Sony's new 4K TVs have some premium features, but why do certain sizes miss out?

(Image credit: Sony)

After a new 4K TV? There are plenty of new Sony TVs releasing for 2020 – though it’s clear that, if you’re buying at the flagship 55-inch size, you could miss out on some premium features.

We now have confirmation that the Sony XH90 is releasing before the end of May, with a retail price starting at £1,299 / $1,199 for the 55-inch model. That puts it just below the fancier XH95 – which sports a top-class X1 Ultimate processor – but above lower-spec 4K HDR sets like the XH80, which uses edge lighting instead of full array dimming.

There’s plenty to recommend the XH90, and many of its 4K TV siblings, with Dolby Vision support and Dolby Atmos audio, as well as built-in Chromecast and Google Assistant support.

What’s curious, though, is how much the audio varies between model sizes. For the XH90, sizes 65-inch and above (75-inch, 85-inch) all feature Sony’s Acoustic Multi-Audio technology, for location-based sound that travels across the screen:

“In the sound department, the XH90 series TVs come equipped with Acoustic Multi-Audio (in 65-inch models and above), which includes two sound positioning tweeters at the back of the TV that enable sound to follow the action on the screen for a truly immersive experience.”

That's all well and good, but the feature is missing entirely from the XH90's 55-inch model, which is something we can across a few 2020 Sony TVs. The XH95 – the next 4K HDR TV up in this year’s range – also limits this feature to the 55-inch, 65-inch, 75-inch and 85-inch models, while leaving the smallest 49-inch model without.

Given the XH90’s rather small price jump between sizes – in the UK, it's just an additional £200 (around $250 / AU$375) for the 65-inch size – we’re not quite sure why the 55-inch model wouldn’t get the same feature, given the 55-inch XH95 is deemed large enough to fit rear tweeters on.

Sounds like screen spirit

(Image credit: Sony)

Sony is a TV brand that certainly likes to experiment with audio. While its mid-range LCD sets – like those discussed above – are toying with a pair of rear tweeters for location-based audio, higher-end Sony TVs like the A8G OLED are using a beefed-up array of actuators and subwoofers to emit audio out of the panel itself (under the Acoustic Surface Audio label).

Inconsistencies in which sets and sizes make use of these technologies are confusing, though, and we could easily see shoppers getting blindsided by talk of high-end features and not realizing they’ve missed out when opting for the only size that goes without – inevitably, always the cheapest.

We can’t help but feel that having these features restricted to specific sets, but common to all sizes, would have made more sense than partial coverage across a number of different TVs – whatever we think of the sets that come with Sony’s innovative speaker design built into them.

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.