With PlayStation 5 pre-orders live and the launch barrelling towards us, lots of people will be looking for one of the best gaming TVs as an upgrade to help them make the most of its new visuals.
To help PS5 buyers choose a TV that gets the most from the console (and, ideally, steer them into spending more money with Sony rather than one of its TV rivals), Sony has launched a 'Ready for PlayStation 5' branding. It’s also announced the first two TVs to bear it: the excellent mid-range 4K Sony XH90 (known as the X900H in the US), and the elite 8K Sony ZH8 (known as the Z8H in the US). But there are some problems with this otherwise cunning plan.
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First, what does it mean to be 'Ready for PS5'? The key things are 4K at 120fps support, and an ultra-low input lag (under 7.2ms), both of which are possible using the HDMI 2.1 standard (though the TV will still have to make sure it doesn't add to the lag when processing the frames).
Apparently, Sony also says that TVs with the designation can be turned on with the DualSense controller, and that you can use their remotes to control the PS5, but… well, you can do these things already with the PS4 over HDMI-CEC. It's not new, or unique.
There are some PlayStation 5 (and Xbox Series X, actually) features oddly missing from that list, though. HDMI 2.1 support also includes Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), both of which are built into both next-gen consoles. ALLM is designed to ensure those low lag times from TVs, while VRR will be able to make compatible games run more smoothly even when framerates can't stay consistent.
Here's the catch even for the features 'Ready for PS5' does include: the Sony XH90/X900H is called 'Ready for PS5' now, but it won't actually get the key HDMI 2.1 features until an unspecified point in the future, when an update will add them – though it will also add ALLM and VRR.
Will that be before the PS5 launches? You'd hope so, but there's no guarantee – we've asked Sony for clarification now that we're closer to the PS5 launch, and will update with any useful information as we receive it.
The Sony XH90 has the potential to be the go-to PS5 TV, as the best balance of image quality and next-gen features – we talk more about why in our Sony XH90/X900H review.
According to FlatPanelsHD, the Sony ZH8/Z8H will only get the 120fps feature and low lag, so while it's 'Ready' by Sony's definition, we're not sure we really agree all that much without ALLM and VRR. Especially since this damn TV is
These are the only two models in Sony's range currently mooted to include HDMI 2.1, which means that really the XH90/X90H is the only TV to match everything the PS5 can do, and that's still only after a promised updated.
It's also pretty surprising and confusing that Sony's higher-end 4K TVs won't feature key features that one of its mid-range sets does – our Sony XH95/X950H review called it the best-looking 4K TV for its price, yet PS5 fans would be better off spending less money with the company.
And Sony's OLED TVs are completely out of the loop for HDMI 2.1 and the PS5-friendly gaming features. It's a huge shame, because our Sony A8/A8H review is absolutely overflowing with praise for the set, and Sony's new 48-inch A9 OLED set would be a perfect compact gaming companion… if it supported the features.
So what are the alternatives?
It's likely that Sony will keep its 'Ready for PS5' branding to itself for a while, so you might miss that other brand's TVs already have all the features we're waiting for.
OLED fans should look to LG's range, in which all models are already packing HDMI 2.1 happily, with support for every feature mentioned here – even the lower-priced LG BX, which has just launched. We're still waiting to be able to review it, but all previous models in this line up have been incredible bang-for-buck machines.
The TV we most highly rate for PS5 players is the LG CX, which won the T3 Award for the best gaming TV. It offers even better image quality than the BX, in more sizes – the 48-inch model is actually the smallest TV you can get with all the next-gen features built-in. Read our full LG CX review to see why we like it so much.
Samsung's QLED range in 2020 is very well equipped for the PS5's features. Ignore the entry-level Samsung Q60T in this case (which doesn't do what we want) – look to the Q70T and up. In particular, the Samsung Q80T matches the Sony XH90/X900H mentioned above for price, and is on par for image quality – but comes with all the features we're looking for built in already. As does the Samsung Q90T, which is more expensive, but we called it the best 4K LCD TV of the year, so that's obviously a good buy.
The Samsung Q950TS, Samsung's flagship 8K TV, is also geared up for every PS5 feature, beating Sony's own 8K effort.
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