Sony is no stranger to making TVs that admirably mimic the theater experience (see: the A90J, which has long been our luxury pick for best TV). Perhaps that’s why the company isn’t making sweeping changes to its 2023 television lineup, instead tweaking overall image quality with smart refinements while adding some long overdue upgrades for gamers.
We recently got a chance to go eyes-on with Sony’s 2023 Bravia XR lineup — including the new X95L, X93L, X90L, A95L QD-OLED and A80L OLED — not only getting a preview of how the company’s latest sets improve over last year’s models but also seeing them alongside top competitors from LG and Samsung. And while this might not be an upgrade year for everybody, we were certainly impressed with what we saw.
Wondering if you should bring a 2023 Bravia to your living room when they launch this spring? Here are our early impressions.
Impressive upgrades to Mini LED and OLED
One of the first sets we looked at was the X95L Mini LED, which was playing “The Devil Wears Prada” alongside comparable models from LG and Samsung — as well as a Sony reference monitor that displayed the film in its purest, theater-accurate form. Despite the fact that we were watching a film from 2006, the X95L did a great job upscaling the movie to 4K, making it look crisp and modern, thanks to the upgraded Cognitive Processor XR packed inside. Compared to the LG and Samsung sets, Sony’s Mini LED did a better job preserving certain details, particularly (and oddly enough) when looking at Anne Hathaway’s hair, which seemed more color accurate to the reference monitor than its more saturated rivals.
We also got a look at Sony’s upgraded A95L QD-OLED and A95L OLED, the latter of which builds on much of the same tech we loved on the excellent A90J (OLED TVs generally have deeper blacks and better contrast than a standard LED set). The TV’s advanced new processor allows for both better brightness and contrast, something we glaringly noticed when looking at a new and old OLED model side by side. There was significantly less blooming (when a bright image spills onto a dark background, creating an unpleasant, cloudy effect) on the new model, which led to even starker blacks that should make your favorite weekly TV shows more immersive.
A game-changing new feature — literally
While I was impressed with each of the various Bravia TVs on their own, I’m most excited about this new and long overdue feature: a proper gaming mode. Competing TVs from LG and Samsung have had this feature for years, with the ability to automatically detect your console or PC and offer quick one-button access to settings to easily optimize the look and feel of your games. Now Sony is finally getting in on the fun, complete with a few new tricks of its own.
The Bravia Game Menu is slick, simple and similar to what I’ve seen on recent LG and Samsung TVs, offering settings such as variable refresh rate for keeping modern console and PC games at their smoothest, a Black Equalizer for lighting overly dark scenes and an on-screen crosshair for tighter aim in shooting games. Sony takes things a bit further with its customizable screen size settings, which lets you shrink your game down to a smaller window that doesn’t take up the entire television. This is ideal for competitive gamers — after all, it’s a lot easier to keep tabs on a heated Fortnite or Overwatch match if the action is all within your line of sight and not spread across a huge 65-inch canvas. Similar to Samsung’s TVs, Sony’s new A95L model has a Multi View mode that lets you play content from multiple sources in a single window. This could be handy for, say, playing a game on one half of the screen while watching a YouTube walk-through for it on the other.
Sony’s new Game Menu borrows a lot of the great software features we loved on its Inzone gaming monitors, and should provide an even better plug-and-play experience for those using a Bravia to game on their PS5, Xbox Series X or gaming PC.
New sustainability options and improved smarts
Another key new feature coming to Sony’s new TVs is the Eco Dashboard, which provides a handy one-stop location for activating various energy-saving settings that could help the environment (not to mention your electric bill). This menu lets you toggle things like power saving mode and automatic power-down settings, with a cute illustrated tree that grows bigger as you activate more eco-friendly modes. It’s all part of Sony’s plan to go full carbon neutral by 2040, and while every big brand seems to be pushing big sustainability buzzwords these days, these settings also seem like handy, practical features for helping make sure your TV is only on — and blasting at full brightness — when you actually need it to be.
Of course, all the new features join Sony’s usual smarts, which also happen to be part of the handy Google TV software that powers every set. You can use Google Assistant to control the TVs hands-free as well as connect most of your smart home gadgets — even if they’re from Apple or Amazon. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Sony movies will look best on this Sony TV, with a library of films available on the Bravia Core app that features optimized versions of hits like “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Uncharted.” Better yet, Bravia Core is getting Dolby Atmos support for launch. Finally, every model we saw comes equipped with Acoustic Center Sync technology, which allows your Sony soundbar (yes, only Sony soundbars work with this feature) to work in tandem with your TV speakers to create a surround-like effect — something that proved impressive when we watched James Bond take out a bunch of bad guys in “No Time to Die.”
Sony’s 2023 Bravia TVs are looking as impressive as ever, boasting great picture quality and a handful of new, smart quality-of-life improvements that should make them a welcome addition to any room. The Gaming Menu is a long overdue addition for those who want a TV that’s ideal for their PS5 or Xbox Series X, and the Eco Dashboard seems like a push toward sustainability while helping customers avoid unnecessary power usage.
And though these latest sets seem to offer only marginal updates for anyone who already owns a Bravia, if you’re in the market for a new high-end 4K smart TV, they should be on your radar. Pricing and availability for Sony’s 2023 TVs will be announced this spring — we’ll be putting the new models through their full paces as soon as we get our hands on them, so stay tuned for more.