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Sony KD-55XH9505 Review

Sony’s XH95 offers some of the brightest-looking HDR images you’ll see all year

Verdict

Sony has extracted fantastic performance from the XH95. From its HDR performance to its black levels, upscaling of sub-4K content, as well as its motion skills and audio performance, it’s a fabulously entertaining TV. Backlight blooming is an issue and seems to be the price you pay for its intense HDR performance. Integration between Android TV and YouView could also be better, and the omission of 4K/120fps support for the next-gen consoles is an odd one. However, it’s hard to knock the XH95’s quality.

Pros

  • Fabulous looking HDR images
  • Customisable stand
  • Entertaining audio performance
  • Impressive black levels
  • Excellent motion skills and upscaling

Cons

  • Instances of blooming with HDR content
  • No 4K/120fps support
  • Android/YouView integration still a bit clumsy

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £1499
  • 4K Dolby Vision HDR
  • Multi Acoustic Audio
  • Full Array LED
  • Ambient Optimization

The Sony XH95 (KD-55XH9505) is the Japanese brand’s flagship 55-inch 4K Full Array LED for 2020.

The XH95 replaces the XG95 from 2019, bridging the gap between the gap between Sony’s 4K LED TV and OLED range. It is also available in 85-, 75-, 65- (reviewed here) and 49-inch sizes.

The XH95 is fitted with Sony’s best in class X1 Ultimate picture processor and Acoustic-Multi Audio sound technology. The spec sheet implies it’s a TV for home cinema fans rather than gamers looking to match it with their brand new PS5.

Sony KD-55XH9505 price and availability

At the time of review the KD-55XH9505 had an RRP of £1499/$1700/€1999/CAD$1599/AUD$2295. In the UK, the price has dropped even further to around £1200 ahead of the incoming 2021 Sony TV range.

In the US and Canada, the XH95 is known as the X950H, while in Australia the model is known as the X9500H.

Sony XH95 design — A degree of customisation in how it can be set-up

  • Minimalist aesthetic

  • Feet are configurable in two different positions

  • Nice remote

Sony’s 2020 TV range is very minimalist in look, with its One Slate aesthetic intended for the TV to ‘disappear’ into a living room. It looks slick when viewed head-on, and the materials used assert the premium feel that a TV that costs this much should.

The XH95 can be set up in three configurations. Option a is to wall-mount and you’ll need Sony’s SU-WL850/SU-WL480 wall brackets (sold separately). Option b and c concern placement of the feet, which can be placed in narrow or wide positions. This becomes useful for racks/stands that may not be wide enough to accommodate a set with feet at the end.

Given there are two paths to go down, assembly can initially confuse but once figured out it’s straightforward – slot the feet into the bottom of the TV and you’re done.

The TV bulks out at its rear (1448 x 833 x 70mm, whd, without stand) to fit in the XH95’s local dimming system, and it weighs 18.1kg, which is less than comparable Samsung QLEDs. The connections are side-facing, and the TV has a cable cutter feature with a Velcro holder to keep cables in place. That only seems to be a benefit when the feet are placed out wide, though.

The XH95 is issued with a very good remote. It exudes a minimalist feel with its (presumably) aluminium finish and features backlit buttons so you can see what you’re pressing in the dark. It also comes with quick access buttons for Google Play and Netflix.

Sony XH95 features — Lots of features, but not ‘Ready for PS5’

  • No support for latest gaming consoles

  • Ambient Optimisation optimises picture and sound

  • Supports Android TV

There’s no HFR/4K@120Hz support. That’s a curious decision given that Sony also makes the PS5 console and the step-down XH90 LED has been designated as ‘Ready for PlayStation 5’. It would seem, though, that next-gen support wasn’t ready even for the XH90. Game Mode measures at 18.5ms, which is good but lags behind Samsung and LG.

Rather than mimicking its rivals, Sony has burrowed has made the XH95’s feature set rather distinct. For one it isn’t deploying its own AI picture enhancement like LG, Philips and Samsung, relying on its X1 Ultimate picture processor to deliver punchy colours and upscale non-4K sources to near 4K.

The Full-Array LED panel works with a various array of Sony tech to aid deeper black levels, reduce the loss of contrast and brightness at wider viewing angles, boost colours and reduce motion blur.

For sound Sony has included its Acoustic Multi-Audio speakers and X-Balanced speaker configuration, with multiple speakers (including two tweeters) that optimise the placement of effects on-screen with increased fidelity and clarity.

Ambient Optimization is new for 2020 and calibrates the picture and sound by assessing the environment around the TV. For audio it’ll use the microphone in the remote to fine tune its performance.

Sony has not adopted Filmmaker Mode or Dolby Vision IQ, and its HDR support extends to the ‘standard’ Dolby Vision (Bright and Dark versions), HDR10 and HLG for broadcast. Sony continues to ignore the Samsung-backed HDR10+.

Sony were, however, one of few manufacturers to back Netflix Calibrated Mode. It’s effectively Cinema Mode for Netflix, and makes content look more cinematic but also dimmer. The XH95 also supports IMAX Enhanced content, though content, while growing, remains thin.

The smart interface is Android, which offers access to apps in the Google Play Store such as Disney+, Netflix and Prime Video. Chromecast and Google Assistant are built-in, and the XH95 also ‘works with’ Alexa via an external speaker, supports AirPlay 2, Apple HomeKit and, by the time you read this, should have the Apple TV app.

Android OS is neatly ordered into rows and offers personalised content and recommendations. Android doesn’t have UK catch-up apps, instead relying on YouView TV to provide them. It’s a solution that lacks the convenience of others, and a further drawback is that voice control doesn’t work with YouView either. Sony has simplified its own menu system, adding graphical descriptions to give the viewer a clearer understanding of what each setting does.

Connections tally at 4x HDMI (one eARC compatible), a terrestrial and two satellite connections, composite, digital audio out and two USB ports. For wireless connections there’s Wi-Fi, DLNA and Bluetooth 4.2.

Sony XH95 picture quality – Some of the most intense HDR images of 2020

  • Superbly bright HDR images

  • Excellent upscaling abilities

  • Terrific motion handling

When it comes to the picture performance, the XH95 delivers some of the most intense HDR images of any TV I have seen in 2020. It is immediately eye-catching.

Contrast feels like it’s been set to 11 (or more) with 4K HDR content dazzling in scope and intensity. The scene in Jurassic World where the boat heads towards Isla Nublar for the first time and the whites of the boat’s surface are conveyed in a bright and spectacular way. The XH95 seems to devour whatever you give it, producing a lush and attractive picture while also retaining a sense of naturalism.

Upscaling of both SD and HD content is excellent, some of the best I’ve seen all year, with less blurring, artifacts or noise for what is a smooth all-round performance. There’s an obvious fuzziness with SD content, but the image remains coherent, decently detailed with good colour reproduction.

HD shows plenty of confidence with high detail levels, convincing textures and crystal-clear clarity, with colours putting in a punchy and vibrant showing. Faces and skin-tones are wholly convincing, with no noticeable evidence of haloing, artifacting or images looking anything other than sharp and precise.

What’s even more impressive is Sony’s X-Motion Clarity. It’s a setting I’m often happy to disable but the XH95’s skill with fast-moving content is superb as the ‘soap opera’ effect is diminished and judder and blur minimised. The opening credits of The Simpsons flow smoothly by and the scene in 1917 where Schofield and Blake walk through the trenches (Dolby Vision) is slickly rendered with no picture noise evident.

Black levels are impressively conveyed, the Full-Array local dimming panel serving up impressive accuracy while keeping bleed/blooming to a fair minimum. The trade off in HDR intensity appears to be blooming in the black bars above and below, as bright objects close to the edges of the frame bleed over. Wide angles are impressive – perhaps not quite to the level of QLED, but satisfactory in retaining contrast and the punchiness of colours at more limited angles.

Sony XH95 audio quality – Quite impressive for a flatscreen TV

  • Impressive placement of effects

  • Can struggle with busy soundtracks

While I’d always recommend a soundbar, the XH95’s 30W Multi-Acoustic audio solution is impressive on its own. At times it floored me with its placement of effects and clarity. It’s not a big or wide sound, but it’s able to deliver a sense of height as shown in Blade Runner 2049 where the K’s spinner descends to Sapper Morton’s farm at the film’s beginning.

Sounds are fired at the listener with clarity, and while I felt the effect of S-Force Surround Sound in the HT-G700 soundbar was overstated; there were moments playing Gears 5 on an Xbox One where the sound actually made me flinch, thinking something had zipped past my ear.

The accuracy and placement of sounds is also excellent. The scene in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom where the Indoraptor sneaks into a child’s room and the camera rotates so the top becomes the bottom. The effect is accurately relayed by the speakers, with the sound of thunder positioned in a way that makes logical sense to the scene. It is wonderfully immersive.

The sound system does struggle with busy and loud soundtracks, which become rather tame and lack intensity. Bass is fine, but as you’d expect from a flatscreen is not the strongest. At least there’s no distortion when faced with BR 2049’s dynamic range. It’s a capable sound system if you’re not in a rush to get a soundbar.

You should buy the Sony KD-55XH9505 if…

  • You want superb HDR picture quality

The XH95 produces some of the most dynamic HDR images of 2020. It truly unlocks the potential for HDR’s luminance, depth and wide colour range.

  • If you watch lots of SD and HD content

While Samsung steals the headlines with its upscaling skills, Sony may actually be better. SD looks good while HD content looks impressive.

  • You want the best motion handling

Sony’s motion skills are superb and the best we’ve seen from a 2020 TV. Slick and smooth, it completely avoids the soap opera effect.

You shouldn’t buy the Sony KD-55XH9505 if…

  • You want next-gen gaming features

Sony hasn’t included the gaming features that would make the XH95 a great choice for the PS5. This is for home cinema fans only.

  • You find blooming distracting

Such is the intensity of the XH95’s HDR performance that the brightness can spill over bleed into the black bars above and below the picture. If you find that annoying, perhaps go for a Samsung QLED instead.

  • You’re not a fan of Sony’s Android TV interface

Android brings lots of apps, as well as Google Assistant and Chromecast, but the integration of the UK catch-up apps is awkward.

Trusted Score