The Sony A95K QD-OLED TV was one of the most exciting TVs of 2022, and given the success of that model, it was only natural to expect that the company would introduce a successor for 2023.
The Sony booth at CES 2023 was oddly empty of items like TVs, but in due time I received an invite to check out its new premium sets up close and personal. Among them was the Sony XR-A95L QD-OLED, and while the company hasn’t yet announced pricing for it or any other 2023 TVs, the A95L looks ready and raring to go.
Well, almost ready to go. The 65-inch A95L model that Sony had on hand at the Sony Music building in NYC was only finalized for its Vivid picture mode. And while I didn’t get an opportunity to do an actual hands-on test, just basking in its vivid presence gave me a sense of what to expect from the company’s new flagship QD-OLED TV, and the prospects are looking good for it to rank among the best TVs of 2023.
Here are the key details for the A95L, which is one of the company’s Master series models along with the Z9K 8K mini-LED and A90K 4K OLED TVs, both carryovers from 2022.
The A95L will be available in 77-, 65-, and 55-inch screen sizes. Sony claims it delivers up to two times the peak brightness of last year’s A95K, something it achieves via increased panel efficiency along with thermal analysis by Sony’s Cognitive Processor XR plus a physical heat sink. Beyond that, the new QD-OLED features Sony’s new XR OLED Contrast Pro, XR Triluminos Max, XR Clear Image, and XR OLED Motion processing to enhance picture quality.
Sony is one of the few brands whose models consistently pop up in our best TVs for sound list owing to its careful attention to that performance aspect. For the A95L, viewers can expect Acoustic Surface Audio+, a feature that uses actuators positioned behind the OLED panel (two in this case, along with dual subwoofers) that vibrate the screen to emit sound. It also has Acoustic Center Sync, which lets the TV work with Sony soundbars to elevate voices so they more directly match on-screen visuals, and 360 Spatial Sound mapping processing, which creates phantom speakers for even more immersive sound.
Gaming will also be a big draw for A95L, which has 4K 120Hz and Dolby Vision gaming support. The new QD-OLED is ‘Perfect for PlayStation 5’, which means both an auto genre picture mode and auto HDR tone mapping will kick in when the TV detects an input from a connected PS5, so that you get a picture optimized to both the game you’re playing and the TV you’re playing on.
There’s also a new Game Menu that lets you easily turn settings like VRR, motion blur reduction, and black equalizer on and off according to preference, as well as set up an on-screen crosshair target. You can now customize screen size, making the picture larger or smaller within the screen for specific games – a unique feature, according to Sony – and use multi-view to play games while simultaneously watching walkthrough videos on YouTube.
The A95L has a three-way stand with Standard, Soundbar, and Narrow (77-inch size only) positions and a new Immersive Edge design. A Sony Bravia Cam is included that enables video chats on Google Meet and also Zoom – a new Sony TV feature for 2023.
Premium picture – most likely at a premium price
While pricing hasn’t yet been announced for the A95L, as one of the company’s Master series models it’s undoubtedly going to be expensive. Samsung has already announced US pricing for its new 77-inch S95C QD-OLED, which will cost $4,499 (around £4,200 / AU$6,600). Given that Sony 2022’s A95K was priced significantly higher than Samsung’s S95B QD-OLED, prospective buyers can expect to pay handsomely for Sony’s new offering. Sony did tell TechRadar that it thinks people will be ‘pleasantly surprised’ by the pricing of its TVs, so perhaps it’ll come close to matching the Samsung this time.
Sony is also introducing the A80L, a W-OLED (ie, the same kind of OLED you get in the likes of the LG C3) model that should offer picture improvements over last year’s A80K OLED and is available in a wider range of screen sizes (55 up to 85 inches).
Eyes-on with Sony’s new QD-OLED TV
At Sony’s preview of its TVs, a pre-production A95L was set up next to last year’s Sony A95K and Samsung’s S95B. With all TVs set to Vivid mode to match the A95L, there wasn’t an opportunity to evaluate it in optimal conditions, plus the content the company was using – video clips of landscapes and architecture mainly – didn’t exactly showcase the set’s chops with movies. Even so, the new Sony QD-OLED’s brightness advantage was apparent, with highlights popping from the screen (though it did look like some white clipping was happening in Vivid mode, which may not be the case in the modes people will actually watch movies in).
The Sony’s color rendition was also impressive, and even in Vivid mode colors looked more natural than on the Samsung S95B (though the Vivid mode settings likely play a big part there). Black depth was excellent, with the deep shadows in aerial shots of an urban landscape appearing inky and rich. Some content that highlighted the set’s ability to draw out shadow detail would have been welcome, but the sequences Sony was using didn’t express that capability.
Picture detail, unsurprisingly, was excellent, with the new A95L even appearing to best last year’s model on this parameter – a testament to the company’s picture processing improvements for its 2023 TVs. As with Sony’s previous model, the image retained contrast and color saturation at far off-center viewing angles, which is one area where QD-OLED bests regular OLED TVs like the A80L.
Do the improvements Sony has in store for its new A95L make it worth spending the money for this most likely pricey TV? I recently checked out Samsung’s new 77-inch QD-OLED for our early hands-on Samsung S95C review, and it’s clear that Samsung has also made a great effort to improve its next-gen model, which is measurably brighter than last year’s S95B (by around 32% as opposed to the double brightness gain Sony is claiming for its next-gen QD-OLED). It’s definitely going to be a knockout battle between the two for the best OLED TV in 2023, and we look forward to getting our hands on both in the near future to conduct full and thorough reviews.
However, while the Samsung S95C is due on shelves before the end of March, the Sony A95L won’t be available until the second half of 2023, so Sony had better hope the QD-OLED thunder hasn’t been totally stolen.