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Sony A80L OLED TV review: AI-powered upscaling blew me away

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pros and cons

Professionals

  • Fantastic sound
  • Three stand leg options
  • XR Clear Image enhances content beautifully and naturally
Against

  • Only two HDMI 2.1 ports
  • Fights in super bright environments

More shopping choices

When it debuted last year, Sony A80K OLED television scored fairly high across the board. While it was squarely in the middle of the company’s 2022 lineup, it had features and qualities that rivaled other brands’ premium entries.

This year’s version, the A80L OLEDit takes what has worked before and makes it even better, resulting in television that exceeded my expectations and improved every single piece of content I watched.

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This isn’t Sony’s high-end TV, but it’s not trying to be. What the A80L OLED is, though, is an upper-middle-range TV that will especially appeal to home cinema enthusiasts and gamers. Here because.

Specifications

Dimensions 57.13 x 34 x 2.1 inches
Screen size 55”, 65”, 77”, 83”
Resolution 3840x2160p
Wide dynamic range HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision
Improved clarity XR 4K Upscaling Double XR Super Resolution database processing
video processor XR Cognitive Processor
Refresh rate 120Hz
Audio DTS digital surround
HDMI ports 4 (2 HDMI 2.1)


What’s new with this model

The Sony A80L offers a processing upgrade to lower resolution content in the form of XR Clear Image and a new hub that allows gamers to tinker with display options. Its audio performance is also fantastic.

1. XR Clear Image is a game changer

Indiana Jones on the Sony A80L television.

Artie Beaty/ZDNET

As for video, every single piece of content on the A80L was fantastic. Low-res shows on YouTube TV were upscaled to 4K with realistic quality, 4K or UltraHD content on Netflix looked beautiful, and games and Blu-Ray DVDs on PlayStation 5 blew like I’ve never seen them before.

Sony’s new XR Clear Image technology uses artificial intelligence to produce immensely improved clarity and sharpness while staying true to the source material. Designed to show subtle textures and details that would otherwise be lost, this feature really shines on lower resolution content that’s upscaled to 4K.

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I have inserted a Blu-ray of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom to test this feature, and I was amazed at how natural everything felt. With my old TV, the upscaling created a picture that looked ‘pretty’ but quite unnatural. The A80L breathed new life into Doctor Jones while retaining the grain and feel of the 80s.

2. A new gaming hub to compete with competitors

Gaming hub on the Sony A80L

Artie Beaty/ZDNET

Pressing the menu button during gameplay opens up a number of useful settings, such as the option to activate variable refresh rate (VRR), use motion blur, change the black equalizer level and add a crosshair (with six different options to choose from).

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Users can also change the screen display size, an option I found myself using for gaming when I needed to see a lot of information at once like a health bar, maps, inventory, etc. Most gaming monitors have these options, as do other TV manufacturers like LG and Samsung. This is a first for Sony and it cuts down on all the essentials.

3. Audo+ Acoustic Surface is better than ever

While a good portion of OLED TVs need a soundbar to produce an above-average audio experience, the A80L does quite well with its built-in audio. This is largely due to what Sony calls Acoustic Surface Audio+, a system that uses actuators and woofers to gently vibrate the screen and create sound that comes from the screen itself.

But beyond simply coming from the TV, the sound comes from the area where the action is taking place on the screen, making things smoother in your brain.

Also: The best audio systems for every home

I keep subtitles on pretty much everything I watch to make sure I don’t miss any dialogue. But this is the first TV in a long time where I’ve felt comfortable enough to turn them off and still feel like I’m understanding every word.

The TV handles audio just fine on its own, but when I paired it with the A5000 soundbar and speaker system, it was an almost theatrical experience. It is a premium add-on, but one that you will feel very satisfied with.

What I would like to see in the next model

1. More brightness from the top end

My usual television watching environment can be quite bright. I often keep the curtains open in my living room just to let in natural light or to keep an eye on my kids playing in the yard. Unfortunately, this often means that there is a lot of light that gets directly onto my television screen.

My first impression of this TV was that it had a nice picture, but it actually looked a little less bright than my old set, a Black Friday department store brand purchase.

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I don’t have the equipment to test, but a little online digging confirmed the TV offers a range of 600-750 nits, less than comparable TVs from Samsung and LG that hit over 1,200 nits. This is an improvement over the A80Kbut I’d like to see Sony match (or surpass) the competition in this area next year.

2. Additional HDMI 2.1 ports

The back of the Sony A80L TV.

Artie Beaty/ZDNET

This isn’t really a problem Still for most people, but it could be soon. The A80L, like all Sony TVs, has only two HDMI 2.1 ports – the latest and most powerful version. For a good setup, a next-generation gaming console and soundbar will fill those spots. But what about people with multiple video game systems? The new offerings from LG and Samsung have four HDMI 2.1 supports, and Sony should follow suit.

3. A heat sink to give it a little more longevity

While heat sinks have been around in the computer world for a while, they’re fairly new to televisions. A heat sink, which draws heat away from fancy electrical components, not only allows panels to last longer, but also allows your TV to have a brighter display. This would have been quite an upgrade to the A80L over its predecessor, especially since the A90K he had one.

Bottom line

THE Sony A80L 65 inch The model I tested has a right-hand price of $2,400. This is in line with the LG C3OLED and a little more than Samsung S90C, both with similar specifications, at least on the video front. But the addition of Sony’s cognitive processor and boosted sound make this TV worth the slightly higher price tag among the bunch.

Do I have to buy one?

If you’re looking to buy a “better-than-budget” level OLED that works great out of the box, the A80L should be high on your list.

The only downsides are the brightness, which I was able to mitigate with the blinds closed, and the limited HDMI 2.1 ports, which is more of a future-proof issue. So if you have an unusually bright space that you can’t dim or have multiple next-generation video game consoles and an audio setup, you might want to look elsewhere.

Alternatives to consider

An LG C3 OLED TV on a yellow background

THE BEST LG ALTERNATIVE

LG C3OLED

The LG C3 OLED is another great 65-inch option with great vibrancy, built-in voice controls, and AI-powered 4K upscaling.

A Samsung S90C OLED TV on a green background

THE BEST SAMSUNG ALTERNATIVE

Samsung S90C OLED

Samsung’s mid-range OLED TV features Quantum HDR, Dolby Atmos Object Tracking, and a gaming hub similar to Sony’s.


#Sony #A80L #OLED #review #AIpowered #upscaling #blew
Image Source : www.zdnet.com

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