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Updated: 20 Apr 2022

How to buy the best Sony TV

We see what's in store for Sony's latest range of OLED and LCD TVs, and demystify the marketing lingo so you know your Bravia XR processor from your X-Reality Pro
Martin Pratt
Sony A95K QD-OLED TV on plinth in living room displaying crystals

Sony's annual line-up for 2022 is here and it's filled with cutting-edge 4K, 8K LCD and OLED TVs complete with striking, understated designs and interesting technology.

CES (Consumer Electronics Show), held in Las Vegas in January, is where Sony reveals new high-end TVs – usually its flagship OLED and LCD sets in both 4K and 8K resolution. It releases plenty of cheaper models too, though, usually in the spring.

Here, we cover the different ranges that make up Sony's line-up and look at the technology in them, to help you pick a TV with the features you want.

To find out our verdict on all the models we've tested, go our expert Sony TV reviews

Sony's 2022 TV range overview

Sony released more information that its rival brands at the start of 2022, so we already have a good overview of most of the ranges we'll see in the year to come. We'll expect to see them on shop shelves and available to buy online in the spring

In the meantime, if you can still see plenty of 2021 Sony stock available, or if you're thinking of buying a 2021 model second-hand, skip to our expert take on Sony's 2021 TV range.

Sony A95K Master Series QD-OLED TVs

Sony A95K OLED with front facing flat base, screen displaying crystals

QD-OLED is a bit of a mouthful. It stands for quantum dot organic light emitting diode, which basically means Sony has crammed bits we normally see in a backlit TV into a non-backlit TV. 

OLEDs are known for their strengths – namely excellent motion control, superior contrast and perfect blacks. But there are weaknesses, too. Backlit TVs tend to be brighter, since there’s a literal layer of bulbs behind the colour-producing layer of the screen, and quantum dots are known to produce vibrant colours. 

Manufacturers have tried various ways of boosting the colour on non-backlit OLED TVs, such as adding extra colour-producing layers – most notably a white one that helps to improve HDR (high-dynamic range) pictures. The problem with all these filters is that they affect the brightness. 

To get around this, the A95K is using one layer of quantum dots instead of several different colour layers. Passing the light through fewer layers should mean the A95Ks retain more brightness and more vibrant colours. 

Sony reckons this tech could boost OLED brightness by up to 200%. It’s a fascinating idea and it could make Sony’s OLEDs the ones to beat in 2022. 

The A95K OLEDs will be available in 55 and 65-inch sizes.

Want to know which TVs we recommend right now, for a range of budgets? See our expert pick of the best TVs.

Sony A90K Master Series OLED TVs

Sony A90K Master Series 4K OLED TV

No quantum dots here, but there’s still something to get excited about with Sony’s other Master Series range: the sizes. 

Both the A90K models are small by Sony standards, with a 42 and 48-inch model. It’s the first time Sony has made such a small OLED. 43-inch TVs are still some of the most popular, in the UK at least. So those of you who don’t have the space or the desire for a big TV finally have a high-end OLED option (or two) to choose from. 

The Bravia XR processor that debuted in Sony’s 2021 OLED is powering the range this year, too. It uses cognitive intelligence to better understand how we all watch TV and adjusts the picture and sound accordingly.

Sony A80K OLED TVs

These will be Sony's lowest-priced OLEDs for 2022, but they still use the Bravia XR processor to power them. 

They have the Acoustic Surface Audio+, too, so you should get a real sense of where the sound is coming from on the screen. The greater specificity should make for more engaging audio.

On paper there doesn't appear to be much to pick between the A80K and A90K ranges, but our testing will find any differences in quality.

There will be a 55, 65 and 77-inch model to choose from.

Sony X95K Mini LED TVs

Sony X95K Mini LED 4K TV mounted in sunlit room

Sony isn’t done with backlit TVs, but it is changing the backlight. Generally, the more lights you have in the backlight, the better the contrast will be and the more control the TV will have over what parts of the screen are lit.

By making the LEDs as small as possible, Sony will be able to cram more of them in. The X95Ks use the same XR processor as the Master Series OLEDs. They also incorporate the XR Backlight Master Drive to create higher points of brightness and crisper, darker blacks. 

Sony’s backlit TVs haven’t reached the highs of its OLEDs in our tests lately, so hopefully the Mini LED models mark a change in fortune. There is a downside, though, and it’s the sizes this range comes in: there’s nothing smaller than 65 inches.

Sony X90K LCD TVs

The X90K models don't have mini LEDs like the X95Ks, but with the full array backlight sitting behind the screen it should still have good control over brightness and contrast.

It uses Acoustic Multi-Audio, which is a fancy way of saying there's some speakers in the frame of the TV to make sound seem to come from different points on the screen. 

Mini LED Z95K aside, this should be Sony's best backlit TV for 2022, so we have high hopes.

The smallest option is a pretty hefty 55 inches and there's a 65, 75 and 85-inch option, too.

Sony X80K LCD TVs

The entry-level Sonys use Google TV, so should feel the same as using one of the Master Series OLEDs. The remote is different, though – more expensive Sonys get the 'premium remote' with 'simplified buttons'. It could be similar to the Samsung One Remote that has fewer buttons, most of which are multi-use. 

It uses an older processor, too, so is unlikely to have the sharpness or contrast control of more expensive models. But low-end TVs are still popular, and Sony would be remiss to not focus much of its effort into making the most of cheaper components and crafting a TV people want to buy.

The X80K is available in a wide range of sizes: 43, 50, 55, 65 and 75 inches.

We put hundreds of TVs every year through our tough, independent lab tests. Make sure you buy the best for your budget, and avoid the worst – see our expert TV reviews.

Sony TV technology explained

With so many ranges at so many different prices, it will come as no surprise that not all Sony's TVs have the same technology. Here we run down the kind of tech and features you'll find on Sony sets.

Acoustic Surface Audio

This technology debuted with the A1 OLED from 2017 and Sony has adapted it gradually in the years since. The acoustic surface is actually the screen, which vibrates to create the sound. Most TVs have down-firing speakers, but by vibrating the screen Sony's speakers create more positional sound, which comes from the screen rather than below it.

Sony takes this tech a step further on its high-end models. Tweeters (high-tone speakers) vibrate the frame and Sony says this gives even more control of where the sound comes from. If a character is talking, the sound should come from their mouth; likewise, a bird squawking across the screen should be tracked the whole way by the vibrating audio.

You'll only find this technology in Sony's OLED and high-end LCD models.

Bravia Cam

Sony Bravia Cam mounted on top of a TV

Manufacturers have put cameras in TVs before and it didn’t go down too well, but Sony has made the wise decision of making the Bravia Cam optional. 

It sits on top of your TV and optimises the picture and sound based on where you’re sitting. You can also use it to make video calls and control aspects of the TV with gestures. It sends an alert if someone is too close to the TV (no more square eyes for children) and will automatically dim the screen to save power if no one is watching. 

Privacy was always the bugbear with these cameras, as people didn’t like to feel watched while they were watching, so there’s a cover for the lens if you want more privacy.

Bravia XR processor

In 2022, Sony's OLED and high-end LCD ranges will be powered by the Bravia XR processor, which brings a significant new feature: cognitive intelligence. 

Cognitive intelligence is a fancy way of saying the TV learns and behaves a bit more like a person. Don’t worry, the five new ranges aren’t anthropomorphic; your TV won’t suddenly start acting like HAL 9000 and try to engage you in conversation. It’s more that the TVs understand what people focus on when they’re watching, and make those portions of the screen look as good as possible. 

Multiple streams of data are analysed and cross-analysed to determine which parts of the picture deserve this special attention.

Bravia Core

Sony TVs with the Bravia XR processor even get their own streaming service. Bravia Core will have a range of new films, which should appear on the service soon after they leave the cinema. These will cost money to rent, but anyone who buys a Z9J or A90J gets 10 credits, while owners of the A80J, Z95J and Z90J get five credits. 

Each credit is worth one film rental. It will also have a library of films available to watch for free, initially anyway. You get access for 24 months if you buy the Z9J or A90J, and 12 months if you buy one of the other XR ranges.

We'll let you know which 2022 ranges have Bravia Core when we hear from Sony

Full-array backlights

All LCD TVs have backlights, but not all backlights are the same. Backlights illuminate the liquid crystals in LCD displays to create the picture; in a full-array one the bulbs sit directly behind the screen rather than around it. This means there are more dimming zones, which means more control over what parts of the screen are lit.

Full-array sets aren't automatically better than edge-lit (where the LEDs sit around the screen or along one edge) ones however. We've tested poor full-array models and fantastic edge-lit ones. 

It's still a positive sign, though, since a TV with a full-array backlight should have more control over contrast.

Google TV

Sony’s 2022 TVs use the Google TV operating system. It has some neat new benefits that we discovered when we tested the Chromecast with Google TV, including the ‘for you’ section that recommends content based on what you’ve been watching. 

The recommendations come from any apps you’ve installed, so if you’ve got multiple subscriptions you’ll get potential picks from all of them. There’s also a handy ‘continue watching’ bar just like you’d see on Netflix, but you’ll see shows from different apps here, too.

Many Sony TVs effectively have Google Chromecast built in, so you can easily play the content saved on your phone on your TV screen by pressing the cast icon found on many smartphone and tablet apps.

QD-OLED display

There are numerous display types out there, but most of them fall into two camps: LCD or OLED, with different variations on those. Sony's QD-OLED display combines the self-emitting pixels of OLED screens with the colour and brightness boost of quantum dot displays to make QD-OLED.

OLEDs are widely considered to produce the best contrast, but backlit TVs tend to be brighter, which is one of the reasons behind the development of this new technology. We're excited to see what kind of difference this makes to the final result, since a brighter screen should make the contrast even more pronounced.

But, we've been promised brighter OLEDs before, most notably from LG's OLED evo, but we didn't measure any consistent increase in Nits (the measurement for brightness) so we hope QD-OLED delivers on the promise. You'll find it in the top-of-the-range A95K Master series OLEDs.

Voice control

Sony's partnership with Google goes deeper still as Google Assistant is built in to Sony sets. Using the microphone in the remote, you can issue a range of commands, which include searching for content, adjusting volume and changing channel.

You can also connect a Google Home or Amazon Echo to give voice commands via those devices.  

X1 Ultimate processor

You'll find the Ultimate chip in some of Sony's high-end 4K sets that aren't part of the XR range. Its main job is upscaling, which is making SD and HD content look as close to 4K as possible. On an 8K TV the task is even tougher as the sharpness needs to reach 8K standard. And getting lower-resolution content up to 8K standard is vital to justify the higher cost of 8K TV sets, as there's no actual 8K content to watch right now.

The X1 uses a huge database of images to achieve the task. Every frame of content is analysed and the chip refers to the database to find the objects being displayed. It uses them as a reference to sharpen the image.

Looking for a good TV at a great price? Check out our best TV deals guide for the best offers we've found this month on Sony, Samsung, LG and Panasonic TVs.

Can you still get Sony Bravia TVs?

You're probably still familiar with the Bravia model TVs Sony is famous for. The term still crops up every now and then in some technology and features. Most notable is the Bravia XR processor, which is in Sony's high-end sets. These models are known as Bravia XR TVs. You can read more about the processor in the Sony TV technology explained section of this guide.

Mid-range and entry-level Sonys aren't considered to be Bravia TVs because they don't use the Bravia XR processor.

Sony's 2021 TV range overview

Sony's line-up for 2021 is a mixture of high-end OLEDs and LCD models with the Bravia XR processor and cheaper models that are still more full-featured than the basic model from 2020.

Sony Bravia XR Z9J Master Series

Sony Z9J 8K Bravia XR TV in living room mounted on a wide plinth

The feature-packed, massively expensive 8K TV from Sony in 2021 is the Z9J. As the TV's name suggests, the Bravia XR processor powers the Z9J, so it should be as smart as it is beautiful. Sony's new processor is the first to use cognitive intelligence to boost the picture, but first and foremost it will need to boost 4K content to 8K quality if the Z9J is to be successful.

It's an LCD rather than an OLED, so it uses a full-array backlight to create the picture. Sony hasn't tried to reinvent its backlights in the same way LG and Samsung have, but that doesn't necessarily mean its high-end LCD sets will be worse.

When it comes to sound, the Z9J is packed with speakers that sit behind the screen, while some vibrate the frame of the TV. XR Sound is Sony's name for the audio processing technology and it should create cinematic and immersive surround sound.

Sony Bravia XR A90J OLED

Sony A90J Bravia XR OLED with sound bar underneath

The A90J is the top-tier OLED with the Bravia XR processor and all the features that come with it, including XR sound to create a better sense of audio coming from specific parts of the screen, such as a car engine, or character's voice. It should create a surround sound effect, too, and boost dialogue.

There's no backlight, all the pixels in the display create their own light instead, so contrast should be brilliant.

As you'd expect for such a high-end TV, prices are equally high – starting at £2,699 for the 55-inch model at launch.

Sony's more affordable 2021 TV ranges

Sony Bravia XR A80J OLED

Sony A80J Bravia XR OLED in living room mounted on wooden plinth

This cheaper OLED options from the Bravia XR range is almost identical to the A90J. It's not as bright though, so the contrast on the A90J should look that bit more impressive as it can push the whites further and make the range from the darkest to lightest parts of the picture broader.

Other than that, there's not much to pick between these two models, which can only be good for a buyer looking to spend a bit less on a high-end OLED.

Sony Bravia XR X95J

Sony X95J Bravia XR 4K TV

Like the Z9J 8K set, the X95J has a full-array backlight shining on to a liquid crystal panel, as well as all the bells and whistles that come with the Bravia XR processor.

The screen is 120Hz which means it can handle 120 frames per second. This makes for smooth motion on compatible content. Gaming is the most obvious beneficiary of this as the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 have games which take full advantage of a 120Hz display. 

Unfortunately sizes start at 65 inches for the X95J so you'll need to look elsewhere if you want something smaller.

Sony Bravia XR X90J

Sony X90J Bravia XR 4K TV in a living room on wooden media unit

The X90J also has a 120Hz, which means you'll be able to unlock the full potential of high-frame rate video games and videos.

Impressively, there aren't too many differences between the X90J and X95J.The X95J should have better contrast and wider viewing angle and the X90J doesn't get the backlit remote or the microphone built into the TV (there is one in the remote though).

The good news is that the X90J will available in larger range of sizes starting at a more living-room-friendly 50 inches.

We've tested most of Sony's 2021 line-up, and you can see read our Sony TV reviews to see which is right for you.