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Sony TV 2021: All the 8K, 4K, OLED and BRAVIA XR TVs explained

Here is what you need to know about the 2021 Sony TV range with all the info you need if you’re looking to buy a new Sony BRAVIA 8K LED, 4K OLED and 4K LED TV.

The 2021 Sony TV line-up is one of the biggest upgrades we’ve seen from the Japanese manufacturer in the last few years, with a new smarter processor, upgraded UI and better gaming compatibility across the range.

We’ll be updating this list throughout the year as more information around release dates and prices comes to light.

New Sony TVs for 2021

The headline feature for Sony’s 2021 TV range is that they are the world’s first cognitive intelligence televisions on the market. You can read the section below to understand exactly what that means.

For this year, Sony has adopted the J naming designation for its TVs. That means that if the model number ends in J, it’s a new 2021 TV. We should also note that for the 2020 TVs that have carried over or are still available, they’ve been re-named from KD to KE. So, for instance, if you see the KE-48A9 OLED, that’s the same TV as the KD-48A9 but has been re-named in light of new European regulations that concern power usage.

New 8K TVs, new OLEDs, new 4K Full Array LED models have launched under the BRAVIA XR umbrella, while beneath that are more affordable 4K LED TVs and a new 32-inch HD model.

Smart features and HDMI 2.1 compatibility are consistent across the range, while Sony’s Ambient Optimisation feature, which assesses the area around the TV and adapts the picture and sound to suit the environment, is available on nearly all the announced models (save for the HD TV).

A new brain in the Cognitive Processor XR

The brain behind Sony’s premium sets has gotten smarter. All the new BRAVIA XR televisions, a list that includes the MASTER Series Z9J 8K LED, MASTER Series A90J/A80J OLED, and X95J/X90J 4K LED), are powered by the Cognitive Processor XR.

It uses a new processing method that Sony says goes beyond conventional Artificial Intelligence, working in a similar manner as our brain does. It replicates the ways humans see and hear, dividing the screen into zones to detect where the focal point of the picture is.

According to Sony, while conventional AI detects and analyses picture elements such as colour, contrast and detail individually; the new processor cross-analyses all these elements at once. By performing these tasks simultaneously (much like our brains), these elements are adjusted in conjunction with each other and that should make for an image that’s more synchronised and lifelike.

For audio, the Cognitive Processor XR analyses the sound’s position in the signal so it matches precisely with what’s on screen. Sony also claims it can also upconvert any sound to 3D surround sound for a more immersive performance.

BRAVIA CORE and new Google TV UI

Sony’s BRAVIA CORE aims to bring the cinema experience to the home. It’s pre-loaded on all the BRAVIA XR models (Z9J, A90J, A80J, X95J and X90J), and gives users the option of watching a selection of titles from Sony Pictures Entertainment’s “premium and classic” films (although we not sure the Vin Diesel-starring Bloodshot counts as either), as well as delving into the largest collection of IMAX Enhanced titles.

It promises near lossless 4K Blu-ray quality streaming of 80Mbps – significantly higher than the average 20 to 30Mbps of other services – through its Pure Stream technology. The catch is to access the 80Mbps streaming quality you’ll need a minimum internet speed of 115Mbps.

After using Android TV in its previous models, Sony has sashayed over to the Google TV UI. This UI offers a greater focus on content curation and discovery; bringing movies, TV shows, live TV, apps and subscriptions to one place. It also offers personalised recommendations, as well as the ability to keep track of content you want to see via the Watchlist.

Sony’s TVs continue to support the Netflix Calibrated Mode that serves up the Netflix library in a dedicated ‘studio quality’ picture mode. This is along with IMAX Enhanced content, so the TV can play remastered picture and sound through its IMAX Enhanced Mode.

HDMI 2.1 for gaming

In 2020 Sony was neither here nor there with its support for the HDMI 2.1 format. For 2021 stated that it’s much more committed to the format with HDMI 2.1 compatibility present on all BRAVIA XR TVs.

That support brings 4K/120fps, Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) for a faster and better gaming experience, as well as eARC for the passing higher quality sound through the TV to a soundbar, for example. However, VRR support is still lacking, with Sony saying they’re waiting for the official specification to be released. When exactly they’ll fully jump onboard is not quite clear.

Hands-Free control

Hands-free voice control is built into Sony’s Google compatible TVs, so you don’t have to use the remote to search or to control the TV and smart devices around the home. Simply say ‘Hey Google’ followed by a command and you’re off.

There’s also compatibility with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa devices for casting videos from YouTube to Google Nest speakers, or changing the channel and volume levels.

SONY TV 2021

SONY TV 8K LED (BRAVIA XR)

Z9J Series

  • XR-85Z9J
  • XR-75Z9J

The Z9J is Sony’s top of the range 8K LED TV. For the money – and it’s a considerable amount – it has the Cognitive Processor XR that powers the Full Array LED panel to produce deeper black levels and brighter colours.

With upscaling necessary given the lack of native 8K content, the TV upgrades 2K and 4K signals thanks to its XR 8K Upscaling feature.

The X-Wide Angle technology aims to keep colours strong at wider viewing angles. The TV comes with Sony’s Acoustic Multi-Audio technology that uses frame tweeters to ensure high frequency sounds are placed exactly where they should be, while the front facing subwoofers produce “powerful bass”. If it’s anything like the system in the ZH8 TV, it could negate the need for a soundbar.

  • Cognitive Processor XR
  • Full Array LED
  • X-Wide Angle technology
  • Acoustic Multi-Audio
  • Dolby Vision HDR, HDR10, HLG
  • Dolby Atmos
  • 4K/120fps, ALLM, VRR, eARC
  • YouView inc. UK catch-up apps

SONY 4K OLED (BRAVIA XR)

A90J Series

  • XR-83A90J
  • XR-65A90J
  • XR-55A90J

The A90J is Sony’s top OLED. OLED’s rich contrast performance is aided and abetted by the set’s XR OLED Contrast Pro, further adjusting brightness for higher peak performance and better black levels so details aren’t shrouded by darkness or lost in the brighter parts of an image.

Smart features are available in Google TV, AirPlay 2 and HomeKit, as well as Google Assistant and Chromecast.

The A90J is Calman Ready, offering calibrators the opportunity the fine-tune and adjust the image. Interestingly, the A90J features an RGB light sensor that adapts the image to compensate not only for changes in a room’s light levels, but changes in the hue of the light (cool to warm etc), which Sony says can adversely affect the image.

Sony says its Acoustic Surface Audio+ technology has also been improved to deliver a more accurate sound. With its Seamless Edge design, the A90J’s frameless look reduces distractions so the focus is on the screen. Around the back is a cable clutter feature to keep the back area tidy. There are also multiple configurations for set up, which include standing it on its feet or elevating the TV to place a soundbar beneath.

We reviewed the 55-inch A90J model and called it one of the very best OLEDs of 2021 so far.

  • Cognitive Processor XR
  • XR OLED Contrast Pro
  • Acoustic Surface Audio+
  • Dolby Vision HDR, HDR10, HLG
  • Dolby Atmos
  • 4K/120fps, ALLM, VRR, eARC
  • YouView inc. UK catch-up apps

read our Sony XR-55A90J review

Sony KD-48A9

Sony A9

  • KD-48A9/KE-48A9

The 48A9 is Sony’s smallest OLED at just 48-inches. It has virtually all the features seen in the bigger OLED models with the X1 Ultimate processor, Acoustic Surface Audio and Dolby Vision. Released in 2020, it carries over into the 2021 range.

For 2021 you may come across it as the KE-48A9. It’s the same TV but re-named to take into account new European power regulations.

  • X1 Ultimate processor
  • Acoustic Surface Audio
  • Dolby Vision HDR, HDR10, HLG
  • Dolby Atmos
  • eARC
  • YouView inc. UK catch-up apps

read our Sony KD-48A9 review

A80J Series

  • XR-55A80J
  • XR-65A80J
  • XR-77A80J

A84J Series

  • XR-55A84J
  • XR-65A84J
  • XR-77A84J

Sony’s entry-level OLED covers similar ground as the flagship A90J. Given its status it’s also the more affordable of the two. The differences stem from the A80J getting the XR OLED Contrast (rather than the A90J’s Pro version). That’ll likely mean a drop in brightness and picture processing abilities.

A80J tops out at 77-inches (not 83-inches like the A90J), and there are three options for placement: a narrow position for a smaller footprint, a ‘hero’ position so the viewer can focus on the screen and elevated position that allows for a soundbar beneath. The remote is not as fancy either, losing the backlight feature for operating the TV in darker rooms.

  • Cognitive Processor XR
  • XR OLED Contrast
  • Acoustic Surface Audio+
  • Dolby Vision HDR, HDR10, HLG
  • Dolby Atmos
  • 4K/120fps, ALLM, VRR, eARC
  • YouView inc. UK catch-up apps

Sony TV Full Array 4K LED (BRAVIA XR)

X95J Series

  • XR-85X95J
  • XR-75X95J
  • XR-65X95J

The flagship 4K LED TV features a Full Array panel that works in concert with XR Triluminos Pro and XR Contrast Booster to deliver better black levels and more intense brightness for HDR content.

Like the A90J OLED, there are three ways to position the TV. HDMI 2.1 compatibility is improved over last year’s 4K LED sets, making this a better fit for gaming with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.

  • Cognitive Processor XR
  • Full Array LED
  • X-Wide Angle technology
  • Acoustic Multi-Audio
  • Dolby Vision HDR, HDR10, HLG
  • Dolby Atmos
  • 4K/120fps, ALLM, VRR, eARC
  • YouView inc. UK catch-up apps

X94J Series

  • XR-75X94J
  • XR-65X94J
  • XR-55X94J
  • XR-50X94J

X90J Series

  • XR-75X90J
  • XR-65X90J
  • XR-55X90J
  • XR-50X90J

The step-down Full Array LED is less comprehensive in its specifications as the flagship X95J. That’s evident in the X90J having the XR Contrast Booster 5 (instead of the X95J’s XR Contrast Booster 10). Black levels won’t be as thorough, and TV won’t be as bright or as precise with regards to its dimming performance.

It also loses the X-Wide Angle and Anti-Reflection technology, so performance from wider angles won’t be as strong, and the TV will be less resistant to glares from lights. Options for placement are fewer too, though you can place the feet in the middle of the TV or at its end if your stand is smaller.

It does come in more sizes than the X95J, with a 55- and 50-inch options making the X90J a better fit for smaller rooms. Otherwise, the rest of features – smart and otherwise – are what you’ll find in the premium sets.

  • Cognitive Processor XR
  • Full Array LED
  • Acoustic Multi-Audio
  • Dolby Vision HDR, HDR10, HLG
  • Dolby Atmos
  • 4K/120fps, ALLM, VRR, eARC
  • YouView inc. UK catch-up apps

Sony TV 4K LED TV

X85J

  • KD-85X85J
  • KD-75X85J
  • KD-65X85J
  • KD-55X85J
  • KD-50X85J
  • KD-43X85J

We’re getting deep into Sony’s TV line-up with the first non-BRAVIA XR TV. The X85J swaps out the Cognitive XR Processor for the 4K HDR Processor X1, but still aims to offer better depth, textures and more natural colours with its images. The 4K X-Reality Pro picture processor helps to upscale sub-2K content to near 4K quality, with advanced noise reduction techniques aiming to produce a cleaner-looking image.

The panel is a native 100Hz effort, and that should result in smoother motion. HDMI 2.1 functionality is available on this model with 4K/120fps, VRR, ALLM and eARC included (two of the four HDMI inputs support the 2.1 format). The design is described as minimalist, with the ‘flush surface’ concentrating eyes on the screen.

Smart features are provided in Google TV, AirPlay 2/HomeKit, Chromecast and “works with” Alexa and Google Assistant speakers. It’s the first TV in the line-up that lacks support for the BRAVIA CORE streaming service, though.

  • 4K HDR Processor X1
  • Edge-lit LED
  • X-Balanced Speaker
  • Dolby Vision HDR, HDR10, HLG
  • Dolby Atmos
  • 4K/120fps, ALLM, VRR, eARC

X81J

  • KD-75X81J

X80J

  • KD-65X80J
  • KD-55X80J
  • KD-50X80J
  • KD-43X80J

The features for the X81J/X80J are reduced further from the X85J. You still get the 4K HDR Processor X1, 4K X-Reality PRO picture processing and advanced noise reduction techniques, as well as the X-Balanced speakers for a more immersive audio performance.

HDMI 2.1 support spans to just eARC, so this isn’t ideal for the PS5 or Xbox Series X. The panel drops down to a native 50Hz effort, so smoother motion is not on the table either.

Smart features are consistent with the rest of the range in Google TV, AirPlay and HomeKit support, as well as compatibility with Alexa and Google Assistant speakers.

  • 4K HDR Processor X1
  • Edge-lit LED
  • X-Balanced Speaker
  • Dolby Vision HDR, HDR10, HLG
  • Dolby Atmos
  • eARC

W800

Sony continues to pump out HD sets for those who just need a small TV. There’s no mention of whether it supports HDR like previous HD sets did (which likely indicates it doesn’t). The picture processor is the BRAVIA Engine, and Android TV offers access to apps such as Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube and Google Play Movies & TV.

  • BRAVIA Engine
  • LED
  • Android TV

Read on below for details on Sony’s 2020 TVs, which are still on sale.


Sony TV 2020 — 8K TV

ZH8 Series

  • KD-85ZH8
  • KD-75ZH8

The ZH8 is Sony’s new 8K TV for 2020. The highlight is the XH8’s new frame tweeter. It vibrates the frame of the TV to emit sound, giving viewers the impression that the sound is coming directly from the screen itself. As a full-array LED TV, expect this to be one of the brightest 8K sets on the market. And with Sony’s 8K X-tended Dynamic Range PRO, contrast is enhanced for brighter highlights and deeper blacks.

Sony TV 2020 — 4K OLED

A8 OLED

  • KD-65A8
  • KD-55A8

The A8’s picture processor has been bumped up to the X1 Ultimate, which boasts Sony’s object-based HDR remastering and Super Resolution technology. The Pixel Boosting Contrast is of most interest here, which enhances colour and contrast in bright areas for a more lifelike and richer image.

Sony TV 2020 — 4K Full Array LED

XH95

  • KD-49XH9505
  • KD-55XH9505
  • KD-65XH9505
  • KD-75XH9505
  • KD-85XH9505

Sony’s flagship 4K HDR TV bridges the gap between the 4K and OLED TV range.

The processor is Sony’s best-in-class X1 Ultimate. It comes with full-array backlighting with dimmable zones. Models 55-inch and bigger get Sony’s X-Wide angle technology for better colours and brightness from restricted angles. The XH95 also features the Acoustic Multi-Audio, Sound-from-Picture Reality speakers so audio is accurately positioned on the screen.

The X-Balanced Speaker Unit, which Sony claims is able to produce a high-quality sound from a thin enclosure, is available on the 55-, 65- and 75-inch screens. We’ve enjoyed reviewing both the 65-inch and 55-inch model, with both sets displaying some gorgeously intense HDR performance as well as strong motion and upscaling skills.

XH90

  • KD-55XH9005 – £1299
  • KD-65XH9005 – £1499
  • KD-75XH9005 – £2199
  • KD-85XH9005 – £3299

Another full-array LED TV, with the specification very similar to the flagship XH95. It has the X1 Ultimate processor and X-Balanced Speaker unit. There are few differences if you look closer.

Firstly, there’s no 49-inch version like there is with the XH95. Secondly, this looks to drop the X-Wide viewing technology (there’s no mention in the specs). Thirdly, the Acoustic Multi-Audio speakers are restricted to models 65-inches and up. Lastly, the design is slightly less premium in build and finish. This set is also Ready for PlayStation 5 with 4K@120Hz support.

Sony TV 2020 — 4K Ultra HD

Sony XH85 Series

XH8505 Series

  • KD-43XH8505 – £949
  • KD-49XH8505 – £999

The XH85 drops full-array LED backlighting and only comes in two flavours – 43- and 49-inches. This edge-lit LED TV has the X1 processor, as well as support for Dolby Vision and Atmos. Android TV provides numerous apps, as well as Chromecast and Google Assistant voice support.

Sony XH81 Series

XH8196

  • KD-43XH8196 – £699
  • KD-49XH8196 – £799
  • KD-55XH8196 – £999
  • KD-65XH8196 – £1199

The XH81 has the 4K HDR Processor X1 for clearer 4K pictures. It also uses Sony’s Triluminos display for more natural and precise colours. Despite this set being further down in Sony’s 2020 TV range, there is support for Dolby Vision and Atmos.

The 55- and 65-inch tellies get the X-Balanced Speaker, and with Android OS there’s also Google Assistant and Chromecast streaming.

Sony XH8096 Series

XH80

  • KD-43XH8096 – £649
  • KD-49XH8096 – £749
  • KD-55XH8096 – £949
  • KD-65XH8096 – £1099
  • KD-75XH8096 – £1899
  • KD-85XH8096 – £2499

The XH80 is almost exactly the same as the XH81 for features with its X1 4K HDR Processor, Dolby Vision and Atmos. The X-Balanced Speaker is available in models 55-inches and above.

The main difference here appears to be a cheaper starting price for each size, as well as more sizes. The XH80 series includes 75- and 85-inch options.

Sony X70 Series

X7053 Series

  • KD-43X7053 – £599
  • KD-49X7053 – £699
  • KD-55X7053 – £799
  • KD-65X7053 – £899

The X70 is the entry-level LED in the range. The processor powering the picture drops down to the 4K X-Reality Pro, which is capable of upscaling sub-4K images to “true 4K quality”. The telly uses Clear Audio+ technology, for greater sound clarity and separation.

There’s not much in the way of smart features. All you get is a built-in Internet browser and access to YouTube and Netflix.

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