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This Sony A80L review looks into a mid-range OLED product line that tries to be affordable. Use it to learn if the A80L puts its 4K resolution, OLED technology, and Google TV platform to good use.
Sony A80L review: What the manufacturer has in mind for consumers
Sony joins other TV manufacturers to offer mid-tier versions of premium OLED TVs. The idea is to balance good performance and attractive pricing (for an OLED panel). We’ll soon see if Sony succeeds at giving consumers a blend of premium viewing and feel-good deals.
The Sony A80L also goes by A80CL, A83L, and A84L, depending on the retailer selling the TV. Take the A84L, which is available at British and German retail outlets. Compared to the A80L, the A84L is identical in pricing and specifications, but it comes with perks like:
- A sleek metallic remote with a backlight and finder function
- Extra credits for Sony’s in-house movie catalog
- A longer warranty
With the product introduction out of the way, let’s look at different aspects of the Sony A80L OLED TV.
Most TVs in Sony’s recent lineup have a simple exterior with an artistic touch. The AL80 takes it a step further with a slim side profile, metal elements, and a grid pattern at the back. It all comes together to form an edgy, elegant addition to your home decor.
A quick inspection of the panel reveals a chassis of solid plastic with a metal frame around the edges. Putting slight pressure on the back panel only causes minimal flexing of the plastic surface. The seams and edges of Sony AL80 are also snug, with no visible gaps between surfaces. These measures do enough to protect against dust buildup and slight knocks.
Sony A80L review: Physical setup
The TV feet attach at two different positions, depending on the size of your furniture.
Placing the feet at the far ends of the TV gives a stable setup with little wobble. At this position, you can set the panel close to the furniture surface by leaving a height clearance of 1.8 inches. You could also raise the panel to a height of 3.4 inches, which creates enough room for a soundbar.
Placing the TV feet closer together is also an option if you have a shorter entertainment stand. At this position, the gap between the furniture and the bottom edge of the TV remains fixed at 1.8 inches.
You can also mount the 65-inch Sony AL80 with a 300×300 VESA bracket. The result would be a neat wall-mount installation, but with ports that are a little hard to reach. Also in the interest of neatness, Sony blends a removable cover onto the back panel. The detachable cover is a good way to conceal the cables you connect to the Sony A80L. However, covering the cables makes the ports even harder to access when the TV is on the wall.
Sony A80L review: Controls and connectivity
A multi-purpose button at the center of the panel lets you operate the TV if you lose the remote or something. There’s also a switch that you can use to enable or switch off the panel’s internal microphone.
You get four HDMI ports that connect all kinds of consoles, media players, and audio equipment. The first two ports have HDMI 2.0 bandwidth, which is enough to support 60fps content at 4K. Ports three and four have HDMI 2.1 bandwidth that supports 4K/120 content. One of the HDMI 2.1 ports doubles as the eARC port, and this design choice can be limiting. The Sony A80L OLED TV also comes with the following ports:
- Digital optical output
- AV composite input
- 3.5mm audio jack
- Three USB ports
- IR input
- Connector for antenna/cable
- Ethernet/LAN port
WiFi and Bluetooth take care of your wireless connections, with support for Chromecast, Airplay, and Apple Homekit.
Smart features: Google TV
The A80L has a responsive smart TV platform that benefits from the panel’s low lag and ultra-fast pixels. Google TV goes even further to turn your TV into a smart home hub; via its native voice assistant. Hands-free voice commands are possible with the A80L, thanks to the internal microphone in the TV.
Companion apps and cross-platform compatibility
Installing Google’s Home app provides a dashboard that lets you access and control compatible devices directly from the AL80.
Google TV also has support for Alexa, but you’ll need an Alexa-enabled device to use this feature. The platform also has Airplay and HomeKit modules that you activate with a few clicks of the remote. With HomeKit, you can use an Apple device to control the Sony Bravia A80L. Apple’s Airplay2 lets you mirror video and audio from your Apple device onto the TV.
Lastly, the Sony A80L includes a pop-up that gives easy access to in-game settings and gaming information. The popup lets you make adjustments and check on things without interrupting gameplay with long pauses.
Bravia core streaming service
Sony offers complimentary access to its in-house movie catalog by giving credits that are valid for a year.
The internal sound system of the A80L uses the TV screen to execute a three-channel speaker. This happens through the vibrating action of three actuators that create treble and mid-range frequencies. The three actuators cause minuscule vibrations that turn the screen into the left, center, and right audio channels. Two rear drivers take care of bass frequencies, but they’re no substitute for external audio equipment.
Together, the actuators and bass drivers create a 3.2-channel audio setup that delivers:
- A wide soundstage that mimics surround sound with the help of TV circuitry and upscaling algorithms
- Balancing of speech and background audio by enhancing speech where necessary
- Automatic acoustic calibration to match sound output to a room’s layout
From the viewer’s perspective, the sound that comes out of the A80L seems to come from pinpoint locations on the screen. A loud gunshot will come from the exact spot where you see the barrel on the screen. Lastly, the TV gets pretty loud, and sound distortion only becomes noticeable at top volume.
Sony A80L review: Hardware and performance
The Sony A80L is an OLED TV with a wide color gamut, wide viewing angles, responsive pixels, and powerful image-processing hardware. Being an OLED panel, the A80L also delivers inky blacks and an expansive palette of dark colors. The tradeoff is that you have to live with a dim TV that will struggle in very bright spaces. Here’s what happens when Sony’s XR processor harnesses the native abilities of the A80L panel.
1. Color reproduction and tone mapping
Color accuracy is decent right out of the box, with only the slightest of blue tints in certain picture presets. A few tweaks to the color settings result in color reproduction that completely matches the source material that makes up your content.
The TV does a good job of reproducing skin tones, both in bright and dark scenes. In concert with Sony’s XR processor, the A80L panel manages to render realistic hues in all kinds of lighting. However, the display does a better job of rendering saturated colors compared to paler, less saturated shades. This doesn’t stop the TV from amplifying small nuances between similar colors.
From a viewer’s perspective, the A80L delivers images that capture unique shades and tones that you normally only see in real life.
2. Brightness, contrast, and detail
The A80L is dim compared to similar TVs from competing brands, but this drawback has little effect. Infinite contrast and powerful image processing allow the TV to execute bright highlights, sharp images, convincing texture, and fine detail. Even more impressive is the panel’s ability to render detail and depth in images full of shadow and dark colors.
3. Motion handling
It’s worth noting that the pixels of the A80L change colors in less than 10ms, which is impressive. Low lag and even lower response times allow the Sony A80L to deliver smooth, flawless motion. This makes the panel ideal for sports, action movies, and gaming.
Expect a fun and immersive gaming experience, with a display that seems as fast as your eyes and hands. The TV will also slow its refresh rate to prevent screen tearing in games with a lower frame rate.
- Hands-free voice commands with Google Assistant
- Fine detail stands out, even in dark scenes and dark sections of an image
- Perfect color reproduction
- Near-perfect upscaling of lower-resolution content
- Excellent motion handling
- Uniform screen, with no banding or dirty-screen effect
- Google TV is versatile, fast, and responsive
- Side-facing and rear-facing ports are hard to reach in a wall-mount install
- The Sony A80L is not the best fit for rooms with bright ambient light
- You may notice a bluish tint, especially with certain picture presets. A few adjustments to the color settings will resolve the issue
- There are similar TVs in the price range of the A80L that have three or four HDMI 2.1 ports
- Not everybody likes an internal microphone in their TV
Sony A80L review verdict: Audio-visual perfection
Sony’s A80L OLED TV is a testament to the manufacturer’s attention to detail. An edgy design belies a durable chassis with a powerful OLED panel. The manufacturer goes further to execute a clever sound system that turns the screen into a 3-channel speaker. Lastly, high-performance circuitry and software harness the power of the A80L panel to weave audio-visual perfection.
This Sony A80L review reveals a TV that’s worth its asking price but with one suggestion for the manufacturer. Many households that buy an OLED TV have a media player, a sound system, and a new-generation gaming console. For this reason, Sony should add more HDMI 2.1 ports to keep up with the competition. Click here to learn more about this television.