The best LCD model in Sony’s lineup features mini LED backlighting and local dimming. The number of segments increased from last year to improve the contrast performance further. What else can we expect?
Sony XR-65X95L – Design
The design of the X95L is inspired by and even largely adopted from the 2022 X95K. The device shows a keen eye for finish and finesse and has enough playful accents to exude a clear character. That nice square pattern on the back, for example. The metal border around the screen and the feet are finished in dark silver.
The main difference from last year is the shape of the feet. They now have a clear kink. You can mount them in three positions. A narrow position in case your furniture is not wide enough, a wide position (the standard position), and a wide position that is slightly higher to place a soundbar. In the standard position, the screen hangs barely 1cm above the furniture; the soundbar position gives you 7cm of space below the screen.
The screen looks quite large, and the TV is also quite heavy, even for a 65-inch, but Sony shows that with a beautiful design and handsome finish, that does not have to be a problem.
Sony XR-65X95L – Connections
Sony still supplies two HDMI 2.1 connections (48Gbps bandwidth). They support the following HDMI 2.1 features: ARC/eARC, ALLM, 4K120, and VRR support. The other two HDMI ports are HDMI 2.0. You have to adjust the settings depending on the use of those HDMI 2.1 ports. Sony offers four options in Channels and Inputs / External Inputs / HDMI signal format. The first two are for compatibility with older systems. The Dolby Vision selection excludes 4K120, VRR, and ALLM, and the VRR selection excludes Dolby Vision.
The remaining connections are two USB ports a minijack for composite video and stereo input. You can switch to an S-center speaker to use the TV as a center speaker with an AV receiver and an optical digital output. There is Bluetooth for those who want to connect headphones. The connections are on the left, all pointing to the side, so you have no problems with wall mounting. You can neatly finish the clips and gutters for cable management with the various cover plates.
Sony XR-65X95L – Ease of use and smart TV
This model still contains the somewhat older MediaTek MT5895 chipset with quad-core ARM Cortex-A73 CPU, 3GB RAM, and the Mali-G52 GPU. Despite its age, it ensures smooth operation in Google TV (with Android 10 under the hood).
There are no major changes to Google TV. Those who want to opt for a minimal environment can install the TV as a ‘Basic TV’, where you mainly use live TV and HDMI inputs, although a few basic apps are also installed. However, updating apps is impossible without logging in with a Google account. The full Google TV experience is unchanged. It’s a fun environment with many recommendations organized by genres that Google judges to be right for you. You have little control over this; you can determine which services are used for this (Prime Video, Apple TV, and Disney+)
The setting quick menu is fully customizable and appears at the bottom of the screen. Another shortcut menu gives you access to functions such as number and color keys, among others. The complete settings are integrated into the Google TV environment; you can easily find your way around. The input menu that also appears at the bottom of the screen contains external connections and apps, and you can also use it to switch to another app quickly.
The overall style of the remote hasn’t changed, but there are a few notable changes to the key layout. There are now three different ‘menu’ keys. At the top right (key) opens the quick menu for settings; below that, the ‘menu’ key opens the extra function menu (e.g. for the number keys). Below the volume key is the Google TV menu (gear) key. It may be a bit much, but we don’t deny that it was useful. At the bottom are now six instead of four app shortcuts; the newcomers are YouTube and Crunchyroll.
We are very satisfied with this remote. It is compact, easy to clean, and provides excellent ease of use. The keys have a nice touch. The remote is also illuminated, which activates when you hold it. There is a built-in microphone. The TV also has a built-in microphone, which you can switch off just above the connections.
The XR-65X95L (X95L series) has a dual 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 how to handle all major video and sound formats. Bravia Core, Sony’s exclusive streaming service, will also remain available.
A novelty to pick up on eco-friendliness is the Ecodashboard. It is a central place where Sony combines all eco-functions and playfully illustrates them. However, it does not have a great added value. For example, you do not see how much you save with it. We would always have the light sensor on; the Power Saving settings dim the screen considerably and are therefore not recommended for a TV that mainly produces a solid brightness.
Sony XR-65X95L – Image processing
Sony’s Cognitive Processor XR has also been around for a while; Sony refines the operation a bit yearly. The results don’t lie. The deinterlacing of 1080i images is very good, without jagged edges. Excellent noise reduction and upscaling means that older content looks good on the big screen. The processor eliminates difficult color bands in gradients with Smooth Gradation. In Low mode, it eliminates most banding effects. Only heavy cases like the Game Of Thrones test scene require you to increase that to Mid. And even if some minimal detail disappears, the result remains fine. You can slightly increase the Reality Creation setting for HD images, which accentuates the detail very nicely without going off track.
But as we have long established, Sony cannot hide the weaknesses of this processor. Text tickers (horizontal overlays) can still jerk slightly as they march across the screen. The processor delivers good, but no longer the best, motion handling, and if the camera moves very fast, the processor chokes, and image errors are visible. Anyone who also likes to see the camera movements in film smoothly should set Smoothness to two or even three. The panel has good motion sharpness, and you can bring out that last bit of detail with ‘MotionFlow / Brightness,’ a ‘black frame insertion’(BFI) technique. There’s no visible flicker as it’s running at 120Hz, but of course, it does dim the picture, and there’s a slightly double-edge drag to objects. Limit the setting to 1 if desired; we thought that was a great choice for sports.
|Image control||Image||Color||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 Tone: 0
Color Temperature: Expert 1
Live Color: Off
Reality Creation: Auto
Random Noise Reduction: Low
Digital Noise Reduction: Low
Smooth Gradation: Low MotionFlow: Auto, or Smoothness 2-3, Brightness Min or 1.
Film Mode: High
Sony XR-65X95L – Image quality
The XR-65X95L (X95L series) features a VA panel and a special X-Wide Angle and X-Anti Reflection film. The uniformity in dark images is excellent. In the clear screens, we see very vaguely some vertical stripes (dirty screen effect) and a light tint at the edge. However, both effects are very small and do not interfere with viewing. Also, keep in mind that this varies from sample to sample.
The contrast is slightly lower than we are used to from a VA panel. Natively we measure an ANSI contrast of just under 2000:1. A Full Array backlight with local dimming with 24 × 20 zones (480) should improve this. The contrast climbs to 3028:1 and on a somewhat easier pattern, even to 21,187:1. For a top LCD, that number of zones is rather on the low side and a fairly small upgrade compared to last year. Sony seems to pay a little more attention to small, clear details, but that has the unavoidable consequence that some halo formation (blooming) can be visible on very dark images, for example, with subtitles or with strong HDR contrasts.
That ‘blooming’, where you see a glow around bright objects, can also influence the reproduction of deep black, which often looks a bit too light. The dimming works quickly and accurately, and we only saw a zone on test images that lit up too long.
But the Sony also delivered exceptionally beautiful images in almost all our average test material. The ‘User’ image mode is well-calibrated. It delivers a lot of black detail, particularly beautiful colors, and images with sufficient depth. Clear material, in particular, produces very good results. The light sensor does its job well and can adjust not only brightness but also tone curve and color temperature based on the ambient light. The device also has a lot of peak brightness to offer, so viewing during the day is no problem at all.
Sony XR-65X95L – HDR
How much peak brightness does the Sony deliver in HDR? On the 10% window, we get a maximum of 1562 units in the User image mode. That is not bad, but here, too, the improvement compared to last year is rather meager (10%). We still get 638 nits on the completely white image. Although that is not bad, Sony sees itself overtaken left and right by Samsung (QN90C) and TCL (C845).
Regarding color range, it delivers 93% P3 and 70% Rec.2020, and the spectrum analysis points in the direction of quantum dot technology.
Sony has been using its own dynamic tone mapping in HDR10 for many years and it achieves very good results with it. The HDR images show a lot of black detail, excellent depth, and very nice colors. The measurements indicate that the Sony is darker than necessary, but that was certainly not very noticeable with the demo material. Here and there, we noticed a slightly darker image, but in many cases, the reproduction was excellent. With footage mastered up to 2,000 nits, you see all white detail, but in a clearer mastered image, the TV can occasionally clip away some white detail. However, that type of footage is less common. We notice that the local dimming is less noticeable, only in extreme contrast cases such as fireworks is some blooming unavoidable.
Gaming, Reflections, and viewing angles
The viewing angle for colors is good, but those who are too far from the center will still see zones much more easily in dark images because the screen then has less contrast. The Anti-Reflection film works well, suppressing the intensity of reflections, but smearing them on the screen.
For gamers, this TV has an input lag of 19.4ms (4K60) and 10.9ms (2K120). Not bad, but it’s a bit behind the competition. Sony now also offers a Game menu with additional options for adjusting the image. The fact that you only have two HDMI 2.1 ports remains a limitation. Especially since the ARC/eARC port is on one of those two. So if you still want a soundbar, you can only connect one game source. You cannot combine VRR and 4K120 with Dolby Vision, which is a pity for Xbox Series X owners.
Sony XR-65X95L – Sound quality
Many TVs use downward-firing speakers so that the sound seems to come from below the screen. This TV is equipped with an ‘Acoustic Multi-Audio+’ configuration, the term Sony uses for the presence of two extra tweeters at the top of the side frames. This places the sound more centrally in the image, as with the ‘Acoustic Surface’ solution on the Sony OLED models. In total, there are 6x 10W speakers.
With that, the X95L delivers a great sound, which indeed seems to come from the screen. You can turn up the volume quite wide, filling a spacious room doesn’t seem like a problem to us. The bass reproduction is good and clearly audible. Film fragments and Dolby Atmos tracks provided a clear surround experience, but the height effect did not come out well. Sony also supports DTS, but only the basic version, so no HD variants or DTS: X. The result is also good for music. During setup, or later, you can have the TV perform a short calibration for the room acoustics.
Sony XR-65X95L – Conclusion
The Sony XR-65X95L reminds us of its predecessor, the X95K, with similar features and some improvements. Sony has made changes to the local dimming and backlight, resulting in reduced “blooming” effects. However, there are some limitations to this TV, such as only having two HDMI 2.1 ports and having to choose between Dolby Vision and 4K120. Despite these drawbacks, the Sony XR-65X95L is still a good choice for an all-around TV. While its contrast and peak brightness may not be as high as its competitors, Sony makes up for it with excellent image processing and calibration. The TV displays many shadow nuances in dark images and bright, colorful content looks particularly beautiful. The anti-glare properties and viewing angle also ensure excellent performance in some ambient light. The Sony XR-65X95L is easy to use with a convenient remote control and a rich Google TV environment. Although it launched cheaper than its predecessor, it is still slightly overpriced for its performance.
- Good peak brightness
- Lots of black detail
- Excellent, subtle image processing
- Very good color rendering
- Pleasant, handy remote
- Local Dimming causes slight blooming
- Only two HDMI 2.1 connections
- The mandatory choice between Dolby Vision and 4K120 via HDMI