Sony makes premium TVs that offer AV enthusiasts exceptional performance. The 75” X950 4K IMAX Enhanced Android TV featured in this review brings home a rich feature set and high image quality at an attractive price and in large screen sizes including 75″ and 85″.
The Sony X950G will faithfully reproduce IMAX Enhanced content, whether streaming or on Ultra HD Blu-ray. This model represents a step up from 2018’s X900F, featuring the X1 Ultimate processor instead of the X1 Extreme. The 75” and 85” models of this series also have Sony’s X-Wide Angle viewing technology built in.
With the 75” X950G priced at $2998 and the 85” X950G at $4498 on Amazon, these TVs bring all the latest 4K features in a package that reflects Sony’s experience building great TVs. Read on to find out more about this excellent TV.
Sony X950G Features and Specifications
Found at the top of the X950G’s feature list is the X1 Ultimate processor. The impact of a high-quality processor on picture quality touches upon numerous parameters. From motion handling to noise reduction to upscaling to contrast enhancement, the better the processor, the better the picture quality you can get out of the panel.
The 75” Sony X950G is a FALD (full array local dimming) TV that uses a VA (vertically aligned) panel. Sony’s X-Wide Angle technology is used to increase the typically limited viewing angles of VA panels. The FALD backlight in this TV allow it to achieve impressive peak brightness levels. Namely, the X950G can reach 1000+-nit peak luminance and hold, even with real-world HDR scenes.
Android TV is the smart TV platform used in the Sony X950G. In this implementation, it is extremely snappy and works intuitively—especially if you already use the Google Play ecosystem. Streaming on this TV is in full 4K HDR.
The X950G includes the Privilege 4K app from Sony that provides access to numerous IMAX Enhanced Hollywood titles including Spiderman: Homecoming, Venom and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle as well as IMAX Enhanced documentaries Blue Planet, Galapagos, Space Station, and The Dream is Alive. Not only do you get optimized 4K HDR video but you’ll also enjoy optimized IMAX Enhanced sound delivered exclusively using DTS audio technologies.
One of the best “features” of the X950G is that several picture modes offer astonishing accuracy for an uncalibrated TV. . Per Sony, “Onboard IMAX calibrated modes are set and approved by Hollywood colorists to help provide enhanced picture and sound for HDR UHD content.”
Yes, you can use a high-quality meter and colorimetry software to get even greater accuracy out of it, but the starting point is already approaching the threshold of what the human eye can detect, both for white balance and gamma. This is a TV that performs extraordinarily well when you put a meter on it, and that is reflected in what you see on screen when you watch it.
A key point here is that when the X950G is playing IMAX Enhanced content, it optimizes the picture mode for it. And given the accurate picture delivered by this TV, the result is recognizably superior image fidelity defined by extreme sharpness and detail with vivid yet accurate color.
When it comes to HDR formats, the A9G supports HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision, so you’ll be able to enjoy 4K HDR from streaming channels and Ultra HD Blu-ray.
This TV features an effective semigloss anti reflective coating. There is better out there, but you will only find it on TVs that cost more for a given size. It has a native 120 Hz panel that can be used when feeding it 1080p content. In this mode, that is likely of greatest use to PC gamers, the input lag is a remarkably low 11.4 ms.
Lag is also low in 4K as long as you are in game mode—it’s somewhere around 20 ms regardless of what you feed it at 60 Hz (1080p/4K/HDR). Also, this TV supports 4K at 60 Hz with 4:4:4 chroma, another PC friendly feature. This TV can achieve judder-free playback of 24p content.
For inputs, you get 4 HDMI ports and 3 USB ports along with Ethernet and a composite in, just in case you are busting out the VCR for nostalgia night, as well as a coaxial antenna connection. For outputs, you get optical-digital, 3.5mm analog stereo, and ARC via HDMI. Plus, this TV is Wi-Fi equipped.
Sony’s X950G supports eARC (via HDMI 3) which, when used with compatible AV hardware, lets you send 3D immersive sound (DTS:X and Dolby Atmos) to the audio device. eARC works for both DTS and Dolby forms of lossless immersive audio.
Unpacking and Setup
Setting up the Sony X950G can be performed with the new relatively sleek remote control Sony packaged with this TV, or else using a compatible phone or tablet. I opted for the latter since it eliminates the need to use the remote control to enter passwords and other info.
The first step in the simplified setup routine is to open the Google app on your phone (it’s standard on Android phones) while following the on-screen prompts on the TV. Following the directions provided by Sony, I said, “OK Google, set up my device” and without really having to do anything else, I was presented with a verification code that I confirmed. The next step, at least for me, was to sign into my Google account, accept terms of service, and give the TV permissions.
The TV offered the option of installing a variety of apps including Facebook and Spotify plus Tidal music. I skipped the social media options but am intrigued by the notion of streaming through Tidal using my TV, so I said yes to that.
The first thing I did, and that I recommend anybody do, is switch out of Standard picture mode into Cinema or Custom mode. That simple adjustment locks in far more accurate color than the default Standard mode. I used Cinema for my review, however rtings.com used Custom and has published its settings if you are interested in trying them on your X950G.
Once the TV was up and running, my next step was adding the Privilege 4K IMAX Enhanced app, which I found with a simple voice search. Installation took all of 10 seconds. I then went through with the registration process. Hollywood titles are available to stream, including Spiderman, Venom and Jumanji with more to come. Furthermore, I was rewarded with several IMAX titles: Blue Planet, Galapagos, Space Station, and The Dream is Alive.
Also included with the app is a trailer that shows the effects of the noise reduction used in the IMAX Enhanced mastering process. The result is tack-sharp, clean footage. The demo also touted the sound, which is a unique mix that preserves the bass and dynamics found in theatrical presentations and delivered by DTS. Getting the full audio experience requires an IMAX Enhanced sound system but the content is compatible with all DTS audio equipment. Fortunately, I have a Denon X8500H AVR running a 7.2.4 speaker system, which is the suggested optimum configuration for an IMAX Enhanced rig.
If your AVR does not support IMAX Enhanced, you’ll still get a great surround-sound experience using a DTS:X compatible AVR. But for the best effect you’ll want both the TV and audio gear to be IMAX Enhanced.
The IMAX Enhanced demo footage looked and sounded absolutely stunning. Of course, it helps that the source is an IMAX film. Indeed, the clarity—even when streaming—is such that it’s hyperreal. The fidelity of IMAX Enhanced is a potent reminder that it’s not enough to simply release content in a hi-res format, you need to master the content to take full advantage of it and then use playback gear that can do it justice.
The 75” Sony X950G does the IMAX Enhanced video justice. The preview for Galapagos reminded me of the clips shown by TV makers at tradeshows to demonstrate how awesome their TVs are. Rocks and water and lizards and plants all make for great eye candy, full of colors and textures that come from nature itself.
The IMAX Enhanced, remastered 2002 feature Space Station made even clearer that IMAX Enhanced brings home viewing experiences that were once the exclusive domain of commercial cinemas. And in terms of sheer contrast and brightness, the X950G surpasses anything I’ve seen in a movie theater. Its ability to render bright objects over the absolute blackness of outer space—without triggering any clouding or halos—and do so even with HDR content, shows that Sony’s FALD implementation is the real deal.
Modern movies looked great in HDR, regardless of whether the format was HDR10 (which is used by IMAX Enhanced) or Dolby Vision. The X950G even offers two separate Dolby Vision picture modes, one for darkroom viewing and one for rooms that have some ambient light. TVs need to be optimized for the viewing environment, so it’s always good to have options that make it easy to do so.
Dark room viewing on the X950G was devoid of distracting FALD artifacts like halos and flashing. I did not have an X900F to directly compare to, but the impression I got was that the X950G did several things just a bit better—including rendering HDR highlights and the picture holding up when viewed at an angle.
With movie after movie, as well as TV, the X950G presents a rock-solid, vibrant and punchy image that’s also highly accurate. These are the necessary ingredients when the goal is to be faithful to the creative vision of the director and typically you need to pay for a calibration to get it but with this Sony, you only need to change the picture mode to Cinema or Custom and tweak a few parameters.
While the Sony X950G has excellent color without calibration, Sony makes it incredibly fast and easy to get even more accuracy out of it. 5-10 minutes with a meter is all it takes to lock in the color temp and grayscale for all the inputs and all the picture modes. Since Sony does not provide CMS adjustments, it’s a good thing the TV tracks color well.
A key element of this review is the 75” screen size. This is the first year that I’ve reviewed multiple 75” and an 85” TV (X900F). It’s funny, but after this exposure, I now consider a 65″ TV to be a bit small for living room duty. 75″ TVs are what I would call the “Goldilocks” size for an average living room, large enough to give a presentation that is cinematic while not fully overwhelming the room.
I do happen to enjoy 85″ TVs even more, however the logistics of dealing with them are beyond what I’m willing to do multiple times for the sake of reviews. Long story short is that 75″ represents the sweet spot for pricing and an impressive big-screen presentation, without being overly difficult to deal with from a purely physical standpoint. Moreover, with this particular TV line, you need to buy either the 75″ or 85″ version to get the X-Wide Angle screen.
Many movies and even some TV shows are presented in a widescreen format. With this content, keeping the letterbox bars black is a key component to maintaining the suspension of disbelief that is key to having a transcendent cinematic experience. Best I could tell, this is a “solved problem” for Sony’s X950G FALD algorithm.
I used the X950G to watch some sports, primarily the NBA finals. This TV rates highly for motion rendering, per the testing at rtings.com. Its fast response time alone makes for clear viewing and you can use MotionFlow to interpolate it up to 120 Hz, which looks good with sports (unlike movies).
Sony’s 75” X950G was a dream to game with. Between the excellent HDR, rich saturated colors, and fast pixel response to go with the low input lag, it really connects you to games and puts you right into virtual worlds, thanks to the big screen size.
Support for 4K/60p/4:4:4 chroma is a boon to PC gamers, even tiny text is rendered sharp. The Zotac ZBOX Magnus I’m using as a living room gaming/multimedia PC was able to dish out gorgeous 4K graphics with its GeForce RTX 2070 video card. And a switch to 1080p/120 Hz provided the requisite thrill of super-fluid, practically latency-free gaming on a 75” screen. The RTX 2070 had no problem coughing up frame rates up to 120 Hz in 1080p and the “feel” makes up for the loss of detail in any game that involves a lot of fast action. For example, in Forza Horizon 4, I felt more connected to the track which resulted in genuine improvements in lap times.
Sony’s TVs deserve their reputation for quality. The X950G is an exciting TV because it delivers a rich feature set plus excellent—truly excellent—image quality at a very fair price, especially when considering the screen size. Support for IMAX Enhanced is a plus, too.
If you are looking for a great TV from a reputable brand that does everything well, do your living room a huge favor and outfit it with a 75” Sony X950G. It’s a Top Choice for 2019, thanks to its excellent picture quality including incredible out-of-box accuracy.
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