If you paid attention to the What Hi-Fi? Awards 2023, you’ll know Sony had a rather good year. As well as cleaning up with its headphones, it also secured a key win in our best TV category, with its five-star Sony A80L securing the hallowed Product of the Year trophy.
The win was a big shift for the market and our buying advice. In 2022 the Japanese giant didn’t get a look-in in the category, with the LG C2 dominating, taking home five of the seven prizes on offer that year across the model's sizes.
Since then, we have had the chance to review its flagship QD-OLED TV, the Sony A95L, which not only earned a perfect five stars but has since been described by What Hi-Fi?'s home cinema head honcho, Tom Parsons, as being as close to a mastering monitor as he’s ever seen a TV be.
How did Sony achieve this amazing turn of fortune? Surely it must have been through the launch of some new innovative technology – true wireless technology like that featured on the LG M3 perhaps? Or a headline-grabbing jump to 8K? Maybe unprecedented levels of brightness?
The simple truth is, none of the above. Sony achieved its feat by delivering the basics better than the competition. The A95L beat its rivals thanks to a clear push by Sony to improve all areas of its picture quality.
Let’s start looking at the lower-ranging A80L. In our review, our testers' conclusion says it all: “With its deeply impressive ability to combine the spectacular and the subtle, the A80L can more than hold its own against rivals with fancier panel technology. [The Sony A80L is] incontrovertible proof that there’s plenty of life in the OLED dog yet.”
The same factor was a key reason the A95L is currently viewed by our testers as the new benchmark for flagship TVs – the standard we’ll be comparing next year’s models against. As our reviewers noted, the Sony A95L is "a stunning TV. Not only is it capable of going astonishingly bright and producing incredibly vibrant colours, but it also uses those abilities to recreate movies and TV shows more accurately than the TVs with which it is competing.”
This contrasts the focus of many other TV makers this year, who have concentrated their efforts on aspects such as “record-breaking” max brightness levels and Diablo V-sponsored gaming modes.
Yes, there are various important metrics to consider when buying a TV. But the fact is, regardless of how fancy a new technology sounds or how impressive a specs sheet looks, if it wants to be the best TV around it fundamentally needs to deliver authentic picture quality. This is the foundation on which every TV should be built.
Sony has nailed this by providing the biggest performance boost we’ve seen from a TV maker in one generation for quite some time. Hopefully, 2024 will continue this trend and we’ll get a fresh wave of even better sets that meet or even exceed the benchmark the brand has set this year.
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