Two of the biggest TV releases of 2022 are the Samsung S95B and Sony A95K, because they're the first TVs to use the cutting-edge QD-OLED panel. This next-gen tech promises to shake up the current best OLED TVs by delivering higher brightness, a broader range of colors and wider viewing angles.
It promises that, but will it deliver? And will there be any meaningful difference between these two TVs that each use the new tech?
We'll have to wait for final reviews to get the full picture, but TV testing maestro Vincent Teoh has got his hands on both models, and has published his initial tests to compare the two in a video on the HDTV Test YouTube channel (opens in new tab), which you can watch just below.
We'll explain the most interesting takeaways and analysis further down, but the main takeaway is this: the screens are clearly very similar, but Sony has done some interesting things with the design of the TV… yet not with the results you'd necessarily expect.
Analysis: Sony playing it safe
In Teoh's tests, the Sony A95K immediately impresses with its color reproduction, hitting nearly 100% of the DCI-P3 gamut, and about 90% of the Rec. 2020 gamut.
Where it gets interesting is when he tested HDR window brightness. To explain: when testing the peak brightness of a screen, reviewers will use an HDR signal that creates a rectangle of white light, with the rest of the screen black. The smaller the window, the brighter the TV can make the light that comes from it, because all the energy is focused just on that section. A 10% HDR window is the size of 10% of the screen (this is generally the brightest level), a 50% window occupies 50% of the screen, and so on.
Now, the Sony A95K has a heatsink behind the screen, which is a technique used by the company on its A90J TV to enable it to hit higher brightness levels. Generating light creates heat; too much heat is bad for OLED pixels; adding a way to absorb and clear heat means you can generate more light!
This heatsink seems to make an immediate difference to the Sony A95K compared to the Samsung S95B in Teoh's tests: after generating a 10% HDR window, the Sony's pixels were able to clear any image retention and revert back to black faster than the Samsung was able to.
However, the twist is that despite having the heatsink, the Sony TV is less bright than the Samsung S95B based on Teoh's results so far.
In the 10% window, the Sony A95K reached around 1,000 nits of brightness (after about eight hours of running-in time; it was 900 nits out of the box), while the Samsung S95B cruised over 1,000 nits without any running-in time at all.
Teoh found that the S95B was brighter at just about all HDR window sizes, with the difference in a 10% window being the largest gap between the two, and the Samsung was even marginally brighter with a full-screen HDR window, coming in just under 250 nits.
"Sony remains quite conservative in driving the QD-OLED panel, without any further relaxation in automatic brightness limiter algorithm compared to the Samsung S95B," says Teoh.
However, he notes that this brightness limitation is still lower than "any WRGB television that I've tested to date" – that includes the LG G2, which just about matches the Sony A95K for 10% brightness in Teoh's tests, but drops below for brightness at any other window size. So despite being less bright than the Samsung, it's still above basically anything else OLED on the market.
Teoh speculates that Sony's laid back approach to the brightness despite the use of the heat sink might mean it can avoid implementing the aggressive anti-burn-in measures it's used on other OLED models to ensure a long lifespan for the panel.
So while the heatsink seemed like it would mean that Sony was aiming to have the brightest and most spectacular OLED image possible, it looks like it's there for reasons more about practicality and reliability. Not a bad thing, obviously, but certainly less flashy.
Different for gaming, too
Teoh also tested input lag on both TVs, using a tool that sends a signal over HDMI, and then records how many milliseconds it takes for the TV to show it on-screen.
He recorded the Sony A95K's input lag at 16ms at 60Hz in 4K resolution, and this droppedto 8ms at 120Hz with 1080p resolution.
Teoh had measured the Samsung S95B (and LG G2) at under 5ms for the 120Hz 1080p signal, so the Samsung has a definite edge there.
Teoh also tested a 144Hz signal with the A95K, which the TV hasn't officially been said to support, but the actual QD-OLED panel does. Surprisingly, the 144Hz signal seemed to work, but perhaps not fully – we recommend checking out the full video for more details on everything we've mentioned here.