Despite being the mid-range option in Sony's 2023 TV lineup, the Sony Bravia XR A80L is an excellent OLED TV that will not disappoint users. Image quality is impeccable, as usual. The addition of a Game menu brings it on par with the competition. The sole blemish is that it has only two HDMI 2.1 ports, making it possibly less attractive to those with more than one modern game console. But that's really not a big deal, especially when the pricing, for once, is competitive with its rivals.
- 4K resolution with HDR10, Dolby Vision, and HLG
- 2x HDMI 2.1 ports (4K@120Hz), 2x HDMI 2.0 ports
- Comes in 55″, 65″ (tested) and 77″ sizes
- Supports ALLM, VRR, and eARC
As you'd expect from a Sony OLED TV, the A80L offers pristine class-leading picture quality. While it does not offer Filmmaker Mode like other TV makers, Sony's own Custom profile is just as good. Out of the box, you barely need to tweak any settings in the Custom profile. Perhaps the motion smoothing, if that's your thing. The only thing lacking about the A80L — compared with the latest flagship OLED TVs — is peak brightness. But it's good enough for most folks. Even in a well-lit room, there's enough pop and impact in HDR content. Sony is also not as aggressive as some brands at automatically dimming the screen to protect against OLED burn-in. For example, the A80L's screen doesn't gradually become dimmer during the night-time scenes in the last episode of Netflix's Beef TV series, unlike my older LG C1.
Sony has also finally caught up with its rivals, and introduced a Game Menu to its 2023 TVs. Pressing the Menu button brings up this overlay, which has gaming-centric options such as turning on VRR (variable refresh rate) or motion blur, as well as adding a crosshair to the screen. These are typical settings you'll find in gaming monitors. If you have a Sony PlayStation 5, the TV will automatically adjust the HDR settings for gaming, and enable Game mode for the PS5. Note that enabling VRR locks the TV into Game mode, which means you cannot change the picture settings. It's not a problem unless you're watching 4K Blu-ray movies using the PS5. Sony says users will be able to change the usable area of the display, for example, to reduce the effective screen size if you're seated close to the TV. However, this feature isn't available yet.
The A80L's speakers are good for TV speakers. The TV screen itself vibrates to produce sound that seems to come from the centre of the TV. Dialogue is clear, and the sound, while not the most powerful, is detailed. Bass, though, is predictably lacking. I recommend getting a good sound bar, such as the Sonos Beam, which fits nicely under the A80L (using the height adjusters that come with the TV feet). These feet can also be positioned wider or narrower. The A80L has the same HDMI configuration as previous models. You'll only get two HDMI 2.1 ports, one of which is the eARC. This means that if you have a sound bar, only one modern game console (PS5 or Xbox Series X|S) will have 4K 120Hz support.
Sony continues to offer its Bravia Core 4K streaming service (10 movies to redeem and two-year of unlimited streaming, free for A80L owners). While the quality of the streams is very good, the number of movies pale in comparison to other paid streaming services. Think of it as a nice extra. At S$4,699 for the 65-inch model, the Sony Bravia XR-A80L is actually cheaper than the equivalent step-down OLEDs from rivals LG and Samsung. Both the LG C3 and the Samsung S90C are going for S$5,199. As usual, you may be able to haggle for better prices (and forgo some freebies) at the stores. These prices may also fluctuate depending on promotions. But at this point in time, I would say the A80L looks pretty attractive to me. Get it now from Sony, Lazada and Shopee.
Note: Review unit provided by Sony.
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