As the world’s number one tech buyer’s guide, we see a lot of TVs come through our doors. And to be honest, a lot of them are very similar – many even use the same screen panels made by the same companies. But when Sony announced the BRAVIA XR A95K, we knew it was something pretty special.
That’s because it features a QD-OLED screen. This is bleeding-edge technology that combines the advantages of OLED with the brightness and colours of quantum dot technology that was only found on LED TVs up to this point. The result? A whole new breed of TV, and a treat for the eyeballs for anyone within viewing distance.
Now with added brightness
Over the last few years, OLED has become the top dog of the TV screen technology world. And with good cause – it offers a significant upgrade on the previous LED technology, with perfect blacks, pixel-level contrast control and near-flawless viewing angles. But there’s one area where it’s never quite managed to match LED: brightness.
Until now. With OLED panels, each pixel is limited in the amount of light it can produce. But QD-OLED panels bring in the power of quantum dots, a colour production technology found in the QLED TVs which are limited in contrast because of their LED backlight.
OLED pixels use filters to create their reds, blues and greens, whereas quantum dots convert blue light into colours, but with virtually no loss of energy. This makes for truer colours in the brightest areas of the picture. Combined with the pixel-perfect contrast control of OLED, and you have the holy trinity of vivid colours, deep blacks and high peak brightness, without any light bleed. Quite the package.
An upgraded picture processor
The brains behind this is Sony’s XR picture processor. This features in other Sony TVs, and has already proved itself to excel at upscaling to 4K and at providing unparalleled motion processing (in our tests, Sony’s TVs consistently prove to be the best motion TVs in the business). But this year it’s been upgraded.
Its colour contrast control software has been enhanced to make full use of the increased vibrancy that comes with QD-OLED. Add to that the new Depth Map feature, which increases the three-dimensionality of the picture by identifying and enhancing objects in the foreground of the frame while slightly suppressing those in the background, and you’ve got the right tool for the job.
More detail, a heightened sense of realism
And it shows. Not only is QD-OLED brighter than Sony’s standard OLED TVs, it also picks out much more detail in the brightest parts of the picture. Regular OLED TVs tend to blow out the tones of a bright sky or sunset into more generalised white areas as they boost the white sub pixel to create the required brightness, but the A95K shows much fuller, more realistic colours. There’s also a strikingly solid feel to the picture thanks to the sky-high sharpness and contrast levels. You feel like you can step inside each scene and take a look around.
Of course, all this extra picture quality doesn’t come cheap. The 55-inch A95K, which is the model we’ve reviewed, comes in at £2399 / $3000, and the 65-in version, which we’ve yet to test, is £3199 / $4000, but check your local store for the most up to date pricing. That’s far from astronomical when it comes to premium TVs with cutting edge panel technology and there are cheaper QD-OLEDs coming to market.
As it stands, though, the 55-inch Sony BRAVIA XR A95K is the best TV we’ve seen this year. It sets a new gold standard for picture performance.
It’s superb on the audio side, too. Sony’s unique Acoustic Surface Audio+ technology essentially turns the screen into one big speaker that’s vibrated using built-in actuators. This makes the sound come from the relevant part of the picture, so dialogue comes from actors’ mouths, just as it should. Sony uses this tech on some of its other TVs, but for the A95K it redesigned and optimised the actuators especially for QD-OLED. Two subwoofers are on bass duties for when you need some added rumble.
While we always recommend an external sound solution for the best possible AV experience, you’d need to spend a fair bit on a soundbar or home cinema system to improve on what’s already built-in.
Movies and games covered
Another feature unique to Sony’s premium TVs is the high-resolution video streaming service BRAVIA CORE. The XR A95K models come with two years’ unlimited access to what is currently the highest bitrate platform around, as well as 10 credits to redeem for BRAVIA CORE films to keep forever. You won’t see movies in any more detail anywhere in the world.
And then there are the gaming features. Of the four HDMI ports, two are HDMI 2.1-certified and support 4K resolution at up to 120fps, VRR and ALLM, all straight out of the box with no firmware update required. These will all help reduce lag to an imperceptibly low level, so even the fastest-moving games will feel slick and responsive. Playstation 5 consoles will also detect which TV model you’re using and automatically select the correct HDR tone map to make sure you get all the best details and colours while playing your favourite titles.
So there you have it: the Sony BRAVIA XR A95K offers bleeding-edge picture tech, unparalleled motion processing, superb audio and excellent extra features for fans of movies and games alike. It’s TV reimagined, ready to give you a next-level AV experience.