When it comes to buying the best new TV there are some key players to consider, with Sony being among the best on the market. And having spent a day with Sony to explore the company's 2023 TV range, I'm here to break down the differences in the models and which might be best suited to your demands and your budget.
In this article I'll explore Sony's 4K range in 2023 (there's nothing new in the 8K category this year), including the QD-OLED A95L (which I already think Samsung's S95C might find a concern), plus the A80L OLED, X95L Mini LED, and X90L Full Array LED.
I'm specifically focusing on Sony TVs in this piece, with a dedicated separate Samsung TV 2023 range explored in a separate feature. If you're looking for the current best OLED TV to buy right now then there's a buying guide for that, too, including options from LG, Panasonic, and more.
Sony OLED or LED?
- A prefix = OLED (including QD-OLED)
- X prefix = LED (including Mini LED, Full Array (FALD), LED)
- L suffix = 2023 model (K is 2022, J is 2021)
Just as I said of Samsung: companies love to market technologies and Sony is no different. It doesn't have too many model prefixes to concern yourself with though, using A for OLED and X for LED. The L suffix represents a 2023 release.
However, there's a lot of variation within a given range. The top-end A95L is a QD-OLED (separate article explaining how that's special over OLED here), whereas the A80L is the step-down OLED model, for example.
Within the LED range there's even more separation: the X95L is a Mini LED, so super-bright and with great dimming control nuance; the X90L is a Full Array LED (FALD) by comparison, so not as precise with its dimming control and less bright but still very impressive.
Further down the range, the X95L is also FALD, but the X80L and X75WL don't offer full back arrays, instead opting for zoned illumination which means blooming is more evident and blacks can get a little lost in bright subject areas.
In summary: QD-OLED is bright and perfectly contrastic; Mini LED is brighter and offers superb contrast (but a step down in contrast from OLED); while the black levels from non-OLED lower down the range diminish as the product number decreases (all while improving affordability, of course).
Sony OLED range
Sony A95L QD-OLED
- 55in, 65in, 77in sizes
This is Sony's top-drawer TV for 2023 (oddly unlike Samsung, which positions is S95C as a step below its QN95C) and, having seen one I have to profess it's completely stunning.
Sony demoed the set side-by-side compared to the year-old A95K and while year-on-year improvements are often subtle, that's really not so here. With peak brightness that's up to 200% brighter it's very, very clear just how much better this TV from the off. A new heatsink enables this brightness push.
There are other top-end perks too: it's the only 2023 Sony TV to use MediaTek's latest HDMI chipset, meaning it's the only 2023 Sony TV to support 4K at 120fps with Dolby Vision (others will deliver 4K/120 via their HDMI 2.1 ports, just not at that frame-rate when outputting Dolby Vision). An ideal match for gamers then.
A less reflective panel coating then before, a new larger 77-inch model size (if you're feeling especially flush with cash), and a really gorgeous design with embedded 2.2-channel audio output from the TV panel itself (using Acoustic Surface Audio+ tech).
Sony A90K OLED
- 42in and 48in sizes only
As you'll spot from the 'K' in the name (it doesn't stand for 'kittens', sorry), this model is the 2022 release. So why no Sony A90L for 2023? Well, Sony doesn't see it as necessary. This top-end OLED panel (albeit not QD-OLED) is only available in 'smaller' 42-inch and 48-inch sizes, so it fits a specific niche anyway.
Sony A80L OLED
- 55in, 65in, 77in, 83in sizes
If the top-tier QD-OLED is outside of your financial reach then Sony's traditional OLED, available in a wider range of sizes, is a premium competitor to the likes of LG's C3 OLED.
The A80L is marginally brighter than last year's A80K, by around 10 per cent, so it's a moderate year-on-year gain which, to me, makes the higher-end A95L QD-OLED standout all the more.
Sony LED range
- 65in, 75in, 85in sizes
At the top-end of Sony's non-OLED range is this big-screen beauty: the X95L which only starts at the 65-inch size.
It's super-bright, with around a 30% gain over last year's X95K, and there are more dimming zones (circa 20% up) for better blooming control than before too.
If you want the kind of brightness boom from Mini LED then this is a super TV to consider, befitting its position at the top of the LED range.
- 55in, 65in, 75in, 85in, 98in sizes
Of all the Sony demos I saw on my briefing day, the year-on-year improvement of the Sony X90L over its previous X90K model was the most impressive (in the UK that was the X94K by the way, there are sometimes naming differences).
That's because this LED-backlit panel has around 60% more dimming zones and the difference in precision and blooming control is, well, bloomin' marvellous. However, you may still get richer black levels from some competitors, such as the Samsung QN85C.
The X90L is also available in some monster sizes, all the way up to 98-inches (that one comes with built-in handles it's so massive, ensuring you can move it around), so there's something to cater for everyone looking for a room-filling main telly.
Sony X85L, X80L, X75WL
- X85L: 55in, 65in, 75in sizes
- X80L: 43in, 50in, 55in, 65in, 75in, 85in sizes
- X75WL: 43in, 50in, 55in, 65in, 75in sizes
As the product number drops you'll see a difference in overall picture quality potential. The X85L is a Full Array LED set for this year, though, so is markedly better than its predecessor in creating precise bright areas with great control. It's also the cut-off point for 100Hz/120Hz output, the TVs lower in the range are 50/60Hz only.
Below the X85L are the X80L and X75W, both of which drop the FALD arrangement (and refresh rate, as pointed out) for classic LED backlighting. That means less overall precision in illumination and thus black levels incrementally suffer as a result. The design is also simplified as you drop down the range to make for greater affordability. However, these are still mighty accomplished TVs for bright-room environments.