Sony has made a substantial amount of noise about their new 2021 Bravia XR OLEDs, which is sensible. The TVs are the primary to characteristic Sony’s new Cognitive Processor XR, which sounds an terrible lot like a proto-supervillain mind. The corporate says the processor will recreate how people really see issues in actual life.
After spending the final a number of weeks with the Sony Bravia XR A80J, I’m going to be very unhappy when I’ve to return to my regular TV, as a result of this Sony is the best-looking TV I’ve ever laid eyes on.
A Glossy TV With Loads of Ports
Setting the TV up is a problem when you’re doing it by yourself—the smallest of the three Bravia XR OLEDs is 55 inches, and at 42 kilos, it’s simply unwieldy sufficient that you simply’ll ideally need assist to connect the toes and stand it up. Talking of the toes, they’re delightfully over-engineered, letting you select a large or slim low-profile stance or a better vast stance to accommodate, say, a soundbar. No screws are required, which could be very good—you simply slide them into the underside with a surprisingly satisfying clunk.
The low profile choices assist with (my lack of) cable administration, rendering wires all however invisible, and from the facet, the panel practically disappears, whereas the chunk containing the TV guts is a pleasant, flat slab. Cables join from the underside, in a cavity within the again, save for a set of ports on the facet. Connecting issues to these rear ports is as tough as you’d think about when you’re not really trying in the back of the factor, however when you’ve got it wall-mounted or you could have house to show it the place it sits, the ports are clearly labeled.
The TV has three HDMI ports on the again and one on the facet. The HDMI ports aren’t all created equal: two of them are HDMI 2.1, which implies they will output 4K video at 120 Hz, certainly one of these two is eARC/ARC, and the opposite two are common HDMI 2.0, and may take a 4K sign at 60 Hz. On the again, you’ll additionally discover ports for ethernet, optical audio, and USB, together with an RS-232C distant port. On the left facet, along with HDMI, you’ll additionally discover two extra USB ports, a 1/8-inch headphone jack, and a mini jack for Video/Audio RCA indicators, so that you’ll want an adapter to hook up your Nintendo 64.
Life With Google TV
Turning the TV on, you’ll undergo a sequence of privateness agreements and have activation screens, and right here you may both let the TV stroll you thru every thing or return and set issues up piecemeal. The firmware appears to be a little bit of a piece in progress, nonetheless, and I skilled points after setup associated to my proclivity for working a TV with as few smarts as doable on the outset and activating options piecemeal in a while. A few the bugs I encountered had been smoothed over within the first firmware replace the TV acquired, nonetheless, and I might anticipate others to be, additionally. Ultimately, none of them affected the movie-watching expertise, so I determine no hurt, no foul.
While you end setup, there’s a very cool, showy transition clip that signifies completion of setup, and also you’re within the menu. Should you select to not arrange Google TV, there’s a clear, primary interface with 4 streaming apps robotically put in: Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, and Disney+. You can even entry USB media right here, or watch reside TV, amongst different options. Establishing Google TV is the place you actually get probably the most out of the TV’s interface. Whereas I nonetheless choose many components of the Apple TV interface, Google’s OS has a fantastic deal going for it. The system is swift and responsive, and Google does a superb job surfacing content material that I really need to watch. That mentioned, it’s not good, and lacks sure primary sorting options I’d relatively see, significantly within the Library part, the place looking is proscribed by a side-scrolling-only format, with no class breakdown or alternate viewing possibility.
Along with all the conventional streaming providers, this TV additionally comes with Sony’s personal streaming service, Bravia Core. Obtainable solely on their TVs, that is their approach of making certain they get to indicate off one of the best the TV can do, with a piece of what they name “Pure Stream” motion pictures: motion pictures you can stream at as much as 80 Mbps, which begins nipping on the heels of the utmost bitrate of UHD Blu Ray. The TV comes with credit for 5 free motion pictures on the service, and customarily these use IMAX Enhanced with DTS relatively than Dolby Imaginative and prescient/Atmos.
OK, let’s get right down to a very powerful characteristic: image high quality. The XR A80J has a plainly phenomenal image. From one edge to the opposite, its 55-inch OLED panel offers an evenly-lit, crisp, clear image with a slight, barely noticeable off-color tint when considered at excessive angles (some coloration shifting could be very regular for any OLED). I personally discovered that the IMAX Enhanced image mode was virtually indistinguishable from my post-calibration settings, and I most popular it to the slightly-too-dark cinema mode when watching non-Dolby Imaginative and prescient content material. For some cause, I nonetheless have a big, frozen-in-time assortment of DVDs and once I watched one, the TV did an excellent job upscaling and smoothing out artifacts. With options like “Actuality Creation” (who names these items?) turned on, when you tilt your head and squint, sure scenes virtually seem like actual HD content material.
The panel shines most—fairly actually—when watching recently-made, huge ticket Dolby Imaginative and prescient-compatible motion pictures. Any TV that may push that content material goes to look good, however so broad was the dynamic vary of the video output that once I watched the opening sequence of Thor: Ragnarok on my second night time of getting the A80J, I used to be startled by how shiny the sunshine from Thor’s hammer is relative to the darkness of Surtur’s cave. The impact is frankly dramatic and thrilling.
Coloration and distinction in each Dolby Imaginative and prescient film I watched was excellent. Coloration separation was nice and and gradation was clean, whereas gentle break up from darkish with out haloing, and the one film I examined the place coloring misplaced any element was the extraordinarily high-saturation coloration model of Mad Max: Fury Highway, and so far as I can inform, that’s simply baked into the movie anyhow (the Black and Chrome Version appeared implausible, by the best way). All through my time with the TV, I discovered myself noticing small visible particulars I’d missed on earlier viewings of films I’ve seen tens of occasions, and was delighted another time by the look of films like Atomic Blonde, which makes use of coloration sparingly, and to nice have an effect on. If I needed to criticize something in regards to the image, it’s that the film transitions to black a bit too aggressively, obscuring particulars within the black that will have been supposed to be seen by the creators. However that criticism, frankly, looks like looking for methods Mr. Rogers might have been nicer.
Alternatively, although I can solely converse for the Nintendo Swap, gaming was high-quality, not revelatory. One can’t anticipate a lot from that system, granted, however I discovered the default calibration to be too muted, and I wanted to tweak the highlights, total brightness, and coloration settings to get the picture to the appropriate place. I didn’t discover any actual enter lag, which was good, however I don’t suppose this TV is made to excel on this enviornment. Solely having two HDMI 2.1 ports and missing variable refresh charge will flip off severe avid gamers, so if that is you, it’s most likely greatest to look elsewhere.
Surprisingly Good Sound for a TV
Should you’re spending $1,800 on a TV, it’s seemingly that you’ve a sound system you’d choose to make use of, however for individuals who could not, don’t fear: This TV really has surprisingly good sound all by itself. Just a few years in the past, Sony did away with typical down-firing audio system and began sticking the actuators behind the display, primarily permitting the display itself to change into the speaker. The good thing about this, they are saying, is that it permits the TV to higher simulate sound coming from specific factors on the display. In follow, I truthfully can’t let you know whether or not this works or not, however I can let you know the sound is wealthy and balanced, and although you’ll positively nonetheless need at least a decent soundbar, if you must go with out, the TV presents high-quality sound.
Digging into the menu, you’ll discover a considerably intimidating array of options, however for probably the most half, the advertising and marketing phrases utilized to every possibility suffices to clarify it. A lot of the menu is comprised of sliders that alter the depth of video processing, and every setting is exclusive solely to the video mode you’re presently in. Two motion-smoothing options that Sony calls Motionflow and Cinemotion appear to not simply be toggled based mostly on video mode, but additionally enter, and I discovered that I saved having to readjust them till I’d gone by means of all of the permutations of enter/video mode. Of the 2, I assumed the Cinemotion possibility was extra helpful. That individual characteristic could be set to excessive or low, and primarily impacted judder, which is the tendency for 24 fps content material to have jerky movement throughout panning sequences. I saved that characteristic on, however for Motionflow, I discovered that I wished it off when watching motion pictures, and it was maddening each time I began a film and realized it appeared like a cleaning soap opera.
Additionally noteworthy is the TV’s ambient optimization, which not solely refers to ambient gentle, but additionally ambient sound. The TV makes use of its ambient gentle sensor to regulate not simply brightness, but additionally the tone curve of the picture, elevating the brightness of darker elements of the display the place a shiny room would possibly in any other case make that tough. Moreover, the ambient sound options of the TV use your distant to calibrate the audio relative to the acoustic setting of your room and your positioning whereas watching TV. The impact of this calibration is refined, however efficient.
The distant (for individuals who care) is lengthy, and although I by no means use reside TV anymore, it could nonetheless be good if the numbered buttons had been positioned with a bit extra ergonomic consideration. Because it stands, you must readjust the way you maintain the distant to succeed in them. Extra precedence is given to the 4 buttons for YouTube, Netflix, Disney+, and Prime Video, which is nice when you use them, however I wouldn’t thoughts the choice to remap them to totally different providers.
Price Shopping for?
General, it is a implausible TV for movie fans. The image preserves a lot element, offers such good distinction, and offers for thus many various kinds of calibration/video format, that when you’re in search of one thing to be the centerpiece of your major movie-viewing room, the Sony Bravia XR A80J would appear to be the conclusion, for now, of your search. If cash is of little concern, in fact, you can bump as much as the higher-brightness A90J, however I don’t know that getting a contact extra element at increased brightness is absolutely price the additional $1,000. I’ll say, although, when you’ve got $1,500 to blow on a TV, save just a bit longer. It’s price it.