Sony A95K TV Review: Is QD-OLED the Expected Slap?

Sony is one of the first players to enter the QD-OLED TV segment. The development is there, but is still insufficient on this first generation, to turn its back on OLED.

In 2022, the TV market welcomes another development: QD-OLED. This technology presents itself as a breakthrough in OLED technology, which very quickly reached its glass ceiling (very, very high, it must be admitted). At the back we do not find LG, but Samsung, which has long ago turned its back on OLED to maximize the potential of LCD. With QD-OLED, the Korean company wants above all to tackle the biggest flaw of OLED: the lack of brightness.

Paradoxically, Samsung had Sony formalize the marketing of a first QD-OLED television: the A95K model, available in two sizes (55 and 65 inches). We expect a pure revolution in our living room, given the ambitions behind the technology. What is it really?

One foot (very wide), two options

Beware of inflation

New technology commits, the price of the A95K is very high: count € 3,000 for the 55-inch version when the LG C2 in a similar size launches below the € 2,000 mark.

Sony has known how to make beautiful televisions since the dawn of time. And since the A95K is the multinational’s new flagship, the small dishes are put in the big ones. In terms of finish, there is absolutely nothing to say except to pay tribute to the quality of the materials, the finesse of the frame and the numerous covers on the back to hide connectors and cables. The A95K is not the thinnest OLED TV, but it is naturally elegant. Whatever it means, the picture is.

On the other hand, you need to relate to the foot, which can be very restrictive depending on your furniture. Weighted (and also very heavy) is the width of the entire TV, which requires at least as wide furniture. The foot can be screwed in two positions: it can protrude behind or in front as desired. In both cases, the screen is tilted slightly backwards – like so many other Sony TVs. The result is a monolithic look that gives the impression that the screen is placed directly on the furniture. It is special.

Another flaw of this design: forget the association with a soundbar placed in front, it would hide the bottom of the television. We also see a way for Sony to highlight the Acoustic Surface technology (which vibrates the plate for a sound reproduction, it’s true, more consistent).

Sony puts two remotes in the packaging: a classic and a much more modern one (with fewer keys). It is the second one we prefer, simply because it offers a very convenient backlight (it is activated when you take the remote control).

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

The most beautiful OLED image

When the QD-OLED innovation was presented, we were promised a brightness never seen before for an OLED panel: 1,500 nits, ie. an effect worthy of the best LCDs and a number that is likely to erase the biggest flaw in technology (which will exceed 1000 nits). Reality does not quite live up to this fantasy. Yes, the image of the A95K is brighter than conventional OLED competitors (including the LG C2, this year’s benchmark). But there is also no gap with this first generation. At least burying the OLED is not enough. According to measurements by Sylvain Pichot, TV specialist at Frandroid, the A95K is approaching 1,000 nits in usable modes, still giving Sony plenty of room to maneuver to reach the targeted 1,500 nits.

The purest reproduction

In addition to these technical considerations, which can disappoint purists, you should not sulk your pleasure. Granted, the A95K is not the brightest TV on the market. But it provides the purest reproduction, especially in terms of color reproduction, which is even more comprehensive. It owes this quality to the way a QD-OLED TV is assembled, which replaces the RGB filters (red, green, blue) on conventional OLED panels with nanoparticles responsible for producing colors from blue light. This development not only makes it possible to offer a more varied palette, but also a fairer one. Brilliant red, really white white, green that does not become fluorescent … The visual spectacle is there, supported by blacks of abyss.

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

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

The Wimbledon game

beIN Sports does not broadcast Wimbledon in 4K, it is the quality of the upscaling that interests us with this sports program. That’s unbelievably accurate. The algorithms used by Sony, articulated around an artificial intelligence, make it possible to produce an image with a nice model, without necessarily exaggerating it (no cropping). The result is a striking depth with this impression of being with the players.

As a bonus, the fluidity unit is there: The motion compensation motor 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 cluster of pixels. And when we talked about the recovery of the whites, the player jerseys stand out with incomparable brilliance, especially in relation to the green on the grass.

Unknown in 4K HDR

Uncharted is far from being the film of the year, let alone the film adaptation of the century. However, it is something of a sight in 4K HDR. With this blockbuster of video games, the A95K truly delivers its full potential. First, there is the huge amount of detail and the perfect flat shades. Above all, there is the way in which the light sources shine brightly (flames in dark surroundings, lamps in interiors, etc.). There we fully feel the small gain in brightness, which makes it possible to support the contrasts even more, by highlighting the light elements in relation to the dark areas. We challenge you to find an image closer to perfection. We also launched blade runner 2049with the same observation: the neon mood of the sticky streets of Los Angeles fascinates.

tati_gabrielle_uncharted
Tati Gabrielle and Uncharted. // Source: Sony / Playstation / Columbia

Note that the A95K is compatible with the Dolby Vision format (prevalent on SVOD platforms like Disney + and Netflix), but not HDR10 + (yet supported by … Samsung, panel vendor).

The Video Game (Xbox Series X)

The A95K is obviously a TV certified for PlayStation 5 (a badge that doesn’t really matter much). It has two HDMI 2.1 ports (why not 4 as on LG models?), Compatible with all gaming functions (VRR, automatic latency mode, 4K at 120 fps). Be careful, oddly enough, you will have to choose between VRR or Dolby Vision when connecting an Xbox Series X (advice: favor VRR, which improves fluidity).

An exhibition game as it is Forza Horizon 5, will of course rely on the tremendous qualities of the A95K to impress (again, the gain in brightness is good). For his part the flamboyant Head, festival of details and colors, looks even more like a cartoon. And there is nothing to worry about latency, measured below 20ms.

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

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

Google TV to serve you

Sony TV has been moving to Google TV for several months and the change has been good for the overall usability. Introduced on the latest version of Chromecast, Google TV has replaced Android TV to offer a clearer and simpler ecosystem. We find a system with more or less relevant recommendations depending on its consumption of content. In terms of applications, there is everything in the Play Store: MyCanal, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Disney + … The Bravia Core platform is exclusive to Sony a real plus for the users, provided they have a good internet connection. (115 Mb / s for optimal quality).

The parameters available from a menu displayed at the bottom would still benefit from being displayed more clearly. Sony tends to spread across tabs and sub-tabs in the service for somewhat obscure features.

The two remotes that come with the Sony A95K TV
The camera that comes with the 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. What is it for? At the moment it is not very useful. But future updates will add interesting features, such as brightness that automatically drops if no one is detected, or motion controls.

The verdict

Those who expected a revolution with QD-OLED may be a little unhappy. For this first generation, Sony offers an almost flawless television. However, the promised gain in brightness compared to conventional OLED models is far from amazing. The power tickles 1,000 nits, but remains below LCD competitors who have made it a (real) strength.
After this little disappointment, this A95K copy is nothing more or less than Sony’s flagship for the year 2022, with the most beautiful OLED image available to date, a sober and premium design and advanced features inherited from GoogleTV. LG’s C2, simple OLED, maintains our preference for a question of price: Today, QD-OLED imposes an inflation of more than € 1,000, which is not justified by the few improvements observed in visual reproduction (colors, brightness, HDR …).

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