In this job I get to see a lot of cool new tech. That said, sometimes generational updates in certain products only add a modicum of difference compared to their predecessors. That couldn't be any further from true in the Sony A95L, however, which is the Japanese company's 2023 QD-OLED flagship.
I got to sear my eyeballs with Sony's latest top-tier OLED at the company's London HQ, during an experience session to explore its key new TVs for the year. Behind closed doors I witnessed a side-by-side comparison to the earlier Sony A95K and the differences were night and day.
Now that's a ridiculously impressive feat given just how bright and punchy the A95K already is. But the 'L' model (that's the 2023 designation) promises peak brightness improvements by up to 200%. And even without technically measuring the sets myself, as that wasn't possible at this time, I can absolutely believe it.
The Sony A95L uses an improved panel for this generation, with a new heatsink, and there's also a new coating that's even less reflective than its predecessor's. Images just look cleaner as a result, with ambient light sources less of a bother – not that they're likely to be anywhere nearly as bright as the A95L anyway!
Sony A95L vs Samsung S95C
Now in previous coverage I've had the view that Samsung's S95 series has the upper hand over the Sony A95 series for the simple fact it's cheaper. I don't know the pricing of either the S95C or A95L at the time of writing, but I have seen both these sets in both darkroom and in situ, so I've got a good idea of what each offers.
And I think that maybe Samsung should be worried. Not because the S95C isn't going to be brilliant – if it's priced right, it'll likely be one of the best TVs of the year for most people – but that Sony's advances between A95K and A95L appear, to me, to be more substantial than S95B to S95C.
Both companies are going hell for leather in trying to deliver the best experience, no doubt, with both offering a new 77-inch size for their 2023 QD-OLED top options (including the step-down S90C for Samsung). Updated modes, including a new Game Mode from Sony, will add further appeal – especially as the A95L is the only flagship Sony to offer 4K at 120Hz with Dolby Vision (thanks to the HDMI chipset; the company's other high-fliers, the X95L Mini LED, for example, use different chipsets).
And while I've only seen the Sony A95L as a pre-release sample at this stage, and only presenting images in Vivid mode, I can still absolutely confirm just how mind-blown I am by the intensely bright image quality. That an OLED-based technology can do this so fantastically is a real sign of the times and the strength of what home cinema can offer in 2023. It's more interesting than the 8K race to me and I think others will be suitably impressed too...