Saturday, July 20, 2024

Sony announced its 2023 TV lineup: better late than never


After making an unusual decision to wait until after CES To announce its latest TV, Sony is finally introducing its 2023 lineup of Bravia XR sets. The new lineup has a wickedly bright QD-OLED at the top of the heap, but this is mostly a year of iterative improvements and modest improvements. Many TV models have gained more dimming areas and slight improvements in brightness than the sets from last year they’re replacing.

As always, image processing is positioned as a major draw of Sony’s TV range. More than ever, the company is confident that its XR cognitive processor is what makes Sony TVs stand out from the field in the way it handles challenging scenes. New this year is a feature called XR Clear Image, which adapts image adjustments based on the quality of the source material. If it’s original 4K content from a streaming service or a UHD Blu-ray Disc, the TV won’t mess with the picture too much.

But Sony says its system is smart enough to detect 1080p video — even in cases where the TV is getting a 4K signal — and will add additional image processing optimization while preserving elements like film grain and respecting the creator’s intent. All 2023 Sony TVs continue to run Google TV as their operating system: the software has a content forwarding interface and supports features from Apple (AirPlay 2 / HomeKit) and Amazon (Alexa) as well as built-in Google services such as Assistant voice searches.

Sony continues to take pride in what it considers to be the best image processing on its TVs.

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 remain stuck to HDMI 2.0. Sony continues to offer deep integration with PS5, but there are new game software features that also extend to Xbox which I’ll cover later.

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2023 Bravia XR models

Let’s start with the entry level model and work our way up. The X90L is a dimming full range LED headlight assembly designed to deliver compelling performance for its price. This year, Sony switched from a plastic bezel to an aluminum one. Depending on the size you choose, the X90L will include up to 60 percent more local dimming zones and 30 percent more high brightness compared to its predecessor. The 98-inch X90L offers the largest maximum screen size of anything in Sony’s new line.

Moving on from there, we get the A80L OLED, which now comes in at 83 inches in addition to the display sizes offered with last year’s cheaper Sony OLED. The upgrades here are minor: The company says you can expect 10 percent brighter performance and slightly better dialogue clarity due to the improved speakers. But overall, it’s very similar to last year’s A80K WRGB OLED TV. You can consider this new model as a competitor to the LG C2 (and now the C3).

It is the QD-OLED A95L that could become the most impressive TV from Sony this year. The A95K has been widely considered to be 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. This means that it definitely uses the same second-generation Samsung Display QD-OLED panel which promises up to 200% better peak brightness compared to the previous A95K. And the big advantage of QD-OLED is that the brightness slope also applies to color luminosity. This is the year high-end OLEDs will finally be at home in bright rooms.

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But Sony still makes premium Mini LED kits, too. Despite having a lower number in the name, the new X93L Mini LED TV replaces the 2022 X95K. Sony describes them as very similar in overall performance. It will come in 85-, 77-, and 65-inch sizes. Now, the company is adding a small secondary LED on top of it with about 20 percent more local dimming zones to reduce any perceived glow. But this model, the X95L, will only be available in an 85-inch version.

Now, I’m going to cover some of the new software additions.

Economic dashboard

Choose eco-friendly settings, and the tree will grow. Keep them away, and it will be barren and sad.

Everyone wants to help the Earth, right? right? Now, we’re on Sony’s approach. The Eco Dashboard is a central hub (accessible from the home screen) that encourages customers to be environmentally conscious and mindful of which settings bring more power. When you enable eco-friendly options, the tree grows. If you turn it off, the tree turns green and will appear bare. All of these settings are still in the usual menus, but Sony wanted to put them all together in one place.

Sony joins the game list train

Sony Samsung, LG, and others have followed suit in adding a specialized game list.

Just like Samsung, LG, Hisense, and others, Sony will now display a settings menu dedicated to gaming instead of making you look at your normal screens. Sony’s app lets you toggle VRR, motion blur reduction, equalizer/contrast adjustments, black and continuous crosshair on screen. There will also be an option to adjust the screen size of your game if you want a smaller window on a larger sized TV for any reason.

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Unfortunately, Sony’s game list doesn’t show the current live frame rate; This is a data point that some people like to hit so they can easily monitor performance, but with this you can only get the current resolution and maximum frame rate.

Sony isn’t sharing pricing for any of the new Bravia XR TVs yet. But with competitors already shipping the 2023 lines, I expect those details to arrive sooner rather than later.

Photo by Chris Welch/The Verge