Sony XR-55A95L – Design
The new QD-OLED TV in the Sony line-up leaves last year’s remarkable ‘slate’ design behind. No longer a base plate that is as wide as the entire screen, but simply two dark silver metal feet on the left and right.
They have the characteristic bend in the foot that is characteristic of the 2023 designs. The whole thing is also noticeably lighter; the 55A95K weighed 21kg without base and 31kg with. The new 55A95L weighs only 17kg without base and 19kg with. You also notice this in the profile: the device has become one centimeter slimmer.
The finish is top-notch. The back still has that nice square pattern and the screen has a dark silver metal frame, which is no more than a line at the front. The feet can be mounted in two positions, a normal low position and a higher position for use with a soundbar.
Sony XR-55A95L – Connections
The Sony XR-55A95L uses a new chipset, but we must disappoint anyone who hoped for four HDMI 2.1 connections. The A95L still only has two. They deliver 48Gbps bandwidth and support the following HDMI 2.1 features: ARC/eARC, ALLM, 4K120, and VRR support. There are, of course, also two HDMI 2.0 ports. As on previous models, you must choose one of three options in Transmitters and Inputs / External Inputs / HDMI signal format. The first (default) is for compatibility with older systems. The second (Improved) is for more recent devices. Both modes offer Dolby Vision but not 4K120. The latest mode (improved 4K120) offers 4K120 and VRR (can be set separately) but no Dolby Vision. These exclusions are not explained in the explanation, so do not choose the 4K120 setting if you do not need it.
There are also two USB ports, but this model does not have a composite video connection. The optical digital audio output uses a mini-TOSLINK port, not the more common TOSLINK port. It is shared with the S-center connection for Sony soundbars. Finally, you will also find a few speaker connections, which allow you to connect the television directly to the center channel of an AV receiver. All connections are on the left, and all point to the side, so you won’t have any problems with wall mounting.
Ease of use and smart TV
This Sony uses the new Mediatak Pentonic chipset. In Aida64, we recognize it as the mt5897. It has a quad-core ARM Cortex-A73 CPU, 6GB RAM, and the Mali-G57 GPU. The smart TV system is Google TV (based on Android 12 under the hood). The interface responds smoothly, and apps open quickly, so there are no complaints. The Google TV part is unchanged compared to other models.
You can install the TV as ‘Basic TV’, intended only to use live TV and the HDMI inputs, even if some basic apps are installed. However, as soon as they require an update, you still have to log in with a Google account. If you opt for the full Google TV experience, you will receive an environment with many recommendations arranged by genres that Google believes suit you.
There are clear changes in the settings. Anyone who selects image and sound now enters a separate menu with a tab for image and sound, one for the audio output, and one for the Ambient Optimization Pro (light sensor functions and audio calibration). Finally, there is also an Expert Settings where you can initiate a screen refresh (if you suspect there is image retention).
Another change: in the image settings, you choose a content type and then a corresponding image mode. The previous picture modes can now be chosen when you select ‘video and images,’ while the game mode offers ‘standard,’ ‘FPS,’ or ‘RTS.’ There is also a specific mode for PCs.
The existing quick menu for settings still appears at the bottom of the screen, and you can adjust it yourself. Yet another menu gives you access to functions such as number and color keys. The input menu that also appears at the bottom of the screen not only contains external connections but also apps. It takes some getting used to finding your way around all those different menus, and it does not improve the uniformity of the experience.
Sony supplies one of the nicest remotes. It is compact, pleasant to use, and easy to clean. The keys are illuminated and activate when you pick up the remote. The touch is very nice and feels precise. If you want to record searches, you can do so with the built-in microphone. The TV itself also has a microphone, which you can switch off with a button that you will find near the connections.
What does take some getting used to are the three different ‘menu’ keys. At the top right (key) opens the quick menu for settings; below it, the ‘menu’ key opens the extra function menu (for example, for the number keys). Below the volume key is the key for the Google TV menu (gear). The remote also has six shortcuts for apps: Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Bravia Core, YouTube and Crunchyroll.
The XR-55A95L has a double TV tuner for digital TV (DVB-T2/C/S2) but only has one CI+ slot. Watching and recording another channel simultaneously is, therefore, only possible with channels that are not encrypted. In addition to Chromecast, you can also use Apple Airplay 2. The TV is also compatible with Apple Homekit. Sony has provided an excellent media player that knows how to handle all major video and sound formats. Bravia Core, Sony’s exclusive streaming service, remains available.
The XR-55A95L comes with the Bravia Cam in the box; you click it at the top of the screen. It can be used as a webcam with Google Duo, but it also has other functions. Are you concerned about your privacy? The camera has a slider that allows you to slide a cover in front of the lens. But what else can he do? It adjusts image and sound based on your seat, which does not always seem desirable to us, and the effect is not great. The option for gesture control does not seem to be a great asset to us; it is still a difficult way to operate a TV. The last two functions are indeed valid. If you have children at home, the camera can warn if they are too close (less than 1m) to the screen. To minimize consumption, the camera can turn off the TV when it detects that no one is in front of the screen, with an adjustable waiting time.
Sony XR-55A95L – Image processing
The XR-55A95L is equipped with the Cognitive Processor XR. But now that a new chipset has been used, we are checking whether you can expect the same excellent results to a large extent that is true. The upscaling is excellent, and you get a very nice image from all sources. With Reality Creation, you can slightly accentuate the detailed image if desired. The light sensor (Ambient Optimization Pro) adjusts brightness, tint curve and color temperature, but you can disable each of those options separately. For example, we prefer to switch off color temperature. The noise suppression in the lowest setting produces less effect than last year, if you have a source with a lot of noise, the ‘middle’ setting is a better choice. It still removes blockage caused by MPEG compression well. And for color bands in soft gradients, the ‘Smooth Gradation’ setting in the lowest setting continues to do a fine job, and only the most severe cases cannot be completely erased. You can then consider the ‘middle’ position, but that clearly costs detail. The deinterlacing showed a jagged edge a bit more easily on some test patterns. This may be visible on live TV content (1080i), in almost horizontal lines/edges. Finally, it appears that the TV may lose some color in very fine vertical detail, which was visible on test patterns. None of those problems were clearly visible with regular footage. Rather, these are small details that Sony can hopefully eliminate with later software updates.
The QD-OLED panel has a very fast response time, so the motion sharpness is very good. Somewhat surprisingly, we still see the same motion problems. Horizontal text tickers may jerk slightly as they slide across the screen. In very fast camera movements, many image errors regularly remain visible when you activate motion flow. We thought for a long time that this was due to the chipset, but now it seems to be due to the Sony algorithm. There is good news for movie lovers. Sony has split the motion flow setting between film (24fps) material and video (50/60fps), for example, sports material. You can activate the motion interpolation for both separately. This way, you can achieve maximum smooth images in sports while keeping the original frame rate for film. ‘MotionFlow / Brightness’ is a ‘black frame insertion’ (BFI) technique, but unfortunately, it works at 60Hz and then introduces visible flicker in the image. Leave it off; the gain in detail is too small.
|Image||Color||Sharpness / Movement|
|Picture Mode: Professional
Auto Picture Mode: Off
Ambient Optimization Pro: On / Off Brightness: Max
HDR Tone Mapping: Gradation
Black Level: 50
Black Adjust: Off
Advanced Contrast optimization: Off/low
Peak lighting: Center
Color Tint: 0
Color Temperature: Expert 1
Live Colour: Off
|Image Sharpness: 50
Reality Creation: Auto
Random Noise Reduction: Low
Digital Noise Reduction: Low
Smooth Gradation: Low MotionFlow: Auto, or User
Smoothness(film) 1-3, Smoothness(camera) 2-3, Brightness: Low.
Movie Mode: High
Sony XR-55A95L – Image quality
The Sony XR-55A95L is equipped with the latest QD-OLED panel. Our test model had excellent uniformity, which was almost perfect, especially in clear images. Light vertical bands were visible in dark test images, but they were invisible in normal dark image content.
QD-OLED uses a sub-pixel distribution in a triangular pattern. On a black background, white objects may have a fine (1 subpixel high) colored edge (green above, magenta below). This may be something to pay attention to if you want to use the TV as a monitor for your PC and you sit very close to the screen. This effect is unnoticeable during normal TV viewing.
The most accurate image mode is now the ‘Professional’ image preset (of course, if you choose Video and Images as content type). The former ‘custom’ image mode has disappeared. The Professional picture mode is very dark, and even with brightness at maximum, it only reached about 120 nits, which is intended for viewing in a blackout. The ‘Busy Lighting’ is turned off, but you can activate it to get more light from the TV in this picture mode.
The results are excellent. The gray scale is neutral. And although it leans slightly towards magenta in the brightest shades, we saw no adverse effects on the color reproduction. The black of the QD-OLED panel provides excellent contrast and tactile depth. The black detail is slightly darker than desired, but more than enough nuance remains visible.
Sony XR-55A95L – HDR
Time to push the new panel to its limits. We select the Professional image mode, the 10% window, then deliver a peak brightness of 1,340 nits. The completely white field still delivers 275 nits. These are very good results and an average improvement of 41% compared to last year. It is almost 10% brighter than the Samsung 65S95C. It is 5% behind the LG 65G3, except on the all-white field, where it beats the G3 by 25%.
The color range is impressive; we note just under 100% P3 (99.97% if you want exact figures). And thanks to the ample brightness, this also provides a very large color volume. We expect beautiful HDR images.
Sony supports Dolby Vision but not HDR10+. However, it has long used its dynamic tone mapping for HDR10, mainly trying to preserve the intention of the image. That still works great. HDR10 images have very good black detail, beautiful color reproduction, and almost all white detail. Only images mastered at 4,000 nits or higher experience some loss of white detail. We didn’t find that disturbing at all. The TV delivers slightly more color intensity in bright tones than last year’s model.
Sony XR-55A95L – Gaming, Reflections, and Viewing Angles
The viewing angle of the QD-OLED screen is almost perfect; both color and contrast are excellently preserved. The screen does not seem to handle reflections significantly better compared to last year’s model. Please note that direct, strong light can affect the contrast.
Gamers might have hoped for a few extra features with the arrival of the Mediatek Pentonic chipset, such as more HDMI 2.1 ports or combining 4K120 and Dolby Vision. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The chipset can handle 4K120 Dolby Vision, but this must be done via a firmware update. Sony told us that the software will not be released until 2024 at the earliest, but there is no more exact date. When tested, the TV was NVIDIA G-Sync Compatible for VRR. The input lag occurred at 17.3ms (4K60) and 8.8ms (2K120). It’s not bad, but a few ms slower than the competitors. For games, now choose the content type Game, the Standard image mode, then offers the best image. You can then further adjust things via the Game menu. If you have multiple 4K120 gaming sources and want a soundbar, you can only connect one gaming source to the TV because ARC/eARC is on an HDMI 2.1 port.
Sony XR-55A95L – Sound quality
For OLED models, Sony continues to opt for the Acoustic Surface solution in which the screen acts as a speaker membrane. The configuration is similar to last year’s, with two 20W actuators and 2x 10W additional woofers for bass reproduction. It is a proven setup that also delivers great results on this model. The most important advantage, the sound comes straight from the screen to you. That increases the feeling of authenticity; dialogues come from the people on the screen. But the surround effect is also excellent, and the audio can move clearly across the screen. The sound is excellent; there are many volumes and a nice bass. In addition to Dolby Atmos, Sony now supports DTS in all its variants, including DTS: X. A short calibration can adjust the music to the room acoustics.
Sony XR-55A95L – Conclusion
This Sony QD-OLED TV has a lot to offer you a beautiful picture. The new panel delivers very high peak brightness, enormous color volume, and, of course, excellent black and many nuances. However, we also note negative points. For the time being, we will have to wait for the combination of 4K120 and Dolby Vision, but that will be resolved via a software update. QD-OLED is still sensitive to strong incident light that can affect the black value. And only two HDMI 2.1 ports on a top model, which is a shame. Although we have minor comments here and there with the image processing, we do not consider them to be real negatives.
The Sony XR-55A95L delivers beautiful image quality, from flashy games to picturesque movies. The well-calibrated Professional image mode also guarantees that you not only enjoy it optimally but also see what the makers had in mind. The beautiful design hides the Acoustic Surface that delivers very pleasant audio, and the TV now supports both Dolby Atmos and DTS: X. The handy remote and smooth operation of Google TV give this top model a suitable user experience. However, the price seems excessive; competitors Samsung ( S95C ) or LG ( G3 ) are considerably cheaper. Even Panasonic ( LZW2004 ), traditionally more expensive, is considerably cheaper.
- Very high peak brightness and very wide color range
- Deep black with lots of shadow nuance
- Nearly perfect viewing angle
- Very good image processing
- Good movement sharpness
- Attractive sound from a relatively slim design
- Handy remote and Google TV
- HDMI 2.1 met gaming features
- Strong incident light has an impact on the black level
- Only two HDMI 2.1 connections
- A mandatory choice between Dolby Vision and 4K120 via HDMI