At first sight
Refined, cinematic images Above-average sound Google TV smart platform Dolby Vision
Only two HDMI at 120Hz Peak HDR isn’t as bright as rivals’ 60Hz input lag performance is average
Sony’s A80L may not be the pinnacle of Sony displays, but this HDR star shines brightly.
Price at time of review
From $1,699 | Model reviewed $2,299
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Given its good looks, it’s notable that the Sony Bravia XR A80L no longer represents the cutting edge of OLED displays.
There are several (admittedly more expensive) screens with more advanced panel designs, featuring different pixel structures and heat sinks (Sony itself supports QD-OLED) and much more elaborate sound systems; however, the A80L, built around a vanilla-flavored panel, offers as satisfying a home theater experience as any of its rivals.
Much of this can be attributed to Sony’s excellent XR processor, capable of clever cognitive juggling between pixels. There’s also superior sound, thanks to the Acoustic Surface Audio system and a strong smart TV proposition in Google TV.
Time to take a closer look.
Google TV smart platform support with Slate design and 120Hz high frame rate support
The A80L is undoubtedly elegant. Sony calls this the “One Slate” design, and you’ll see it on most of its fancier sets. Undeniably beautiful, but be prepared to buy a very large AV bench to support it, unless, of course, you plan to wall mount it.
This review is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the the best smart TVs.
The panel rests on two thin feet, positioned on the edge of the screen. These “blade” boots allow the screen to go virtually flush with a bench or be raised to make room for a soundbar. The metallic gray color scheme looks premium.
The rear panel offers four HDMI ports, two of which are 4K 120Hz capable. One of these is also the eARC channel, so there aren’t many options when it comes to system expansion.
There’s a minijack input for the center speaker, a digital optical audio output, two USB ports and Ethernet. Wireless connectivity is via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
The A80L has a built-in ATSC 1.0/3.0 (NextGen TV tuner) and is compatible with Apple AirPlay and HomeKit.
The set comes with two remotes, one a standard zapper, the other a slimmer Bluetooth wand with dedicated buttons for Bravia Core, Netflix, Disney Plus, Prime Video, YouTube, and Crunchyroll.
Google TV is Sony’s favorite smart TV platform and offers numerous streaming service choices. Navigation is simple. There are curated binaries for “If you like…”, “Popular movie,” “keep watching,” and the like.
You also get 10 credits to spend on Sony’s Bravia Core movie streaming service, which boasts higher bit rates than rival services, as well as the largest library of IMAX Enhanced movies.
The set also includes Sony’s new gaming interface, which brings together relevant information in one place, such as motion blur reduction, VRR and black equalizer. The TV automatically recognizes Auto HDR tone mapping from a connected PlayStation 5 gaming console, which is nice.
OLED panel XR Dolby Vision cognitive processor
HDR brightness was measured at 900 nits using a 10% window in Vivid mode, which is quite impressive. If you choose to watch using the less aggressive Standard picture preset, peak HDR luminance drops to over 800 nits.
HDR support covers Dolby Vision, but not Dolby Vision IQ. There is also HLG and normal HDR10, but no HDR10+ Adaptive.
One of the reasons the A80L’s HDR rendering is so precise and naturalistic is a new heat mapping technology that intelligently manages power and luminance together. Some credit also goes to the Sony XR Contrast Pro and XR Triluminos Pro processing, which increase contrast and color depth respectively.
As you would expect, deep blacks are handled with authority, while shadow detail is given the space it needs. The set is particularly effective in tonal gradations and subtle color nuances. Skin tones are detailed and believable.
Interestingly, Sony gives Filmmaker Mode a swerve when it comes to image presets. What we get are Standard, Cinema, Game, Vivid and Custom. The latter is not an invitation to change the image; rather, it’s the name of the screen’s Pro mode. Standard and Custom are our recommended settings.
When you play Dolby Vision content, such as from Disney+, the picture modes are usurped by Dolby Vision Bright, Dolby Vision Dark, and Vivid.
When Obi-Wan (Obi-Wan Kenobi, Disney+) tracks down Leia’s kidnappers on the planet Daiyu in Episode 2, he prowls the neon-lit city at night, giving the panel plenty of opportunities to show off his knack for detail in almost shadow and HDR highlights.
Of the various modes, I found Dolby Vision Bright to be the best viewing option, even in a completely dark room.
The texture detail is excellent. No show has as many dark, shadowy suits as Obi-Wan Kenobi (Disney+). Ewan McGregor has a lot of competition for the less elegant Jedi. Fortunately, the A80L can separate dark-colored masses and maintain a certain sense of depth and detail.
Motion Flow’s motion handling is generally effective, smoothing out camera movements and combating judder, with only small artifacts occasionally noticeable. For live sports it works well. That said, I noticed pronounced flickering when the screen was in the Custom setting, with Clarity set to high.
Make sure to keep sharpness on Low or Off to avoid flickering.
Latency was measured at 17ms (1080p/60fps) in Game mode, which is relatively high when you’re talking about 60Hz input lag. This results in rather slow FPS gameplay. Things improve noticeably when you play in 4K 120Hz mode, which offers buttery smooth motion.
Acoustic Surface Audio System Dolby Atmos 50W amplification
When it comes to dialogue clarity, this big OLED is definitely worth talking about. The three vibrating transducers attached to the back of the OLED panel create an effective direct listening experience, with sounds locked onto the images on the screen.
Two more traditional woofers are used to enrich the midrange and lower bass. The set, however, does not go particularly low. I could have done it with a little more weight there.
That said, this 5x10W system is more rewarding than TVs with downward-facing or rear-facing speaker arrays.
Sound modes include Standard, Dialogue, Cinema, Music, Sports, and a separate Dolby sound mode with Dolby Audio post-processing (which works great with games). There is also variable sound customization with adjustable surround sound effects, equalizer and voice zoom.
Price and availability
The Sony A80L is available in 55-, 65-, 77-, and 83-inch screens (models XR-55A80L, XR-65A80L, XR-77A80L, and XR-83A80L). These are priced at $1,799, $2,499, $3,499, and $5,299 respectively. I tested the 65-inch A80L here.
Should you buy the Sony Bravia XR 80L?
The A80L is a refined 4K OLED capable of superb detail (both native UHD and upscaled), strong dynamics and decent HDR performance. It falls short in a couple of areas: it offers poor high-speed HDMI provisions, its 60Hz input lag is average, and, disappointingly, it lacks Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+ Adaptive support. That said, it is greater than the sum of those missing parts.
Sony’s advanced image processing does an exceptional job with all types of content. Its images are nuanced and consistently cinematic, making the A80L a strong recommendation for home cinema enthusiasts.
Size: 55, 65, 77, 83 inches Tested model: 65 inch 4K OLED display technology Resolution: 3840 x 2160 HDMI: x4 HDR support: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision platform Google TV Stereo sound system 5x10W, Dolby Atmos compatible Dimensions : 57.125 x 34 x 13 inches (WxHxD) Weight: 54.9 lbs
This review was originally published on TechHive’s sister site, Technical adviser.