OLED TVs have become a massive trend and with Xiaomi jumping into the scene with its OLED Vision TV, it has become more difficult for the big players like Samsung and Sony to up their game. Sony recently announced its Bravia XR A80K OLED TV series for the Indian market and with this, Sony wants to focus on delivering the optimum picture quality. Given that the last Led backlit TV from Sony we reviewed left us fairly impressed, getting to experience an OLED TV from Sony had left me full of anticipation and excitement. And boy did it deliver!
When Sony says it wants to focus on picture quality, you know your wallets are going to bear the brunt of that claim. In the case of the Sony Bravia XR A80K OLED, that brunt is quite high. I had the 55-inch variant of the TV that Sony demands a whopping amount of Rs. 1,99,990 for. That is knocking on the luxury TV segment but spending over two weeks with the A80K OLED has justified that exorbitant price tag.
OLED TVs by their very nature wear that “single slate” look and the Sony Bravia XR A80K OLED does that nicely. Mounted on the wall, the A80K looks sleek and its stealthy design elements help it blend well with the home decor, no matter what kind of furniture and setup you have. The bezel-less design has been executed with utmost craftsmanship. The ports are easily accessible from the sides although the far-field microphone button is tricky to find. You get your usual collection of I/O ports but the ones that are unique are the two HDMI 2.1 ports that support 120 fps. Gamers ahoy!
For those who prefer table top mounting, you get the table stands within the package. I had it wall mounted for the better viewing experience. The remote controller, sadly, is a very basic one. It has all the buttons needed for smart functions and quick access to the apps, but the layout is highly cluttered. On the plus side, it is easier to use and I am happy to see the shortcut key to Settings overlay menu as well as the YouTube app.
As the name suggests, the Sony Bravia XR A80K OLED features an OLED panel. OLED is of the emissive type and that means every individual pixel generates its own light. This means that the TV has far superior control over every pixel and that helps it control the lighting just as it requires. Hence, in a movie like The Interstellar, the scenes depicting the space are rendered brilliantly – the astronaut's suit and the spacecraft are done in the brightest of whites while the space around it is genuinely black! Pitch black! In a dark room, you get to have the cinema-like experience; except for the fact that even cinemas can’t do blacks this well.
But there’s more to the Sony Bravia XR A80K OLED than just getting deep blacks. This is a 4K TV that supports HDR10, Dolby Vision, and HLG picture formats. On top of that is Sony’s XR processor and a bunch of Sony enhancements, all of which aim to make the picture stand out with its colour rendition.
The A80K has something called the XR OLED Contrast Pro that simply enhances the brightness and contrast in the bright lit regions of the screen, and dimming the darker regions – all to make the contrast higher. The Cognitive Processor XR claims to enhance the elements that you would usually focus on in the scene, and then enhance it accordingly for a better experience. All of these work very subtly but the end result is simply marvellous.
To show how well the TV panel is optimised, Sony has pre-loaded the A80K with Bravia Core – an app that hosts some of the most popular movie titles that would work greatly with the TV. I watched Spider-Man: No Way Home and the experience was superior to the theatre’s one. The clarity on Peter Parker’s face while he jumps around was astonishing, and the colours were simply breathtaking to watch.
I also watched a lot of Hollywood blockbusters as well as the Marvel web series on OTT apps, and the experience has been simply amazing. Dolby Vision content looks lively while HDR10 rated content is rendered equally good. Even regular videos and movies look nice – this is the benefit of an OLED TV.
I was also impressed with the upscaling performance in 1080p content. The TV managed to keep the loss of pixels to very low, although a loss in sharpness was observed. For 720p content, the TV does a decent job but the lack of pixels makes the 55-inch canvas struggle to fill it in with more details.
The A80K also supports up to 120 frames per second and that makes supported content look smooth. However, the motion blur could not be pleasant for many – the soap opera effect is visible on slow moving subjects. Unless you have a really keen eye like we do, this shouldn't be a concern.
Sadly, I did not have access to a gaming console that could take advantage of this 120 fps feature. If you have one, you can enjoy gaming on these consoles at their very best.
Lastly, the ambient light sensor helps in keeping the brightness of the panel in check under dimly lit conditions, as well as sunlit conditions in a room.
The Sony Bravia XR A80K OLED is more than just the OLED panel. Sony uses something called the Acoustic Surface Audio+, which replaces conventional speakers for a set of three actuators. These actuators vibrate together to make the display generate the sound. To enhance the quality, there are two additional actuators on the edges for boosting high frequency sounds and enabling clear dialogue. Then there are two subwoofers to enhance the low-end thump, or bass.
Sounds too fancy? All you need to know is that it feels exactly like a regular TV speaker setup. The sound seems to come from the TV’s direction and in content where the surround sound engineering is utilized, it seems the sound comes from around you. You still need a soundbar for an authentic surround sound experience but the TV’s audio setup is good enough to allow me to disconnect my soundbar. In Dolby Atmos supported content, the performance is great as expected.
As is the norm with new Sony TVs, the Bravia XR A80K makes use of the Google TV platform. The Google TV interface needs no introduction to smart TV aficionados – it is a new design direction for Android TV models that looks prettier on the eyes. Sony hasn’t touched the basic interface design and only lets you have the Settings overlay menu, which then opens up to the standard Google TV settings interface.
What does it all mean for the regular viewer? Your TV homescreen keeps showing suggested content ideas to watch from various OTT apps installed on the device. If you have the subscription, a single click will take you to the specific movie or web show. The Bravia Core is a separate app that opens up to the specially curated movie library optimised specifically for the TV. The performance of the Google TV interface is fast and smooth, and I did not observe any jitters or lags in the animations.
The presence of Google TV also means that you have access to Chromecast, Google Assistant, and the Google Play store. There’s also support for Apple AirPlay 2, which means you can use your iPhone to cast content to the TV. Bootup times are quick for the TV.
OLED TVs will be the darling for TV aficionados and the Sony Bravia XR A80K OLED justifies that hype surrounding the OLED TV tech. While the OLED panel in itself is great, it is all the XR branded enhancements to picture that makes the viewing experience an unparalleled experience. If you have a habit of doing those late night weekend movie sessions in a dark room, the Sony Bravia XR A80K OLED is one of the best ways to do so at a budget of Rs. 2 lakhs.
That’s not all though. The Acoustic Surface Audio+ feature makes for a very good audio experience that feels natural to perceive, and it negates the need for a soundbar. The bass performance is good as well. The Google TV interface only adds to the experience and I adore Sony for including the Bravia Core service for giving viewers a chance to enjoy the TV to its fullest.
If you have a budget of Rs. 2 lakhs and you are willing to make the upgrade to OLED albeit in a 55-inch flavour, I highly recommend the Sony Bravia XR A80K OLED.
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