After making the unusual decision to wait After At CES to announce its latest TVs, Sony is finally launching its 2023 lineup of Bravia XR sets. The new lineup includes a wickedly bright QD-OLED at the top of the heap, but that’s mostly a year of repeated refinements and modest improvements. Many TV models have received more dim zones and slight brightness improvements compared to the sets they replace from last year.
As always, image processing is positioned as a key attraction for Sony’s TV portfolio. The company has always been confident that its intelligent processor XR stands out from the industry in the way Sony TVs handle challenging scenes. New this year is a feature called XR Clear Image, which modifies the image based on the quality of the source material. If there’s true 4K content via a streaming service or UHD Blu-ray disc, the TV won’t mess up the picture as much.
But Sony says its system is smart enough to detect 1080p video — even when the TV is receiving a 4K signal — and it adds extra refinement to image processing while preserving elements like film grain and honoring the creator’s intent. All of Sony’s 2023 TVs continue to run Google TV as their OS: the software has a content-forward interface and supports features from Apple (AirPlay 2 / HomeKit) and Amazon (Alexa) in addition to built-in Google services such as Assistant Voice. search.
All of these TVs are capable of 4K gaming at 120Hz, though they’re still limited to two HDMI 2.1 ports; The other two are stuck with HDMI 2.0. Sony continues to offer deep integration with the PS5, but there are new gaming software features that extend to the Xbox, which I’ll cover later.
2023 Bravia XR models
Let’s start with the entry-level model and work our way up. The X90L is a full-line local dimming LED package designed to deliver solid performance for its price. This year, Sony has switched from a plastic bezel to an aluminum finish. Depending on the size you choose, the X90L has 60 percent more local dimming zones and 30 percent more peak brightness compared to its predecessor. The 98-inch X90L offers the largest maximum screen size of anything in Sony’s new lineup.
Moving up from there, we get the A80L OLED, which now comes in at 83-inches, up from the display sizes offered last year with the cheaper Sony OLED. The upgrades here are minor: the company says you can expect up to 10 percent brighter performance and slightly better conversation clarity thanks to the upgraded tweeters. But overall, it’s very similar to last year’s A80K WRGB OLED TV. You can think of this new model as a rival to LG’s C2 (now C3).
It’s the QD-OLED A95L, which could turn out to be Sony’s most impressive TV this year. The A95K was widely considered the best 4K OLED of 2022, so the pressure is on.
Like the Samsung S95C it will compete with, the A95L comes in 77-inch, 65-inch and 55-inch sizes. That means it almost certainly uses the same second-generation Samsung Display QD-OLED panel that promises up to 200 percent better peak brightness compared to the previous A95K. And the big advantage of QD-OLED is that the brightness gradient also applies to color luminance. This is the year that high-end OLEDs will finally be at home in bright rooms.
But Sony still makes premium mini LED sets as well. Despite the lower number in the name, the new X93L Mini LED TV replaces 2022’s X95K model. Sony describes it as very similar in overall performance. It comes in 85-, 77- and 65-inch sizes. Now, the company has added a second set of mini LEDs on top of that, with roughly 20 percent more local dimming zones. But that model, the X95L, is only available in the 85-inch version.
Now, I’ll describe two new software additions.
Everyone wants to help the Earth, right? right? Now, we get Sony’s approach. The Eco Dashboard is a central hub (accessible from the home screen) that encourages customers to be eco-conscious and focus on systems that draw more energy. If you enable eco-friendly options, the tree will grow. If you turn them off, the tree will turn green and appear empty. All of these settings are still found in regular menus, but Sony prefers to keep them in one place.
Sony joins the game menu train
Like Samsung, LG, Hisense and others, Sony will now show you a settings menu geared towards gaming instead of digging you into normal screens. Sony’s implementation lets you tweak VRR, motion blur reduction, black balance/contrast adjustment, and continuous on-screen crosshairs. There’s also the option to adjust your game’s screen size if you prefer a smaller window on a larger TV for whatever reason.
Unfortunately, Sony’s game menu doesn’t show the current live frame rate; This is a data point that few people want access to so they can easily monitor performance, but with this, you get the current resolution and maximum frame rate.
Sony has yet to share pricing for any of the new Bravia XR TVs. But since competitors are already shipping their 2023 lines, I expect those details to come soon.
Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge