Sony Bravia XR-55A80K Ultra-HD OLED Android TV Review


Only a handful of brands sell OLED televisions in India, with Xiaomi, LG, and Sony being notable names in the segment. Widely considered among the best TV display technologies for mainstream televisions, OLED is usually seen on premium, big-screen televisions, often priced at over Rs. 2,00,000 for the popular 55-inch size. The latest television I’m reviewing is not quite from Sony’s flagship lineup for OLED TVs, but is firmly positioned as a premium option as part of the Japanese company’s XR series.

Priced at Rs. 2,49,900 officially (but can be bought from official retailers for around Rs. 1,85,000), the Sony Bravia XR-55A80K is the smallest and least expensive in the company’s 2022 OLED lineup in India. With an Ultra-HD HDR display with support for Dolby Vision HDR, Google TV UI on top of Android TV, and Sony’s Cognitive Processor XR powering it, is this the best TV under Rs. 2,00,000 you can buy right now? Find out in this review.

The Sony XR-A80K television series is available in three sizes, starting at 55 inches

 

Sony Bravia XR-55A80K Ultra-HD OLED Android TV design and specifications

The Sony XR-A80K series is available in three sizes in India — 55 inches (on review here) priced at Rs. 2,49,900, 65 inches priced at Rs. 3,49,900, and 77 inches priced at 6,99,900. The 77-inch variant has a rated sound output of 60W as compared to 50W on the 55-inch and 65-inch options, which is the only difference in the variants apart from the screen size.

The Sony Bravia XR-55A80K looks a lot like the Sony XR-55X90K quantum-dot LED TV which I recently reviewed, with thin black borders along the edges of the screen, resulting in an impressive screen-to-body ratio. It’s a straightforward, distraction-free look that ensures your attention is on what’s playing on the screen.

There is a small Sony logo in the bottom-left corner, and a switch on the underside that controls the always-on microphone for voice controls. The microphones themselves are just below the screen facing forward, with a dull indicator light just between them. The television is reasonably slim, but there is a fair bit of space between the edges of the TV and the wall behind, with the middle of the TV being a bit thicker.

The 55-inch A80K TV weighs about 18kg, and comes with the table stands in the box. The stands can be fitted at the corners of the TV, so you’ll need a large table or entertainment unit to place it on. Wall mounting is an option as well, although the kit for this is not included in the box. Sony does provide free installation with the TV, so you can have the technician install a suitable wall mount for this at the time of installation.

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There is hands-free voice assistant support on the 55A80K, and you can even turn off the microphone for more privacy

 

All of the ports and sockets on the Sony XR-55A80K TV face to the left of the screen, with only the power socket for the detachable cable near the right side of the screen, at the back. The ports aren’t too difficult to reach even with the TV wall mounted on a low-profile mount kit. Connectivity options include two USB Type-A ports, Digital Audio-Out (Optical Toslink), a 3.5mm headphone jack, a single Video-In socket, an Ethernet port, an antenna socket, and four HDMI ports. Among the HDMI ports, two support 4K at 120Hz, while one supports HDMI ARC and eARC.

As mentioned, the Sony XR-55A80K is a 55-inch Ultra-HD (3840×2160-pixel) OLED television, with support for the Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG high dynamic range formats. For sound, the television has a five-driver setup with a total output of 50W, and uses Sony’s Acoustic Surface Audio+ technology which gives the impression of sound coming from the screen itself. Dolby Atmos and DTS Digital Surround are also supported on the TV.

Like the Sony Bravia X90K series, the A80K is powered by Sony’s Cognitive Processor XR, and comes with dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2. The TV has 16GB of storage for apps and app data.

Sony Bravia XR-55A80K Ultra-HD OLED Android TV remote and features

The Sony Bravia XR-55A80K, like the X90K, has Sony’s newer and somewhat minimalistic remote. This isn’t to say that it’s barebones; there are plenty of buttons and controls on it, including a D-pad and Android TV navigation keys, source and settings buttons, playback controls, a Google Assistant button, and volume controls. There are also hotkeys for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, and YouTube Music.

This kind of remote is a lot easier to handle as it does away with many of the buttons that modern streaming-focused users don’t often need, such as the full number pad. The remote has a microphone for voice commands, and has Bluetooth connectivity for ease of use. It’s powered by two AAA batteries (included in the box), and covers practically everything you’ll need to control on the TV.

Other features on the Sony Bravia XR-55A80K include support for Apple AirPlay and HomeKit, built-in Google Chromecast, and hands-free Google Assistant, apart from remote-based voice commands. When the slider switch below the TV is set to ‘On’ and the TV itself is on, you can invoke the voice assistant with the ‘OK Google’ or ‘Hey Google’ voice command and speak directly to the TV.

sony xr 55a80k tv review remote Sony

The remote of the Sony XR-55A80K TV has hotkeys for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, and YouTube Music

 

You can also set up Amazon Alexa on the TV, if you prefer. For gaming, the Sony Bravia XR-55A80K supports 4K at 120Hz through two HDMI ports, auto low-latency mode, and variable refresh rate (VRR).

Sony Bravia XR-55A80K Ultra-HD OLED Android TV software and interface

Sony is among the few brands that has adopted the Google TV user interface across its product range, and the XR-55A80K is no different. At its base, the television runs Android TV 10, with the Google TV UI on top. This is practically the same user experience as on the Chromecast with Google TV, and is one that I consider to be among the best software and user interface packages for televisions right now.

Some of its key features include the much improved content curation and recommendation system, banner view showing major new releases, multi-app ‘Continue Watching’ row, and the rather quirky themes for the kind of movies and TV shows you can watch.

Google’s own purchases and rentals are integrated into the UI, and a search for any content will show you the best and most affordable available method to watch it, prioritising any streaming services you’re already subscribed to. Netflix is integrated into the search for titles, but unfortunately not into the recommendation engine, unlike on the Chromecast with Google TV. Prime Video, Apple TV, Disney+ Hotstar, Voot, and Zee5 are among the services that work with the recommendation system.

Also worth mentioning is Sony’s Bravia Core streaming service, which is available on XR series TVs like the 55A80K. Sony states that Bravia Core can stream at up to 80Mbps (considerably higher than other services) to provide better picture quality for Ultra-HD HDR content, tagged as ‘Pure Stream’. The content library isn’t as vast as on other services, but it’s worth exploring for the technically better stream and picture quality on offer.

Sony bundles a one-year complimentary subscription of Bravia Core with the 55A80K, with many titles available to stream for free and without any need to redeem a credit. Apart from those, I had five credits to redeem on ‘premium’ titles, which included much of the ‘Pure Stream’ and IMAX Enhanced catalogues.

As of now, it isn’t clear how much the service will cost after the free trial, but users should be able to continue viewing titles redeemed with credits for some time beyond the subscription period. Picture quality on titles on Bravia Core was indeed better than even Netflix and Apple TV for Ultra-HD content.

Sony Bravia XR-55A80K Ultra-HD OLED Android TV performance

The premium segment for televisions isn’t quite as diverse and populous as the more affordable price points, and Sony’s reputation does give it a bit of an edge here. However, there is strong competition to the XR-55A80K even at this price, particularly from the excellent LG 55C2 OLED TV and Samsung 55QN95B. While the LG television delivered slightly better contrast and blending, and the Samsung TV was undeniably brighter and more vibrant, the Sony XR-55A80K tended to offer better realism and picture accuracy on the whole.

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High-quality Ultra-HD HDR content is sharp, detailed, and great to watch on the Sony XR-55A80K TV

 

The HDR format support for Dolby Vision on the Sony TV tended to favour content on Netflix, Apple TV+, and Disney+ Hotstar a bit more than Amazon Prime Video, although the objective quality of content on the Bravia Core streaming service seemed to outperform just about everything else. What stood out about the Sony XR-55A80K though, was its ability to adapt to the quality of content, fluidly and effortlessly; while good content looked the part, even lower-resolution content was suitably upscaled to look decent on the 55-inch screen.

Additionally, the Sony XR-55A80K was able to use its light sensor very well, to adapt the brightness and impact levels for the content and ambient light settings in the room. As a result, the picture always felt natural and easy on the eyes. It was never too bright, and I also didn’t find myself needing to adjust the brightness to make up for daylight or bright room lights. The Sony TV seemed to do all of this on its own, making for an easy viewing experience that let me focus on what was playing.

Watching Thor: Love and Thunder on Disney+ Hotstar in Ultra-HD Dolby Vision was a treat on the Sony XR-55A80K, with the television adapting well to the numerous bright, colourful scenes of New Asgard, as well as the dark, creepy scenes in the Shadow Realm. The ability to capture detail and add a sense of realism was noteworthy, with the glistening of Thor’s gold chest plate looking absolutely on point, even while Gorr’s lurking in the shadows retained all of the detail and watchability that you’d expect from a high-end OLED TV.

As expected for an OLED television, the Sony XR-55A80K wasn’t exceptionally bright. Unlike the Samsung QN95B which delivers a consistently watchable picture regardless of lighting conditions, the Sony benefited from at least some darkening of the viewing room, even in the form of simply drawing the curtains closed. There was also a fair amount of glare on the screen from slivers of light from the windows or ceiling lights, so you’ll definitely need to set the room up for the TV when watching.

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The Sony XR-55A80K is among the best of the premium OLED TVs available in India right now

 

Colourful animation such as Pacific Rim: The Black in Ultra-HD looked sharp and detailed on the Sony XR-55A80K, as did football documentary Welcome To Wrexham in full-HD resolution. The Sony television delivered impressive consistency in the picture, often making it hard to distinguish between Ultra-HD and ftull-HD content.

The black levels were similarly impressive across resolutions and dynamic range, particularly during the dark scenes of Thor: Love and Thunder where faint details were visible clearly and beautifully even during the dark Shadow Realm scenes. Watching dark content at night was a surprisingly good experience, thanks to the sheer detail and naturalness in the picture that the Sony XR-55A80K is capable of.

However, there was a notable difference between good Dolby Vision HDR content and SDR content, with the TV providing impressive colours, a visible bump in brightness, and impressive contrast between bright and dark zones. Dolby Vision content such as Home on Apple TV+ was an impressive showcase of what the TV is capable of, getting the bright cityscapes of Hong Kong, as well as the grey interiors of Gary Chang’s converted home on point quite capably.

Standard definition content naturally looked a bit awkward on the 55-inch screen of the Sony A80K TV, but it didn’t look quite as awkward as I’ve seen on many televisions of this size and resolution. Ideally, you’ll want to stick to full-HD resolution and above to put the TV to good use.

Sound quality was impressive on the TV as well, particularly with Dolby Atmos content. The TV was loud, detailed, and had a rather impressive soundstage thanks to the company’s interesting speaker layout and positioning. With standard audio content, I found the sound entirely acceptable for most purposes, but you might want to consider a good soundbar for a more cinematic experience with movies.

Verdict

Although OLED televisions don’t quite match up to quantum-dot and Mini-LED TVs on pure brightness, they make up for it with superior contrast, black levels, and a better sense of realism in the picture. The Sony XR-55A80K checks all of these boxes, offering a truly premium-grade viewing experience that falls short only when it comes to peak brightness. This is among the better televisions you can buy right now at around Rs. 2,00,000.

That said, there is strong competition from the LG 55C2, which delivers a largely similar and consistent viewing experience, particularly with high-quality Dolby Vision and Ultra-HD content. The Sony does edge slightly ahead thanks to better software and slightly better consistency with lower-resolution content, though.

If you’re shopping for a high-end TV right now, the Sony XR-55A80K should definitely be on your list. There’s very little to complain about with this television, making this a true all-rounder in the premium space.




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