its own analysis of the image. Unfortunately, with very clear content (mastered at 4,000 nits), we saw that the Sony clipped away some white detail, which is strange because that is not the case with other models with the same processor. But for all HDR images that are mastered lower or don’t go that bright, the result is very nice. You enjoy deep colors with many light nuances. And just like in SDR, the TV succeeds in showing a lot of black detail. The only bummer is the local dimming, which still causes very clear halos in some images. That is, as the images above show, especially if you have large contrasting surfaces. Those who lose themselves in the film largely miss it, but once you pay attention, it really stands out.
Gaming, Reflections and viewing angles
The X-Wide Angle film does indeed provide a better viewing angle, but the image still loses some impact if you sit too far to the side. The Anti-Reflection film tempers incident light well, but creates a colored, smeared reflection. This can be disturbing for hard incident light, such as a spotlight.
Sony offers quite a few gamer features, but still loses contact with the frontrunners. Unfortunately, those who want to use eARC/ARC have to sacrifice one of the HDMI 2.1 connections. And although you have VRR and 4K120 support, you cannot combine that with Dolby Vision, something that players with an Xbox Series X must miss. The input lag is 19.6 ms (4K60) and 11.0 ms (2K120) is fine.
Sony XR-65X95K – Sound quality
The X95K received a spacious audio configuration of 6 × 10 Watts and support for Dolby Atmos. The TV takes the room acoustics into account through a short test procedure. Acoustic Multi-Audio, the counterpart of Acoustic Surface on the OLED models, uses two tweeters at the top of the edge of the screen to position the dialogues more centrally in the picture.
The result is good, the sound has more than enough volume and has a pleasant, well-balanced sound. There is even a good portion of bass to be heard. When playing music, it became clear that you should not drive the volume too high, then you will hear some distortion, but then the volume was already very high. The film fragments and Dolby Atmos demo tracks came out well, with a nice surround effect. Most viewers will be satisfied with this performance.
Sony XR-65X95K – Conclusion
The Sony XR-65X95K leaves us with mixed feelings. We do not want to mark the moderate contrast as a downside, the local dimming works well away, but especially in SDR. In HDR she does show clear halos and that is a pity. The fact that a model of this caliber has to make do with two HDMI 2.1 connections and you are obliged to choose between Dolby Vision and 4K120 is also a disappointment.
However, the device is certainly not without merits. The Cognitive Processor XR provides very good image processing, with accurate color reproduction. And in bright, colorful images, the X95K can maximize its light output and show beautifully nuanced images. That performance, together with the improved viewing angle and anti-reflection film, position the X95K a bit more as a TV for sports and general family use in a somewhat lit living room, rather than as a TV for the hardcore movie enthusiast. Google TV gives you access to a huge range of streaming, including Sony Bravia Core.
However, the price seems too high to us. Be sure to watch out for a promotion if you put it on your shopping list.
- Excellent, subtle image processing
- Very good color rendering
- Good peak brightness
- Renewed, handy remote
- Google TV
- Local Dimming causes halos in HDR
- Only two HDMI 2.1 connections
- Mandatory choice between Dolby Vision and 4K120 via HDMI