Sony’s new QD-OLED TV delivers the best color performance I’ve ever seen, but the upgrade from a regular OLED isn’t a game changer
- Sony’s new A95K QD-OLED is one of the first TVs of its kind.
- The “QD” stands for quantum dot, and this technology delivers enhanced color performance.
- This is likely the high-end TV to beat in 2022, but its color improvements can be subtle depending on what you watch.
OLED TVs consistently deliver some of the best picture quality on the market. Compared to a QLED TV (or other LCD-based displays), OLEDs can achieve better contrast and true black levels to give home theater fans an incredible movie-watching experience.
Sony’s OLED models, in particular, continue to impress me with their accurate images and advanced processing. That said, OLEDs do have some limitations with brightness and color. For 2022, however, Sony is introducing a brand-new flagship model, the A95K, that could overcome some of those issues.
The A95K is one of the industry’s first QD-OLED TVs. The “QD” stands for quantum dot, which is a color technology that’s usually only found on LCD TVs. By combining quantum dot tech’s superior color capabilities with OLED’s infinite contrast, Sony hopes to bring a new level of performance to its TV lineup.
Though Sony has yet to announce an exact price and release date for the 55- and 65-inch A95K, I was able to get an early look at the TV during a recent demo the company held in New York. I’ll need to spend more time with the display to offer a full verdict, but the A95K delivers on its promise of expanded color performance, even if those improvements can be subtle.
What makes a QD-OLED screen special compared to a typical OLED panel, is its use of quantum dots. Without getting too into the weeds, the addition of quantum dots allows the A95K to deliver better color performance than any consumer OLED I’ve seen before.
Colors tend to wash out a bit in brighter scenes, but quantum dots enable the A95K to maintain rich saturation even when displaying bright images.
To show off the A95K’s improved color performance, Sony presented a side-by-side demo pitting its new model against its flagship TV from 2021, the A90J. A professional OLED broadcast monitor, the BVM-X300, was also used as a reference. Monitors like this are used by content creators when they’re finalizing the colors of their movies and TV shows, so they best represent exactly how a video should look.
Both TVs were placed in their default Custom picture mode, which is the most accurate setting out of the box. Sony played a scene from Disney’s “Cruella” in 4K HDR.
Emma Stone’s character wears a vibrant red dress in the sequence, and the A95K did indeed show an improvement in color over the A90J, offering a bit more punch, brightness, and range. It also matched the reference monitor better in overall image accuracy. Off-angle picture was better too. The A95K’s colors barely degraded at all when viewed from the side.
Though the A95K won this head-to-head demo, the difference between the two OLED TVs was far from night and day. The A95K has richer colors but, outside of a side-by-side comparison, it would be hard to look at both TVs and instantly say one is better than the other.
I suspect that picture differences might be more noticeable when switching to the TV’s other image modes, but then you’d be sacrificing accuracy to get a bit more pop.
Sony also used a few test patterns to reveal how the A95K can go beyond the A90J’s color capabilities. Three columns of red, green, and blue dots were displayed on both TVs. Each column represented a different color range, with each increasing in intensity.
The first two columns appeared just fine on both TVs. But the A90J was unable to properly display the final column. Instead, the dots looked just like the ones in the second column. On the A95K, however, the final column’s dots looked noticeably richer, revealing an entirely new degree of red, blue, and green.
Another test pattern using colored squares and text revealed a similar result, with the A95K being able to show a range of color the A90J couldn’t.
On the one hand, these demos were genuinely eye opening, and really demonstrated how a QD-OLED can show colors that a regular OLED simply isn’t capable of displaying.
But, it’s important to keep in mind that current movies and TV shows aren’t mastered for such a wide range. Most content today is graded for the DCI-P3 color gamut, a range that many conventional OLED TVs can cover just fine.
The A95K steps things up by hitting an even wider range of colors, called the BT.2020 color space. Though the A95K’s ability to show off this extended range is an impressive feat, most of what we watch doesn’t need this capability.
I left Sony’s demo impressed by the A95K but I wasn’t totally blown away by the upgrade. The jump from standard OLED to QD-OLED looks to be more substantial than the incremental improvements I’ve seen on regular OLEDs, but the benefits aren’t as big as I was hoping for. And it’s especially hard to gauge the value when we still don’t know the exact price.
It’s also important to remember that I only got a limited amount of demo time with the TV, so full testing could reveal more benefits. I’m especially curious to see how Sony’s A95K’s performance compares to Samsung’s first QD-OLED, which is due out in April for a starting price of $2,200.
A full verdict will have to wait until I’m able to do a complete review, but based on my initial impressions, the A95K looks like it could be the high-end TV to beat this year, even if it doesn’t offer the huge leap in image performance that some may be hoping for.
This is a TV that seems to be designed for buyers who want a premium display and are willing to pay for the absolute best image performance and most accurate colors on the market. Those who aren’t huge home theater enthusiasts, however, will likely remain satisfied with cheaper OLED options or more budget-friendly LCD displays.