OLED TVs aren't that bright, but could Sony's new processor fix that?

Sony A90J OLED
(Image credit: Sony)

Sony has announced its 2021 lineup of TVs that will all include a new processor called the Cognitive Processor XR – a successor to Sony's long-running X1 line of chips. 

The Cognitive Processor XR will be used on five new series of TVs - the Sony Z9J Master Series, X95J and X90J LED-LCD TVs and two OLED models, the A80J and A90J - and while all models will be equipped with better upscaling, better color reproduction and enhanced contrast, it’s the new A90J OLED that will see the biggest boost with the technology as it could be the first OLED to cross 1,000 nits of peak brightness. 

In an interview with TechRadar, Sony representatives explained that the new A90J has a revolutionary new thermal dissipation system that allows the TV to utilize both the RGB and White subpixels simultaneously at max power to create even brighter highlights in HDR content that's powered by the XR Processor.

The result, Sony says, is a noticeably brighter picture that the company says will surpass any OLED TV from previous years in terms of overall brightness and color volume.

Smarter chips, better panels and improved software

Most of the upgrades coming to this year's Sony TV lineup fall in three buckets – the new Cognitive XR Processor and the improved panels that we talked about above, plus the upgrade from Android TV on previous models to the new Google TV platform.

In terms of picture improvements, Sony says the Cognitive XR Processor inside the LCD-LED TVs will enable a new XR Contrast feature that will boost black levels and both the OLEDs and LED-LCD TVs will have improved motion smoothing, Triluminous Color Pro and XR Super Resolution that uses AI upscaling.

For sound enhancements, the 2021 lineup is getting XR Surround that can transform two-channel or 5.1-channel surround sound into immersive 5.1.2-channel sound.

Add the new Google TV platform that puts content at the forefront instead of apps, and you should be well stocked with shows to watch on your new-and-improved TVs.

That said, there's no doubt the A90J OLED and Sony Z9J Master Series are going to expensive (Sony's current Master Series OLED sells for $2,299.99 / £2,099) but Sony says the Cognitive XR Processor will make its way all the way down the lineup to the 50-inch X90J LED-LCD TV - which means there should be a cheap-ish entry point for those of us who can't afford to drop two grand on a new TV.

  • Check out all of TechRadar's CES 2021 coverage. We're remotely covering the online-only show to bring you all the breaking tech news and launches, plus a smattering of hands-on reviews.
Nick Pino

Nick Pino is Managing Editor, TV and AV for TechRadar's sister site, Tom's Guide. Previously, he was the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar, covering TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He's also written for GamesRadar+, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he's not using if anyone wants it.