Sony’s got quite the reputation in the premium TV segment, a reputation so strong that many folks aren’t aware that Sony has a lineup of budget-friendly TVs that don’t cost an arm and a leg yet enjoy the benefits from some of the smarts trickling down from their pricier sets.
The Sony Bravia X75L is one such TV, with 4K HDR and a sleek design that belies the ₹99,900 price tag - though it is available for under Rs. 65,000 on Amazon and Flipkart - for the 55-inch KD-55X75L model I tested. How does it go up against the very legitimate mid-segment Android TV competition that has sprung up over the past few years?
In terms of design, the Bravia X75L follows the familiar yet understated Sony template, with thin, brushed metal-finish bezels and an elegant slimline stand that allows the TV to blend into any space without calling out too much attention. It’s available in 43-, 50-, 55-, and 65-inch sizes. The 55-inch version I tested was a hint nicer to look at than the run-of-the-mill 55-inch TVs one has seen from the competition. It’s rather light too, so keep that in mind if you place it in a location where it’s likely to be tipped over.
That said, Sony claims that the TV is rated to withstand humidity, dust, lighting/surges, and other environmental pressures.
Setup was a breeze, whether you use an Android phone or the included IR/Bluetooth remote to set up the Google TV interface. The remote isn’t the full-sized remote one has seen on Sony TVs in the past, but it still manages to fit in a direction pad, buttons for playback/volume controls, hotkeys for Netflix, YouTube, YouTube Music, HotStar, Prime Video and SonyLIV, plus a dedicated button to invoke Google Assistant.
The buttons are flush with the remote surface, so while operating them in the dark is tougher, it’s easier to wipe and keep clean. Ports include 3 HDMI 2.1 with HDCP2.3 (2 side, 1 rear with ARC), 1 headphone out, 1 digital audio out, 1 Ethernet and 1 composite video in, but since the rear isn’t particularly bulky to allow for much wiggle room, you should connect your cables before you wall-mount the set.
As part of the new crop of TVs leveraging the Google TV interface atop Android TV, the interface is clean and a visual step up from stock Android TV. Over time, the default ‘For You’ tab gets personalized recommendations from all the services you’ve subscribed to, and I liked the inclusion of the Kids’ Mode by Google to set child-friendly filters and watch timers/bedtimes.
Interestingly, if you have certain Sony cameras or Logitech webcams, the TV supports video chat over Duo/Zoom as well. Sony has added built-in Chromecast and AirPlay support, along with Google Home and Alexa support – all trickle-down features from its flagship TVs but very welcome at this price point.
Yet, it comes down to how the TV performs, and the X75L is a decided upgrade over competing panels, but it’s not without its flaws. The 3840x2160 LED panel supports only HLG and HDR10 formats, and the absence of Dolby Vision and HDR10+ is a tad disappointing, at least for those who care deeply about checking off spec boxes.
I say this because the TV does a great job even with its limited HDR format support, compared to comparable TVs with Dolby Vision support. Just goes to show what a well calibrated display and a better HDR algorithm can deliver. Colors were vibrant, benefiting skin tones in sitcoms as well as cinematic content and 4K content on YouTube and Netflix, although folks who prefer a muted palette can pick from various picture modes – Cinema, Games, Vivid, Graphics, Photo, as well as a customized option. Black levels were decent for an LED TV, as were contrast levels.
Catching up on MasterChef Australia and some past episodes of Our Planet, the TV did well to render content with details, particularly in the shadows and in dark, busy scenes. Sony’s MotionFlow XR tech kept high action scenes, while watching Formula 1 clips, blur-free, with good motion interpolation and very few visible artefacts. The TV also has features like auto genre picture modes and auto HDR tone mapping designed for PlayStation 5 gamers, but I was unable to test these out.
Having said that, this is a TV that isn’t bright enough on its own to counter bright light sources, so it can appear muted when viewed in a very sunny room. Also, for those planning on watching standard definition programming on this TV, be warned that most 4K TVs tend to not be ideal for watching cable TV, but I was unable to test this specific aspect (been a cable-cutter for years). Sound quality from the 20W bottom-firing, open baffle speaker system (with support for Dolby Audio) was in usable/acceptable territory, nothing too exceptional but good enough at medium volumes for the dialogue and background to be individually intelligible. Maybe I’ve been thoroughly impressed with Sony’s latest soundbars and was left expecting a bit more on the audio front.
In all, the Sony Bravia X75L tries to justify its premium pricing in the mid-range segment with its attention to performance, software support and slick design, but only somewhat achieves that goal. You’re going to have to want that extra bit of performance and the somewhat everlasting allure of the Sony brand to want to pay a significant chunk extra for that privilege.
Tushar Kanwar is a tech columnist and commentator, and tweets @2shar.