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Sony Bravia XR A80J: A smart OLED TV with plenty of tricks up its sleeve

Stuart Pritchard
13 Dec 2021

A super-specced Sony at an accessible price, the Bravia XR A80J is one of the most sought-after OLEDs around

Pros 
Cognitive Processor XR technology
4K resolution at 120fps
Smart Google TV OS
Cons 
Currently no VRR support
Missing UK catch-up apps
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Sony’s pedigree as a television manufacturer speaks for itself and the Sony Bravia XR A80J is a stand-out entry in its 4K OLED lineup.

Ever since the days of its hulking great CRT sets, Sony has been at the forefront of cutting-edge entertainment technology and continued that tradition in 2021, with a range of options ticking most – if not all – of the boxes for home entertainment enthusiasts regardless of their budgets.

At the top of Sony’s 2021 lineup sit the Z9J Bravia XR and the A90J Master Series model, both of which command masterly prices. Just below those premium options is the A80J, which offers many of the A90J’s features but comes with a far more wallet-friendly price tag.

Indeed, at £1,400 cheaper than the 55in A90J equivalent, even the least cynical of people would imagine that the A80J's specifications must have taken a sizable hit. However, the A80J, while obviously not on par with its superior sibling, still offers considerable bang for your less considerable buck.

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Sony Bravia XR A80J: Key specifications

Screen sizes available:55in XR55A80J
65in XR65A80J
77in XR77A80J
Panel type:OLED
Resolution:4K/UHD (3,840 X 2,160)
Refresh rate:120Hz
HDR formats:HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision
Audio enhancement:Dolby Atmos
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 A80J: What you need to know

Like the A90J, the Sony Bravia XR A90J is a 4K HDR OLED TV that supports the HLG, HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR formats. It’s available in 55in, 65in and 77in screen sizes and is powered by Sony’s Cognitive Processor XR chip.

This processor seeks to imitate the human brain by using cognitive intelligence to cross-analyse every element that goes into creating the television’s picture and audio. It’s able to analyse hundreds of thousands of elements simultaneously and adjust each individually to create a visual and sonic experience that mimics how we see and hear the world around us.

When it comes to image quality, the A80J is not a million miles behind the A90J despite the significant price difference. It’s a 4K HDR OLED display that benefits tremendously from the aforementioned Cognitive Processor XR, with enhancements to the colour and contrast being made constantly to deliver the best picture possible. Colours are bright and brilliant, while blacks are deep and these elements combine to keep all detail extremely crisp. Non-4K content is actively upscaled via XR 4K Upscaling, meaning you can enjoy old favourites like Antiques Roadshow in close to 4K resolution.

Meanwhile, on the sound side, the A80J isn’t slacking either. Sony’s Acoustic Surface Audio+ technology sees the screen act as a speaker and generate mid-range and treble frequencies via actuators built into the panel. These combine with a front-facing subwoofer to deliver the A80J’s audio, which is bolstered by a number of Sony technologies and support for Dolby Atmos.

XR Sound Position increases immersion by matching sound precisely to where you’d expect it to come from on the screen, XR Surround simulates surround sound without the need for up-firing speakers and the TV works with Acoustic Center Sync to optimise audio when connected to a compatible Sony soundbar. You get a total of 30W output from the A80J, which is half that of the A90J but will prove ample for most people’s needs.

Connection-wise, the A80J apes the A90J exactly, giving you four HDMI ports (two of which are HDMI 2.1) and three USB-A ports in addition to Ethernet, optical, aerial and satellite ports.

Those two HDMI 2.1 ports support 4K @120Hz and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), making this a solid choice for next-gen gamers. However, one of them is also the TV’s eARC/ARC output, which is important to note if you own both next-gen consoles and are planning on running your audio to a soundbar or AV receiver. It’s also worth pointing out that the A80J doesn’t currently support Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), though Sony says it will be added via a firmware update at some point in the future.

The A80J runs the Google TV operating system, which enables access to the many perks of the Google ecosystem. Chromecast is built-in and by connecting to a Google Assistant-enabled device, you can control the TV using your voice. If Amazon Alexa is your voice assistant of choice, there’s support for that, too.

In terms of streaming services on the Google TV platform, you’re pretty well equipped, with Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+ and Apple TV+ all present and correct. However, like the A90J, the A80J currently doesn’t currently feature UK TV catch-up services such as BBC iPlayer. Support for Apple AirPlay does mean you can cast content from such apps directly from your iPhone to the TV but that’s not a solution that’s going to suit everyone.

A first for a Sony TV at this price point is the inclusion of the Bravia Core service, which allows owners to stream a selection of the hottest new movies, classic titles and IMAX Enhanced options directly using Pure Stream technology for near-lossless UHD Blu-ray equivalent quality. You will require exceptional broadband to make the most of that, though.

The A80J’s design is best described as minimalist. The screen is surrounded by a narrow black bezel that won’t distract from the image being displayed and the unit itself is just a touch over 50mm in depth without the stand. With the stand, which can be attached in two different ways depending on your preference, you'll need a TV cabinet upwards of 40cm in depth to accommodate it comfortably.

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Sony Bravia XR A80J: Price and competition

The Sony A80J comes in three sizes, with the 55in option costing £1,299, the 65in model retailing at £1,799 and the whopping 77in version available for a cool £2,999.

If you decide the A80J doesn’t quite fit your brief, there are a few other similarly priced alternatives worth checking out.

The LG C1 won TV of the Year at our Tech Product of the Year Awards in 2021 and the 55in model is available for the same price as the A80J, £1,299. It’s a 4K HDR OLED like the A80J but is powered by LG’s a9 Gen4 AI processor. It boasts support for Dolby Vision IQ and Dolby Atmos sound and is a better choice for gaming due to the incorporation of four HDMI 2.1 ports that support 4K @120Hz, VRR, HFR, and LG’s Game Optimiser mode.

If you’re not concerned about next-gen gaming, the Philips Ambilight 705 is worth considering. It’s cheaper than the A80J at £999 for the 55in model but the panel only has a refresh rate of 60Hz so won’t appeal to owners of the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. Refresh rate aside, the Philips 705 OLED is a well-specced 4K TV powered by the manufacturer’s P5 Perfect Picture Engine and featuring Philips’ three-sided Ambilight to extend the picture beyond the TV’s bezels.

Another option to take into account is the Samsung Q70A, which will set you back £899 for the 55in model. One of Samsung’s Quantum Dot LED (QLED) 4K HDR TVs, the Q70A features a 120Hz refresh rate panel, advanced image and audio enhancements including Motion Xcelerator Turbo+ and AI Sound and has four HDMI ports, one of which functions as HDMI 2.1.

If you have your heart set on a Samsung TV and want a set featuring the company’s latest panel technology, the QN90A may be just the ticket. It’s more expensive than the A80J at £1,499 for the 55in model but its Neo QLED panel is free from the dangers of screen burn attached to OLED televisions.

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