Sony A90J OLED TV Review. Sony Bravia XR oled
Sony’s bright and beautiful new OLED puts LG (and everyone else) on notice
Sony’s Master Series OLED, the Sony A90J (available at Best Buy for 2,199.99). is only the first 2021 TV we’ve tested, but it’s already shaping up to be one of the year’s best. over, it feels like the proverbial thrown gauntlet—a challenge for Sony’s rivals in the OLED TV category to step their game up.
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- About the Sony A90J Master Series OLED
- What We Like
- What We Don’t Like
- Should You Buy the Sony A90J OLED TV?
- Incredible contrast and color
- HDMI 2.1-specified features
- Zippy, flexible Smart platform
While it isn’t a massive leap forward from Sony’s last generation of OLED TVs, there are minor-to-moderate improvements all over the A90J, from its performance to its Smart platform. Gamers will be happy to learn that Sony has finally embraced HDMI 2.1, and when it comes to overall picture quality, very few TVs are in the same realm.
There’s no way around the A90J’s steep cost—not many consumer-facing TVs are priced this high. But for anyone looking to build an advanced home theater setup, the A90J has the performance chops and the hardware to be the cornerstone. It’s truly a feast for the senses.
Updated February 14, 2023: We’ve added the current available pricing information for the Sony A90J.
About the Sony A90J Master Series OLED
The Sony A90J OLED TV is available in 55-, 65-, and 83-inch size variants.
The Sony A90J is available in three sizes: 55 inches, 65 inches, and a room-dominating 83 inches. Our review unit is a 65-inch A90J on loan from Sony.
Here’s how the series’ pricing shakes out:
- 55-inch (Sony XBR-55A90J), MSRP 1,999.99
- 65-inch (Sony XBR-65A90J), MSRP 2,999.99
- 83-inch (Sony XBR-83A90J), MSRP 5,999.99
Different sizes of TVs in a series tend to perform very similarly to one another, and this is especially true for OLED TVs, which, due to their self-emissive nature, don’t rely on varying backlight components that might differ depending on panel size.
In fact, other than screen size, the only difference between the three sizes of the Sony A90J is that the 83-inch version offers three ways to configure the TV’s stand, whereas the 55- and 65-inch versions offer two configurations. I’ll touch on this aspect of the TV’s design at length further into the review.
Here’s a rundown of key specifications shared by all sizes in the A90J series:
- Resolution: 4K (3,840 x 2,160)
- Display type: OLED
- HDR support: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision
- Dolby Atmos: Yes
- eARC support: Yes
- Native refresh rate: 120 Hz
- Smart platform: Yes (Google TV)
- Color: DCI-P3/10-bit color space
- Processor: Cognitive Processor XR
- Variable Refresh Rate (VRR): Yes
- Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM): Yes
- Other features: AirPlay support, Google Assistant, and Chromecast integration
Google TV is a much-needed improvement over Android TV—it’s faster, easier to navigate, and offers a wide selection of content.
Sony’s Bravia TV lineup is making the switch from Android TV to Google TV (more on that later). Additionally, the Sony A90J also offers support for Google Assistant and Chromecast, the latter of which allows users to “cast” content to the A90J from a mobile device.
The A90J’s high-class hardware allows for such features as Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), and it’s capable of displaying 4K content at 120 FPS, provided that one of the TV’s two HDMI 2.1 inputs is in use.
Rounding out the package are several A/V goodies worth mentioning: two picture modes calibrated specifically for Netflix original content and IMAX-enhanced content, as well as an audio feature dubbed “XR Sound Position,” which uses the TV’s surface speakers to match audio to its visual source within the onscreen action. The A90J also features an ambient light sensor and a color sensor which, when enabled, adjust the picture’s brightness and color temperature based on the lighting conditions of the TV’s environment.
We used Sony’s “Custom” picture mode for all of our SDR and HDR tests.
Before testing each TV, we make sure the panel is on and receiving a continuous signal for at least 24 hours, allowing the pixels plenty of time to warm up. Our 65-inch A90J received this standard warm-up time before any readings were taken.
For both SDR and HDR tests, we used Sony’s “Custom” picture setting. We’ve chosen this picture mode because of its accuracy (Sony reports that its “Custom” picture setting is the best-calibrated mode), but results may vary depending on which picture mode is enabled. We also disabled the A90J’s ambient light sensor for every test we conducted.
We use a standard ANSI checkerboard pattern for most of our basic contrast tests—including the ones reported below—but we also use white and black Windows ranging from 2% to 90% to test how well the contrast holds up while displaying varying degrees of brightness.
All of our tests are created with a QuantumData 780A signal generator and tabulated via Calman Ultimate. I’ll expand on our test results throughout the review, but for now, here are some key takeaways:
HDR contrast (brightness/black level): 279.1 nits/0.001 nits (ANSI checkerboard) SDR contrast (brightness/black level): 214.6 nits/0.001 nits (ANSI checkerboard) HDR peak brightness: 723.3 nits (20% white window) HDR color gamut coverage: 98% (DCI-P3/10-bit) SDR color gamut coverage: 100% (Rec.709)
In addition to our lab tests, a critical aspect of our testing process is to watch content and to simply “hang out” with the TV for a while. Due to COVID restrictions, the process typically takes place over several days with multiple people assessing the TV.
The A90J features four HDMI ports, two of which support HDMI 2.1-related features like 4K resolution at 120 Hz.
Like most top-shelf TVs in 2021, the Sony A90J is equipped with some of the best hardware currently available for A/V enthusiasts and gamers alike. You’ll find the following inputs in cutouts on the back of the A90J’s panel:
4x HDMI (2x HDMI 2.1, 1x eARC) 3x USB (1x USB 3.0) Composite input LAN ethernet port, RF input, optical (digital) audio output, 3.5mm audio output
It’s worth underlining that, of the four HDMI ports, only two of them support HDMI 2.1-specified features like VRR, ALLM, and 4K resolution at 120 FPS. If you’re hoping to take advantage of these features, be sure that your devices are plugged into the appropriate port.
What We Like
Excellent contrast and color
Perfect black levels are just one of the many benefits of OLED display technology.
Of the myriad benefits of OLED technology, its greatest advantage by far is its ability to create perfect black levels. Since these impressive displays don’t rely on a backlight, each individual pixel is capable of turning on and off independently, which is why TVs like the A90J are capable of such stunning contrast.
Deep, dark black levels are just the tip of the iceberg, however; an OLED TV’s self-emissive nature also ensures that light and dark picture elements are tightly controlled, so the A90J is free of light bloom. Shadow tones are properly gradated and there’s almost no light bleeding to speak of when bright and dark picture elements are sharing the frame.
And although we’re slightly disappointed in the A90J’s somewhat-limited brightness, it’s nevertheless one of the brightest OLED TVs we’ve ever tested, climbing as high as 700 to 800 nits in its most accurate picture mode. While that sort of brightness falls well below the 1,000 to 1,300 nits we regularly measure on high-end LCD/LED TVs, as of now it nevertheless represents the upper limit of what we’ve come to expect from OLED TVs.
The A90J is a heck of a good HDR TV thanks to its accurate, voluminous color reproduction and superb contrast.
Almost as impressive as the A90J’s contrast is its color reproduction, which is about as accurate as you can get these days. According to our lab tests, the A90J covers about 98% of the extra-wide HDR color gamut (DCI-P3) and 100% of the standard Rec.709 color space. Its color temperature errs on the cooler side, but not enough to distract even the keenest of eyes.
So long as the A90J is set to its “Custom” picture mode, its out-of-the-box performance is one of the best we’ve ever seen. If you’re a stickler for accurate colors but you’ve got no interest in having your TV calibrated professionally, the A90J is a fantastic solution.
Unique, adjustable design that looks great
The adjustable feet flank the A90J’s impressively thin panel and give the illusion that the TV is standing up like an easel.
The A90J is one of those rare TVs whose design is as interesting as it is functional. If you’re not planning on mounting your A90J, you’ll have the choice between at least two stand positions. The standard setup places the TV’s feet just outside of the panel’s corners, which makes it appear as though the A90J is standing up on its own, its bottom bezel resting almost directly on whatever surface it sits on.
Each adjustable foot—seen here in its standard position—features a cable management compartment.
If you use a soundbar, the standard position might not be the best choice, since it keeps the A90J as close to the TV’s surface as possible, which means a soundbar might get in the way of the picture. The TV’s secondary position simply rotates the TV’s feet so that they’re elevating the panel, which leaves plenty of room for tabletop devices like soundbars or streaming boxes.
The 83-inch version of the A90J features both of these configurations plus a third option which brings the TV’s feet closer to the center of the panel. Without this option, folks who invest in the 83-inch version of the A90J probably wouldn’t be able to find a wide-enough surface to accommodate its massive panel. Regardless of which configuration you opt for, the A90J’s feet and panel offer cable management compartments that do a fine job of hiding your devices’ wires if you just can’t stand the sight of them.
Sony’s new remote control is narrower than it was in years past and also features a backlight for easier dark room use.
Being an OLED TV, the A90J features a razor-thin panel that’s far narrower than any you’ll find on a traditional, backlit LCD/LED TV. Other than the chassis—which is just thick enough to accommodate the TV’s internals—the A90J is about as thin as TVs come these days.
Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to Sony’s new remote control. In addition to looking and feeling better than any Sony clicker in recent memory, it also offers a backlight so users have an easier time using it in the dark.
Future-facing features for gamers and A/V geeks
Included with the A90J: eARC compatibility, Dolby Vision support, a native 120 Hz refresh rate, and gaming-centric, HDMI 2.1-specified features
We were reasonably disappointed in last year’s Sony A8H OLED TV for its lack of HDMI 2.1-specified features, but this year, Sony is wisely positioning most of its high-end TVs for the future by strapping them with features that will keep them fresh for years to come.
As part of Sony’s Master Series, the A90J is one of the TVs enjoying an upgrade this year. Two of the TV’s HDMI inputs support 4K content at 120 Hz as well as Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), two gaming-related features that optimize the A90J for next-generation gaming.
Like most of Sony’s premium offerings in 2020, the 2021 A90J offers eARC compatibility for high-resolution audio passthrough to Dolby Atmos-compatible sound systems as well as Dolby Vision support.
If you own (or you’re planning on owning) a Playstation 5 or Xbox Series X, the Sony A90J will set you up for years of compatibility with the still-nascent advancements in video game technology.
Flexibility for audiophiles
Sony’s Acoustic Surface Audio system is hiding a few tricks up its sleeve, including real-time ambient audio optimization and a center speaker mode.
In addition to its support for the Dolby Atmos audio format, the A90J is also hiding some interesting audio-related tricks up its sleeve. Its impressive internal speaker system is screen-based, with dual-coil actuators and subwoofers hidden right in the panel. Dubbed “Acoustic Surface Audio,” the system is capable of spatially positioning the audio based on the location of the subjects in the frame.
Another neat feature is the A90J’s ability to use the TV’s internal speakers as the center channel in a surround sound system—something its younger sibling, the A80J OLED, can’t pull off. Under most circumstances, I’d not think much of this feature, but I can certainly see the appeal when paired with the A90J’s ability to spatially adjust audio via the display.
Google TV is a big improvement over Android TV
If you’d rather not jump from app to app, Google TV allows you to search for specific content across all of your available apps.
This year, every TV in Sony’s Bravia lineup is making the switch from Android TV to Google TV—the same software experience you’ll find on the new Chromecast. While we always appreciated Android TV’s wealth of content, we found its implementation within Sony’s software to be frustrating more often than not.
Fortunately, Google TV is a major step up in almost every way. Basic menu navigation is zippier than it was in the Android TV years and the user interface is much easier to digest. That said, some folks might need some time to get used to Google’s content-centric approach to organization, which prompts users to search for content across all available apps. Additional apps can be added to Google TV, but the primary means of accessing content is search-based, and these searches take all available apps into account.
In the time we’ve spent with Google TV, we haven’t noticed very many situations where it prioritizes paid content over free content. In other words, the system rarely seems as though it’s funneling users into pay-per-view options when a title is also available for free.
What We Don’t Like
Impressively bright for an OLED, but not as bright as we’d hoped
We were thrilled to discover that the A90J is one of the brightest OLEDs we’ve ever tested, but we’re nevertheless disappointed that it isn’t brighter.
Before I begin to pick some nits, I’d like to reiterate that the A90J is among the brightest OLEDs we’ve ever tested. Sony promised that this year’s Master Series OLED would see improvements in overall brightness, and this is correct—the A90J is, on average, brighter than the Sony A8H we tested last year. That said (and this is where the nitpicking comes in), we’d be lying if we said we weren’t expecting a bit more in the brightness department.
The A90J is the first Sony OLED to feature an aluminum laminate within the panel composite. The panel is intended to act as a heat sink of sorts, and Sony says that the heat dissipation improves brightness. The company’s engineers have also reportedly found a way to push WRGB sub-pixel luminance without throwing off the picture’s white balance, which they say is one of the reasons for the panel’s improved brightness.
While the A90J is technically brighter than Sony’s last round of OLEDs, it’s usually only about 50 to 100 nits brighter on average, specular highlights aside. It’s certainly an achievement, just not as big of a leap as I was envisioning.
In fairness, you can’t hold it against Sony for failing to drag OLED displays into the sort of future I often daydream about, and the A90J is impressively bright for its class. It’s here where I’ll also reinforce that the incredible contrast of OLED panels makes them appear brighter than they actually are under normal circumstances. That said, if your living room is a bright one—or if you’d simply rather invest in a TV that packs a brighter punch—you’ll probably find a better pick outside of the OLED category altogether.
Priced at a premium
The A90J starts at around 3,000 for the 55-inch model.
Sony’s maximalist approach to its Master Series lineup ensures that those investing in a TV like the A90J are getting a suite of top-shelf hardware and future-ready features. Unfortunately, this makes for a TV whose cost is anything but budget friendly.
The series starts at around 3,000 for the 55-inch model—the smallest TV in the series. If you’re looking to lock down a 65-inch A90J, that will set you back around 4,000. To be clear, these are not unheard of for high-end flagship TVs like the A90J, but consider the fact that the LG CX, our pick for the Best TV from last year, starts at 1,799 for the 55-inch model.
Investing in the Sony A90J means investing in one of the best TVs the industry has to offer right now, but all things considered, it’s still priced a bit higher than we expected it would be given the market. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth the cost, it just means that its closest competition has the edge in terms of pricing.
Of course, in the coming weeks and months we’ll be getting a good look at some of LG’s 2021 OLEDs, so we don’t have to wait very long to see how the A90J stacks up to its most recent fellow OLED TVs.
Should You Buy the Sony A90J OLED TV?
Yes—if you have the means, it’s one of the best TVs of the year
The Sony A90J is undoubtedly one of the best TVs of the year.
While it’s certainly a steep investment, the Sony A90J is one of the best TVs we’ve seen in a long while, and undoubtedly one of the best of the year. It may not be a huge leap forward, but nearly every aspect of the A90J has seen an improvement—from its Smart platform right down to the physical design.
Despite not quite living up to my (apparently unrealistic) expectations for next-level OLED brightness, the A90J is nevertheless one of the brightest OLEDs we’ve ever seen, and its out-of-the-box calibration is downright surgical. Its picture quality is buoyed by an array of future-facing features that will keep gamers and cinephiles satisfied for years to come.
It’s the sum of these improvements that really makes the A90J significantly more recommendable than Sony OLEDs of years past—and what makes it such a tough rival for competing OLEDs from LG and Vizio. That said, most of its competition can be bought for less, and the A90J isn’t that much brighter than last year’s LG CX (which is otherwise every bit as good from a performance standpoint).
If your living room gets a lot of daylight—or if you’re just hoping to invest in a stunningly bright home theater experience—I’d recommend leaving the OLED category altogether and exploring quantum dot LED TVs like the Vizio P-Series Quantum X or the Samsung Q90T, both of which get much, much brighter than any OLED.
The Sony A90J is unquestionably one of the best TVs money can buy, and if you can stomach the cost, it’s unlikely you’ll regret the investment.
Meet the testers
Michael Desjardin graduated from Emerson College after having studied media production and screenwriting. He specializes in tech for Reviewed, but also loves film criticism, weird ambient music, cooking, and food in general.
Julia is the Senior Scientist at Reviewed, which means that she oversees (and continually updates) the testing of products in Reviewed’s core categories such as televisions, washing machines, refrigerators, and more. She also determines the testing methods and standards for Reviewed’s “The Best Right Now” articles.
Checking our work.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you’re confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we’ll compare notes.
Sony Bravia XR A80J Review
When Sony releases a television, it’s usually an immediate competitor for best in whatever price segment it sits in. The A80J is a high-end OLED display that is the more approachable of Sony’s OLED lineup in terms of price and competes right up next to the LG C1 as one of the best 4K TVs for gaming. And while LG comes in just slightly less expensive, the A80J makes several strong arguments that it should be considered the superior choice side-by-side.
Since the actual quality of the OLED panel is going to be negligibly different, if at all, Sony instead competes on its software and design. But is that worth the extra 200 when you’re already spending more than 2,000?
Sony A80J – Design and Build
Like most modern OLED televisions, the actual display of the Sony is stunningly thin. The bezels are near invisible, and Sony created a stand that sits the A80J just barely above my media console. Sony chose this particular design philosophy to bring as much emphasis on the display itself and make the other parts of the television fade into the background.
When watching the A80J, I can attest that while I like the innovation of some stands on competitor displays – like the dramatic swoop found on the Vizio OLED – forcing my eye to just enjoy what’s on display with no distractions does make sense. Stands can look cool, but that’s not why I buy a television.
The downside of this philosophy is that the feet of the A80J are so close to the platform on which it sits that there is no room to include any kind of cable management. Because the display is so low set, you probably won’t notice the cables unless you are intentionally looking for them, but they are there and they can be seen. If I’m going to ding other display manufacturers for not addressing cable management, I have to hold Sony to that same standard.
Of course, if you plan to wall-mount the television none of this matters and the A80J will just melt into your wall, blending in almost seamlessly.
The A80J is loaded with connectivity options. Digitally, it supports Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay 2, Bluetooth, and Chromecast. Physically it offers a composite video input, a digital audio input, and an ethernet port. It also packs four total HDMI ports, two of which are the latest 2.1 standard and one of those is designated for eARC (which is the port I used to connect my HDMI audio device). There are also two USB ports.
The HDMI 2.1 ports support up to 120Hz in 4K HDR and are compatible with variable refresh rate (VRR), but there is a catch: like all Sony displays right now, VRR is only promised for an undefined “future” firmware update and is not currently enabled. If you’re planning to game with a Playstation 5, this isn’t a big deal since the PS5 doesn’t support VRR yet either. But if you’re using an Xbox, it certainly bears consideration.
Sony A80J – Remote
Moving on to the remote control, let’s address the elephant in the room: it’s huge. It’s obnoxiously large and a lot of it is taken up with buttons you will likely never touch. Unlike Vizio, Samsung, or TCL, Sony continues to create remotes that offer buyers the ability to control just about everything, and as such have a button to do just about anything. The company still includes the number pad, for example, and there is a giant blank space at the bottom that is likely included as a grip which expands the height of the controller even further.
It’s easily twice as large as any other remote I’ve held since the last Sony remote I used. Still, it has a lot of options on it, which some people might appreciate. Me? I wish it was a quarter as big.
Sony A80J – Software and UI
The Sony A80J is powered by Google TV and it works perfectly. For years I detested using Google’s previous operating system – Android TV – on any display, but Sony’s processor plus the updated Google TV is a snappy experience that exhibits no lag and is an overall lovely experience.
Google TV on the A80J works like it does on any other television. There’s a wide selection of apps you can install at setup, or later at any time. Every app I could ask for is available and they all work flawlessly.
Sony A80J – Picture Quality
The Sony A80J uses an OLED display, which means that each pixel of the television can be controlled individually and even turned off entirely. That means that blacks can be true black, which makes for stunning picture quality when contrasted against any pixels that are lit.
Rich blacks and beautiful colors are rendered beautifully on this display, and support for various HDR formats including Dolby Vision means streamed content from Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney, and Sony’s own Bravia Core looks spectacular. Bravia Core, which has a good but somewhat limited selection of movies, is a movie streaming service from Sony that offers a bitrate of up to 80 Mbps, much higher than any of the other streaming platforms. If your internet can handle that kind of data throughput, picture quality through Bravia Core is outstanding and near Blu-Ray quality.
OLED displays of this size are all theoretically capable of the same quality, but Sony ups the ante with some of the best – if not the best – picture processing available on the market.
When watching lower bitrate content from streaming providers like Disney, banding and artifact “blocking” can sometimes be visible in scenes. For example, during the desert scenes from the first season of The Mandalorian, the bright sky can appear to have lines on it as there isn’t enough data to create a smooth transition among those graduated colors.
That is, if you’re not watching on a Sony. The A80J software can interpret that lower quality data stream and smooth it out, removing those gradients and making for a smooth, pristine sky.
It makes most streams look better, but it is not a cure-all. Particularly old shows can still suffer from pixels blocking together. For example, when streaming Buffy The Vampire Slayer, which was produced in the 1990s, no amount of software was able to smooth out some of those scenes where there just isn’t enough data for a clean picture, even for the A80J.
The one knock on this display is a problem with all OLED displays: brightness. Overall, the television is noticeably less bright than LCD-style televisions like the Hisense U7G or Mini LED televisions like the TCL 6-Series. The A80J is certainly capable of hitting some very bright peaks, but it is rare to see – as the brighter the object on screen, the more likely it is to experience permanent burn-in.
Speaking of which, a lot of the trepidation folks have when faced with buying an OLED comes from that burn-in fear, but most average consumers won’t have to worry about it. I’ve used OLED displays as my daily drivers for years now and never had an issue. Only if you plan to play a video game with a persistent, unchanging HUD or have a news network with a ticker always showing for eight to 10 hours a day every day for months will the problem start to rear itself. Under normal use cases, software in the television keeps a careful eye on the display’s status to assure that none of the pixels get too worked out and burn in.
Sony A80J – Gaming Performance
Thanks to HDMI 2.1 and the extremely fast response time of OLED displays along with auto-low latency mode (ALLM) that kicks in when tuned to Game mode, the Sony A80J is a gaming dream. HDR games look especially fantastic and playing the few games that can operate at 4K HDR at 120 frames per second results in a top-tier display experience for consoles on a modern television.
As far as performance is concerned, I had no issues at all playing a host of games on the PS5: Apex Legends, Destiny 2, A Plague Tale: Innocence, and Risk of Rain 2 all looked and played great. The majority of those games can’t exceed 60 frames per second in 4K but the visual experience sparkles nonetheless. A Plague Tale in particular looks remarkable.
Destiny 2 is a truly fantastic experience. The PvE portions of the game look absolutely fantastic and really let you sit back and enjoy the work the developers put into the atmosphere of the game. In PvP activities, the 120 frames per second kicks in for a buttery smooth competitive experience.
One knock right now is that, as mentioned, the A80J doesn’t currently support VRR and Sony has not provided any indication of when it might come, though it does promise that a future firmware update will bring it to all of its compatible televisions. This is no doubt frustrating, especially for Xbox owners or even PC players who thought about using this television as a monitor.
One last thing to note about OLEDs is that when something is black on screen – like a cave or a hole – it’s black. While this kind of contrast looks exceptional for movies and TV, it’s less great for gaming, especially competitive. While you can adjust the contrast to be less black and choose not to use HDR, it’s still something to consider. Mixed with this TV’s medium-tier brightness, it can be a challenge at times, especially when gaming during the day or in a brightly lit room. It’s possible to completely miss an opponent hiding in a dark corner in Apex Legends because the TV just can’t come out of black and into the gray very easily. For single person adventures, this is less of a big deal.
Sony A80J – Audio Quality
Audio quality of this television is better than many other thin displays on the market, but it’s still not one I would recommend for those who like quality sound. Audio sounds like it is coming directly at you from the screen – because it is: Sony uses a technology that plays sound through the display itself. With certain Sony soundbar systems, the display can even be used as a center channel in a multi-speaker system.
But alone, sound out of the A80J is really lacking on the low end, which makes a lot of audio sound hollow and without depth. So while yes, it’s better than you might find in a lot of other competitive options, I still don’t think it’s something to rely on. Get a sound bar or better yet, a true sound system. A great display like this deserves that kind of quality audio.
Sony A80J – The Competition
Those in the market for the A80J will no doubt be looking at the LG C1 and the Vizio OLED H1. Sony will likely win on pure picture quality against both when displaying low bitrate content because of its superior processing, and the implementation of Google TV is more approachable than LG’s webOS and less buggy than Vizio’s overall experience, even though Smartcast at its core is still pretty great. But folks using these televisions mainly for gaming might not care about these benefits, and I don’t blame them. If you run your entire entertainment system off your Playstation, for example, the gap in performance between these televisions closes. I can’t speak more highly to Sony’s picture quality than I already have, but it’s going to be up to you to decide if what Sony does better than the competition is worth the slightly premium price the A80J asks of you.
The Sony Bravia XR A80J is available at Best Buy and from Sony for 1,799 for 55 inches, 2,299 for 65 inches, and 3,499 for 77 inches. It’s also available on Amazon.
The Sony A80J isn’t cheap, it doesn’t offer any kind of cable management solutions, and it isn’t particularly bright. But none of that really takes away from how good it performs in all other categories. The display looks fantastic as the centerpiece of a living room or home theater, offers a snappy Smart TV experience, has the chops to work as a top-tier console gaming experience, and it has picture quality that is as good as it currently gets.
The Sony Bravia XR A80K OLED offers the OLED viewing experience with Sony’s masterful tuning and a great TV to back it up with. Here is our full review.
OLED TVs have become a massive trend and with Xiaomi jumping into the scene with its OLED Vision TV, it has become more difficult for the big players like Samsung and Sony to up their game. Sony recently announced its Bravia XR A80K OLED TV series for the Indian market and with this, Sony wants to FOCUS on delivering the optimum picture quality. Given that the last Led backlit TV from Sony we reviewed left us fairly impressed, getting to experience an OLED TV from Sony had left me full of anticipation and excitement. And boy did it deliver!
You may be interested in
When Sony says it wants to FOCUS on picture quality, you know your wallets are going to bear the brunt of that claim. In the case of the Sony Bravia XR A80K OLED, that brunt is quite high. I had the 55-inch variant of the TV that Sony demands a whopping amount of Rs. 1,99,990 for. That is knocking on the luxury TV segment but spending over two weeks with the A80K OLED has justified that exorbitant price tag.
OLED TVs by their very nature wear that “single slate” look and the Sony Bravia XR A80K OLED does that nicely. Mounted on the wall, the A80K looks sleek and its stealthy design elements help it blend well with the home decor, no matter what kind of furniture and setup you have. The bezel-less design has been executed with utmost craftsmanship. The ports are easily accessible from the sides although the far-field microphone button is tricky to find. You get your usual collection of I/O ports but the ones that are unique are the two HDMI 2.1 ports that support 120 fps. Gamers ahoy!
For those who prefer table top mounting, you get the table stands within the package. I had it wall mounted for the better viewing experience. The remote controller, sadly, is a very basic one. It has all the buttons needed for Smart functions and quick access to the apps, but the layout is highly cluttered. On the plus side, it is easier to use and I am happy to see the shortcut key to Settings overlay menu as well as the YouTube app.
As the name suggests, the Sony Bravia XR A80K OLED features an OLED panel. OLED is of the emissive type and that means every individual pixel generates its own light. This means that the TV has far superior control over every pixel and that helps it control the lighting just as it requires. Hence, in a movie like The Interstellar, the scenes depicting the space are rendered brilliantly – the astronaut’s suit and the spacecraft are done in the brightest of whites while the space around it is genuinely black! Pitch black! In a dark room, you get to have the cinema-like experience; except for the fact that even cinemas can’t do blacks this well.
But there’s more to the Sony Bravia XR A80K OLED than just getting deep blacks. This is a 4K TV that supports HDR10, Dolby Vision, and HLG picture formats. On top of that is Sony’s XR processor and a bunch of Sony enhancements, all of which aim to make the picture stand out with its colour rendition.
The A80K has something called the XR OLED Contrast Pro that simply enhances the brightness and contrast in the bright lit regions of the screen, and dimming the darker regions – all to make the contrast higher. The Cognitive Processor XR claims to enhance the elements that you would usually FOCUS on in the scene, and then enhance it accordingly for a better experience. All of these work very subtly but the end result is simply marvellous.
To show how well the TV panel is optimised, Sony has pre-loaded the A80K with Bravia Core – an app that hosts some of the most popular movie titles that would work greatly with the TV. I watched Spider-Man: No Way Home and the experience was superior to the theatre’s one. The clarity on Peter Parker’s face while he jumps around was astonishing, and the colours were simply breathtaking to watch.
I also watched a lot of Hollywood blockbusters as well as the Marvel web series on OTT apps, and the experience has been simply amazing. Dolby Vision content looks lively while HDR10 rated content is rendered equally good. Even regular videos and movies look nice – this is the benefit of an OLED TV.
I was also impressed with the upscaling performance in 1080p content. The TV managed to keep the loss of pixels to very low, although a loss in sharpness was observed. For 720p content, the TV does a decent job but the lack of pixels makes the 55-inch canvas struggle to fill it in with more details.
The A80K also supports up to 120 frames per second and that makes supported content look smooth. However, the motion blur could not be pleasant for many – the soap opera effect is visible on slow moving subjects. Unless you have a really keen eye like we do, this shouldn’t be a concern.
Sadly, I did not have access to a gaming console that could take advantage of this 120 fps feature. If you have one, you can enjoy gaming on these consoles at their very best.
Lastly, the ambient light sensor helps in keeping the brightness of the panel in check under dimly lit conditions, as well as sunlit conditions in a room.
The Sony Bravia XR A80K OLED is more than just the OLED panel. Sony uses something called the Acoustic Surface Audio, which replaces conventional speakers for a set of three actuators. These actuators vibrate together to make the display generate the sound. To enhance the quality, there are two additional actuators on the edges for boosting high frequency sounds and enabling clear dialogue. Then there are two subwoofers to enhance the low-end thump, or bass.
Sounds too fancy? All you need to know is that it feels exactly like a regular TV speaker setup. The sound seems to come from the TV’s direction and in content where the surround sound engineering is utilized, it seems the sound comes from around you. You still need a soundbar for an authentic surround sound experience but the TV’s audio setup is good enough to allow me to disconnect my soundbar. In Dolby Atmos supported content, the performance is great as expected.
As is the norm with new Sony TVs, the Bravia XR A80K makes use of the Google TV platform. The Google TV interface needs no introduction to Smart TV aficionados – it is a new design direction for Android TV models that looks prettier on the eyes. Sony hasn’t touched the basic interface design and only lets you have the Settings overlay menu, which then opens up to the standard Google TV settings interface.
What does it all mean for the regular viewer? Your TV homescreen keeps showing suggested content ideas to watch from various OTT apps installed on the device. If you have the subscription, a single click will take you to the specific movie or web show. The Bravia Core is a separate app that opens up to the specially curated movie library optimised specifically for the TV. The performance of the Google TV interface is fast and smooth, and I did not observe any jitters or lags in the animations.
The presence of Google TV also means that you have access to Chromecast, Google Assistant, and the Google Play store. There’s also support for Apple AirPlay 2, which means you can use your iPhone to cast content to the TV. Bootup times are quick for the TV.
OLED TVs will be the darling for TV aficionados and the Sony Bravia XR A80K OLED justifies that hype surrounding the OLED TV tech. While the OLED panel in itself is great, it is all the XR branded enhancements to picture that makes the viewing experience an unparalleled experience. If you have a habit of doing those late night weekend movie sessions in a dark room, the Sony Bravia XR A80K OLED is one of the best ways to do so at a budget of Rs. 2 lakhs.
That’s not all though. The Acoustic Surface Audio feature makes for a very good audio experience that feels natural to perceive, and it negates the need for a soundbar. The bass performance is good as well. The Google TV interface only adds to the experience and I adore Sony for including the Bravia Core service for giving viewers a chance to enjoy the TV to its fullest.
If you have a budget of Rs. 2 lakhs and you are willing to make the upgrade to OLED albeit in a 55-inch flavour, I highly recommend the Sony Bravia XR A80K OLED.
Sony TV 2023: All the 8K, 4K, OLED and Bravia XR TVs explained
The 2021 Sony TV line-up is one of the biggest upgrades we’ve seen from the Japanese manufacturer, with a new smarter processor, upgraded UI and better gaming compatibility across the range.
We’ll be updating this list throughout the year as more information around release dates and comes to light.
New Sony TVs for 2021
The headline feature is that Sony’s 2021 TV range are the world’s first cognitive intelligence televisions on the market. You can read the section below to understand exactly what that means.
For this year, Sony has adopted the J naming designation for its TVs. That means that if the model number ends in J, it’s a new 2021 TV. We should also note that for the 2020 TVs that have carried over or are still available, they’ve been re-named from KD to KE. So, for instance, if you see the KE-48A9 OLED, that’s the same TV as the KD-48A9 but has been re-named in light of new European power regulations.
New 8K TVs, new OLEDs, new 4K Full Array LED models have launched under the Bravia XR umbrella, while beneath that are more affordable 4K LED TVs and a new 32-inch HD model.
Smart features and HDMI 2.1 compatibility are consistent across the range, while Sony’s Ambient Optimisation feature, which assesses the area around the TV and adapts the picture and sound to suit the environment, is available on nearly all the announced models (save for the HD TV).
A new brain in the Cognitive Processor XR
The brain behind Sony’s premium sets has gotten smarter. All the new Bravia XR televisions, a list that includes the MASTER Series Z9J 8K LED, MASTER Series A90J/A80J OLED, and X95J/X90J 4K LED), are powered by the Cognitive Processor XR.
It uses a new processing method that Sony says goes beyond conventional Artificial Intelligence, working in a similar manner as our brain does. It replicates the ways humans see and hear, dividing the screen into zones to detect where the focal point of the picture is.
According to Sony, while conventional AI detects and analyses picture elements such as colour, contrast and detail individually; the new processor cross-analyses all these elements at once. By performing these tasks simultaneously (much like our brains), these elements are adjusted in conjunction with each other and that should make for an image that’s more synchronised and lifelike.
For audio, the Cognitive Processor XR analyses the sound’s position in the signal so it matches precisely with what’s on screen. Sony also claims it can also upconvert any sound to 3D surround sound for a more immersive performance.
Bravia CORE and new Google TV UI
After using Android TV in its previous models, Sony has sashayed over to the Google TV UI. This UI offers a greater FOCUS on content curation and discovery; bringing movies, TV shows, live TV, apps and subscriptions to one place. It also offers personalised recommendations, as well as the ability to keep track of content you want to see via the Watchlist.
Sony’s TVs continue to support the Netflix Calibrated Mode that serves up the Netflix library in a dedicated ‘studio quality’ picture mode. This is along with IMAX Enhanced content, so the TV can play remastered picture and sound through its IMAX Enhanced Mode.
HDMI 2.1 for gaming
In 2020 Sony was neither here nor there with its support for the HDMI 2.1 format. For 2021 stated that it’s much more committed to the format with HDMI 2.1 compatibility present on all Bravia XR TVs.
That support brings 4K/120fps, Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) for a faster and better gaming experience, as well as eARC for the passing higher quality sound through the TV to a soundbar, for example. However, VRR support is still lacking, with Sony saying they’re waiting for the official specification to be released. When exactly they’ll fully jump onboard is not quite clear.
Hands-free voice control is built into Sony’s Google compatible TVs, so you don’t have to use the remote to search or to control the TV and Smart devices around the home. Simply say ‘Hey Google’ followed by a command and you’re off.
There’s also compatibility with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa devices for casting videos from YouTube to Google Nest speakers, or changing the channel and volume levels.
Sony TV 2021
The Z9J is Sony’s top of the range 8K LED TV. For the money – and it’s a considerable amount – it has the Cognitive Processor XR that powers the Full Array LED panel to produce deeper black levels and brighter colours.
With upscaling necessary given the lack of native 8K content, the TV upgrades 2K and 4K signals thanks to its XR 8K Upscaling feature.
The X-Wide Angle technology aims to keep colours strong at wider viewing angles. The TV comes with Sony’s Acoustic Multi-Audio technology that uses frame tweeters to ensure high frequency sounds are placed exactly where they should be, while the front facing subwoofers produce “powerful bass”. If it’s anything like the system in the ZH8 TV, it could negate the need for a soundbar.
- Cognitive Processor XR
- Full Array LED
- X-Wide Angle technology
- Acoustic Multi-Audio
- Dolby Vision HDR, HDR10, HLG
- Dolby Atmos
- 4K/120fps, ALLM, VRR, eARC
- YouView inc. UK catch-up apps
The A90J is Sony’s top OLED. OLED’s rich contrast performance is aided and abetted by the set’s XR OLED Contrast Pro, further adjusting brightness for higher peak performance and better black levels so details aren’t shrouded by darkness or lost in the brighter parts of an image.
Smart features are available in Google TV, AirPlay 2 and HomeKit, as well as Google Assistant and Chromecast.
The A90J is Calman Ready, offering calibrators the opportunity the fine-tune and adjust the image. Interestingly, the A90J features an RGB light sensor that adapts the image to compensate not only for changes in a room’s light levels, but changes in the hue of the light (cool to warm etc), which Sony says can adversely affect the image.
Sony says its Acoustic Surface Audio technology has also been improved to deliver a more accurate sound. With its Seamless Edge design, the A90J’s frameless look reduces distractions so the FOCUS is on the screen. Around the back is a cable clutter feature to keep the back area tidy. There are also multiple configurations for set up, which include standing it on its feet or elevating the TV to place a soundbar beneath.
- Cognitive Processor XR
- XR OLED Contrast Pro
- Acoustic Surface Audio
- Dolby Vision HDR, HDR10, HLG
- Dolby Atmos
- 4K/120fps, ALLM, VRR, eARC
- YouView inc. UK catch-up apps
We’re getting deep into Sony’s TV line-up with the first non-Bravia XR TV. The X85J swaps out the Cognitive XR Processor for the 4K HDR Processor X1, but still aims to offer better depth, textures and more natural colours with its images. The 4K X-Reality Pro picture processor helps to upscale sub-2K content to near 4K quality, with advanced noise reduction techniques aiming to produce a cleaner-looking image.
The panel is a native 100Hz effort, and that should result in smoother motion. HDMI 2.1 functionality is available on this model with 4K/120fps, VRR, ALLM and eARC included (two of the four HDMI inputs support the 2.1 format). The design is described as minimalist, with the ‘flush surface’ concentrating eyes on the screen.
Smart features are provided in Google TV, AirPlay 2/HomeKit, Chromecast and “works with” Alexa and Google Assistant speakers. It’s the first TV in the line-up that lacks support for the Bravia CORE streaming service, though.
- 4K HDR Processor X1
- Edge-lit LED
- X-Balanced Speaker
- Dolby Vision HDR, HDR10, HLG
- Dolby Atmos
- 4K/120fps, ALLM, VRR, eARC
The features for the X81J/X80J are reduced further from the X85J. You still get the 4K HDR Processor X1, 4K X-Reality PRO picture processing and advanced noise reduction techniques, as well as the X-Balanced speakers for a more immersive audio performance.
HDMI 2.1 support spans to just eARC, so this isn’t ideal for the PS5 or Xbox Series X. The panel drops down to a native 50Hz effort, so smoother motion is not on the table either.
Smart features are consistent with the rest of the range in Google TV, AirPlay and HomeKit support, as well as compatibility with Alexa and Google Assistant speakers.
- 4K HDR Processor X1
- Edge-lit LED
- X-Balanced Speaker
- Dolby Vision HDR, HDR10, HLG
- Dolby Atmos
Sony continues to pump out HD sets for those who just need a small TV. There’s no mention of whether it supports HDR like previous HD sets did (which likely indicates it doesn’t). The picture processor is the Bravia Engine, and Android TV offers access to apps such as Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube and Google Play Movies TV.