Sony A95K TV review: Is QD-OLED the smack expected?

Sony is one of the first players to enter the QD-OLED TV segment. The advances are there, but they remain insufficient on this first generation, to turn your back on OLED.

In 2022, the TV market welcomes another development: QD-OLED. This technology presents itself as an advance in OLED technology, which very quickly reached its glass ceiling (very, very high, it must be accepted). In the back, we find not LG, but Samsung, which has long turned its back on OLED to maximize the potential of LCD. With QD-OLED, the Korean company above all wants to address OLED’s biggest drawback: the lack of brightness.

Ironically, Samsung allowed Sony to formalize the marketing of its first QD-OLED TV: the A95K, available in two sizes (55 and 65 inches). We anticipate a pure revolution in our living room, given the ambitions behind the technology. What is it actually?

One foot (very wide), two possibilities

Watch out for inflation

New technology obligates, the price of the A95K is very high: count 3,000 euros for the 55-inch version, when the LG C2 launches in an equivalent size of less than 2,000 euros.

Sony has known how to make beautiful TVs since the dawn of time. And since the A95K is the new flagship of multinational corporations, the small bowls have been put into the big bowls. In terms of finishes, there’s absolutely nothing to be said for it, except to salute the quality of the materials, the craftsmanship of the frame, and the numerous covers at the back to hide connectors and cables. The A95K isn’t the thinnest OLED TV, but it’s downright elegant. Anyway, what matters is the image.

On the other hand, you have to deal with the foot, which can be very restrictive depending on your furniture. It represents the total width of the TV, weighted (and also very heavy), that requires a piece of furniture of at least the same width. The foot can be stretched in two positions: it can be raised from the back or from the front, as desired. Either way, the screen is tilted a little back – like many other Sony TVs. The result is a homogeneous look that gives the impression that the screen is placed directly on the furniture. It is special.

Another drawback of this design: forget about the association with a bar speaker placed in the front, it will hide the lower part of the TV. We also see how Sony highlights its Acoustic Surface technology (which vibrates the tablet to deliver, right, more consistent sound).

Sony puts two remote controls in the package: a classic and a more modern one (with fewer keys). It’s the second we like, because it offers a very practical backlight (it’s activated when you take the remote).

The two remote controls that came with the Sony A95K TV // Source: Maxime Claudel for Numerama

The most beautiful OLED picture

When the QD-OLED innovation was introduced, we got a promise of luminosity like never before in an OLED panel: 1,500 nits, a power worthy of the best LCD displays and a character likely to erase the technology’s biggest flaw (which exceeds 1,000 nits). Reality does not live up to this fantasy. Yes, the image offered by the A95K is much brighter than traditional OLED competitors (including the LG C2, this year’s reference). But there is no gap either with this first generation. At least, burying OLED is not enough. According to measurements by Sylvain Pichot, Frandroid’s TV specialist, the A95K is close to 1,000 nits in usable modes, leaving Sony plenty of wiggle room to reach the 1,500 nits target.

purest rendering

Far from such technical considerations that may disappoint purists, you should not indulge your happiness. The A95K is definitely not the brightest TV on the market. But it offers the purest rendering, particularly in terms of color reproduction, and is more comprehensive. This quality is thanks to the way the QD-OLED TV is assembled, which replaces the RGB (red, green, and blue) filters of traditional OLED panels with nanoparticles responsible for producing colors from blue light. This development not only makes it possible to present a more diverse palette, but also to present a fairer color palette. Brilliant reds, really whites, and greens that don’t turn fluorescent… The visual scene is there, bolstered by blacks with poor depth.

To properly test the TV, we devoured a tennis match (Wimbledon, via beIN Sports), played video games (Xbox Series X) and watched the movie. Unknown (4K HDR, with a Bravia Core platform that promises UHD Blu-ray worthy quality).

Sony QD-OLED TV A95K
Sony QD-OLED TV A95K // Source: Sony

Wimbledon match

beIN Sports does not broadcast Wimbledon in 4K, the quality of the upgrade is what matters to us in this sports programme. It’s mind-bogglingly accurate. The algorithms Sony uses, which are centered on artificial intelligence, allow an image to be produced with a beautiful model, without necessarily overdoing it (without overshoot). The result is astonishing depth, with that impression of being next to the players.

As a bonus, the liquidity is there: the movement compensation engine is among the most efficient – and above all, natural – on the market. Thanks to him, the tennis ball moves from one side of the court to the other without looking like a bunch of pixels. And since we were talking about the response of the white team, the shirts of the players stand out with incomparable brilliance, especially in comparison with the green grass.

Uncharted in 4K HDR

Unknown Far from being the film of the year, let alone the adaptation of the century. However, it is a gorgeous sight in 4K HDR. With this blockbuster video game, the A95K truly delivers its full potential. First, there’s a massive amount of detail and perfect flat tints. Above all, there is the way light sources shine brightly (flames in dark environments, lamps indoors, etc.). There, we quite feel the slight gain in brightness, which makes it possible to support the contrasts even more, by highlighting the light elements compared to the dark areas. We challenge you to find a picture that is closer to perfection. We also launched Blade Runner 2049with the same note: the neon atmosphere on the sticky streets of Los Angeles captivates.

tati_gabrielle_uncharted
Tati Gabriel in the movie Uncharted. // Source: Sony / PlayStation / Colombia

Note that the A95K is compatible with Dolby Vision (widespread on SVOD platforms such as Disney+ and Netflix), but not HDR10+ (so far supported by… Samsung, the panel supplier).

Video game (Xbox Series X)

The A95K is clearly a PlayStation 5 certified TV (a badge doesn’t really mean much). It has two HDMI 2.1 ports (why don’t you like 4 on LG models?), compatible with all gaming features (VRR, auto latency mode, 4K at 120 fps). Be warned, you’ll oddly have to choose between VRR or Dolby Vision when plugging in your Xbox Series X (Tip: prefer VRR, which improves fluidity).

A show game, as is Forza Horizon 5It’ll obviously rely on the awesome qualities of the A95K to impress you (again, the increase in brightness is good). For his part, the illustrious Cuphead, a festival of details and colors, much like a cartoon. And you don’t have to worry about response time, which is measured at less than 20 milliseconds.

The A95K lacks only one thing to be a more complete gaming TV: a custom interface when a controller is detected, as is the case with Samsung and LG.

Sony QD-OLED TV A95K
Sony QD-OLED TV A95K // Source: Sony

Google TV at your service

Sony TVs have migrated to Google TV for several months, and the change has been good for overall ease of use. Introduced in the latest version of Chromecast, Google TV has replaced Android TV to offer a clearer and simpler ecosystem. We find a system of more or less relevant recommendations depending on their content consumption. In terms of applications, there is everything in the Play Store: MyCanal, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Disney + … Exclusive to Sony, the Bravia Core platform is a real advantage for users, provided they have a good Internet connection. (115 MB/s for optimum quality).

The parameters, which can be accessed from the menu that appears at the bottom, will benefit from their more clear display. Sony tends to get scattered about tabs and sub-tabs in serving somewhat obscure features.

The two remote controls that come with the Sony A95K TV
Camera with Sony A95K TV // Source: Maxime Claudel for Numerama

In the box there is also a camera that can be placed on top of the A95K. Why this ? At the moment, it is not very useful. But future updates will add interesting features, such as brightness that decreases automatically if no one is detected, or gesture controls.

judgment

Those who anticipated a revolution with QD-OLED may be left a little unsatisfied. For this first generation, Sony offers an almost flawless TV. However, the promised increase in brightness compared to traditional OLED models is far from amazing. The power tickles 1,000 lumens, but it’s still less than LCD competitors who made it a (real) powerhouse.
After this slight disappointment, this sample A95K is nothing more or less than Sony’s flagship of 2022, with the most beautiful OLED picture available yet, a discreet and premium design, and advanced features inherited from Google TV. LG’s C2, simple OLED, maintains our preference for the question of price: today QD-OLED commands inflation of more than 1000 euros, which is not justified by the few improvements observed in the visual display (colours, brightness, HDR …).

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