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Don‘t Buy a Sony OLED TV Until You Read This

When it comes to the latest and greatest in television technology, OLED TVs are generating a lot of buzz – and for good reason. These cutting-edge displays offer some major advantages over traditional LED/LCD TVs, with superior picture quality, perfect black levels, wide viewing angles, and ultra-thin designs.

As a pioneer and leader in the OLED TV market, Sony offers an impressive lineup of models to choose from. But before you rush out to buy one, there are some important things you should know. In this in-depth guide, we‘ll cover everything you need to consider before investing in a Sony OLED TV.

Understanding OLED Technology

First, let‘s take a closer look at how OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) technology works and how it differs from other display technologies. In a traditional LED/LCD TV, images are created by a backlight shining through an array of pixels. Each pixel is made up of red, green and blue subpixels that open and close to let varying amounts of light through, creating the colors you see on screen.

OLED works differently. Instead of having a separate backlight layer, each pixel in an OLED display is self-emissive. This means it produces its own light when an electric current is passed through the organic semiconductor material. The pixels can be completely switched on and off individually over 8 million times per second.

This individual pixel control gives OLED some major advantages over LED/LCD:

  • Deeper black levels: When a pixel is switched off in an OLED, it emits no light at all, allowing the screen to display perfect, inky blacks. LED/LCD displays can only dim the backlight, resulting in grayish blacks.

  • Wider viewing angles: With no backlight restricting visibility, the picture on an OLED TV looks great even from extreme side angles. LED/LCDs look washed out when not viewed straight-on.

  • Faster response times: OLEDs can switch pixels on and off much faster than the crystals in an LCD screen, virtually eliminating motion blur.

  • Thinner designs: Without the need for a backlight layer, OLED screens can be made incredibly thin – often just a few millimeters thick. This allows for flush mounting and a sleek, modern look.

  • Better energy efficiency: Because each pixel is individually controlled, OLEDs don‘t waste energy illuminating black or dark areas of the picture. This makes them more energy efficient, especially when watching darker content.

So how does OLED compare to Samsung‘s QLED technology? QLED, or Quantum Dot LED, is actually still an LCD screen, but one that uses a special filter to enhance colors and brightness. While QLED is an improvement over standard LED/LCD, it‘s still fundamentally limited by its reliance on a backlight. In side-by-side tests, OLEDs consistently outperform QLED in black levels, contrast, viewing angles, and uniformity.

Sony‘s OLED TV Lineup for 2023

Now that we‘ve covered the basics of OLED technology, let‘s take a look at Sony‘s lineup of OLED TVs for 2023. The company is offering three main series, each targeting a different price and performance tier:

A95L Master Series

The A95L Master Series represents the pinnacle of Sony‘s OLED lineup. These flagship TVs build on the success of last year‘s A95K, which was Sony‘s first OLED to feature a heat sink for improved brightness and a flush mount design for a sleeker, more seamless look when wall mounted.

A95L Master Series 55" 65" 77"
Resolution 4K 4K 4K
Processor Cognitive XR Cognitive XR Cognitive XR
HDMI 2.1 Ports 4 4 4
VRR Yes Yes Yes
ALLM Yes Yes Yes
Acoustic Surface Audio+ Yes Yes Yes
Anti-Glare Yes Yes Yes
Wallpaper Mode Yes Yes Yes

In addition to these impressive specs, the A95L series features Sony‘s new Cognitive XR processor, which uses advanced AI and machine learning to analyze and optimize different elements of the picture in real time. Sony claims this results in a more lifelike and immersive image.

The A95L also features improved sound with Acoustic Surface Audio+, which turns the entire screen into a speaker. Multiple actuators behind the panel create sound that appears to come directly from the action on screen for a more cinematic experience.

A90L Series

The Sony A90L series replaces last year‘s excellent but pricey A90J. It remains a high-performance OLED TV but omits some of the A95L‘s premium touches to bring the price down. Most notably, the A90L lacks the flush-mount design and anti-glare coating found on the Master Series.

A90L Series 42" 48" 55"
Resolution 4K 4K 4K
Processor Cognitive XR Cognitive XR Cognitive XR
HDMI 2.1 Ports 2 2 4
VRR Yes Yes Yes
ALLM Yes Yes Yes
Acoustic Surface Audio Yes Yes Yes

While not quite as refined as the A95L, the A90L still delivers outstanding picture quality. It has the same next-gen Cognitive XR processor and supports all the major HDR formats including Dolby Vision. Gamers will also appreciate the inclusion of HDMI 2.1 ports, VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), and ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) for responsive gameplay.

A80L Series

The A80L series is Sony‘s entry-level OLED offering, designed to bring the benefits of the technology to a more accessible price point. It makes some concessions in processing power and build quality compared to the step-up models but still delivers a premium picture.

A80L Series 55" 65"
Resolution 4K 4K
Processor XR XR
HDMI 2.1 Ports 2 2
VRR Yes Yes
ALLM Yes Yes

Instead of the flagship Cognitive XR processor, the A80L uses Sony‘s still-capable XR chip. This means it may not upscale lower-resolution content quite as effectively or handle motion as smoothly as the higher-end sets. But for native 4K content, the differences will be minimal. The A80L is a great choice for buyers who want OLED picture quality and next-gen gaming features without breaking the bank.

Sony‘s Processing and Upscaling Tech

One area where Sony TVs have always excelled is in processing and upscaling lower-resolution content. The company‘s experience in moviemaking and professional video allows them to optimize the picture in a way that looks natural and pleasing to the eye. That expertise is evident in the new Cognitive XR processor found in Sony‘s premium 2023 OLED models.

Cognitive XR builds on the already-impressive X1 Ultimate processor with a few key advancements:

  1. Cognitive Intelligence: Sony claims this technology goes beyond traditional AI by attempting to replicate how humans perceive images. It cross-analyzes picture elements like color, contrast, and detail at once, optimizing each in relation to the others. This is similar to how the brain focuses on certain points of emphasis in an image.

  2. XR OLED Contrast: This processing feature leverages the Cognitive Processor XR‘s ability to analyze individual objects on screen and adjust the contrast of each independently. Sony says this results in enhanced depth, detail, and realism.

  3. XR Triluminos Max: Sony‘s proprietary wide color technology gets a boost from the Cognitive Processor XR‘s object-based processing. It‘s able to identify color in individual elements of the picture and reproduce them more faithfully.

  4. XR 4K Upscaling: Lower-resolution content gets intelligently analyzed and upscaled by the Cognitive Processor XR. Sony‘s latest chip fills in the gaps to make HD and even SD content look closer to native 4K.

These processing and upscaling technologies play a big role in setting Sony‘s OLED TVs apart from the competition. While all OLED panels start with similar baseline performance, Sony‘s expertise in tuning the picture adds a level of refinement and fidelity that‘s hard to match.

Sony OLED vs LG OLED

When it comes to OLED TVs, Sony‘s biggest competition comes from LG. The South Korean electronics giant is actually the only company currently manufacturing OLED panels at scale. This means that every OLED TV on the market – whether it‘s made by Sony, LG, Vizio, or Panasonic – uses an LG-made panel at its core.

So what sets Sony‘s OLEDs apart? It mainly comes down to image processing and tuning. While LG‘s OLEDs deliver an excellent baseline picture, Sony‘s processing takes it a step further with more accurate colors, better shadow detail, and more natural upscaling of non-4K content.

In side-by-side comparisons, Sony‘s OLEDs tend to have a slight edge in color accuracy, shadow detail, and motion handling. However, the differences can be subtle and may not be noticeable to the average viewer. LG‘s OLEDs, particularly the C2 and G2 series, remain excellent performers and typically cost slightly less than Sony‘s offerings.

Ultimately, you can‘t go wrong with an OLED TV from either company. But if you want the absolute best picture quality and are willing to pay a slight premium, Sony‘s models are the way to go.

OLED Longevity: What to Expect

One common concern about OLED TVs is longevity. Because these sets use organic compounds to create light, there‘s a worry that the panels will degrade faster than LED/LCD TVs. While it‘s true that OLED pixels can "wear out" over time, resulting in lost brightness and color accuracy, the lifespan of modern OLEDs is actually quite good.

LG Display, the maker of panels for all OLED TVs, says their latest models are rated for 100,000 hours to half brightness. This means that after 100,000 hours of use, the panel should still be able to output 50% of its original brightness. Here‘s what that translates to in terms of lifespan for the average user:

Daily Viewing Estimated Lifespan to Half Brightness
4 hours 68 years
6 hours 45 years
8 hours 34 years

Of course, these are just estimates based on accelerated lab testing. Real-world results will vary depending on factors like content watched, ambient room temperature, and panel variance. But the overall takeaway is that today‘s OLED TV panels are built to last a very long time – likely longer than most people will keep them before upgrading.

It‘s also worth noting that while OLED pixels do degrade over time, they do so in a linear fashion. This means the drop in brightness is very gradual and uniform across the panel. By contrast, LED/LCD panels can suffer from more noticeable issues like dead pixels, backlight bleed, and inconsistent wear that leads to a "mottled" look in dark scenes.

As long as you take some basic precautions with an OLED TV – like avoiding static content and enabling the set‘s built-in pixel refresher function – you can expect it to deliver high-quality performance for many years to come.

Getting the Most Out of Your Sony OLED

Once you bring your new Sony OLED TV home, there are a few things you can do to ensure you‘re getting the best possible picture and making the most of your investment:

  1. Use the right settings: Out of the box, Sony‘s OLEDs are tuned for a bright showroom environment. For the most accurate picture in a home setting, switch to the "Custom" picture preset and adjust settings like brightness, contrast, and color to your liking. Avoid the "Vivid" and "Standard" presets, as these tend to blow out colors and detail.

  2. Feed it high-quality content: While Sony‘s upscaling tech is impressive, native 4K content will always look best on these high-resolution screens. Seek out 4K Blu-rays, video games, and streaming titles to really see what your OLED can do. HDR content in particular will showcase the TV‘s incredible contrast.

  3. Control the room lighting: OLEDs look their best in a moderately dim room. Too much light can wash out the picture and make the screen harder to see. Consider installing blackout shades or curtains if you have a lot of ambient light in your viewing space.

  4. Enable VRR for gaming: If you‘re using your Sony OLED with a PS5, Xbox Series X, or gaming PC, be sure to enable Variable Refresh Rate in the TV‘s settings menu. This will sync the TV‘s refresh rate with the output of your gaming device, eliminating screen tearing and stuttering for smoother gameplay.

  5. Invest in a soundbar or surround system: While Sony‘s Acoustic Surface Audio technology is impressive, a dedicated sound system will still provide a more immersive audio experience. Consider pairing your OLED with a Dolby Atmos soundbar or receiver for theater-like sound to match the incredible picture.

The Bottom Line

Sony‘s OLED TVs represent the pinnacle of home entertainment, with unbeatable picture quality, sleek designs, and cutting-edge features. The company‘s 2023 lineup improves on last year‘s already-impressive models with a more powerful processor, refined design, and gamer-friendly HDMI 2.1 upgrades.

If you‘re in the market for a high-end TV and have the budget to invest in OLED, Sony‘s offerings are well worth considering. The A95L Master Series is the cream of the crop for videophiles, while the A90L and A80L provide excellent picture quality and features at a more accessible price point.

Before buying, consider your specific needs and budget. If you‘re a serious gamer or plan to use the TV in a bright room, one of LG‘s brighter OLED models like the G2 may be a better fit. And if you‘re not as picky about picture quality, you can save a lot of money by going with a high-end LED/LCD set instead.

But if you want the best overall picture quality on the market, it‘s hard to beat a Sony OLED. With perfect blacks, incredible contrast, lifelike colors, and wide viewing angles, these TVs represent the cutting edge of display technology. Treat it well and your Sony OLED will deliver reference-quality performance for years to come.