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Sony Bravia XR A90J (2021): Is Sony’s Master Series 4K OLED worth the extra expense?

Stuart Pritchard
10 Dec 2021

Slick-looking and super smart, the Sony Bravia XR A90J has incredible specs but costs a pretty penny

Pros 
Incredible picture quality
Wide range of audio enhancements
HDMI 2.1 support
Cons 
Expensive
Lacks UK catch-up apps
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The “Master Series” title is not one Sony bandies about willy-nilly, with the Sony Bravia A90J one of just three TVs in the company’s extensive lineup to feature the prestigious appellation.

To be deemed worthy of Master Series status, a Sony TV has to meet various criteria outlined by its engineers, chief among which is that the set must faithfully reproduce images and audio exactly as the content creator intended.

That’s no small feat and only one other Sony TV received the “Master” accolade in 2021, the 8K HDR flagship Bravia XR Z9J. Completing the exclusive trio is the Sony A9 OLED, which was released in 2020.

The A90J is nothing if not a showcase of Sony’s latest and greatest TV technology, at the forefront of which is the Cognitive Processor XR, an advanced processing engine that uses AI to deliver incredible picture quality and immersive audio befitting a premium OLED television.

With a starting price of £2,700 for the 55in model and the ginormous 83in iteration costing £5,500, the A90J is clearly not aimed at everyone. But for those that can afford the price of entry, the Sony Bravia A90J has the specifications to bring a true high-end cinema experience into your home.

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Sony Bravia XR A90J: Key specifications

Screen sizes available:55in XR-55A90J
65in XR-65A90J
83in XR-83A90J
Panel type:OLED
Resolution:4K/UHD (3,840 X 2,160)
Refresh rate:120Hz
HDR formats:HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision
Audio enhancement:Dolby Audio, Dolby Atmos, DTS Digital Surround
HDMI inputs:2 x HDMI 2.0, 2 x HDMI 2.1
Freeview Play compatibility:No
Tuners:Terrestrial (analogue and digital), Satellite
Gaming features:Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM)
Wireless connectivity:Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.2
Smart assistants:Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa
Smart platform:Google TV

Sony Bravia XR A90J: What you need to know

Let’s start with the basics: the Sony A90J is a 4K HDR OLED TV that supports the HLG, HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR formats. As mentioned above, it’s powered by Sony’s Cognitive Processor XR chip, which uses advanced AI algorithms to mimic the human brain and continuously assess the performance of images on the screen. These assessments take place in the blink of an eye and are used to inform picture adjustments and help create an immersive viewing experience.

The result is vivid and natural-looking images characterised by bright, crisp whites and detailed, deep blacks. Add to this motion handling courtesy of Sony's XR Motion Clarity technology, and no matter what you’re watching the A90J’s 4K panel should deliver exceptional picture quality.

The Cognitive Processor XR doesn’t just benefit the A90J’s picture, however. Working in conjunction with Sony’s Acoustic Surface Audio+ technology, which sees the A90’s screen function as a speaker, the chip precisely matches audio to where you’d expect it to be coming from at any given moment in a scene.

The A90J has a number of other audio enhancements up its sleeve, too. There’s support for Dolby Atmos and DTS Digital Surround, XR Surround adds additional channels to audio to enhance surround sound audio, sound can be upscaled via 3D Surround Upscaling, and 360 Spatial Sound is also supported. Additionally, when paired with a compatible Sony soundbar, the A90J’s screen can be used as the centre audio channel, ensuring dialogue and vocals are communicated clearly from directly in front of you.

Sony of course makes the PlayStation 5, and the A90J is a great companion for the company’s next-gen console. It houses four HDMI ports, two of which are of the HDMI 2.1 standard and support 4K at 120Hz and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), which turns off image processing to minimise lag when gaming.

As well as impressing with its gaming credentials, the A90J delivers on the smart front. Formerly fans of the Android TV OS for its TVs, Sony has now made the welcome move to the Google TV platform, and the result is a far more intuitive and responsive system.

The list of available streaming services is extensive and includes Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV, Spotify, Tidal and more, but sadly UK channel catch-up options such as iPlayer are oddly absent. What you also get, though, is Sony’s own Bravia Core movie streaming service, which allows those with powerful enough broadband to stream an impressive selection of movies both classic and new (and even IMAX Enhanced content) direct to the TV, which is an excellent additional entertainment resource.

By now it should be pretty clear that this is a TV packed with cutting-edge visual, audio and gaming technologies while being smart as a whip to boot. But if you’ve spent the best part of three grand on a TV you want it to look the part, too. Fortunately, the Sony A90J’s exterior design does its utmost to impress.

The panel itself is just 6mm deep, with the housing protecting the internal components taking the overall depth to a mere 41mm. That makes the A90J a prime candidate for wall-hanging, but if that’s not for you, it also comes with adjustable feet. The bezel around the screen is practically non-existent, meaning that this TV is all Ultra HD picture regardless of whether it’s on your wall or on its stand.

Buy now from John Lewis


Sony Bravia XR A90J: Price and competition

Priced at £2,699 for the 55in model, £3,199 for the 65in iteration and £5,499 for the huge 83in option, the Sony Bravia XR A90J is undeniably expensive. You’re getting an extremely attractive package for the money, but if your budget doesn’t quite stretch that far, you’re not short on great options.

The Sony Bravia XR A80J sits just below the A90J and offers a similar spec to its bigger brother. It may not be a member of the Master Series club, but it costs considerably less, with the 55in version setting you back £1,299, the 65in model costing £1,799 and the 77in iteration available for £2,999.

Another option is the LG G1, which sits at the top of LG’s 4K OLED range. Prices start at £1,599 for the 55in model and cap out at £3,999 for the 77in iteration. The G1 features premium tech including LG’s advanced α9 Gen4 AI processor 4K, Dolby Vision IQ and Dolby Atmos, HDMI 2.1 ports, VRR and Game Optimiser mode.

If the G1 is still a little pricey for your liking, the LG C1 won TV of the Year at our Tech Product of the Year ceremony in October 2021 and the 48in model starts at just £1,099.

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