Sony A80J (XR-65A80J) 4K OLED TV Review

Not the master, but a brilliant movie viewing apprentice...

by Phil Hinton
SRP: £2,699.00
9
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

Sony A80J (XR-65A80J) 4K OLED TV Review

While the new models for 2022 have just been announced at CES, the A80J from Sony offers superb image accuracy for movie viewing in dim surroundings with excellent sound quality thrown in for those without an external sound system. Plus, shopping around may result in a much better price than at launch as retailers move on stock for the new arrivals in the coming months. While the LG C1 is the better bet for gaming and HDMI 2.1 flexibility, the Sony A80J offers highly detailed image quality with superb video processing and motion. Added to this is incredible image quality for critical movie viewing with stunning colour accuracy and superb tone mapping, bringing movies to life with excellent cinematic flair. Today’s OLED market is tough with many great TVs offering their own pros and cons, but for movie fans, the Sony really does offer great calibrated image quality and features and comes highly recommended for that use.

The Good

  • Excellent HDR10 and Dolby Vision
  • Cognitive Processor XR image quality
  • Outstanding SDR image accuracy after calibration
  • Excellent video upscaling and processing
  • Superb motion with film and TV show content
  • Auto Calibration with Calman
  • Great sound quality from Acoustic Surface Pro+
  • Bravia Core

The Not So Good

  • Only two HDMI 2.1 inputs
  • Not as accurate out of the box (No Filmmaker Mode)

What is the Sony A80J?

This may be Sony’s step-down OLED model for 2021, sitting just below the flagship A90J, but it certainly doesn’t mean a step down in overall performance. Apart from losing the aluminium laminate heatsink that resides within the A90J, the A80J keeps most of the other features found on its big brother and it competes in the same areas of the market as the Philips OLED806, Panasonic JZ1000 and LG C1 OLED TVs.

The A80J is available in screen sizes of 55-, 65- and 77-inches and as the new Bravia XR models are announced for 2022 this week (January 2022) at CES in Las Vegas, the A80J should become a bit of a bargain should you decide it has all the features you want and you’re not tempted to wait for the new replacement model.

Where the A90J sports XR OLED Contrast Pro, the A80J drops the 'pro' element (the heatsink) but retains the Cognitive Processor XR which helps to boost colours and brightness naturally, as well as picking out details and objects to make them feel more real based on how humans see things, as the Sony marketing puts it. So, while peak brightness will not be quite as high on the A80J, the HDR and SDR image quality should still benefit greatly from the image processing, which Sony has always done well.

The A80J also benefits from XR Triluminos Pro colour thanks to the processor which means that the TV should be able to cover the DCI-P3 wide colour space well with good saturation tracking and brightness. Sony TVs usually have excellent colour reproduction thanks to the company’s rich heritage in producing some of the best professional grading monitors for the film and TV industry and this translates to accurate colours on its consumer models.

Sony XR-65A80J

The A80J also features the same video processing as the flagship, with XR 4K Upscaling and XR Motion so the OLED displays the best possible scaled image as well as presenting motion correctly for 24fps film and 50Hz broadcast content. Sony has a reputation for its excellent image processing and the A80J with the Cognitive Processor XR keeps that tradition going with some of the best motion and upscaling on the market.

The Sony A80J supports Dolby Vision, HDR10 and Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) HDR formats and includes IMAX Enhanced certification along with a Netflix Calibrated Mode but no Filmmaker Mode. It is a shame that Sony never takes part in industry-wide initiatives like Filmmaker Mode, preferring to do its own thing, like its Custom mode. Audio-wise there is support for Dolby Atmos, plus calibration using the Acoustic Auto Calibration system.

The Cognitive Processor XR can also analyse the sound position in the signal so the sound matches precisely with the action on the screen. In addition, it upconverts any sound to 3D surround, to deliver an immersive soundscape. And being a Sony OLED, the screen is the speaker thanks to the excellent Acoustic Surface Audio+.

Sony XR-65A80J

The Sony A80J has Google Smart TV which replaces the Android OS system seen in previous Sony OLED models. We found the system worked well, with no issues with slow down or crashing and the entire OS felt fast and intuitive to use. At the time of our review with the sample, the UK catch-up services had yet to be added, but these are now available on retail models, and existing TVs will receive OTA updates. The A80J also has BRAVIA Core which is a subscription service based on your TV model and offers a number of credits for you to watch 4K HDR content at extremely high bitrates from Sony Pictures.

... the A80J keeps most of the other features found on its big brother

Sony has also upped its game this year when it comes to gaming with two HDMI 2.1 ports, which seems a little stingy when compared to LG who offer four on their TVs. Both slots are HDMI 2.1 48Gbps and will support Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) (firmware update), along with Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), eARC and 4K 120fps.

So, the new models for 2022 have just been announced, but does the Sony Bravia XR A80J still offer value for money and the features you need? Let’s find out…

Video Review

Design, Connections and Control

The A80J is an elegant looking OLED TV with an almost bezel-less screen surface with a thin 1mm metal strip surrounding the edge of the panel. There is a small Sony logo to the bottom left of the screen side and that’s it, there is a very minimalist look indeed. The stand feet are also adjustable and can be placed in a number of positions depending on your use case, we used the middle setting with our TV stand, but you can have them further towards the end of the panel or raised up to lift the TV high enough to fit a soundbar underneath.

Sony XR-65A80J

Around the back is a raised section containing the electronics, inputs and woofers and this has a patterned finish to the plastic adding to the design language. There is a selection of connections to the rear which are downwards and sidewards facing. To the side, we have a CI slot, a 3.5mm legacy AV input/S Centre speaker in, a 3.5mm headphone jack, two USB slots and an HDMI 2.0b input. To the bottom are a further USB slot and HDMI 2.0b port, two HDMI 2.1 slots, an optical digital out and LAN, with an RF and satellite antenna rounding things off.

Sony XR-65A80J

The supplied remote control is a nice plastic affair with a clear button layout and an intuitive feel with all the prominent kays easy to find and within thumb reach when held in one hand. It has a nice brushed effect to the plastic and sits neatly in the hand with a decent weight.

Measurements

Out of the Box

As we do with all reviews we factory reset the Sony A80J and then measured the picture presets to find which is the most accurate to the industry standards, out of the box, so we can view content as it was mastered and intended to be seen. The best picture preset for this is Custom as it tries to follow the industry standards and produce image quality that replicates a Sony BVM professional monitor. Custom does have some processing switched on by default which we then switched off before measurements, such as MotionFlow and Reality Creation

We use Portrait Displays Calman colour calibration software, a Murideo Seven Generator and Klein K-10A meter for measurement and calibration.

Sony XR-65A80J

Looking at the greyscale we have good tracking towards the standards but with a little too much blue in the brighter areas of the image, along with a deficit of red. Our DeltaE errors are higher than the visible threshold of three in the brightest part of the scale, which translates to a slight blue tint to images onscreen which will be noticeable to those used to watching accurate image quality. Gamma also tracks towards BT.1886 with just a slight brightening at some points, that is not visibe with actual TV and film content. Sony aims for a different white point with its TVs but we test to D65, which is the industry standard.

Sony XR-65A80J

The Rec.709 colour gamut results are a little off in terms of hue at most points, because the white point is pulled toward blue thanks to the greyscale. The main issues within the graph are cyan, magenta and green hue errors with slight saturation errors with red and blue. This is all caused by the blue in the white point and should be corrected when we calibrate to the industry standard D65 white point. For an out of the box preset, Custom is not as accurate as Filmmaker Mode found on competing TVs.

Calibrated

The Sony Bravia XR A80J has a full suite of calibration controls within the menus system, plus, you can also use the Calman for BRAVIA app to access the full AutoCal system via Calman software, which adds two new picture presets called Custom for Pro 1 and Custom for Pro 2. For this review, we manually calibrated the A80J.

Sony XR-65A80J

As you can see in the graph we were able to get reference level results for the greyscale with DeltaE errors well under the visible threshold of three with an average error of 0.5, which means there are no visible errors seen with normal TV and film content. Gamma is also tracking well with no visible issues present.

Sony XR-65A80J

Our Rec.709 colour gamut results are also reference level with no major issues found within the gamut results and DeltaE errors well under one. There are a couple of 100% issues in the graph, but these do not impact at all when watching TV and film content on the A80J, again, we have reference results.

HDR Results

As always, we measured the peak brightness at various window sizes to see just how well the A80J performs. This was in the most accurate Custom HDR preset with the HDR Tone Mapping set to Gradient Preferred which follows the PQ EOTF standards correctly. Off is too dark and Brightness Preferred is too bright and doesn’t track the PQ EOTF correctly.

Sony XR-65A80J

The Sony XR A80J has a peak brightness of 640 nits at 1% window, 670 nits at 2% and 640 nits at 5% with a drop-down to 591 nits on the industry-standard 10% window size. With a 100% window size the brightness is 135 nits. These figures are on a par with the LG C1 and Philips 806 and what we would expect for this panel type.

Sony XR-65A80J

The PQ EOTF results are very good with tracking following the ST.2084 standard with a roll off to the peak brightness. There is an effect with the ABL (Automatic Brightness Limiter) kicking in with the highest peak brightness in the results, this is less visible with actual HDR content viewing. Overall, the performance with HDR is good and in line with its peers.

Sony XR-65A80J

The DCI-P3 colour gamut within BT.2020 is also decent with all the saturation points landing where they should be, or very close to where they should be. There is a slight undersaturation of red at 50% and 75%, with 100% green, cyan, yellow and red being slightly short of the full gamut size. However, we didn’t have any visible issues when watching HDR content on the A80J and colours looked natural and vivid.

Sony XR-65A80J

We measured BT.2020 at 70% XY and 73% UV with P3 coming in at 96% XY and 99% UV.

Sony XR-65A80J

Picture Settings

Performance

We are reviewing the 65-inch version of the Sony BRAVIA XR A80J, but the general performance should be the same for the other screen sizes in the range.

The A80J is not a Master Series model, it sits below the A90J in that regard and doesn’t feature the aluminium laminate layer to dissipate heat for a brighter HDR performance, however, it does feature all the other features the A90J offers. This results in an OLED TV that competes strongly against its peers, such as the LG C1, Panasonic JZ1000 and Philips OLED806.

The A80J supports HDR10, HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) and Dolby Vision. There is no support for HDR10+ or Dolby Vision IQ. We also have Custom mode, Netflix Calibrated mode for watching Netflix content and the IMAX Enhanced mode to ensure you are watching content as it was intended to be seen. Sadly, the A80J is not quite as accurate out of the box as the LG C1 or Philips 806 which both feature Filmmaker Mode. The Sony Custom preset has too much blue in the greyscale in comparison which is visible as a cyan tint to whites, which thus look cooler than the warm D65 white required by the standards. There is also Calman AutoCal via the Bravia App for those who hire a professional calibrator or want to try calibration themselves by purchasing the extra gear required.

... the A80J is not quite as accurate out of the box as the LG C1 or Philips 806 which both feature Filmmaker Mode.

Screen uniformity on the A80J was very good with no obvious signs of dirty screen effect (DSE) or banding. On a 5% slide, we could see very faint bands, which is common on all OLED panels, but these were not visible with normal viewing material, even in dim viewing conditions with dark scenes. Other brightness levels were also clean and 100% white was bright without any obvious colour shift when watching directly.

Black levels are also excellent on the Bravia XR A80J with no issues that were visible on the A90J with a raised black floor. The just above black shadow detail retrieval was very good with no obvious crush or low bitrate flashing. Feed it a torture test, like Stranger Things and we can see some black flashing and blockiness, but with the vast majority of content we viewed, there were no issues visible at all.

The video processing on the A80J is excellent as you would expect from a Sony TV. Motion is excellent with superb 24fps performance when MotionFlow is switched off as correct 5:5 pulldown for film content is applied, with no induced judder. Using MotionFlow does introduce interpolation and artefacts like Soap Opera Effect (SOE) depending on how much is applied. Upscaling is also excellent with superb HD to 4K results and SD looks decent. Edges look solid and free from ringing with Reality Creation switched off. When switched on it does add in some edge enhancement that gives the image a slightly digital but incredibly sharp appearance.

If you are a film fan looking for an incredible cinematic experience with SDR movie content on Blu-ray disc or streaming, the A80J is an excellent choice.

With SDR, HDR and TV show viewing the Sony Bravia XR A80J is a stunning OLED TV that produces superb calibrated image quality with fantastic blacks and excellent colour accuracy. Skin tones look realistic with black levels that are deep but with excellent just above black shadow details. The motion is also first-class from 24fps movies to 50Hz broadcast TV shows. We didn’t notice any instances of judder or frame skipping present with MotionFlow switched off. If you are a film fan looking for an incredible cinematic experience with SDR movie content on Blu-ray disc or streaming, the A80J is an excellent choice.

With HDR10 and Dolby Vision content the image quality is again excellent and it competes with its peers in terms of image accuracy and black levels. Peak brightness performance is also excellent with detail visible in the brightest areas of the image without the tone mapping lowering the overall brightness of the image to allow this. As such, the dynamic range is very good indeed and in isolation, it produces an image most users would be very happy with overall. To step up on the HDR images on offer would require the jump up to the A90J or similar and even then, the jump in brightness is not that significant for the majority of content viewed.

Moving to the gaming performance and, with the Xbox Series X and PS5, we didn’t really run into any issues with the A80J picture performance as it matched its bigger brother for features and image quality. Game mode allows full chroma and HDR image quality is superb once set up correctly with your console of choice. We didn’t encounter any major issues with image quality and the input lag came in at 16.1ms with a 4K 60P signal.

... the sound quality matches that of a mid-range soundbar without a subwoofer

Finally, we round up the performance section with an assessment of the sound quality on offer thanks to the Acoustic Surface Audio+ which uses actuators behind the screen that vibrate the panel to create the audio. This is an AVForums award-winning innovation that is still a superb solution to TV audio for those not requiring a full external sound system. While it does lack heavy bass, meaning film soundtracks don’t quite have the weight and feel they would with a subwoofer based audio system, the audio quality on offer is a step up from conventional OLED speaker systems with vocals coming directly from the screen, where the actors are. This adds a degree of realism back to the sound quality as it is not coming from the sides or bottom of the screen, thus giving the onscreen action an extra boost, more like you'd get from projection systems with the speakers behind the screen. Overall, the sound quality matches that of a mid-range soundbar without a subwoofer and gives the A80J a nice edge over the competition if you will be using it without an external sound system.

Conclusion

Sony A80J (XR-65A80J) 4K OLED TV Review

With the new models for 2022 revealed this week at CES, is it worth picking up the A80J as retailers run down the stock before the new models arrive? It certainly has most of the features any AV fan is looking for when it comes to movie viewing in dim surroundings. Image accuracy is superb along with SDR and HDR images that look incredibly cinematic. It may lack the brightness of the Master Series A90J model, but that doesn’t take away from the excellent HDR image quality on offer with strong just above black details and excellent peak highlight detailing.

... the Sony Bravia XR A80J is a stunning OLED TV that produces superb calibrated image quality with fantastic blacks and excellent colour accuracy

Colour accuracy once calibrated is reference quality with SDR content with HDR10 and Dolby Vision also looking superb with movie content. Sony’s expertise in professional image quality and producing reference grading monitors certainly shines through in its consumer TVs and the A80J offers image quality that rivals its peers in the market and is a strong choice for those looking at image accuracy for movie viewing.

It also offers good connectivity and features for gaming, but does slightly lack the flexibility of the competing LG C1 in that regard, plus the out of the box Filmmaker Mode is more accurate on the LG compared to the cyan looking Custom mode on the A80J, but in all other respects, the Sony competes on a level playing field, with slightly better colour accuracy and tone mapping compared to its peers.

If you are looking for an accurate OLED TV for movie viewing and can’t quite stretch to the A90J or similar panels with the extra brightness, the Sony A80J makes a very strong case for movie fans with excellent picture quality and comes highly recommended for those reasons.

Highly Recommended

Scores

Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level

10

Screen Uniformity

.
9

Colour Accuracy

.
9

Greyscale Accuracy

.
9

Video Processing

.
9

Picture Quality

.
9

SDR Picture Quality

.
9

HDR Picture Quality

.
9

Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box

.
.
8

Picture Quality Calibrated

.
9

Sound Quality

.
9

Smart Features

.
.
8

Build Quality

.
.
8

Ease of Use

.
.
8

Value for Money

.
.
8

Verdict

.
9

Click here

The games console used in this review was kindly supplied by our gaming partner Smyths Toys Gaming, the No.1 choice for next-gen Gaming


9
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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