It's a testament to LG's dominance in the OLED TV space that you’d be forgiven for not knowing that Sony has a couple of good ones too. The Sony Bravia XR A80J 4K HDR OLED is a sleeper hit that many didn’t know about or skipped because of its weaker gaming chops. Sony has only just delivered Variable Refresh Rate to their TVs, several years after LG.
At $1900/£1699, the 55-inch A80J is certainly a formidable TV for movie watching thanks to its Cognitive AI image processing and plenty of other tricks. But it’s not quite enough to put it up right up there with the very top-level panels vying to be the best gaming TV - but it's still an excellent TV. Let me explain.
Features & Design
The A80J goes for a minimalist design aesthetic that ensures your sole focus is on its gorgeous OLED panel and nothing else. The only visually-exceptional element is the plastic back panel housing that holds all the connections, speakers, and circuitry that powers the screen. The TV sits on dull-looking metal legs that are useful thanks to a 3-way positioning system which allows for varying TV-stand widths as well as height, so you can easily place a soundbar or parts of a gaming sound system under it. And if you don't like the stands, you can always wall mount.
The rear ports are easily accessible, no matter how you mount the TV. These include four HDMI 2.1 ready ports and an eARC interface, immediately making it a contender for those looking for one of the best 120hz 4K TVs. It also features Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth, Ethernet, and RF technology for old-school analog TV reception. The A80J supports all major HDR formats, including Dolby Atmos, IMAX Enhanced, and Netflix Certification. It has a dedicated game mode that the TV turns on automatically when it detects a console, and in addition to that, it now has VRR support from a firmware update that Sony rolled out to the TV post-launch - but more on this later.
The A80J runs Google TV instead of a custom OS and it is great for apps. It’s intuitive, fast, and smooth with a huge catalog of apps and games, and setting up the TV with my existing Google account was a breeze. Using my own photos for the standby Gallery mode was a particularly nice crowd-pleaser. You also get Google Assistant and Alexa compatibility for some voice-activated shenanigans.
The A80J also hides a set of clever speakers that attune themselves to the individual room while also using the screen as a center speaker. Some AI upscaling turns almost any audio into surround sound and there’s support for Dolby Atmos.
The picture quality on the A80J is excellent with deep, inky blacks, bright highlights, and great viewing angles with excellent handling of reflections. I had no trouble watching content in a brightly lit living room though nighttime viewing was much better. Movie lovers will delight in Sony's fantastic XR Picture processing that gives a very cinematic film vibe. But whatever tickles your fancy, there are plenty of menu options to further prod and tweak the picture to your liking with very helpful explanations of each one.
I thoroughly enjoyed binging Halo, The Offer, and Star Trek - Strange New Worlds. Star Trek SNW was perfect to test blooming and contrast and the A80J dazzled with perfect black space and glinting stars while phaser explosions blinded at times.
Games were just as stunning in HDR. I've been discovering the excellent Ghost Of Tsushima where the A80J made the world look so beautiful, lush, and inviting. Destiny 2 The Witch Queen bursts with gorgeous HDR color and excellent visibility in the dark spooky areas. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a visual spectacle to behold running via PC with max settings in 4K HDR too.
In addition to supporting 4K 120 Hz gaming, the A80J has an impressive latency of just 8.5ms which is great for twitch gaming. However, it only recently gained VRR and my experience was less than impressive. First off, VRR only works on one HDMI port at a time and requires digging deep into the settings to activate it. I connected a PC with an RTX 3080Ti to the TV so 4K was no problem but there was noticeable screen tear and juddering — even at fixed 60fps.
Additionally, there isn’t a Game Hub app similar to what LG and Samsung offer so gamers lack finer controls over the TV's game mode.
The handy Game Optimiser is here too, and with the TV supporting ALLM, VRR, AMD FreeSync, and Nvidia G-Sync, this could easily storm up our best TV for PS5 and Xbox Series X guide..
Overall - should you buy it?
The Sony Bravia XR A80J OLED is simply a great TV. It's clearly made for movie lovers, and watching content of any kind is a sheer joy. But if you are a serious gamer with the latest hardware, the A80J comes up short. The lack of a game hub, proper Adaptive-Sync, and the resulting stutters isn’t good enough when you have TVs like the exceptional LG C2 or NeoQLEDs like the Samsung QN95A. Sure, this could be just a firmware update away but I think Sony needs to work this into the hardware better. I’ll wait and see if the recently released Bravia XR A80K OLED, and other newer models, improve things.
How we tested the Sony A80J
I used the Sony A80J as my only, go-to TV in the house for a period of a month. It was placed in our living room where it was used daily for everything from watching the evening news to streaming the latest movies and shows on Paramount Plus and other streaming services. I also connected my consoles to the TV's HDMI 3 & 4 which are designated for 4K 120Hz gaming and I connected an MSI Trident X 12th Gen PC with an RTX 3080Ti to test full resolution gaming across titles like Red Dead Redemption 2, Destiny 2 The Witch Queen, as well as all my 4K benchmarking. It was in this scenario that I was able to test Sony's recent VRR update.