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Hands on: Sony XBR-75X950G review

This huge TV delivers a near-flagship performance

What is a hands on review?
Sony XBR-75X950G review
(Image: © Sony)

Early Verdict

A near-flagship performance at an enormous size, the X950G is a TV delivers the theater experience at home

For

  • Bright, vibrant and natural pictures
  • Very good motion
  • Good viewing angles
  • Direct, dynamic sound

Against

  • Imperfect backlight
  • Sound is a bit bass-light

Bigger might not always be better, but it is more cinematic, and manufacturers are keen to indulge those who want the full theater experience at home with bigger and bigger TVs.

The Sony XBR-75X950G is one such TV. This is the 75 inch version of the X950G, which is also available in 55 inches, 65 inches and 85 inches, and it's actually pretty good value for such a large, near-flagship television, costing $3300 at full price.

For many buyers, one of the smaller versions of the set will be more than big enough, but if you've the space and the budget, there's every reason to consider the XBR-75X950G.

Design

Sony XBR-75X950G review

(Image credit: Sony)

The Sony X950G sits below Sony's Master Series models, the Z9G 8K LCD and A9G 4K OLED, in Sony's range, so it's little wonder that it's constructed using slightly less luxurious materials. That said, the TV is smart and stylish in its own right.

Looking at it from the front, it's easy to appreciate the thinness of the black bezels, which have a classy metallic border. The wide chin below the screen has the same metal finish in a different shade, giving the TV a nice two-tone look. While the TV's 2.9in depth measurement means it's far from OLED-skinny, it's not overly chunky for an LCD set with a direct LED backlight.

Instead of a centralized pedestal, the X950G stands on two feet that are splayed at an angle that looks a bit awkward and also increases the footprint of the TV. You're going to need a sizeable stand for this one. On the plus side, the feet incorporate channels through which you can run your cables and the space between them is perfect for a soundbar.

Features

Sony XBR-75X950G review

(Image credit: Sony)

The X950G's ports are split between side-facing and downward-facing panels and include four HDMI sockets, three USBs, an RF connector for antenna and a composite video input. There's also an ethernet port for wired networking, although most buyers will probably prefer to take advantage of the built-in 802.11ac. Continuing that theme, there's both a physical headphone socket and Bluetooth 4.2 for those who prefer to use wireless cans.

While the HDMI inputs are not 2.1 certified, one of them does support eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel), which allows for advanced audio signals such as Dolby Atmos to be sent from the TV to a connected sound system. This is great if your TV's built-in streaming apps are your primary source of Atmos content.

On the subject of apps, the X950G has plenty, thanks to its use of the Android TV 8.0 platform. Big hitters such as Netflix, Hulu and HBO Now are all on board, but the store is also packed to the gills with lesser known apps and games. What's more, the 8.0 version of Android TV is much slicker and simpler than previous iterations, although the bespoke platforms of Samsung and LG are better still.

One big advantage of the Android TV integration is its inclusion of Google Chromecast. Forget having to buy a dangly dongle - just Cast video and music from your phone directly to the TV.

Another Google feature built right into the TV is Google Assistant. In fact, there's a microphone incorporated in the TV's chassis, allowing you to issue commands without going anywhere near the remote - although that's got an integrated mic, too.

That remote control, by the way, is new for 2019. Having suffered years of grumbles about its rudimentary, cluttered zapper, Sony has finally updated the design - and it's a vast improvement. Longer, slimmer and more ergonomic, it's much nicer to hold, but it's also nicer to use thank to well-spaced buttons that have a pleasant, positive click. Shortcut buttons for Netflix and the Google Play Store speed things up, too - so long as you're a user of one or both of those.

Picture

Sony XBR-75X950G review

(Image credit: Sony)

The X950G's 75-inch panel offers some of Sony's best picture technologies, from the X1 Ultimate picture processor (which it shares with the Z9G and A9G Master Series models) and X-Wide Angle to provide wider viewing angles (this is in fact only available on the 75-inch and 85-inch versions of the X950G). All told, it makes for a near-flagship performance.

While Sony doesn't openly share the number of backlighting zones used in its TVs, the X950G does offer a full-array, direct LED backlight with local dimming, and that delivers a strong HDR performance, with support for HDR10 and Dolby Vision but not HDR10+.

We watch Spider-Man: Homecoming and the Sony delivers the bright, vibrant colors necessary to make the most of the comic book adventure. The red and blue of Spidey's suit pops from the screen, as does the purple glow of an alien weapon. This film also once again proves the masterful nature of Sony's motion processing, with the tag-team action involving both Spider-Man and Iron Man delivered with minimal judder and blur.

The backlight is a little less impressive in darker scenes, though. In Blade Runner 2049, a dark aqueduct presents high-contrast images of people and faces, and while the TV effectively display the bright highlights and digs up plenty of shadowy detail, blacks aren't quite as deep as we would like. It's also true to say that while the backlight is largely consistent, there is some blooming around bright objects in otherwise dark scenes.

Colors are a serious strength, though, not just in terms of their aforementioned punch, but also in their naturalism and the subtlety of their shading. While many TVs struggle with distinctions between similar colors, such as shades of red and shades of blue, the X950G displays different tones that are distinct and clear without blending into one another. Viewing angles are also very good by the standards of backlit TVs. We're not talking OLED-like perfection here, but the picture remains pretty consistent from most points in a room.

This is a good TV for gaming, too, thanks to the punchy, vibrant picture and an input lag measurement (when in Game mode) of 22.4ms. That's not as low as the figure managed by the latest and greatest Samsung and LG sets, but it is low enough as to be more or less imperceptible.

Sound

Sony XBR-75X950G review

(Image credit: Sony)

The X950G includes Sony's Acoustic Multi-Audio technology, which attempts to replicate the sound-from-picture experience offered by the company's OLEDs, which use actuators to vibrate the whole screen in order to make a sound. Because an LCD display such as this is constructed using several layers, this screen-vibrating tech is not an option, but Sony has attempted to replicate the effect by using a pair of directional tweeters situated behind the upper portion of the display.

To a large extent, this works really well. As we watch the tense, opening scene of Blade Runner 2049, the almost whispered dialogue between Ryan Gosling's Agent K and Dave Bautista's Sapper Morton seems to track with actors on screen. There's good dynamic range here, too, with the sudden burst of action being lent extra volume and punch. It's a much better, more direct and engaging sound than you get from the vast majority of TVs, although Sony's OLEDs are still that bit more effective at tying the picture and sound together.

It's also true to say that the X950G is lacking a bit of bass weight and depth, and that's the biggest reason we'd recommend that you add a separate sound system, even if it's just a fairly simple soundbar.

Verdict

Sony XBR-75X950G review

(Image credit: Sony)

This is a monster of a TV, but that's not the only reason it's exciting. The X950G offers most of Sony's very best picture and sound features at a lower price than it charges for its Master Series models, and that's the biggest reason it demands your attention.

True, the backlighting isn't perfect and a bit more bass would be preferable, but the bright, punchy picture, natural colors, great motion and innovative sound solution all make this a very strong contender. If you're looking to go really big with your next TV, you have to check out the Sony XBR-75X950G.

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What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view.