May 22, 2024

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Sony may have perfected Mini LED TVs with its new 2024 lineup

Sony may have perfected Mini LED TVs with its new 2024 lineup

At the premium home theater end, Sony TVs are about as good as they get — and have been for several years now. The company has been praised for its image processing and its tendency to deliver great image quality in both its flagship sets and low-cost options like the X90L. So there is pressure that comes with every lineup update. But Sony isn't letting that stop it from making some bold moves in 2024.

This year, the company's primary focus is on Mini LED. More specifically, all eyes are on the top-of-the-line Bravia 9. There's still an OLED device on the new list – the Bravia 8 – and last year's A95L QD-OLED is still there, too. But Sony has spent years refining its own method of packing thousands of LEDs into a backlight system and precisely controlling them all using technology that the company says is similar to that found inside its professional (and ridiculously expensive) displays. The secret sauce is the XR Backlight Master Drive system, which acts as the brains for determining how to make best use of all those LEDs. And it can do this at a very precise level thanks to new silicon that Sony made specifically for this TV's Mini LED body.

To get some numbers out of the way, the Bravia 9 has 325 percent more dimming zones than the 2023 X95L, which actually delivered massive black levels with barely a trace of any appreciable bloom. The X95L also gets very bright, but the Bravia 9 can turn 50 percent brighter at peak luminance, Sony claims. It does so while using 20 percent less energy than its predecessor. “Cinema comes home” is the slogan for this year's TVs, and Sony wants to re-establish Bravia as a brand capable of delivering an unparalleled viewing experience in the living room.

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Bravia 9 high-beam speakers add to Sony's already impressive TV sound.
Image: Sony

The company has always paid attention to detail when it comes to the creator's intent. In addition to Dolby Vision across the range, all new TVs except the entry-level Bravia 3 support Netflix Adaptive Calibrated Mode and the new Prime Video Calibrated Mode. The latter allows the TV to automatically enhance the picture across movies, TV shows and even live sports for the first time to deliver smoother action than, say, Monday Night Football.

The Bravia 9 retails for $3,299.99 – and that's just for the 65-inch model. Going up in size from there, it's $3,999.99 (75-inch) and $5,499.99 (85-inch). For this amount, you get all the additional features the company offers such as “X-Wide Angle” for consistent viewing angles and “X-Anti Reflection” to avoid unwanted visual distraction. The Bravia 9 also adds a pair of overhead beam speakers to its multi-sound system for more immersive surround sound. Sony's built-in TV speakers are on another level compared to the mediocre drivers you often get from other brands – although you're certainly paying through the nose for that quality.

The Bravia 8's OLED screen delivers ideal black levels, but it can't match the Bravia 9's brightness.
Image: Sony

The rest of the 2024 lineup includes the Bravia 8, which uses a regular OLED display (no QD-OLED panel). Sony says it is 31 percent thinner than the A80L, and the company has reduced the screen edges by 29 percent. The Bravia 8 includes all the calibrated picture modes as the Bravia 9 and remains a solid choice for gaming with a 120Hz panel, automatic picture optimization on PS5, and a games menu for quick access to settings. (Multi-view now also supports YouTube along with your controller input if you want to watch a tutorial as you work through a level.)

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The Bravia 7 is another Mini LED model with overall performance comparable to the X95L – but at a significantly lower price. You're looking at $2,299.99 for the 65-inch set, and the largest 85-inch model is priced at $3,499.99. Sony keeps the X90L Mini LED TV in the lineup without any upgrades. Last year, reviewers rated it among the best budget options, although it could have used some additional dimming zones to reduce blooming, which was sometimes noticeable with dark content when viewing the X90L off-angle.

Rounding out the 2024 lineup is the Bravia 3, an older 60Hz Direct LED TV that ditches a lot of the best features of other Sony models. However, it still has a taste of the company's signature image processing, so it could make a decent secondary TV somewhere. All Sony devices continue to run the Google TV software with add-ons like the Eco Dashboard for those who want to monitor energy use. All Bravia 9, 8 and 7 are ATSC 3.0 compatible.

Four BRAVIA Theater: The quad speakers can be placed anywhere in your viewing space that suits you.
Image: Sony

Sony is also updating its speaker and audio lineup with its flagship Bravia Theater: Quad Wireless Speaker System. You can place the four speakers wherever you're most comfortable — they're now designed for easy wall mounting — and Sony's 360-degree spatial audio mapping technology will make the most of the 16 total speakers.

If you hate cable clutter, this set-it-and-forget-it method is the best solution you could ask for. But at $2,499.99 (before the optional subwoofer), wireless living isn't cheap. Sony's more traditional Atmos speakers include the Bravia Theater Bar 9 (with a total of 13 speakers) and the Bravia Theater Bar 8 (with 11 speakers). Again, these will map out your room to place the perfect sound effects in the 3D space.

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And if you're a fan of more private listening—or like to watch TV without disturbing others at night—the $299.99 Bravia Theater U soundbar may have its own unique appeal. You can pair it with two devices at once, and the built-in microphone makes it possible to handle phone calls while you're relaxing on the couch.

New neck amp? Checks.
Image: Sony

You can combine any of these external speakers with the Bravia TV's built-in audio, and Sony will make it all work well together by making sure each device handles the most appropriate frequency range.

Sony's 2024 home theater lineup will start shipping very soon and should start showing up at your local Best Buy in no time at all. Samsung and LG are already there with their formidable competition. Suffice it to say that this is a good time to be in the market for a high-end TV that will keep you entertained for many years to come.