When it comes to choosing the best TV of 2021, it’s going to be a seriously tricky year, and the Sony A90J and Sony A80J are going to be big parts of the conversation. With all of the manufacturers pushing forward new technology and processors, there are now seas of new acronyms to navigate.
One of those is Sony’s new XR range of Cognitive Processor TVs. Both the 4K Sony A90J and 4K Sony A80J boast XR functionality, but they're by no means the same.
Out of the two, the flagship Master Series A90J is the only one with a new ultra-bright panel, but let's break down the other differences between the models and see whether you should automatically invest in the most expensive screen. Even sizing might sway you in one direction or the other – though both are fighting to be among the best 65-inch TVs and best 55-inch TVs, they offer difference sizes beyond that.
Sony A90J vs Sony A80J: Price and models
Let’s start with the A90J. Sony’s Master Series flagship comes in three sizes, which includes an incredible new 83-inch model. If you don’t quite have an entire wall free, though, the 55-inch version will set you back £2,699 in the UK and $2,999 in the US. Going up to the 65-inch takes you to a £3,499 price point in the UK and $3,999 in the USA.
Then there’s the 83-inch model, which is a cool £6,999 in the UK. The US price hasn’t been officially confirmed but a figure of $7,999 appeared briefly on US site B&H Photo Video before disappearing, which looks about right.
Then there’s the Sony A80J, which also comes in three sizes, but doesn’t go quite as large as the A90J. The 55-inch model is £1,999 in the UK and $2,199 in the US, the 65-inch is £2,699 in the UK and $2,799 in the US, and the 77-inch screen will take you up to £4,199 in the UK and $4,499 in the US.
It’s also worth noting that the Sony UK site is listing a Sony A84J model in the same sizes as the A80J line up – no difference is made obvious on Sony's site, so it's likely that this is just a cosmetic variation.
This pricing means that we’ve got a big choice to make. The 65-inch A80J is exactly the same price in the UK as the 55-inch model of the flagship A90J. Are you willing to switch out all that extra screen real estate for the spec differences? Let’s map them out now.
Sony A90J vs Sony A80J: Picture quality
Here’s the biggest difference when it comes to comparing the Sony A90J and the Sony A80J. The A90J comes with a new panel that offers a higher peak brightness than the previous generation. Brightness is always where OLED has never been able to compete with LED, but these new brightness levels are a step forward for Sony OLEDs.
A new aluminium heat sink means speedy cooling, so the A90J is even more efficient and there’s less chance of screen burn-in. The A90J comes with what Sony is calling XR OLED Contrast Pro for improved contrast, colour, and even deeper blacks. With support for HDR10 and Dolby Vision, the A90J is looking gloriously feature rich when it comes to taking care of our eyeballs in 4K.
But that doesn’t mean that the A80J is a slouch. Also using Sony’s new XR technology like the A90J – just not that new panel – the A80J makes the most of what Sony is calling ‘Cognitive Intelligence’ processing. This means the processor is constantly analysing what’s on screen and adjusting on the fly to make sure we’re constantly getting the best possible image.
The XR processor splits the screen into hundred of zones and individually analyses these to apparently recreate the way the human eye sees the world. The A80J also has XR OLED Contrast but just ditches the Pro version of the A90J. Also with HDR10 and Dolby Vision, going by previous Sony OLEDs, the A80J will still provide superlative viewing. Just slightly less so than the A90J.
Sony A90J vs Sony A80J: Sound quality
Here’s another area of sutble difference between the Sony A90J and A80J. While both screens have Sony’s excellent Acoustic Surface Audio+ feature where the screen itself acts as a speaker for forward firing audio with 3D Surround Upscaling, the A90J offers 60W of power, compared to 30W in the A80J. Both have similar systems of two actuators and two subwoofers, though. It's just that the A90J gives them more power to play.
The Acoustic Surface Audio+ is a true revelation that means speakers aren’t firing in entirely the wrong direction and we have been consistently impressed by the brilliant positional audio that comes with this feature. It really does mean that a lot of people would be happy with just the TV and won't need to spend extra on one of the best soundbars – though it won't replace a real surround system, of course.
Speaking of which, the A90J also has an additional connector to make the screen speaker act as the central speaker of a full surround sound set-up. In contrast, the A80J would mean you would need a full surround sound set-up.
Sony A90J vs Sony A80J: Design & features
When it comes to the design and features of both the Sony A90J and Sony A80J, there are only a few small differences. Both are beautiful, svelte and near bezelless, and new-gen gamers will be happy with the two HDMI 2.1 ports that come as standard on both TVs to make the most of 4K 120Hz gaming, VRR, and ALLM. Both screens have two HDMI 2.1 ports, which means you can have both PS5 and Xbox Series X on the go without any awkward swapping.
Both screens also come with three-way stands which means you don’t need to invest in a new TV stand because of the positioning of the legs. Although, it’s worth noting that if you do want to increase the height of the A90J to allow for a soundbar underneath, you will have to opt for the legs being at the very end.
Both models also come with a built-in Chromecast and Apple AirPlay 2 as well as Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. Another difference comes in the form of the remote control. The flagship A90J comes with a special backlit remote and the A80J has a more regular black affair. You also won’t need to press a button for voice control on the A90J and you will for the A80J so if you can’t live without feeling like you are in a button-free future, you’ll have to opt for the more expensive model.
These TVs are seriously movie friendly. Both come with a Netflix Calibrated Mode and are officially IMAX Enhanced and also come with Sony’s new BRAVIA core streaming service to make sure you are always watching content in the way that the director intended.
Sony A90J vs Sony A80J: Verdict
Both of these TVs will make exceptional investments. This combination of Sony’s processing and excellent audio will mean that the A90J and the A80J will be solid 2021 purchases.
But, it’s all going to come down to that new panel. If you want the brightest and best 4K OLED from Sony, there’s no hiding that the A90J will be the superior purchase here. The A80J isn’t going to disappoint anyone, though – it's just about your size-to-price budget. But you won't miss out on any key features by going with the A80J, which is reassuring to know.