Sony wants to take picture quality up a notch with the Mini LED

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Sony is expanding its BRAVIA TV lineup for CES 2022 by introducing Mini LED and Quantum Dot OLED TVs for the first time. This is a significant change for the company to introduce more models and expand into the mini LED segment, which is already occupied by players like TCL and Samsung.

move here? Well, Sony’s big bet on the Bravia XR processor — which we did a deep dive into last January — aims to offer killer visuals that don’t mess with how content should look.

The 2022 Bravia TVs will be available for purchase in the spring, and for now, we’re specifically breaking down what’s new with the Mini LED and OLED models. And to better do it, we had an exclusive chat with Tyler Ishida, President of Sony Electronics Inc.’s Consumer Business Group.

“By having more LEDs in your screen, you can increase the brightness and picture quality. This will be the difference between a Mini LED from a normal LED,” says Ishida, explaining the benefits of Mini LED TVs. And to an extent, This is making an LED more like an OLED in that the processor can give more detailed instructions to produce the best picture quality.

As we’ve seen with other Mini LED models, the result is a TV that can be exceptionally bright and quite vibrant. But these TVs can also offer better contrast, as there are more controls for which part of the TV becomes super bright with the LEDs to make up the image.

This is made possible by the XR Backlight Master Drive in Sony’s BRAVIA XR processor, which essentially directs the LEDs and works to reduce bloom – an effect that occurs when on a dark background. A halo forms around the exceptionally bright part of the image.

In the end, these new models are still Sony TVs through and through – in that the BRAVIA XR processor identifies the focal point of any image, in the same vein that the human eye locates the body of an image. The Mini LEDs will ship with a variable refresh rate (which tops out at 120Hz), which should please gamers and live sports fans in particular by making the action as smooth as possible. These TVs will have a Google TV interface, which debuted on Sony TVs with the 2021 line. Regardless of the picture resolution, these will outperform content and offer multiple viewing modes. All Sony 2022 TVs will also support Apple AirPlay 2 out of the box.

Sony’s Mini LED model will come in 4K and 8K models:

  • Z9K 8K Series: 75-inch and 85-inch
  • X95K 4K Series: 65-inch, 75-inch and 85-inch

Sony’s 2021 A90J OLED was quite honestly the best TV we’ve tested—with the most dramatic and accurate visuals all housed in an OLED panel that delivered the best brightness we’ve ever seen. But it’s not cheap, and that’s why it stays on as our luxury pick for TVs. Now Sony promises an even better OLED by adding quantum dots to the mix for a new panel that can be much brighter and offers a better range of colors. This, combined with Sony’s processing technologies, could make the A95K the best TV in the business.

Essentially, this panel can still deliver deep blacks for an impressive contrast level but adds in the qualities of a quantum dot filter and layers for better vibrancy and higher overall brightness. Light is essentially processed and scattered through the quantum dot panel to produce the desired image.

Sony promises that even when the panel is fully engaged, the full spectrum of the desired color will be visible. Sometimes OLED panels can slightly skew white when projecting a bright color, so instead of a whitish orange, this panel can provide pure bright orange as an example.

It all comes together for one panel that should be the best of our current top pick, Sony’s A90J. It’ll also support variable refresh rates – like mini LEDs – to upscale content to 4K, be powered by Google TV, and feature some pretty clean designs. The actual mount for the A95K — Sony’s model name for QD-OLED (Quantum Dot OLED) — will be flat on a surface, protruding with a metal slab flush to the front or back.

Sony’s 2021 A90J isn’t necessarily disappearing and the A90K is becoming the Master Series. There’s a catch here that the A90K is only coming in 42-inch and 48-inch models, which could make it the perfect small OLED or more likely a perfect choice for gamers. It should also perform exactly the same as the A90J, which means it’s great.

The same panel is turning into Sony’s entry-level OLED A80K, available in 55-inch, 65-inch and 77-inch models. It will use essentially the same panel and processor as the A90J but lack the Master Series fine-tuning. It’s a classic example of turning more expensive technologies into more affordable models.

“We really chose to bring the great elements of the A90J to the A80K this year, to give more viewers the Sony TV experience,” explains Ishida. This is a big change for a TV brand that usually only operates in the premium space. And while Sony is yet to share prices for the A80K model, we speculate that it will be a competitive offering.

  • A95K 4K QD-OLED: 55-inch and 65-inch
  • A90K 4K OLED: 42-inch and 48-inch
  • A80K 4K OLED: 55-inch, 65-inch and 77-inch

Sony’s premium offerings, including OLED and Mini LED, feature an improved remote that’s not only smaller but also has built-in finder functionality so you can ping the remote in case you lose it. It’s the same way that a Bluetooth item tracker — like an AirTag — works, and Ishida even notes that she’s “so surprised we haven’t done this in the past,” as it allows users to track their data. It has a really useful quality of improving life.

It’s clear that Sony wants to offer more options this year, especially with the introduction of Mini LED alongside OLED. An OLED can provide an immersive experience in a dark room because the panel may not be as bright as a traditional LED panel. And a mini LED TV will probably work better in a room with windows that tend to be brighter because it can be super vibrant. Of course, pricing will be a major factor in terms of determining what these TVs are for, and we’ll get to that info later this year.

We also asked Ishida why anyone should consider a Sony TV – Mini LED, OLED or LED – over the competition. The main reason would be how these TVs process an image. Ishida noted that the company’s BRAVIA XR processor “makes a difference and that’s where we’re going to continue to focus.” The combination of Sony’s historical knowledge and ability to work with other divisions – like Sony Pictures – helps the brand to create an image that respects the manufacturer’s intent and can immerse an audience.

We look forward to joining hands with Sony’s new lineup, especially to see QD-OLEDs and Mini LEDs side by side. Sony’s X95K 4K Mini LED is a finalist in our TV category for the best new controls with this panel type for CES 2022. We’re naming the A95K QD-OLED a finalist for new panel technology and the A80K as a finalist to deliver the top-rated A90J’s features to an expectedly more accessible price point. We’ll share our full finalists later this week, ahead of the top picks in each category.

Stay tuned for insightful and complete reviews of all of Sony’s 2022 Bravia TVs, and click here to see our thoughts on the new Bravia Cam accessory for Sony’s 2022 TVs.

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