Hands On: Sony upgrades gaming features on 2023 OLED and LED 4k TVs

Sony TV with PS5 console setup
(Image credit: Future)

Sony has significantly upped its game with its 2023 Bravia TV line-up, introducing an all-new Game Menu across a range of models, with quick access to relevant features, such as VRR and Black Equaliser.

The new lineup covers a variety of screen technologies, from Quantum Dot OLED to regular 4k LED, all vying to dominate the competition for the best gaming TV this year. GamesRadar has had an early hands-on with all of them, and we’ve been left mighty impressed.

The A95L is the flagship Sony TV for 2023. This slick-looking QD-OLED model is available in 55-, 65- and 77-inch screen sizes, and has a picture that pops with vibrant colour and huge dynamics. Sony suggests it’s twice as bright as last year’s A95K. 

If the A95L proves too pricey, the A80L is a (non-QD) OLED TV with much the same feature spec, available in 55-, 65-, 77-, and 83-inch screen sizes.  

Possibly the most attractive new model for gamers is the X95L. This 4k Mini LED model (available in 65-, 75- and 85-inch screen sizes), boasts XR Backlight Master Drive technology, for optimum contrast and gives a stonking HDR performance, free from fear of image burn. It’s also darn good when it comes to off-angle viewing, thanks to X-Anti Reflection and X-Wide Angle panel treatments (that’s a lot of Xs).  


(Image credit: Future)

The step-down Bravia XR X90L is a 4K HDR Full Array LED screen, available in 55-, 65-, 75-, 85- and 98-inch screen sizes. Sony claims this model is some 30 per cent brighter than last year’s X90K.

Rounding out the brand’s 2023 line-up is the X85L, a 4K HDR Full Array LED set, in 55-, 65-, and 75-inch screen sizes; the X80L, a 4K HDR edge-lit LED model, in 43-, 50-, 55-, 65-, 75-, and 85-inch sizes, and the (still well specified) X75WL, a sibling 4K HDR LED TV 43-, 50-, 55-, 65-, and 75-inch screen sizes.

All of the above feature advanced picture processing, category-leading brightness and a wealth of features for console gamers.  

So that’s how the new range breaks down - but what of this year’s fresh Sony TV tech?

Headline news is an updated version of Sony’s Cognitive Processor XR technology, which is allied to XR Clear Image technology. The idea behind Sony’s cognitive processor is that the image engine replicates the way we see, prioritising certain elements within the image. This year’s XR Clear Image tech further improves noise reduction and motion clarity.

This new Cognitive Processor update also offers improved backlight control, covering more local dimming zones, on the brand’s Mini LED TVs. We noted brighter pictures with less blooming (that halo of light seen around bright objects on a black background).

Sony game menu controls on 2023 TVs

(Image credit: Future)

Significantly, we’re also getting a new, dedicated Game Menu interface, which groups game related controls, such as VRR control and Motion Blur Reduction, together - perfect for those scoping out the best TV for PS5. Some might say this embellishment is long overdue. Sony is late to the party when it comes to dedicated gaming control - we saw similar from LG, Samsung, Panasonic and Philips last year. The implementation looks fine though.

Attractions include a Black Equalizer mode, which increases the brightness in dark areas so that you can better spot peril lurking in the shadows, and to simplify gameplay there’s also integrated crosshairs (in six styles). 

Another interesting new gaming feature is the ability to customise screen size. While a 65-inch telly may be immersive when role playing, the need to physically look around the screen during an FPS could slow your gameplay. This image downsizer allows the video to be shrunk to a smaller window on the panel, so you can take in the entire game area without moving your head.

The A95L QD-OLED TV also features Multi-View, so you can view a YouTube tutorial or Twitch alongside your live game. Very handy.

PlayStation 5 owners can continue to take advantage of Auto HDR Tone Mapping, and Auto Genre Picture Mode, on this year’s models. To activate Auto HDR Tone Mapping, set the feature up when pairing the TV to your PS5 for the first time. Remember the Auto Genre Picture Mode only works when Auto Picture Mode on the TV is set On.

Both features are supported only when PS5 and TV are directly connected. These features work with all Sony Bravia XR 2023 models, as well as the X85L. There is a caveat though. All the Sony 2023 screens still have just two inputs with HDMI 2.1 functionality, offering a 4k 120Hz TV with additional VRR. It would have been nice to see all four HDMI inputs enabled. Naturally Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos are standard. However, Sony is knitting its TV and soundbar family closer together. 

Sony A95L TV on plain background

(Image credit: Future)

Audio enhancements include Acoustic Center Sync, which synchronises the TV’s audio system with the centre channel of a compatible Sony soundbar (specifically the HT-A9, HT-A7000, HT-A5000, HT-A3000). It helps better anchor dialogue to the screen, and a musical demo we had featuring Lady Gaga, seemed to be very effective. There’s also compatibility with 360 Spatial Sound Mapping, which generates phantom speakers and sound field optimisation. The result is really cinematic.

Sony’s smart platform of choice remains Google TV. It’s a solid option for streamers and binge watchers, as it does an excellent job of curating all the content that’s out there. We reckon it’s an easy system to live with, well supported by apps.

Anime fans will be interested to hear that Sony is getting massively behind Crunchyroll this year. For the first time, the anime service (which is owned by Sony) gets its own dedicated button on the Sony remote, placing it alongside Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video and YouTube. For those yet to experience Crunchyroll, it’s available in free ad-supported form or via a premium ad-free subscription.

All these 2023 Sony’s also has Bravia Core, Sony’s own high bitrate movie streaming service. This pre-loaded app comes with 5, 10 or 15 movie credits (depending on the telly you buy) to watch the latest releases. There’s also 24 months of unlimited streaming of back catalogue movies.

Stay tuned for full reviews of these Sony TVs, as they become available.

We're also rounding up all the best QLED TVs on the market, as well as the best 8K TVs for gaming - if you're really looking to splash out. Or, for something a little more affordable, take a look at the latest cheap 4K TV deals

Steve May

Steve May is a home entertainment technology specialist. Creator of Home Cinema Choice magazine, Steve writes about gadgets and gizmos for GamesRadar, T3, Louder Sound, TechRadar, Home Cinema Choice and Yahoo. He’s also the editor of The Luxe Review and Pro AV site Inside CI. Steve once wrote a games column for legendary British comic 2000AD (and has a badge to prove it), and maintains that when it comes to top shooters, Doom is the GOAT.