Today, we’re taking a closer look at Sony A90K 42-inch and seeing if this OLED TV could be the perfect TV or monitor for your setup. It comes with most features that you would want and expect, including 4K, 120 hertz, and VRR, which is perfect for the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X. However, it is lacking a few features that could put you off from wanting to buy one. Nothing major, but still worth mentioning.
Now, I have been using this daily over the last five weeks on my desk, literally every single day. So, in sony a90k review should give you a good idea of how it performs, as well as how it compares to the 42-inch LG C2. I’ll cover it all, including gaming, productivity, and movies. If you have any questions along the way, please drop them below, and I will answer them in the comments.
Sony A90K 42″ Picture Quality
Okay, let’s start with the picture quality. There’s no denying that this OLED TV looks great. It’s one of the most impressive OLED TVs that you can buy. When you throw in some generic wallpapers and 4K video content, it really shows how vivid and sharp the picture looks.
The picture quality is certainly helped by the fact that it’s an OLED. You’re going to get those perfect black levels and contrast, thanks to the self-lighting pixels. From my experience, there’s little to no black cross and the contrast in the dark areas of a scene in movies and gaming looks great.
But what really makes this screen stand out is how sharp and clear the image is. Anything in 4K generally looks good, even the dashboard on the PlayStation 5. The text and images are sharp, and the fact that they support Dolby Vision means that if you’re paying for a streaming service or disc that has Dolby Vision, you’re going to get incredible picture quality. The highlights and shadows are well balanced, and there’s obviously no blooming since it’s an OLED TV.
Sony A90K TV Features
So, I have been using this as a monitor in my setup, but let’s not forget that this is a TV. Because of that, we get all the benefits of a TV as well. This includes an aerial and satellite port on the rear, as well as the built-in App Store. While you could, of course, use your PC or game console to play and stream movies, the native apps on here make it much easier. I’ll talk more about the overall UI a little bit later, but the fact that you can jump between different apps without needing to power on your console is brilliant.
We have all the usual apps like Netflix, Disney, and Prime, which really showcase how great the screen looks. Typically, most of the content I watch is either in 4K or 4K HDR. However, there are situations where I need to watch standard resolution (SD) content, and the way the A90K handles that is remarkable. It’s all thanks to the XR 4K upscaling that it has built-in. It’s able to take a 480p, 720p, or 1080p image and upscale it to 4K quality, which is truly a game-changer. The clarity and detail in some of the images I’ve tested blew me away. It’s obviously never going to be as good as native 4K, but it’s likely the best upscaler I’ve ever tried.
So, we know that the screen quality, HDR, contrast, and colors look good, but what about the brightness? Well, OLEDs typically don’t get as bright as LCD or LED TVs, and that’s a given. However, with that said, the A90K just doesn’t feel quite bright enough. Don’t get me wrong, during those late-night sessions in a dark room, it’s absolutely fine. But during the day or with the lights on in my room, it often feels like it’s running at around 70 to 80 brightness, even though it’s maxed out at 100.
I think for most users, it will be fine. However, if you’re already unimpressed with the brightness of most other OLEDs, this one could disappoint you. There are settings that you can toggle on and off to ensure that you’re not using the automatic energy-saving or ambient modes, which, of course, I disabled immediately. But even with those switched off, it still lacks the punch that I hoped to see. Comparing it to the 42-inch LG C2 that I had, the C2 is definitely brighter overall.
Gaming on Sony A90k 42″ TV
Now, gaming is one of the main reasons I use this desk setup. In fact, it’s the only reason this setup even exists. That means over the last five weeks, I’ve put some serious gaming time into it. This has included playing Warzone with my mates and the new Star Wars Jedi Survivor, which has had a few performance issues, but that’s on the game and not the TV. I’ve also been testing out the usual culprits like Gran Turismo 7 and Ratchet and Clank. It’s no surprise that the A90K looks absolutely awesome with every game I’ve played.
Most of the time, I play with HDR switched on, and the brightness is good. But it’s the color and clarity of the games that are really worth talking about. I still think Rift Apart is one of the best games to show off on any TV, as the vibrancy is just unmatched. Now, I swap between my monitors and TVs quite regularly, and playing on a 42-inch screen always feels ridiculous at first. But after a few days, I get used to it, and honestly, it just feels so immersive sitting this close to a screen this size.
Since this TV supports 120 hertz and VRR thanks to the HDMI 2.1 ports, it works perfectly with the PS5, Xbox Series X, and S. However, it does only have two HDMI 2.1 ports. For most people, that’s not going to be a huge issue. But if you want to plug in a soundbar via eARC, you’ll only have one other port available to use for your consoles or PC. It also doesn’t have a DisplayPort, so gaming on a PC will need to be done via HDMI instead.
A quick note: when plugging in any device where you want to take advantage of the 120 hertz, make sure you enable this in the HDMI settings on the TV. For some strange reason, it is not switched on by default, and you’ll be left wondering why you cannot get 120 hertz to work.
One feature I really like is the auto HDR tone mapping. What this does is, when you plug in your PlayStation 5, it takes the frustration and guessing out of those HDR sliders, as the TV and the PlayStation 5 will actually do it for you. This is a massively underrated feature and something that every PS5 owner would benefit from. It also supports ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) and will detect when you’ve plugged in a game console, so you’ll instantly get the game mode, which reduces input lag and response time to near-instant.
As for the input lag, this is an 8.5-millisecond TV, so it’s not as fast as some dedicated gaming monitors, but it’s still one of the fastest TVs out there. Playing Warzone, for example, you’re still going to get those instant kills with no trigger lag at all.
Now, there are a couple of features that this TV lacks for gaming. One is the exclusion of a gaming hub or menu. Unlike LG and Samsung TVs, Sony has decided not to include any kind of menu where you can quickly see or tweak your settings. This isn’t a major issue, but it would be nice if Sony implemented this in future TVs. Another feature it lacks is 1440p support. Unfortunately, if you wanted to use 1440p on your PC or console, it won’t work.
Over the last year or two, I’ve definitely seen a rise in people using 38, 40, and 42-inch screens as their monitors. I think that’s why a TV like this could be used for productivity reasons as well as gaming and movies. When it comes to using a TV with a PC, laptop, or MacBook, there are a few things you need to look for. First is the availability of ports. The A90K isn’t marketed as a monitor, so it doesn’t come with a DisplayPort or USB-C. That means you’ll need to use an HDMI port instead.
From a size perspective, the 42 inches may seem crazy for productivity at first. It can feel daunting if you’re coming from a smaller screen. But give it a week or two, and it just feels normal. My other daily monitor is a 40-inch ultrawide, and I couldn’t go back to a smaller screen. However, the A90K isn’t an ultrawide, so it’s a lot taller and provides far more screen real estate. To manage my dashboard and all the apps I’m using, I use an app called Magnet. It allows me to snap windows and tabs into any layout I’d like, whether that’s moving my windows right into the corner of the screen or having the apps side by side. On a screen this size, you can fit so much more on it. Seeing my entire timeline in Final Cut Pro is great and instantly makes me feel far more productive. Additionally, the image is super sharp.
One of the questions I got during the unboxing video was about the text. Well, if you press your face right up against the screen, you might see some slight artifacts. But honestly, sitting a couple of feet away, as most of you would, the text looks perfect and is easily readable. I wouldn’t have an issue using this as a monitor, even for writing documents and scripts every day. However, if you were using this as a monitor, you might be concerned about ABL (Auto Brightness Limiter). This is where the entire screen dims if you have a bright image on the screen for too long. From my experience over the last few weeks of using it, it has kicked in from time to time if I’ve left a screen on for too long without interacting with it. However, during normal use while scrolling or writing documents, I haven’t seen it at all. It’s definitely nowhere near as harsh as what we’ve seen on the LG OLEDs.
Sony A90k 42″ Design
As for the design of the TV, it’s a nice-looking screen. It has thin bezels across the top and sides, with a slightly thicker chin across the bottom. Overall, it looks premium, and honestly, I think it looks great in my setup. Moving to the back, it features a plastic honeycomb pattern that covers the entire panel. Additionally, it comes with covers that can be used to hide away the ports and cables.
Now let’s talk about the stand. Not only does it look and feel premium, mainly due to the fact that it’s made of metal instead of plastic, but it can also be fitted in two different ways. You can either have it placed flat on the desk, which is how I use it, or you can use the provided spacers to elevate it and give it a more monitor-like appearance. Personally, I think it looks far better when it’s lower, plus it means you won’t see any of your cables hanging down. The flexibility of having two different options for the stand is brilliant.
So, I’ve discussed how impressive the picture quality is in both SDR and HDR, and you might be curious about the picture settings I’m using. Well, the good news is that straight out of the box, I haven’t made any changes. All I did was make sure the gaming mode is enabled when using the PlayStation 5 and that the energy-saving mode is switched off. That’s pretty much it. I haven’t felt the need to tweak or adjust any settings because the default ones have been working perfectly fine. This is actually a good thing because it means you can buy this TV, unbox it, and start using it right away without any hassle.
Most OLED TVs have a reflective or glossy screen, and this actually contributes to the clarity and overall picture quality. The sony a90k 42″ also features a glossy finish, but it has a heavily tinted coating that does a pretty decent job of reducing reflections in your room. However, if you have a well-lit room or if the TV is positioned near a window, it may not be very forgiving, and you may end up seeing everything behind you reflected on the screen. My advice would be to avoid placing it directly opposite a window or any strong light source to minimize reflections.
Sony A90K TV Remote and UI
Now, let’s talk about the remote control that comes with the TV. It’s a nice remote, made of metal, and has a minimalist design with only a handful of buttons that you’ll actually use. What’s even better is that it’s backlit, which makes it easier to use at night. One really cool feature is that you can remap the TV button at the top to any port. In my case, I have it mapped to the HDMI port for the PS5, so when I press it, it instantly switches to that port without having to select it from the list of inputs.
As for the user interface (UI) and menus, the Sony TV has one of the nicest UIs out there. It uses Google TV, which presents a nice tiled format for all the movies, TV shows, and apps on the home screen. It also includes all the major streaming apps you would expect, such as Netflix, Apple TV, and Prime. Navigating around feels fast and responsive, and from a visual perspective, this is one of my favorite UIs to use.
Most people who use a monitor in their setup typically rely on headphones or external speakers for audio. However, since this is a TV and not a monitor, it comes with built-in speakers. There are two speakers positioned behind the screen, and considering the size and thinness of the panel, they sound okay. The clarity for dialogue is good, but they lack bass. To be honest, if sound quality is important to you in your TV or monitor setup, you would likely use external speakers anyway. However, feel free to have a listen to the built-in speakers and see what you think.
Sony A90K Price
You might be wondering about the cost of this TV. Well, the a90k is available in two sizes: the 42-inch model price is $787 on amazon, which we’ve discussed today, and the 48-inch model price is $999 on amazon. Considering the LG models are cheaper and offer similar features, it’s difficult to justify the extra money for the Sony. However, it’s worth noting that the Sony does have stunning picture quality.
Sony A90K 42″ OLED TV Worth Buying?
In summary, the Sony a90k OLED is truly a brilliant TV. Like with any TV, there are pros and cons that are specific to individual needs. What works for me may not work for you, and vice versa. However, the ultimate question is whether it’s worth buying. The simple answer is yes. You won’t be disappointed with this screen, as the picture quality and gaming features are incredible.
But if the question is whether you should buy the LG C2, C3, or the a90k, I would probably lean towards the LG. There are several reasons for this, but the main three are price, brightness, and gaming features. These are three compelling reasons to choose the LG over the Sony. However, that doesn’t mean the Sony is bad. It’s just that it falls short in those three aspects if you prioritize them.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this matter. There are no wrong answers here. Feel free to drop a comment if you’re a fan of the 42-inch OLED. I’ll give you a thumbs up for staying till the end. And if you enjoyed today’s video, be sure to check out my review of the Sony a95k, where I discuss the 65-inch QD OLED a few months ago.