Sony XR A80L Review: Almost Picture-Perfect

Sony XR A80L is one of the company’s more affordable OLED TV sets. Part of Sony’s mid-range line-up for this year, the XR A80L attempts to keep the price in check but without compromising on picture quality, and we’re happy to report, the feature set as well.

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While on paper it looks future-proof and gaming-ready for most buyers, is it really a TV you should be investing in at the end of 2023? Well, we’ll try to answer this question and some others in this in-depth review of the Sony XR A80L OLED TV.

Sony XR A80L Review: Picture Performance

Let’s quickly start with what matters the most: Picture performance!

Interestingly, this is also where the Sony XR A80L with its basic OLED panel does the best. While the panel fades in comparison to the much more expensive MLA OLEDs in the market, it does manage to hold its ground in other competing technologies like mini-LED backlit TVs in most departments.

The panel manages to create some stunning images on screen. This is thanks to its ability to create great contrast between light and dark sections of an image. And this married to Sony’s picture algorithms ensures you always get good color reproduction.

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Like last year’s model, the XR A80K, this one too uses a WRGB panel with self-emitting pixels. This helps it achieve inky blacks and an almost infinite contrast ratio. The TV still uses Sony’s Cognitive Processor XR processing system. Interestingly, much of the software and AI-based features also remain the same as last year’s TV. Including features such as Contrast Pro and XR Triluminos Pro.

However, since this is a new TV, we do get a new image processing feature — the XR Clear Image. This promises cleaner and crisper 4K upscaling of content. Depending on your library of content, this can come in really handy.

For users watching content from streaming platforms that still stick to uploading Full HD encodes, the XR A80L performs quite well in the upscaling department. Visuals pop with plenty of detail and accurate color. And the good contrast handling further enhances the joy of watching content on the TV.

Sharpness in content is on point and detail levels in both native 4K and upscaled HD content are really good. Thanks to the Cognitive Processer XR and Sony’s picture algorithms, images generally look more crisp, dense, and generally more defined on the XR A80L.

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Where the XR A80L does lack a little when compared to other OLED and mini-LED TVs is brightness. Despite its conventional OLED panel handling colors, contrast, and blacks really well, the TV just cannot reach the super high peak brightness levels that you’d find on mini-LED TVs or even MLA OLEDs.

But then again, the brightness of the XR A80L should be good enough for most users in isolation. This was certainly the case for us. We found the brightness satisfactory even though we placed the TV in a well-lit room. Despite this, the picture performance of the TV did not suffer and the visuals remained pleasing to the eye.

This was true for watching HDR content, which was handled really well by the TV. The TV supports formats such as HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision HDR. HDR10+ format is the only major miss here. And yes, the A80L also carries IMAX Enhanced and Netflix Calibrated certification.

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Another thing that could be a miss for some is the lack of a Filmmaker preset. But the Sony XR A80L does come with a Cinema preset that provides balanced and true-to-life colors out of the box. This preset should generally be your go-to choice if you end up buying the TV. It handles SDR and HDR content equally well and is good to go with pretty much no tuning.

Overall, in terms of picture performance for 4K, upscaled HD, and encoded content on streaming platforms, the Sony XR A80L performs really well, leaving very little to complain about. Yes, its brightness may not reach staggering levels as much more expensive TVs. But that doesn’t mean it takes away from the fun of watching content — even HD-mastered content — on the TV.

Sony XR A80L Review: Gaming

Unlike its predecessor, the XR A80L is a solid TV for gaming as well. Hooked up to a console, the XR A80L does do just about enough to make a case for itself. While it’s true the TV may not be as specced out as some of the more gaming-focussed TVs from LG and Samsung. However, for someone with a PlayStation 5 or an Xbox Series X, the A80L will still do enough to impress.

But that is if you have one of these consoles. If you’re lucky enough to own both, then the XR A80L may feel a little limiting. This is because it only brings two HDMI 2.1 ports. One of which is an eARC port best left for any audio system you may want to hook up to your TV.

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For most users though, this problem of plenty shouldn’t be an issue. For them, the two HDMI 2.1 ports will bring access to a wide range of gaming features. This includes 4K at 120Hz, Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM). This year, Sony is also giving access to the Game Mode when you connect the TV to a compatible game console.

Jumping to the picture performance in games, well, there’s nothing to complain about here. During our review, we did run casual games like EAFC 24 which were handled well by the TV. There was no noticeable lag and the game looked fluid to the eye.

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For more visually appealing games like Dirt 5 and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, we did notice slightly bland HDR performance in some scenes. This is possible because of the limited brightness levels of the TV. However, this was something that was very quickly and clearly overshadowed by the XR A80L’s stunning color reproduction and handling of detail.

This is especially true if you’ve connected the TV to a PlayStation 5 console. With this, the TV also gets access to Auto HDR Tone Mapping for PS5. This feature works in the background to accurately output high-contrast scenes, with well-balanced colors and rich detail. HDR Tone mapping also improves contrast in such frames, enhancing the difference between the brightest and darkest parts of the screen.

Sony XR A80L Review: Audio Performance

While picture performance is certainly an important part of the home cinema experience, the audio really cannot be ignored. Sony appears to have realized this, and much like its other TVs, Sony has put in a lot of effort to improve the audio performance of the XR A80L.

It comes with a bunch of features that really just put this TV in a league of its own. One of these is Sony’s Acoustic Surface Audio+ feature. For this, the company uses multiple actuators – three behind the screen and two at the sides – to create a fuller sound experience.

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These have further been paired with two subwoofers for a richer sound. In this setup, it’s the actuators that are of the most interest as they turn the screen into an integral part of the speaker system.

The eventual sound from the system is quite clean and clear even at higher levels. Trebels and mids are really where the TV speakers excel. But that’s not to say the bass isn’t powerful and thumpy. It’s just that the bass isn’t at the same level as you’d find on a mid or high-end soundbar system.

But overall, for watching movies with lots of dialogue in it and even for listening to music, the Sony XR A80L does a good job. Helping this is Sony bundling in support of features like Dolby Atmos sound and 3D surround sound upscaling.

Sony XR A80L Review: Design and Remote

The Sony XR A80L looks the part of a modern-day Sony TV. It features an elegant design with sleek, rounded corners. The bezels are minimal and there’s a metal frame running around the TV with a small Sony logo in the bottom left corner. And at the back, there’s Sony’s checkerboard pattern which I hid by mounting the unit on a wall.

It’s not the slimmest of TVs you can get at the moment. In fact, Samsung has some TVs that are much slimmer and sleeker than this one. But that does not make the TV look any less modern or appealing to the eye. Or for that matter, well-built. In fact, its hefty body does make it look more sturdy than most competing TV units available on the market.

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The TV can also be placed on a stand that is height-adjustable at two levels. This comes in handy if you plan to place a soundbar underneath the TV. At the bottom is also an IR emitter, one hardware button that can be used to power the device and also control volume, channel selection, and device input.

The TV also comes with a new remote with no numpad on it. Much like the TV, it looks sleek and is built to match the modern aesthetics of your room. It offers both Bluetooth and IR connectivity and comes with a mic built-in for voice control.

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Apart from this, there are also OTT hotkeys on popular OTT platforms. Overall, it’s a nice, well-built remote that should be a nice addition to your room and will play a good companion to your TV.

Sony XR A80L Review: Should You Buy It?

The XR A80L is a good all-rounder that offers a lot to like for the price. With an OLED panel that’s capable of punchy visuals, deep, inky blacks, on-point handling of native 4K, and above-par treatment of upscaled HD content, there’s not much you can fault the TV for in terms of picture performance.

The brightness can be a bit of a concern if you set it up in a room with extremely harsh lighting, but if that’s not the case, the XR A80L should be more than good enough for your content consumption needs. If two HDMI 2.1 ports suffice your needs, then gaming also turns into a strong point for the TV.

Overall, this is a TV that comes highly recommended, and should definitely be at the top of your list if you’re not too keen on dropping a lot of cash for a high-end OLED TV.

What We Like

  • Impressive dark scene performance
  • Inky blacks
  • Color accurate panel

What We Don’t Like

  • Expensive
  • Average peak brightness

Last updated on 06 November, 2023

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