Sony makes arguably the best OLED TVs that you can buy. They outperform LG’s own OLED sets in picture quality despite the fact that both companies use very similar panels from LG Display. That’s because Sony applies its own image processing to everything that you see on-screen. Even when the company adopts a new display technology, it leans on decades’ worth of TV hardware expertise to fine-tune everything.
And now that Sony’s got a good handle on OLED, it’s time for a new challenge: Mini LED. As part of its 2022 TV lineup, which also features one of the world’s very first QD-OLED TVs, Sony is introducing its first Mini LED LCD TVs. The Z9K series will offer 8K resolution in 75- and 85-inch screen sizes, while the X95K sticks to 4K with 65-, 75-, and 85-inch models.
Like Mini LED TVs from other manufacturers, Sony’s will deliver much more precise local dimming than past models thanks to the backlight LEDs shrinking in size and growing in quantity. This produces improved contrast, higher peak brightness, better display uniformity, and black levels that inch closer to OLED. But even with Mini LED’s many strengths, sometimes you’ll still encounter blooming, which occurs when there’s a visible halo around bright objects (or text) on a dark screen. Sony says it’s put a ton of work into cutting down on blooming with the help of its “XR Backlight Master Drive” algorithms, which dynamically control the backlight to avoid blooming — without affecting brightness of your content.
This year, Sony says it has also worked to enhance the depth of the picture on its TVs, applying different processing to near objects and the background. And all of the premium Sony TVs continue to feature the company’s very impressive Acoustic Multi-Audio speakers, which means you might actually be able to skip a soundbar; the Z9K has an 85-watt audio system, while the X95K comes in slightly lower at 60 watts.
All of Sony’s Mini LED models support 4K gaming at 120Hz, auto tone mapping when used with a PS5, and auto low latency mode. And Sony is finally shipping variable refresh rate support on these TVs at launch out of the box — no future firmware update required. Hopefully this is a sign that VRR support is nearing on the PS5 console as well. Sony is sticking with Google TV as its built-in software with the option for hands-free voice commands, and there’s also support for Apple AirPlay 2.
TCL led the Mini LED trend among TV makers, but since then Samsung, LG, and now Sony have switched to the same backlighting technique as they look to bridge the gap between traditional LCD TVs and OLED. Mini LED can achieve significantly higher peak brightness than OLED sets, though it still falls short of their infinite contrast.
Pricing for the 2022 Sony Bravia TVs and the also-announced Bravia Cam will be released in the coming months.