Sony X90J 4K HDR TV Review Revisited | Better This Time?

Our first stab at Sony’s X90J 4K HDR TV didn’t go as planned, so we’re back with a second look at what we had hoped would be a TV with outstanding picture quality for the price.

We were left worried last time we visited the X90J.

Were things different this time around? Find out how a perfect sample of the X90J performed in our testing. A million thanks as always. OK, here we go.

So let’s just take things from the top.
I still love how easy it is to set up this TV. Two legs, just pop them right in, no screws needed. There’s only one place for the feet.
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Trust me, I scoured the underside looking for hidden spots, and there are none.
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This is where the feet go.
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I also like the Google TV platform, as I’ve mentioned in past videos.
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It’s really grown on me over the past few months,
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and it’s become my preferred smart TV platform.
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If for no other reason, because it’s so easy to get logged into apps, I love that
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as a TV reviewer. But also the look and the feel of it just suits me.
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It feels classy.
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And I get less of a sponsored content vibe for some reason.
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Hard to qualify that.
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I just do. Add to that Sony Cinema picture
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preset settings are fantastic.
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There’s really nothing much more you need to do to get the best picture quality.
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I think no manufacturer has more accurate picture presets across all the options
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than Sony. But the Cinema Preset is especially good, and part of
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that means really accurate colors without needing a calibration.
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Although a white balance adjustment will make greys in some colors
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look a bit better, pulls out a bit of green as I’ve measured.
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So color accuracy is a thing
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for picture quality, but there’s lots more to consider.
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I’m about to get to that.
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But before I do, I just have to comment on the TV’s sound quality.
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This is an area where my opinion hasn’t changed since I first reviewed this TV.
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I don’t think it sounds very good at all.
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Even though Sony has added tweeters
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to the top side of the back of the TV to try to make the sound more spacious.
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Now, I’m not comparing it directly to the Sony A80J, A90J,
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and I wouldn’t ever
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compare it to the X95J either, which I do expect to have in soon.
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I’m comparing it to other TVs in its price class.
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And while it isn’t necessarily worse
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than, say, the TCL R635 or the Samsung Q80A,
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which I’ve only heard in passing anyway. I can say that
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I don’t like how it sounds, and I would absolutely be using a sound bar.
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So keep that in mind when you’re considering this TV
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and your budget comes into play.
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Now let’s talk about picture quality. Some of the fundamentals didn’t change
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and some of them did since I reviewed the somewhat damaged X90J
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a few weeks ago.
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The peak brightness doesn’t appear to have been affected, but the backlight
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system clearly did take a hit because the black levels on this unit
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are clearly better.
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The backlight control is better.
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Halo and blooming are better mitigated.
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There’s a bit less of a milky quality to the picture. To be honest
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it’s hard to describe why,
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but this TV is noticeably better than the damaged unit I received.
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And I checked that with some of my team who all agree.
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So I’m not just drinking my own Kool-Aid.
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Mmm. Tasty Kool-Aid. Sugar free, of course.
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Anyway, here’s the bottom line.
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Even though this review sample is better than the last one I had,
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I am still not as enthused about it as I was the X900H.
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Now, I’m sure that if I put the X90J next to the X900H,
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I would have to admit that the X90J is a superior TV in many respects.
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So what’s changed then?
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Well, the market. The market is what has changed.
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You have Hisense out there with the U8G, which is blowing the doors off this TV
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in terms of brightness.
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And it’s got some solid inky blacks as well,
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thanks to its almost preposterous number of local dimming zones.
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Then you’ve got the Samsung Q80A, which is not a Neo-QLED,
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in other words, it doesn’t have mini-LED
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backlighting, just like the X90J here, but is also a strong performer.
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And then you have TVs
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like the TCL R635, which didn’t start in this price class
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and honestly gets pretty close
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for much less money, at least when it first came out.
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And hopefully the TCL prices come down.
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Then you have the Vizio P-Series Quantum or P-Series Quantum X, depending on which
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year of TV you’re buying, which are cost competitive with this TV as well,
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and they also get brighter. Bottom line, depending on your priorities,
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there are TVs with flashier specs than the X90J
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and they cost the same or less.
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So the X90J just doesn’t stand out in the market
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quite the same way the X900H did for me last year.
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But that doesn’t mean it has an identity crisis necessarily.
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It has its place and will appeal to certain folks.
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I just think maybe fewer folks than before.
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The X90J is going to appeal to Sony TV fans.
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Period. Full stop. End of story. That’s it.
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Sony’s processing is on full display here.
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The motion on this TV is excellent.
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if you leave the motion setting on custom. That gives you good smoothness
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without soap opera effect.
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And if you set the motion to auto, it is exceptionally smooth motion,
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but with some soap opera effect, which for gaming,
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I think is less of an issue than it may be for movies.
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I ran every stress test I have and the Sony’s motion
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looks great on this unit, so that’s a plus.
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Also, Sony’s color accuracy,
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as I mentioned before, looks great out of the box.
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It loses saturation and intensity, though, due to brightness limitations.
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And that’s where I think I have to be the most critical.
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This TV’s limited brightness is smartly handled by Sony.
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It’s got a high average picture level,
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so it comes off as bright, but it lacks punch in HDR highlights.
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And overall, it seems to lack a bit of contrast to. Also the colors
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lose some vibrancy as a result. Accurate or no
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as you get out of the mid bright colors and into some of the HDR color space,
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the zing just isn’t there for me.
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Also, even though the backlight is handled really well and halo and blooming are
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well mitigated, I don’t feel like this TV seems to hit true black very often.
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I think part of that is the aggressive anti-glare coating on the screen.
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Thing is without that anti glare,
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the TV would have so much reflection to overcome with brightness
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it doesn’t have, that the net effect would be negative.
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So the TV needs that anti-glare.
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And I feel like one of the tradeoffs is perceived contrast. By the measurements
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The contrast is good, but in real life viewing, it just isn’t what I want.
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Even at this TV’s price level where it isn’t going to be as good as a mini-LED
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TV with two hundred plus zones, I still feel a little let down.
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But you know what?
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Let’s do a reality check.
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I think most folks who walk in a dark room
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and see this TV would say it looks great.
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And that’s because this TV does a lot really well. Sony has swagger.
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And you can see that here.
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The TV just lacks the muscle that I think some enthusiasts are looking for.
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So if you were to ask me, do you recommend this TV,
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I would say as my response often has to be, I don’t know.
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That depends. Who are you? Are you a Sony fan with a budget?
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Then yeah, I think you would dig this TV.
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Do you value accuracy and finesse over brute strength?
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Then this is the TV for you.
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Are you mostly a casual gamer who just wants your games to look good?
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This TV will be fine.
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So no, I’m not jumping out of my seat and shouting the
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X90J’s praises, but it is definitely a quality TV.
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And if you find yourself attracted to it, go for it.
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But if you like flashy roadsters and sports cars as opposed to
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mid-level luxury sedans, then you probably want to look elsewhere.
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So that’s the TV review. I’m glad I got the second unit.
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It is definitely better than the damaged one I got.
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And it was worth doing this second look, because I feel much more confident
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about my take on this TV. And that brings me to the
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YouTube exclusive portion of this video that I promised earlier,
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I noticed in the comments
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that some of you are wondering why we even published the first video.
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Why do we even do unboxing videos?
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So let me let you in on a little bit of what goes on behind
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the scenes for my TV videos. As far as unboxing videos go,
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we do those in real time
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so that you’re experiencing in the video what it’s actually like to unbox
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and set up that TV.
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I want you to know what that’s like
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and maybe it gets you more excited for the TV
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that you’re thinking about buying, knowing that you’ll get to do the same soon.
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But because we do that in real time, sometimes we don’t discover problems
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until late in the process.
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And when that happens, we are already hours into production.
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Are we going to waste all of that?
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No way. Especially since in most cases it changes nothing about the unboxing
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and setup portion. At most, it might hold back my first impressions,
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and let’s be honest, by that point, we’re all gunning for that full review.
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Now, in the case of this Sony, we then had to make a tougher choice.
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Do we go ahead and try to review it or do we just box it up,
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hope we can get another one. and wait it out?
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Thing is, there’s no guarantee I will get another sample.
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And if I do, I may have to wait for a long time.
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And in the case of that Sony X90J here, it wasn’t clear at the outset
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that the damage could be having small effects on performance
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that could amount to a death by a thousand cuts situation.
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And that’s the thing about death by a thousand cuts,
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you don’t see the death coming until it’s too late, right?
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And again, after hours spent on TV, I feel like sharing that
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experience with you. Do you find it frustrating? Well, good,
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because you know who is frustrated the most?
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Me. I’m the one that had to unbox the TV and go through all that.
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And then I have to reboxthe TV and then unbox another one,
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and then rebox that one,
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and let me tell you, folks, reboxing TVs is like my least favorite thing ever.

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