Bamboozled by all those similar-sounding Sony TV model numbers? Here's how to decipher them
Sony’s reputation for making great TVs stretches right back to the glory days of CRT technology. However, while Trinitron’s golden years have long since been eclipsed by generations of ultra high-definition LCD and OLED sets, one thing that’s not got any easier is deciphering Sony’s TV model numbers.
As with most other manufacturers, it can be difficult to know exactly what you’re getting just by glancing at the model numbers; the subtly different combinations of alphanumerical codes can indicate anything from subtle to vast differences between the various models. It’s not as simple as buying an iPhone; it can often feel like you need a degree in cryptography to understand it all.
That’s where we come in. In this article, we’ll break down the company’s extensive 2021 and 2022 TV ranges, discuss the technology powering them and explain exactly what each aspect of a Sony TV model number actually means.
JUMP TO: Sony’s 2022 TV line-up
JUMP TO: Sony’s 2021 TV line-up
What you need to know about Sony’s 2022 TV line-up
Sony revealed its 2022 TV range at CES in January and the line-up includes a number of updates to last year’s models along with some exciting firsts for the company.
Heading up the premium BRAVIA XR range is the first consumer television to feature a Quantum Dot OLED panel – the Master Series A95K. It will be prohibitively expensive but represents a significant technological milestone and is a sign of things to come in the TV manufacturing industry.
Also unveiled were Sony’s first Mini LED TVs – the 8K Master Series Z9K and the 4K X95K – along with a handful of 4K OLED and 4K LCD LED TVs available in a range of sizes and catering to consumers with varying budgets.
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Sony TVs 2022: Panel technology
One of the biggest announcements at CES was that of the A95K, one of the first commercially available Quantum Dot OLED TVs. By combining Organic LEDs and a Quantum Dot layer, a QD-OLED television can take advantage of the inherent benefits of both technologies.
For those that need a quick recap, every single one of the eight million-plus pixels on a 4K OLED panel is self-illuminating – each pixel can be turned off completely to display perfect black and generate infinite contrast. QLEDs employ separate backlights positioned behind the LCD panel and while this can result in higher peak brightness than OLED tech, the lack of per-pixel illumination results in inferior contrast and greyer blacks.
Hybrid QD-OLED TVs use blue OLED material to illuminate their pixels. These pixels then undergo an energy-efficient process of colour transformation courtesy of the quantum dot layer to generate the colours you see on screen. The result is peak brightness levels closer to that of QLED displays coupled with the ability to control light output on a per-pixel basis.
Sony is also jumping on the Mini LED bandwagon in 2022, with both 4K and 8K Mini LED options. Samsung and Philips both released Mini LED TVs last year but the Z9K and X95K are Sony’s first venture into the market.
Mini LED technology is an evolution of the LED tech behind pretty much every modern television. Your basic LCD TV uses a backlight with an array of Light Emitting Diodes (LED) to illuminate the LCD panel, with the number and orientation varying from set to set. Mini LEDs are around one-fortieth the size of traditional LEDs, meaning far more of them can be squeezed into a panel.
By increasing the number of LEDs, more local dimming zones can be incorporated into a panel, which in turn results in more granular light control and improved contrast. Mini LED TVs can’t achieve perfect black like OLEDs can but they’re able to deliver vastly higher peak brightness and impressive contrast without the fear of screen burn.
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Sony TVs 2022: What else is new?
Sony has also revealed various picture and audio enhancements to complement its new panel technologies.
The Z9K and X95K Mini LED TVs will benefit from more precise backlight control courtesy of the company’s new XR Backlight Master Drive, while XR Triluminos Max picture enhancement promises to deliver Sony’s widest-ever colour palette on the A95K. Both technologies are powered by the Cognitive Processor XR chip found in around half of its 2021 sets.
On the audio side of things, the OLEDs in Sony’s 2022 line-up have had their Acoustic Surface Audio+ enhanced, while the Acoustic Multi-Audio available on LCD LED options has also received an update.
The more advanced of these sound technologies, Acoustic Surface Audio+, transforms a compatible TV’s display into a speaker by positioning actuators behind the screen to vibrate the TV panel and create sound. Acoustic Multi-Audio, on the other hand, relies on a pair of tweeters located in the back of the TV working alongside front-facing speakers and a tweeter in the television’s frame to create sound that feels like it’s coming from the centre of the screen.
Sony’s 2022 TVs will also come with two new viewing modes: Netflix Adaptive Calibrated mode and BRAVIA Core Calibrated Modes. The former automatically adjust picture quality based on ambient light while using Netflix, while the latter tweaks the onscreen image to “better align with the video creator’s original vision’ when using Sony’s movie streaming service.
Also announced at CES was a new “Premium” aluminium remote, which features a backlight, simplified buttons and a finder function that will ring the remote if you lose it down the back of the sofa. It comes bundled with Sony’s 2022 Master Series TVs as well as the X95K Mini LED set. Those going for an OLED or Full Array LED option will sadly have to make do with a regular remote.
Finally, those that splash out on the Z9K or A95K will get Sony’s new BRAVIA Cam as part of the package. This accessory enables gesture controls, video chat through the TV and adjusts picture and sound settings based on your position relative to the telly. It’ll even dim the display to conserve energy if no one’s sitting in front of it.
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Sony TV 2022 line-up model names explained
What at first appears to be a confusing jumble of letters and numbers is actually a pretty simple-to-decipher code. If we take the new flagship BRAVIA Master Series XR-85Z9K as our example, it breaks down like this:
XR: This represents the product line. XR indicates it’s part of the BRAVIA XR series and is powered by Sony’s Cognitive Processor XR; all other BRAVIA sets are given the KD prefix.
85: The first two numbers in a Sony TV model number reflect the screen size, in this case, it’s the 85in model.
Z: This describes the TV’s panel type. Z and X relate to LED and Mini LEDs, while A refers to the company’s QD-OLED and OLED offerings.
9: The second set of numbers represents a Sony television’s product tier. Single digits denote high-end models, whereas double digits represent a model’s position in the hierarchy, counting downwards.
J: The final letter refers to the year of manufacturer. All 2022 Sony TVs end in a K, with last year’s models ending in J, 2020 options ending in H and so on. It’s worth noting that G actually denotes 2019 because Sony skips I, presumably because it looks too much like a number one.
So, applying this to the KD-50X80K, we have a 50in LED TV from tier 80 (entry-level), made in 2022. Or, in the case of the XR-65A95K, we have a set powered by the Cognitive Processor XR chip, that’s a 65in OLED from tier 95 (premium tier), also made this year. Simple.
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Sony TVs 2022: The Models
BRAVIA XR MASTER Series Z9K: The Z9K is an 8K set with a Mini LED panel and all of the company’s top image and audio enhancement tech. It’s powered by the Cognitive Processor XR, with local dimming handled by the new XR Backlight Master Drive, there’s XR Contrast Booster 20, Triluminous Pro, 8K upscaling, support for 4K at 120Hz and VRR and lots, lots more. It’s only available in 75in and 85in models so it’s a case of “go big or go home” but if you can afford and accommodate it, you’re getting a package complete with a premium remote and the BRAVIA Cam.
BRAVIA XR MASTER Series A95K: Sony’s most advanced TV, the A95K, will be the first QD-OLED to ever go on sale. It promises to be one of the brightest TVs in the company’s line-up and features XR Triluminos Max colour enhancement, XR OLED Contrast Pro, Acoustic Surface Audio+, hands-free Google TV and comes with the premium remote and BRAVIA Cam.
- 55in Sony A95K: £2,699
- 65in Sony A95K: £3,499
Master Series A90K: A step down from the A95K, the A90K is the successor to the A90J and has to settle for an OLED panel without a Quantum Dot layer. The sizes it comes in are its big selling point. With 42in and 48in models the only choices, this is a TV for those wanting premium quality in a more compact package. Powered by the Cognitive Processor XR, this will be a popular pick with gamers thanks to its “Perfect for PlayStation” features including 4K at 120fps, Auto HDR Tone Mapping and Auto Genre Picture Mode.
- 42in Sony A90K: £1,799
- 48in Sony A90K: £1,899
BRAVIA X95K: The X95K is the 4K Mini LED alternative to the Master Series Z9K. It comes in smaller sizes, with 55in, 65in and 75in models, but has a similar suite of features and enhancement technologies, including Acoustic Multi-Audio. It comes with the premium remote, but you’ll have to buy the BRAVIA Cam separately if you want that as part of your home entertainment setup.
- 75in Sony X95K: £3,999
- 85in Sony X95K: £5,499
BRAVIA A84/A80K Series: Taking over the mantle of Sony’s leading non-Master Series OLEDs are the A84K and A80K, the latter of which is the follow-up to last year’s exceptionally popular A80J. The differences between the models have not been made clear just yet but they’ll both deliver excellent contrast and brightness thanks to XR OLED Contrast Pro, engrossing sound via Acoustic Surface Audio+ and the full suite of Sony’s gaming-related features.
- 55in Sony A80K: £2,099
- 65in Sony A80K: £2,899
- 77in Sony A80K: £3,999
BRAVIA X94K/X90K Series: If Mini LED and OLED models are a bit too spendy, the X94K and X90K are your next best options. They’re the only LCD TVs housing the Cognitive Processor XR chip and will come in 55in, 65in, 75in and 85in screen sizes. Full Array Local Dimming is complemented by XR Colour, Contrast, Clarity and Motion picture processing, Acoustic Multi-Audio and Sony’s “Perfect for PlayStation” features.
- 55in Sony X90K: £1,499
- 65in Sony X90K: £1,799
- 75in Sony X90K: £2,399
- 85in Sony X90K: £3,399
BRAVIA X89K/X85K Series: This series of TVs are powered by Sony’s 4K HDR Processor X1 rather than the Cognitive Processor XR and have to make do with inferior Triluminos Pro colour enhancement. They still have a 120Hz refresh rate, however, along with support for Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos and built-in Google Assistant.
- 43in Sony X85K: £949
- 50in Sony X85K: £999
- 55in Sony X85K: £1,199
- 65in Sony X85K: £1,499
- 75in Sony X85K: £1,999
- 85in Sony X85K: £2,799
BRAVIA X81K/X80K Series: Sony’s entry-level 4K LCD Google TVs are the X81K and X80K Series. They lack Full Array Local Dimming but are available in a wide range of sizes from 43in and up and feature 4K upscaling, Sony’s “X-Balanced” speaker built-in, ambient optimisation technology and various other picture and audio enhancements.
- 43in Sony X80K: £849
- 50in Sony X80K: £899
- 55in Sony X80K: £999
- 65in Sony X80K: £1,299
- 75in Sony X80K: £1,699
BRAVIA X73K/X72K: At the bottom of the 4K LCD range are the X73K and X72K. These are powered by Sony’s BRAVIA Engine and use Android TV rather than the Google TV OS featured on all of the above sets. HDR support is limited to HDR10 and HLG – there’s no Dolby Vision – and screen sizes are limited to 43in and 50in.
- 43in Sony X72K: £649
- 50in Sony X72K: £749
Sony TVs 2021: The models
Because none of the above Sony TVs are actually available to buy right now, it’s worth breaking down last year’s options, too.
BRAVIA XR MASTER Series Z9J: This 8K-capable TV is available in 75in and 85in options and comes with a highly impressive spec: a Full Array LED panel, X-Wide Angle, X-Anti Reflection, Contrast Booster 15, HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG, three HDMI 2.1 ports, Acoustic Multi-Audio, Dolby Atmos, and 3D Surround upscaling.
BRAVIA XR MASTER Series A90J: The other 2021 Master Series set is a 4K OLED model available in 55in, 65in and 83in sizes. With a super-slim bezel, this beauty is basically all-picture, while the top-end tech of XR OLED Contrast Pro, HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG, Acoustic Surface Audio+, Dolby Atmos, 3D Surround Upscaling, and two HDMI 2.1 ports that support 4K@120Hz and ALLM, adds up to a next-level AV experience.
BRAVIA XR A80J: This model is a popular entry point into the world of Sony’s 4K OLEDs. There are 55in, 65in and 77in models available and they pack in plenty of AV innovation, including XR OLED Contrast, HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG, dual HDMI 2.1 ports, and Acoustic Surface Audio+, Dolby Atmos and 3D Surround Upscaling sound tech. You may also see the A84J kicking around – this adds Rich Colour Enhancer to the mix and features a built-in microphone.
BRAVIA XR X95J: The X95J sits at the top of Sony’s 2021 range of LED-backlit TVs and comes in 65in, 75in and 85in screen sizes. You’re getting a Full Array LED panel with X-Wide Angle and X-Anti Reflection technologies, support for HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG, plus two HDMI 2.1 ports, Acoustic Multi-Audio, Dolby Atmos and 3D Surround Upscaling.
BRAVIA XR X94J: This boasts a similar lineup of features to the X95J across a different selection of panel sizes (50in, 55in, 65in, 75in) but misses out on X-Wide Angle and X-Anti Reflection technologies.
BRAVIA X90J: Further down the range we have the X90J, which takes in 50in, 55in, 65in and 75in sizes. Here, the main differences are that the X90J drops to XR Contrast Booster level 5 and misses out on Sony’s X-Wide Angle and X-Anti Reflection technology. However, with HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG support, twin HDMI 2.1 ports for next-gen gaming, and Acoustic Multi-Audio, Dolby Atmos, 3D Surround Upscaling for upgraded audio, it’s certainly not bereft of enticing tech.
BRAVIA X85J: Here we part ways with Sony’s Cognitive Processor XR, with the X1 chip taking over processing duties. Instead of Full Array LED backlighting, the X85J has an edge-lit LED 4K panel and boasts support for HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG. Available in six sizes, from 43in all the way up to 85in, the X85J has a native 120Hz refresh rate, supports Dolby Atmos and comes equipped with a pair of HDMI 2.1 ports.
BRAVIA X80J/X81J: These were Sony’s entry-level 4K TVs last year and have a similar specification to the X85J but the native refresh rate of the panel drops to 60Hz, which makes them a lot less appealing to next-gen gamers.
Sony W800: This is an HD LED TV only available in a 32in screen size. Android TV is retained as the operating system for this model, as is the older BRAVIA Engine processor. With a resolution of 720p and standard HDMI, it’s a TV for the bedroom, nothing more.
Below you’ll find a list of Sony’s 2021 TVs, complete with the starting prices of the smallest available model and links to retailers where they’re currently in stock.
- Sony BRAVIA XR MASTER Series Z9J | From £5,289 | Buy now from John Lewis
- Sony BRAVIA XR MASTER Series A90J | From £2,399 | Buy now from John Lewis
- Sony BRAVIA XR A80J | From £1,399 | Buy now from John Lewis
- Sony BRAVIA XR X95J | From £1,699 | Buy now from Currys
- Sony BRAVIA XR X90J | From £898 | Buy now from John Lewis
- Sony BRAVIA X85J | From £698 | Buy now from Currys
- Sony BRAVIA X81J | From £699 | Buy now from John Lewis
- Sony BRAVIA X80J | From £619 | Buy now from AO
- Sony W800 | From £379 | Buy now from John Lewis