After a surprise absence from CES 2023, Sony has finally lifted the lid on its latest TV range.
At the top of the new range are the A95L QD-OLED, which is said to be “up to” 200 per cent brighter than the outgoing A95K, and the X95L Mini LED-backlit LCD, which is apparently up to 30% brighter than the yet already very bright X95K which it replaces.
While Sony, like many other manufacturers, is quite coy about the components its TVs use, it seems reasonable to assume that the A95L uses Samsung Display’s new second-generation QD-OLED panel. This is almost certainly the same panel as in the Samsung S95C.
To this, Sony adds its own heat diffusion blade (aka a heat sink) and thermal analysis, driven by the Cognitive Processor XR. It is the combination of these elements that results in the apparently massive increase in peak brightness. Sony doesn’t give specific peak brightness numbers, but it’s probably fair to expect the TV to hit 2000+ nits in its most vibrant picture mode, and something close to 1500 nits in its more natural and authentic presets. But as always, we’ll put these claims to the test when we get the TV into our own labs.
In addition to the 55- and 65-inch sizes that the A95K was available in, the A95L will also be available as a 77-inch model.
Other highlights exclusive to the A95L include support for Dolby Vision gaming and Multi View – the latter of which lets you display one source on one side of the screen and the other on the other. The use case given by Sony was playing a game in one window while watching a YouTube tutorial in the other. Unfortunately, the A95L (and its siblings in the 2023 range) still only has two HDMI 2.1 connections that support 4K/120Hz gaming.
The A95L is also the only TV in Sony’s 2023 range to come with the Bravia CAM camera (it’s an optional extra for all other models), which clips to the top edge of the TV and unlocks a host of smart features, including video calling, automatic energy saving and picture and sound optimization based on the specific place in the room you are sitting in. We weren’t totally convinced by Bravia CAM last year, but we’re intrigued to give it another try when we test this year’s new models.
In terms of design, the A95K’s elegant but massive and unwieldy kickstand has been replaced for the A95L by feet placed at the far ends of the TV’s underside. Sony calls this a “noiseless” design as it prevents reflections from forming on the screen, but the TV with such a wide footprint won’t be ideal for everyone. The 77-inch model allows the feet to be moved closer to the center of the chassis, but that’s not an option for the 65 or 55-inch versions. All sets have a soundbar stand, so that the TV can be raised to make room for a soundbar.
As for sound, it’s not surprising that the A95L features Sony’s Acoustic Surface Audio+ technology, where actuators vibrate the entire screen to make sound. There’s been no mention of any hardware upgrades over the A95K’s audio system, leading us to believe there probably aren’t any, but that’s no bad thing – the A95K is one of the best sounding TVs you can buy right now.
X95L Mini LED with more zones and higher brightness
The Yin of the Yang of the A95L is the X95L Mini LED set, which Sony essentially sees as a joint flagship model – although the fact that the A95L gets support for Dolby Vision gaming and Multi View, while the X95L doesn’t, means and also being the only model that comes with the Bravia CAM suggests that this flagship status isn’t exactly equal.
That’s not to say the X95L hasn’t received equal attention from Sony. The key points here are that the number of dimming zones has been increased over the X95K and the peak brightness has been increased by “up to” 30%. Sony won’t give more specific numbers on any of these upgrades, but in a brief demo it seemed clear to me that the X95L was a substantial improvement in terms of punch, shadow detail and contrast, with very little blooming, especially when looking at the screen head-on . As always, a manufacturer-led demo can never be fully trusted, and we’ll be fully testing these elements ourselves as soon as we can get the X95L into our test labs.
The X95L will be available in 65-, 75- and 85-inch sizes and all have feet that can be placed on the edges, closer to the center or in a raised, soundbar-friendly setup.
As many know, a backlit LCD panel can’t be vibrated like an OLED panel, but the X95L instead has frame tweeters similar to those found on last year’s Z9K 8K model. These make the sound seem like it’s coming straight from the screen.
For gaming, 4K/120Hz, VRR and ALLM are all supported, but Dolby Vision gaming is not, which is a real shame. And as mentioned, none of the TVs have more than two HDMI 2.1 connections, and we expect one of those will still be the ARC/eARC port that many will have to use to connect a soundbar or other sound system.
Step-down A80L OLED model in 83 inches – but no ‘small’ OLEDs
The A80K ‘standard’ OLED will also get a replacement in the form of the A80L, which will be available in a new 83-inch size alongside the 55, 65 and 77-inch versions from before. In reality, Sony doesn’t seem to be making any big claims about this, suggesting it’s not hugely different from the model it replaces. That would match LG’s approach this year, which involves a huge step forward for the flagship model (the G3) but very few obvious upgrades for the step-down set (the C3). Naturally, the A80L will benefit from a number of upgrades across the range, which I’ll discuss below.
One disappointment with Sony’s 2023 TV range is that there are no new 42-inch and 48-inch OLED models. The company says it’s keeping the 2022 A90K model in its range instead, but that’s an expensive TV. It’s a real shame the company didn’t instead produce the A80K in smaller sizes that could compete on price with the smaller versions of LG’s C3.
More LCD models
Among the above sets are the X90L, X85L, X80L and X75WL LCD models.
The 90 series has long been one of Sony’s most popular, and the company says the new X90L is a big performance boost over the X90K it replaces. This one hasn’t been upgraded to Mini LED, but the full-array LED backlight has more dimming zones than its predecessor, apparently resulting in better contrast and less blooming.
Launching in 55-, 65-, 75- and 85-inch sizes, as well as a new 98-inch version, the X90K could be a big seller if Sony gets the price right.
The X85L is another full-array LED model, albeit one that is slightly less bright and has fewer dimming zones. It also has a simpler design and processor downgrade from the Cognitive XR processor from the X90L (and above) to the X1. However, it will still support 4K/120Hz, ALLM and VRR and will be available in 55, 65 and 77-inch sizes.
Going back to the X80L, we finally get to Sony’s first ‘small’ TVs of 2023. This model will be available in 43, 50, 55, 65, 75 and 85-inch sizes and will feature an edge LED backlight. This is a 60Hz TV without support for 4K/120Hz or VRR. This means it probably won’t be a good choice for next-gen PS5 and Xbox Series X/S gamers.
Finally, we have the X75WL, which will be available in the same sizes as the X80L, with the exception of the 85-inch model. There’s a step back in the processor to a more basic version of the X1 here, and it loses the Triluminous designation from the X80L.
Game menu, Google TV and Bravia Core
There are a few cool features that haven’t been mentioned before that will be across the entire Bravia and Bravia XR range for 2023.
For starters, Sony is finally adding a dedicated game menu that allows quick adjustments to game-related settings during gameplay. We’ve seen this on most other brands before, but one of the interesting features of Sony’s implementation is an option to reduce the size of the window in which the game is displayed. Why would you want to do that? Competitive gamers often like to play on relatively small screens that require less eye movement for faster response to action. This feature allows them to watch movies and TV shows in full screen, but reduce the size of the image for hardcore gaming. The window size can be reduced from 100 percent to 30 percent and everything in between.
All the new models discussed are, predictably, Google TVs, but all models from the X80L onwards have microphones integrated into their chassis, so they can be used completely hands-free.
It’s also finally worth mentioning Bravia Core, Sony’s exclusive streaming service that delivers movies at much higher bit rates than available from the likes of Netflix, Disney+, et al. credits that can be used to purchase premium movies. You get 10 credits and 24 months of unlimited streaming with the A95L, A80L, X95L and X90L, and 5 credits plus 12 months of unlimited streaming with the X85L, X80L and X75WL.
Sony says pricing and release dates for its new TVs will be announced “later in 2023”. We’ll publish that information as soon as we have it and stay tuned for our full reviews.
Here are the best tvs you can buy now
How will Sony’s A95L QD-OLED fare against the Samsung S95C
And don’t forget the new LG G3