One of the biggest surprises of Sony’s newly announced 2023 TV range is that it won’t include any new OLED models smaller than 55 inches. When I asked at the launch event why that might be, I was told that the company has decided to keep the 42-inch and 48-inch A90K in the lineup for an extra year.
In some ways that’s not entirely surprising – the 2020 A9 model (the A9S in the US) also had a two-year shelf life – but it’s rather disappointing.
Not that the A90K isn’t an excellent TV, because it is. In fact, both versions of it (the XR-42A90K and XR-48A90K) received five-star ratings in our extensive reviews. It’s just that it’s too expensive to be a serious challenge to the LG C2, which dominates the market at this size and will soon be replaced by the apparently very similar C3.
That is of course a conscious move by Sony. The company has greeted the arrival of small OLED panels by offering super-premium TVs in formats that haven’t had such an option for years. The A90K is essentially designed like a baby A95K, but with a standard OLED panel instead of a QD OLED.
It’s a commendable approach – why wouldn’t someone with limited space for a TV have the option of going for a seriously high-end one?
However, I feel like there just aren’t enough people with the small spaces, big budgets and discerning tastes to make a TV like the A90K a huge seller. I could be wrong, and I must confess I haven’t seen any of the sales numbers that could back this up, but on the forums and subreddits I frequent (what a rock ‘n’ roll life I lead), buy everyone small C2s and there is very little interest in the A90K.
The disappointing thing about this is that Sony already has a step-down OLED TV in its range: the A80K, soon to be replaced by the A80L, is on par with the C2 on larger screen sizes, so why break the 48-inch and 42-inch range? -inch models?
The latter in particular seems to be a hugely popular format, not least because a 42-inch OLED can make a great gaming monitor. And who wouldn’t want a 42-inch Sony OLED TV to go with their PS5, assuming the price is right? The problem is that the A90K is financially out of reach for most people for whom that must sound heavenly – so they end up just buying the C2.
Of course, Sony is packed with smarter minds than mine and it almost certainly has its reasons for not going down the small A80L route. Perhaps the feeling is that it just couldn’t compete on price with the smaller C2/C3 models, even without some of the A90K’s more premium bells and whistles.
Whatever the reason, I wish Sony found out. The C2 is a fantastic TV, but it needs more competition, especially in the US, where the 42-inch C2’s only OLED rival is the A90K. At least 42-inch OLEDs from Panasonic are available in the UK, with Philips launching one (with Ambilight) this year…
These are the best tvs you can buy now
And here’s our guide to the best gaming tvs
Check out our Sony A95L QD OLED hands on