Sony Bravia XR A80L OLED 4K Smart TV Review

I’ve tested a number of OLED’s from LG and Samsung and its funny to me how different Sony’s OLED’s are in comparison. The Sony Bravia XR A80L 65-inch OLED 4K Smart TV is definitely one of the best OLED TV’s money can buy but it is for a particular buyer who’s priority is movie watching.

Starting at just under $3000 for the 55-inch model, the A80L also comes in 65”($3,500), 77”($5,500) and a massive 83”($7,500) that will suit that home cinema room setup. These prices are cheaper than LG’s C3 OLED Evo TV’s by several hundred of dollars in some sizes which makes the A80L a viable alternative.

For that lower price, you still get one of the best OLED home movie experiences money can buy. Speaking of movies, the A80L comes with Sony’s Picture Core service, a 4K streaming service with access to a huge back catalogue of Sony published movies going way back. The service is exclusive to owners of Sony Bravia XR TV’s so that’s a nice add on.

PlayStation 5 owners will also appreciate the new “Perfect for PlayStation” features and new game menu that finally brings Sony TV’s in line with LG and Samsung gaming options. I’ve watched a number of movies, YouTube and played lots of PS5 over the last couple of weeks and I’ve truly enjoyed my time with the A80L. Is it perfect? No but for what its worth, Sony are serious contenders for top three 4K OLEDs.

Design and Build Quality

The A80L’s design is a blend of sophistication and simplicity, featuring a sleek profile and a minimalist stand that allows the display to take center stage. The build quality is robust, with materials that convey a premium feel, ensuring that the TV is not only an electronic device but also an aesthetic addition to any room.

Sony A80L has a metal flush surface around the bezel but compared to LG’s C3, the Sony TV is noticeably thicker in girth. The back plastic cover with diamond pattern covers more of the back unlike LG which confines the bulk of its electronics and ports to a lower hump. The TV is still slim enough for flush wall-mounting thanks to support for VESA mounting but it won’t look as flush as the slim LG G3 OLED Evo.

I like the Aluminium wedged stand design that you can set wider or narrower depending on your TV stand or whether you want to put a sound bar underneath the TV. The stand also lets you adjust how high the TV stands which is great for those scenarios. The excellent HT-A3000 soundbar sits perfectly underneath the TV without blocking the IR receiver.

The A80L has all the ports you need with 4 HDMI ports though only two of them are HDMI 2.1 and one of those is eARC. That means if you have a soundbar and some next gen consoles, you’ll have to do some juggling to get things going. LG supports HDMI 2.1 on all the four ports on their TV’s for years now so I’m not sure why Sony doesn’t.

The TV also supports Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections though the latter is surprisingly limited to Wi-Fi 5 and 2.4Ghz channels. That often proved a huge bottleneck in my use with the TV dropping connection a lot and also fairly poor streaming. I have a fancy robotic Asus ROG WiFi router with lots of great bandwidth controls but still the TV kept dropping. The A80L does have an Ethernet port so you could hardwire it for the best performance if that is available to you.

Smart Features

The A80L is running the latest iteration of Google TV, which has a very simple, user-friendly interface with a wide range of streaming services and apps. There’s thousands of apps, games and media in the Play Store to keep you more than happy. The OS includes integration of Google Assistant for voice control, making content discovery and navigation seamless.

One of the best things about Google TV is how it coalates all your streaming and watching into the homepage with some really good recommendations as as well as tabs to quickly resume content you were watching. It also does a great job at integrating all your Google devices for easy access and continuity.

I also like the fact that you can have multiple users, each with their own dashboard and settings. This is particularly helpful for parents who want to use the Kids profile to restrict the TV to certain age-appropriate content and add any necessary screen time restrictions.

With this generation of TVs, Sony has added a Eco Dashboard. This contains all of the TV’s power-saving options in one place and boy are there many. But the Eco Dashboard makes it really simple to pick and choose what to activate and the Zen like interface with growing trees really hits home.

New in 2024 is the Sony Picture Core service(previously known as Bravia Core) which offers high-quality content and unique features. It provides lossless 4K streaming at an impressive bitrate of up to 80Mbps, which is notably higher than what’s offered by other services. A standout feature is its extensive collection of IMAX Enhanced movies, offering an unparalleled immersive experience.

It comes pre-installed on the A80L and comes with a few credits to let you buy some movies and there are 100’s of films to choose from. Subscribers also enjoy access to special studio content like behind-the-scenes clips and interviews. While Bravia Core isn’t trying to compete with mainstream platforms like Netflix, it’s a complimentary service that can really tip the balance when it comes to purchase decision.

I won’t lie, I didn’t use this service much at all but that’s just because I’m no longer much of a movies guy and most of the things I’d want to watch weren’t on the service anyway. However, if you love movies and especially those classics, this is a good addition when you buy this TV.

Picture Quality

Sony’s A80L boasts exceptional picture quality, thanks to its OLED panel that delivers deep blacks and vibrant colors. The TV supports HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision, enhancing the viewing experience with striking contrast and detail. While it may not reach the peak brightness levels of some of its competitors, the A80L compensates with its colour accuracy and uniformity.

The A80L delivers a smooth performance across various content types. Motion handling is excellent, making it suitable for fast-paced action movies and sports. The TV’s new Cognitive Processor XR processor does an admirable job of upscaling lower-resolution content without introducing noticeable artifacts. Given my many issues with the TV’s Wi-Fi connection, I found myself relying a lot on the TV to upscale low resolution streams.

The A80L shines in darker environments

Color reproduction and contrast is as excellent as they come but the A80L is noticeably dimmer than LG’s OLED Evo and Samsung QD-OLED panels. That’s not a problem in dark rooms where the A80L shines but in much brighter environments, it could benefit from some brightness. The TV supports all major forms of HDR excluding HDR10+ and if you want Dolby Vision, you need to fiddle with the system menus to activate it which is kinda dumb.

Movies is where the A80L shines as Sony seems to custom tune the TV’s picture for a very cinematic look and feel. The TV automatically switches profiles depending on the app. I noticed this while moving from the Google TV dashboard and opening Netflix for instance. There are of course several picture profiles to choose from but I was content to leave the TV on auto. From Rebel Moons wide colour scape to the wild colors of Masters of the Universe Revelations to the magical 3000 Years of Longing, movies look spectacular with excellent clarity and feel.

They sound great too thanks to Sony’s Acoustic Surface Audio technology, which utilises the screen itself as a speaker. This innovative approach provides a more immersive sound experience, with clear dialogue and a broad soundstage. The TV also supports Dolby Atmos, adding a layer of depth to the audio output. Obviously the TV will sound better with an accompanying sound bar but on its own you can will be more than happy with the output.

Gaming

Traditionally, Sony TV’s have lagged behind the competition when it comes to gaming, lacking basic features like a Game dashboard menu and Variable refresh rate on all the ports. Sadly, the A80L is still rocking only two HDMI 2.1 ports which can be frustrating for gamers with multiple consoles. That said, there are quite a few improvements in 2024 that finally make the A80L a contender, even if some of their implementations are behind the competition.

The basics are covered here, 4K gaming at 120Hz, along with Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), ensuring a responsive and tear-free gaming experience. What’s new is the dedicated Playstation 5 features. Auto HDR Tone mapping instantly optimises HDR settings for the PS5 so you don’t have to fiddle around with sliders in game all the time to get the best pictures. Auto Genre picture mode automatically switches the TV in Game Mode with the PS5.

Sony has also finally implemented a Game Bar menu of their own though its far from comprehensive as LG’s and Samsungs. Long press the settings button on the TV’s remote and it pulls up a rather elegant and minimal menu bar at the bottom of the screen. Here you can change some settings like toggle VRR or motion blur reduction, or activate the black equaliser or on-screen crosshair to better aim your shots. It doesn’t have game genre modes or audio presets to choose from but at least its finally there.

This used to be a sore spot in older Sony TV’s like the Bravia X90J that I reviewed a while back and I’m not sure if this has since been ported to older models. Playing games on the PS5 has been an absolute pleasure and while I can’t give you specific performance numbers, the A80L handles gaming very well. HDR looks stunning since the TV automatically calibrates itself to the PS5’s output. And though I’ve seen reports online that the A80L has greatest latency compared to the competition, it’s not something I could notice with the naked eye.

Verdict

The Sony Bravia A80L is a very, very good OLED and I highly doubt anyone will complain about the picture quality. Sony has some increddible image processing and the cinematic picture is hard to fault. While there are certainly more affordable options out there, the A80L justifies its cost with its superior picture, sound, intuitive Google TV OS and the addition of Sony Pictures Core service. And it’s worth noting that its cheaper than LG’s own excellent TV’s which is always a good thing for you the end customer.

Movie and streaming is excellent if you can get over the odd Wi-Fi connectivity issues though that might just be an issue with my unit. I really like the simplicity and accessibility of the Google TV operating system. PS5 owners will appreciate the “Perfect for PlayStation” features but in all honesty, it’s not enough of a reason to pick the A80L over LG or Samsung offerings.

I’m overall happy with the A80L but there’s definitely room for improvement. I would love to see a brighter picture with a QD-OLED panel for next year, a more robust gaming support, Wi-Fi 6 support and all the HDMI ports to support 2.1 protocol. That said, with the many discounts online, this is surely one of the best OLED’s you can get for the money.


Sony Australia loaned the Bravia XR A80L to PowerUp for the purpose of this review

Sony Bravia XR A80L OLED 4K Smart TV Review
LIKES
Stunning picture quality
New gaming menu & PlayStation 5 features
Intuitive Google TV
Sony Picture Core service
Great sound
DISLIKES
Dodgy Wi-Fi connection
Only two HDMI 2.1
4
Kizito Katawonga
Kizito Katawongahttp://www.medium.com/@katawonga
Kizzy is our Tech Editor. He's a total nerd with design sensibilities who's always on the hunt for the latest, greatest and sexiest tech that enhances our work and play. When he's not testing the latest gadgets or trying to listen to his three whirlwind daughters, Kizzy likes to sink deep into a good story-driven single player game.

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