Sony typically unveils its new TVs at CES in January but this year it rolled out a car instead, leaving the big screens for March. I recently got the chance to check out the company’s new televisions in person and, as I expected, the star of the show was the 2023 Sony QD-OLED model, the A95L.
Sony’s reps told me the A95L is twice as bright as its predecessor, the A95K. I didn’t get the chance to measure it, and Sony wouldn’t quote a brightness specification in nits, but I did get to eyeball the two models side by side in Sony’s demo space. The A95L definitely looked brighter, and overall the image was as spectacular as I expected from a high-end OLED TV.
Sony also confirmed a tidbit I first learned from Samsung Display at CES. The QD-OLED’s anti-reflective screen has been improved to better handle lighting in the room, which should help its image pop even more. That addresses an issue I noticed on 2022 QD-OLED TVs, including the A95K and the Samsung S95B, where their screens appeared grayer than most other high-end TVs under bright lights. I honestly didn’t see much difference between the two Sonys in the demo, but I’ll reserve full judgment until I can test an A95K in CNET’s own lab.
OLED TVs, including new QD-OLED models that use quantum dots, have always delivered the best picture quality available. Until now, however, they’ve had a brightness disadvantage compared to non-OLED TVs, especially higher-end LCD and QLED models that use mini-LED backlights. A bright picture is important, not just for bragging rights, but to help the TV look its best in well-lit rooms as well as improving HDR performance. The new A95L could claim the prize for the best picture quality yet, but I won’t know until I can compare it to the other premier TVs of 2023, including Samsung’s 2023 QD-OLED and new OLED TVs from LG, which are also brighter than last year.
Sony also had its other 2023 TVs on-hand. The A80L OLED TV is similar to last-year’s A80K but roughly 10% brighter, according to Sony, and now comes in an 83-inch size too. Sony did not introduce OLED TVs smaller than 55 inches this year, although the 42- and 48-inch A90K models from 2022 will remain on sale.
The rest are LCD-based TVs, not OLED, and they skew large. The flagship X95L, available only in an 85-inch size, with an improved mini-LED backlight that has 20% more dimming zones than the step-down X93L for higher perceived brightness (and again the demo I saw indeed looked brighter). The X93L, meanwhile, comes in three sizes. The final series Sony showed me was the X90L, a model with a standard full-array local dimming backlight.
Details including screen sizes and model numbers are in the table below.
Gaming in the crosshairs
Beyond image quality technologies Sony has a couple new feature wrinkles for 2023, the coolest of which is a new gaming menu. It offers the standard toggles for VRR (variable refresh rate) and boosting shadow details, but adds something I’ve never seen before: a persistent crosshair. You can switch on the crosshair, which appears in the middle of the screen on any game, and change its color and appearance, going from a cross to a dot for example. Most games where you’d benefit from a crosshair have one built in, but I love having the option to add one to any game, or make it more visible.
Unlike the gaming menus from LG, Samsung and Hisense, however, there’s no easy way to confirm whether Sony’s TVs are receiving a 120Hz signal. The display only lists resolution and HDR status.
Sony is also adding a new Eco menu for 2023, providing a single place to control energy-saving settings like the ambient light sensor and auto-turnoff. I was also treated to a demo of the Bravia Cam the company introduced last year. It functions as a standard webcam but offers a couple unusual extras too. It senses the presence of viewers in the room to adjust the image brightness and sound, and can even flash a warning if a viewer gets too close to the TV.
Available in spring, prices coming soon
Unlike Samsung, which announced pricing on its Neo QLED TVs as well as its 77-inch QD-OLED ($4,500), Sony didn’t specify prices for any of its TVs and only said they’d ship in “spring.” I’m looking forward to the chance to review them.
Sony’s 2023 OLED, Mini-LED and local dimming TVs
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