World-class picture quality
Fast, flexible software
Gaming support so-so
Minor color fringing
There are, of course, some nits to pick—it might be the best TV I’ve ever seen, but it’s also the most expensive flagship this year. The A95K will still look spectacular in a relatively bright living room, but it’s not as adept at cutting through sunlight as the brightest LED TVs. In addition, gamers might balk at the A95K’s meager pair of full-bandwidth HDMI 2.1 ports, especially since most of its competitors offer four such inputs.
Truthfully, these drawbacks feel considerably minimized by the A95K’s gobsmackingly gorgeous picture. It’s a total feast for the eyes, even if, like myself, you’ve been up close and personal with hundreds of TVs. But enough preamble—let’s hurry up and get through the review so I can go back to watching this TV.
About the Sony A95K
If you’re in the market for a TV that isn’t 55 or 65 inches, you’ll have to look elsewhere, as the Sony A95K is available in just those two sizes. We received a 65-inch model on loan from Sony.
Here’s what you can expect to pay for each size in the series. (You may want to sit down for this.)
- 55-inch (Sony XR-55A95K), MSRP $2,999.99
- 65-inch (Sony XR-65A95K), MSRP $3,999.99
As we move into the holiday season, these prices will likely come down, but I don’t expect the A95K to ever dip into a price range that most people would consider affordable. For context, LG’s top OLED of the year, the LG G2, carried a price tag of around $3,200 for the 65-inch model upon release. Samsung’s quantum dot-enhanced OLED, the S95B, originally hit shelves at around $3,000 for the 65-inch version. The A95K, therefore, is the priciest 65-inch TV I’ve tested this year.
Due to the self-emissive nature of OLED displays, we don’t expect there to be any difference in performance between the 55- and 65-inch versions of the A95K.
With sizing and pricing out of the way, let’s take a look at the specs:
- Resolution: 4K (3,840 x 2,160)
- Display type: QD-OLED (OLED with quantum dots)
- HDR support: Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG
- Dolby Atmos: Yes, (native decoding)
- eARC support: Yes (HDMI 3)
- Native refresh rate: 120Hz
- Smart platform: Google TV
- Color: DCI-P3 color space/10-bit chroma resolution
- Variable Refresh Rate (VRR): Yes
- Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM): Yes
- Processor: Cognitive Processor XR
- Other features: G-Sync compatibility, XR Surround 3D sound upscaling, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple AirPlay 2, Apple Homekit, ASTC 3.0 tuner, hands-free voice control
The Sony A95K features an ample suite of inputs to compliment its high-end A/V capabilities, but gamers who own an eARC-enabled soundbar will have to relinquish one of the TV’s two HDMI 2.1 ports in order to use it.
Here’s what you’ll find within the L-shaped cutout on the back of the A95K’s panel:
- 2x HDMI 2.1 (4K @ 120Hz, 1x HDMI ARC/eARC)
- 2x HDMI 2.0
- 1x USB 3.0
- 1x USB 2.0
- RF connection (cable/antenna)
- Ethernet (LAN) input
- Digital audio output (optical)
- Composite input (with adapter)
The back of the A95K also features a pair of speaker terminals, and with a compatible Sony speaker system or soundbar (such as the HT-A5000), the TV’s internal speakers can function as the center channel of a surround sound setup.
Before testing each TV, we make sure the panel is on and receiving a continuous signal for at least 2 hours. Our 65-inch A95K received this standard warm-up time before any readings were taken. In addition, the TV received the latest firmware updates at the time of testing.
For both SDR and HDR tests, we’re using the A95K’s Custom picture mode. We’ve chosen this setting because of its accuracy, but performance may vary depending on which picture mode is enabled. For example, you might experience a brighter picture with different settings enabled, but it may interfere with color temperature and overall color accuracy.
To get a sense of the TV’s average performance, we use a standard ANSI checkerboard pattern for most of our basic contrast tests. We also use white and black windows ranging from 2% to 90% to test how well the contrast holds up while displaying varying degrees of brightness.
Our peak brightness measurements are taken with sustained windows to represent the TV’s peak brightness over a sustained period of time. Specular highlights (like brief flashes of reflected light) might reach higher brightness levels, but not for sustained periods of time.
All of our tests are created with a SpectraCal C6 meter, a Murideo Seven 8K signal generator and tabulated via Portrait Displays’ Calman Ultimate color calibration software.
I'll expand on our test results throughout the review, but for now, here are some key takeaways:
- HDR contrast (brightness/black level): 317.5 nits/0.0001 nits (ANSI checkerboard)
- SDR contrast (brightness/black level): 261.3 nits/0.0001 nits (ANSI checkerboard)
- HDR peak brightness (sustained): 973 nits (20% white window, Filmmaker mode)
- HDR color gamut coverage (DCI-P3/10-bit): 100%
- SDR color gamut coverage (Rec.709): 100%
As always, the TV’s ambient light sensor was disabled prior to testing. This ensured that the A95K wasn’t adjusting its picture based on our dark-room lab conditions.
For both SDR and HDR tests, the TV’s Color Temperature was set to Expert 1, and the Gamma was set to -2. The following settings were disabled: Random Noise Reduction, Digital Noise Reduction, Smooth Gradation, Black Adjust, Advanced Contrast Enhancer, and Live Color. In addition, Motionflow and CineMotion were both turned off. All other settings (like Sharpness and Black Level) were kept at their default position.
To get a sense of the A95K’s peak brightness, the TV’s Brightness slider was maxed out during SDR tests with Peak Luminance set to High. During HDR tests, HDR Tone Mapping was disabled.
What we like
Everything—and I mean everything—looks good on this TV
My appetizer was a routine array of test patterns—white and colored squares on black backgrounds, that sort of thing—followed by a selection of visually anodyne scenes intended to demonstrate a TV’s ability to display motion, skin tones, and upscaled content. Despite the plainness of these test patterns and vignettes (sailboats, a person swaying in a hammock, etc.), I was taken aback by the overall brightness, punchy colors, and crispness of the A95K’s picture.
For the main course, I revisited some of my favorite movies—some in 4K, others in 1080p, and new releases in HDR. Even though I’d seen these titles countless times before, watching them on the A95K seemed to imbue them with a certain newness that I find hard to describe. I lost an hour to Eyes Wide Shut, one of my favorite films. Unsurprisingly, movies mastered for HDR looked even better.
For dessert, I treated myself to a heaping helping of high-definition eye candy on YouTube. Once again, another hour gone, this time to wordless nonsense. Most of the narrative-free, sizzle reel-style samplers I watched are meant to demonstrate the impressive nature of contemporary displays by showcasing lush colors and textures. It’s the sort of content that’ll look good on any TV—not just the expensive ones. On the A95K, however, this type of stuff is liable to make you downright drool.
Like a cat left alone with the TV on, I stared, transfixed, at drone footage of city skylines and close-ups of champagne flutes backlit by neon lights. I must’ve made my way through every video on YouTube labeled “4K HDR.” I wasn’t absorbed in a tightly plotted Kubrick masterpiece, I was simply in a trance looking at bees pollinating flowers.
The A95K is one of two QD-OLED TVs we’ve seen this year (the other being Samsung’s S95B) that set themselves apart from traditional OLED displays by forgoing the use of color filters, which limit brightness. The result with the A95K? Apart from the S95B, it’s the brightest OLED we’ve tested to date. It also delivers the best colors I’ve ever seen on a TV, with screaming reds, greens, and blues.
In HDR, the A95K routinely hits 950 to 1,000 nits of brightness, and impressively, it’s able to sustain these levels of brightness over long periods of time. The S95B does get a bit brighter than the A95K, but the difference is hardly perceptible.
According to my lab tests, the A95K covers 100% of the HDR color gamut (DCI-P3). In its most accurate out-of-the-box picture mode (Custom), the A95K’s color accuracy is superb. Its white point is bluer than D65 reference standard, but I imagine that any A95K owner who feels strongly about that will probably have their TV properly calibrated.
On paper, the LG C2 and G2 OLEDs come pretty darn close to the A95K in all-important categories like peak brightness and color production. But when you combine the A95K’s quantum dots (referred to by Sony as Triluminos Color technology) with the company’s oft-lauded picture processing, you end up with a sum that’s greater than its parts. I love those LG OLEDs, but in a head-to-head matchup with the A95K, I know whose boxing glove I’m hoisting in the air. The A95K does a better job of upscaling sub-4K content, and its enhanced color and superior processing lend themselves to a more realistic-looking image, however slight the difference may be.
Compared to the Samsung S95B, the A95K features a more restrained visual expression. I appreciate the bold, super-saturated feel of Samsung’s QD-OLED, but the A95K’s Custom picture mode offers a more even-keeled, reference-accurate presentation than Samsung’s Filmmaker mode, even after the S95B received a series of firmware updates that tweaked it. Sony’s picture processing is also just better than Samsung’s.
Perhaps the best argument for the A95K is its uniformity. I’ve seen countless OLED TVs over the last decade, and as recent as this year, many of them are saddled with minor-to-major uniformity issues. LG’s latest OLED TVs often exhibit green and pink tinting, especially when white or gray content is being displayed. Heck, I adore my LG C1, but a recent viewing of Raging Bull revealed a subtle pink column on the left side of its display, made more noticeable by the film’s black-and-white presentation. These blemishes (and others like them) are more or less par for the course when it comes to LG OLEDs.
With the A95K, this doesn’t seem to be an issue—at least not with my review unit. All of the oddities that I’ve come to expect from WOLED displays don’t seem to be present on QD-OLED displays. If you’re the type of hyper-attentive, borderline-obsessive person whose eye might twitch at the sight of some minor pink tint during black-and-white movies, the A95K will lull you into a state of pure bliss.
Its stylish, modern design does its picture justice
There are two ways to attach the A95K’s heavy, metallic stand to the base of the panel. Its front-facing formation puts the wide, rounded base in front of the screen, while the back-facing position creates the illusion that the A95K is standing up on its surface unattended. In either setup, you’ll need a table or media console that’s wide enough to accommodate the depth of the stand. The front-facing formation allows the TV to sit as close as it possibly can to the wall behind it.
I love the look of the TV when the stand is relegated to the back, but I recognize that this further complicates the potential placement of a soundbar (which was already a dicey proposition given how low the TV sits to its surface in either configuration). In addition, the back-facing stand setup will cause the panel to lean back ever so slightly, much like an easel (the LG G2 features a similar lean). If that’s not the vibe you’re going for, you’ll have to make do with the TV’s stand jutting out from the front.
However you choose to present the A95K, the TV is sure to turn heads. At its thickest point, the A95K’s chassis is considerably chunkier than the Samsung S95B’s wafer-thin display, but it’s nevertheless more narrow than just about every backlit LED TV on the market today.
My favorite design flourish is also the easiest one to miss: a backlit remote control whose buttons glow whenever it’s picked up. It makes it much easier to fumble with it in the dark, and I remain shocked that more TV brands don’t offer this simple quality-of-life feature.
Google TV is fast, flexible, and easy to use
The A95K comes equipped with Google TV, and the experience is quite similar to its predecessor, Android TV. There’s a dedicated home screen that will guide you from one app to the next, but unfortunately, you’ll have to contend with a generous helping of sponsored content on this screen, too.
Despite its sponsored content (which is present on every smart platform to some degree), Google TV offers a fast, comfortable way to stream content. The Android software that makes up the bones of the A95K’s menu is refined, too. There’s a bevy of audio and visual settings for those who like to tinker, and I appreciate how easy it is to access various picture settings through a quick menu that appears at the bottom of the screen.
Compared to the latest iteration of LG’s webOS smart platform and Samsung’s Tizen software, Google TV is a breath of fresh air. It’s not our favorite way to stream (that honor goes to Roku), but if you’re relying on the A95K’s built-in smart features for everyday streaming, you won’t be let down.
What we don’t like
Gaming support could be stronger
I’m pleased to report that the Sony A95K comes with HDMI 2.1 inputs that support 4K gaming at 120Hz, and both Auto Low Latency (ALLM) and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) are available right out of the box. However, only two of the TV’s HDMI ports support these features, and one of them also doubles as the TV’s dedicated eARC port.
If you own (or plan on owning) an Xbox Series X, a PlayStation 5 and an eARC-enabled soundbar or home theater receiver, one of your next-gen consoles will either have to occupy one of the performance-limiting HDMI 2.0 ports or run through your sound system.
Nearly all of the A95K’s competitors—OLED or otherwise—feature full next-gen gaming support across all four of their HDMI ports. This includes the Samsung S95B, LG G2, the Samsung QN90B, and the LG C2. And, of course, all of those TVs are cheaper than the A95K—some of them significantly so.
Now, one might argue that folks who are invested enough in their home theater to even consider the A95K in the first place will simply make use of an A/V receiver to circumnavigate this issue. I imagine a sizable amount of A/V enthusiasts will do just that.
But allow me to present a counterargument: Why?
Why should anyone spending upwards of $4,000 on a TV be forced to circumnavigate an issue that isn’t present on more affordable TVs? The A95K’s settings menu is stuffed to the brim with various options for tweaking nearly every aspect of its performance. It’s a marvel of engineering made possible by cutting-edge technology. For cryin’ out loud, there are speaker terminals on the back of this thing! AVRs can also have issues properly passing 4K/120Hz signals from a source to the TV, or they add unwanted processing if not fully set up. A direct connection from source to TV takes out any potential problems.
One of my industry-related hopes for 2023 is that Sony will fully embrace HDMI 2.1 the way LG did years ago. For a picture as good as this—and for a price as high as this—the A95K really ought to better play the part of the King of TVs.
Good brightness, but maybe not for sun-drenched rooms
Like all OLEDs, the A95K trades the high-octane brightness of an LED TV for perfect black levels and ultra-wide viewing angles. The A95K is brighter than most OLEDs, and its infinite contrast goes a long way toward bolstering the perceived brightness of the display. However, in bright, sunny rooms, the A95K will have a harder time holding up compared to LED TVs that get twice as bright.
While the A95K routinely hits 1,000 nits of brightness in HDR, the brightest elements of its picture will always be specular highlights (like the glint of sunlight bouncing off a samurai sword). Its average picture brightness, meanwhile, is closer to 300 nits, even in HDR. For context, the Samsung QN90B, one of the brightest TVs we’ve tested this year, offers an average picture brightness of around 900 nits in HDR.
For most people, this won’t be an issue. The A95K is bright enough to hold up in most environments, and, like all OLED TVs, its perfect black levels help make the picture look brighter to our eyes. But before you throw $4,000 at this TV, take a look at your living room throughout a particularly sunny day. Direct sunlight is never ideal for any TV’s placement, but if the A95K is sitting right in a sunbeam for a couple hours a day, it’s going to have a tough time looking its best.
Minor color fringing (if you know where to look for it)
I’ve saved my tiniest nitpick for last. The A95K features a similar subpixel structure to that of the Samsung S95B. As with Samsung’s QD-OLED, if you happen to be sitting close enough to the A95K, you might notice a “row” of green and magenta color fringing along the edges of black bars and text.
These color artifacts are nearly invisible from a normal viewing distance, and you really have to search for them in order to see them. Until another brand begins manufacturing QD-OLED TVs with a differently engineered approach, this quirk appears to be here to stay. My recommendation? To borrow a phrase you may have heard as a child, “don’t sit so close to the damn TV!”
Should you buy the Sony A95K?
Yes. A thousand times, yes.
It’s been a banner year for TVs, with seemingly every high-profile release being more exciting than the last. The Sony A95K, however, is far and away the best—at least when it comes to picture quality. It serves as a reminder that, despite my inherently jaded perspective, fancy TVs can still amaze me.
But at $3,000 to $4,000, “fancy” is a bit of an understatement. The next best TV I’ve seen this year, the 65-inch LG G2, is nearly $1,500 less than the A95K right now. If my funds were unlimited (and believe me, I wish they were), I’d be all-in on the A95K, even factoring in the bandwidth limitations of two of its HDMI ports. It really is a game-changing TV, for both the industry and the average consumer who’s lucky enough to invest in one.
If you’re looking for the next best thing at a lower price, I recommend giving either the LG G2 or the Samsung S95B a look. From a picture quality standpoint, they’re as close to the A95K as any mass-market TV available right now (though the S95B lacks Dolby Vision support). Plus, they offer some of the best gaming-related benefits you’ll find today.
That said, if you’ve reached the end of this review and none of my caveats have been dissuasive, there’s a good chance that you won’t be fully satisfied with any of this TV’s competitors. There’s a difference between “near perfect” and “as close to perfection as I’ve ever seen.” The A95K is the latter.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Senior Staff Writer@Reviewed
Michael Desjardin graduated from Emerson College after having studied media production and screenwriting. He specializes in tech for Reviewed, but also loves film criticism, weird ambient music, cooking, and food in general.
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