PS5 gamers left on tenterhooks as Sony drops crucial free TV upgrade at last

It's taken a while, but this is VRRy good news for Sony Bravia TV owners and, hopefully, owners of a PS5 soon, too

Sony PlayStation 5
(Image credit: Future)

I think Sony makes some of the best TVs you can buy, but it also does something I'm less fond of: it releases some models without all of their advertised features actually turned on, promising a firmware update in the not-too-distant future. That means sometimes TVs ship without the full complement of apps, and sometimes it means TVs ship without promised features such as variable refresh rate (VRR) support on TVs designed to be the best gaming TVs.

So the long-awaited arrival of VRR for Bravia XR TVs is great news for owners of those TVs, and it makes me as a PS5 gamer very hopeful that VRR will be turned on for the PlayStation 5, too. But it's taken far too long to arrive in my opinion and it still frustrates me that while Sony has turned VRR on across much of its TV range, it still hasn't communicated when it's happening on PS5.

I don't think it's unreasonable to expect an expensive TV to be feature complete, if not on day one then within a very short space of time. So I'm in two minds about the latest firmware update for the Bravia XR TV line-up. On the one hand it's great to see them finally get the promised post-launch update to deliver VRR. But on the other, did anybody think post-launch meant fourteen months from launch?

Buy in 2021, get the tech in 2022

According to AVTest's Vincent Teoh on Twitter (opens in new tab), the 2021 Bravia XR TVs are finally getting the VRR firmware – but not all of them everywhere, and not all at once. The update is currently rolling out to US, UK and European owners of all models bar the X80J, X80CJ and X79J. It also introduces Atmos support for AirPlay video streaming and improved audio switching.

Even if you have one of the TVs that's getting the firmware update, that doesn't mean you can take advantage of it, though. As I said above, the PS5 still doesn't support VRR, and Sony isn't giving any clues about when it will: it doesn't appear to be in the next PS5 system update but it could land at any time.

VRR (variable refresh rate) is such a wanted feature by gamers as it allows a TV to adjust its refresh rate in real-time to the frame rate output of a games console, such as the PS5. The result is smoother graphics and a better gameplay experience, with less input lag and frame drops.

Like any other gamer, I've grown resigned to the fact that some games won't work properly on day one without a hefty patch, and that some games won't work properly for months – I'm giving Cyberpunk 2077 a hard stare here. But consoles and TVs cost a lot more than even a PS5 exclusive, and PS5 gamers and Bravia XR owners have every right to feel taken for granted here: the TV update was first promised in early 2021, and it's now 16 months since PS5 VRR support was leaked. What's the point of buying cutting-edge TVs or consoles if some of their cutting-edge tech takes more than a year to arrive?

This Bravia VRR turn on does though seem to point towards VRR coming to PlayStation 5 sooner rather than later, though, in my mind, as Sony likes to test the waters much of the time like this with its own products first, while using them as feature leader. Here's hoping, then, that we see VRR turned on in the PS5 soon, even though right now, at the time of writing, nothing is confirmed.

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com (opens in new tab)).