Sony A80L (XR-55A80L): An all rounder TV

While all of the OLED attention is on the super-bright new MLA and QD-OLED models, the truth is that they’re too costly right now. As a result, the vast majority of OLED TVs sold this year will be step-down models like the Sony A80L we’re looking at today. Sony would probably point out that the A80L has a fancy actuator-based audio system that the LGs don’t, and that while it doesn’t have the G3’s MLA tech, it does have particular heat mapping software designed to optimise the panel for increased brightness, though not to the same level as an MLA OLED.


The only price for the XR-55A80L that has been confirmed thus far is the INR 2,49,999, which works out to around $2980 / AU$4430 – though official US and Australian pricing will most likely be lower than this.


The A80L resembles the A80K it replaces in appearance. That’s fine, but the minimalist design is becoming a little boring. As previously stated, the set is slightly thicker (5.3cm) than competitors such as the LG C3 (4.5cm), and it is thicker across more of its rear, because of the need for a larger enclosure to house those actuators that are placed behind and vibrate the entire panel in order to generate sound.

Instead of a pedestal stand, the A80L has feet that can be angled outwards or inwards. The set looks more stylish when they are angled out from the set’s edges, but this gives the TV a footprint that is too wide for most furniture.


Sony is sticking with its Cognitive Processor XR as the brain for its premium TVs, which has previously proven to be extremely capable. It gets a new XR Clear Image feature this year, which is intended to be a smart form of upscaling that recognises content type and quality as well as applies processing accordingly so that images look closer to native 4K.

The company also continues to use the Google TV operating system, which is good and improving. The most recent version used by Sony is much better at providing you with a personalised selection of content to watch. We are immediately presented with a homepage that is focused on sci-fi, thrillers, and action films.

In addition to the Dolby Atmos sound format, the A80L supports Dolby Vision HDR, as well as the more common HDR10 and HLG formats. As is the story with Sony, HDR10+ is not supported, though this is not a cause for concern.

More disappointing is the A80L’s lack of HDMI 2.1 ports, with the other two supporting the older 2.0 standard. As previously stated, one of those 2.1 sockets is also in charge of eARC, so if you use that to output audio to a soundbar or AVR, you’ll only have one left for a PS5, Xbox Series X, or PC.


Starting with HDR10, the Sony A80L makes an immediate impression on us. Custom, the least processed and most cinematically authentic image preset, is beautifully balanced. It’s quite extraordinary how easily it combines the spectacular and the subtle. The neon lights and holographic billboards of Blade Runner 2049’s downtown LA stand out brilliantly from the city’s overall gloom, but skin tones are handled with realism-boosting nuance, and the almost hundreds of slightly different shades of grey that make up the bark of the tree at Sapper Morton’s farm are made visible.

Clothing textures, skin imperfections, and complex patterns are all rendered clearly but without artificial definition. This impressive ability to resolve fine details extends across the light spectrum. The amount of shadow detail is excellent, however more impressive is the set’s ability to dig up details in the brightest parts of the image, revealing, for example, the grime on the glass on the window through which light is pouring.

Dolby Vision Bright

Dolby Vision Bright, on the other hand, is stunning. Oodles of punch from the bright, pure whites as well as vibrant colours, lovely warmth to skin tones, plenty of details and razor-sharp edges. As with the HDR10 performance, it’s the A80L’s balance of the spectacular and the subtle that makes it so enjoyable to watch.

Shadow detail is also excellent, and while the A80L is clearly capable of producing perfect blacks, it does not use this ability to increase impact at the expense of detail, as some competitors do. 


The A80L, like other Sony OLEDs of the modern era, has an actuator-based audio system that vibrates the entire panel to produce sound. The main advantage of this method is that the sound literally comes from the screen, so there is no gap between the audio and the image. In the A80L’s case, there are three of these screen-vibrating actuators as well as two regular woofers to fill out the sound.

The bass on the A80L is a little less. The super-deep drum beats are disappointingly light, not reaching the lower frequencies found in some other TVs at this price. That’s obviously a slight disappointment, but it could be an intentional choice, unlike many other TVs, which strive for depth they can’t comfortably reach or distort as a result. The A80L is accurately composed, with only a tiny bit of fuzz appearing at very high volumes.

Overall, while flagship sets with separate speaker systems will sound even better, the A80L sounds very good for a step-down model. This should be a strong consideration for anyone with this kind of budget who is determined about not purchasing a dedicated sound system with their new TV.


If it isn’t clear by now, the Sony A80L is an excellent television. We’re all drawn to the gleaming promise of the super-bright new MLA and QD-OLED panel technologies, yet the A80L shows that with flawless processing, truly outstanding picture quality is still more than possible from a standard’ OLED panel. This is a rare TV that combines the spectacular with cinematic subtlety. It is thrilling, but not in a showy way. And it does so with surprisingly atmospheric-engaging sound, though if you’re serious about home cinema, we’d still recommend a dedicated sound system.

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