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Sony A90J OLED TV review

Sony advances the art of OLED with the A90J

Sony A90J OLED
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Sony)

Our Verdict

The Sony A90J is far from the most affordable OLED TV around, but you absolutely get what you pay for.

For

  • Exquisite picture quality
  • Robust sound
  • Nice new OS

Against

  • HDMI 2.1 isn't present on all ports
  • Not exactly cheap

TechRadar Verdict

The Sony A90J is far from the most affordable OLED TV around, but you absolutely get what you pay for.

Pros

  • + Exquisite picture quality
  • + Robust sound
  • + Nice new OS

Cons

  • - HDMI 2.1 isn't present on all ports
  • - Not exactly cheap

One minute review

Sony certainly hasn’t held back in pricing its new A90J 4K HDR OLED TV – but this 65-inch version most certainly has the performance to justify the price.

Picture quality, from any source, is about as good as it currently gets from 4K screens. In every meaningful department – motion control, contrast, edge definition, detail levels, you name it – the XR-65A90J puts in a memorably accomplished shift. And for those moments when you’re reduced to watching sub-4K content, it’s a really adept upscaler too.

The Sony A90J OLED is more than a few steps ahead when it comes to sound quality, too. Using the entire surface of the screen as a speaker is still novel and effective, and backing it up with two conventional bass drivers means the XR-65A90J sounds fuller, more direct and just, well, better than any alternative that doesn’t feature an off-board sound system.

Add in a smart new Google TV interface, the usual Sony standard of build and finish, feet that change position to accommodate a soundbar and an authentically well-designed remote control, and the XR-65A90J looks like the complete package. And complete packages seldom come cheap.

Price and release date

Sony has released it's 2021 line-up of TVs for the UAE which includes multiple models in OLED and LED ranges. The Sony XR-A90J range of OLED TVs is currently available in 65-inch while a whopping 83-inch version is expected soon. The 65-inch version we’re testing here will set you back AED 11,500. 

That is without doubt on the pricey side, especially considering competing OLED models. But Sony has never shyed away from portraying itself as a premium brand and the XR-A90J falls in line with that.

Sony A90J OLED

(Image credit: Future)

Design

  • 6mm deep at its slimmest point, and 41mm at its thickest
  • Feet shift position to accommodate a soundbar
  • HDMI 2.1 (up to a point)

Viewed head-on, the Sony A90J OLED is exactly what you want and expect from an expensive new TV: next-to-no bezel intrusion and an awful lot of screen. 

The Sony A90J is an interesting case, because as well as being wall-mountable it also features feet that work in a couple of positions. They can either leave the bottom of the screen near-flush against the surface it’s standing on (although it’ll need to be a wide surface, as in the instance the feet are actually beyond the edges of the frame), or they can lift the screen high enough to fit a soundbar beneath it.

From the side, it’s OLED business as usual – which means the Sony is an impressively slim 6mm deep, but only for a little while. The rest of the time it’s a touch over 4cm, because it has to keep its electronics, its speaker drivers and what-have-you somewhere. It’s hardly a bloater, and will look good on the wall – but it’s worth bearing in mind that both LG (with its ‘Gallery’ series of OLED TVs) and Samsung (with its equally new Neo QLED MiniLED alternative) will sell you a screen that sits far flusher against a wall. 

On the inside, the Sony is specified to justify that price-tag. Certainly you get your money’s-worth in terms of inputs and outputs: four HDMI inputs (two of which feature quite a lot of HDMI 2.1 compatibility), three USBs, an Ethernet socket, binding posts for two TV tuners and even composite video inputs should be enough to satisfy even the most demanding user. Naturally enough there’s Wi-Fi connectivity too.

The two most talented HDMI inputs are 4K/120Hz, ALLM and 48Gbps-enabled, and one of them can handle eARC too. There’s no support for VRR as yet, though. Sony’s PS5 games console doesn’t support VRR as yet, either, but the competing Xbox Series X console most certainly does. It seems likely any serious Xbox gamers will gravitate towards LG’s range of OLED TVs, where complete HDMI 2.1 compatibility has been the norm for quite a while now.

Sony is not alone among TV manufacturers in refusing to offer every major HDR standard, though admittedly we feel the lack of HDR10+ here less than we feel the lack of Dolby Vision on some new Samsung TVs. (Philips and Panasonic, of course, don’t make you choose.)

The picture is handled by Sony’s new XR processor, which takes the AI capability of the outgoing X1 processor and adds in something Sony calls “cognitive intelligence”. So (in theory, at least) you get machine-learning algorithms that enhance picture performance, plus more in-depth scene analysis across multiple zones based on the contrast, color, detail, depth of images and all of the other image components. The idea, of course, is to serve up the most lifelike and convincing images possible.

On the audio side, Sony is persevering with its Acoustic Surface Audio+ arrangement. Backed up by two rear-firing low-frequency drivers, this technology uses actuators to turn the entire surface of the screen into a speaker. It’s an impressive setup – and Sony’s so keen on the whole concept the A90J actually features speaker connections on its rear panel in case you want to use your TV as the centre channel of a surround-sound set-up.

Sony A90J OLED

(Image credit: Future)

Smart TV

Will anyone really lament Sony’s decision to ditch Android TV in favour of Google TV as its smart interface? Certainly Google TV’s implementation on the A90J makes for a more responsive and logical experience – it’s altogether friendlier and more useful.

You get the obligatory Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV streaming service apps (and quite a few others) along with local flavours such as OSN and StarzPlay downloadable from the Google Play Store.

Navigating the Google TV interface, set-up menus and all the rest is done using a redesigned remote control handset. It feels good in the hand, isn’t overburdened with buttons and even has some (very welcome) backlighting to aid visibility.

Sony A90J OLED

(Image credit: Future)

Picture quality

  • Thoroughly enjoyable and convincing images
  • Outstanding motion-handling
  • Accomplished upscaling

There just isn’t an aspect of picture-making at which the A90J doesn’t excel. It’s remarkably bright by the standards of OLED TVs. The Sony A90J is staggeringly detailed in any and all circumstances. The color palette from which it draws is wide, nuanced and unquestionably natural. The black tones it creates are deep and lustrous in the classic OLED manner, but they’re also simply loaded with detail – allied to the crisp and equally detailed white tones the A90J serves up, contrasts are about as wide and convincing as you’ll see from an OLED screen.

Management of even the most testing scenes is cast-iron. Christopher Plummer’s J. Paul Getty wears a classic hunting tweed during the first third of this movie, and the A90J keeps an absolute grip of the tight, high-contrast pattern – even when it’s moving.

In fact, the Sony proves outstanding at handling on-screen motion of any and every kind. Slow pans, fast movement, whatever – the Sony controls it and describes it without shimmer, or hesitation, or ghosting, or any of the other vices less capable TVs can indulge in. 

If there’s a more accomplished TV than this currently available at anything like this price, well, we’ve yet to see it.

Sony A90J OLED

(Image credit: Future)

Audio performance

  • Direct, quite dynamic sound
  • Worthwhile punch and impressive detail
  • Picture still deserve a soundbar though

This isn’t the first time we’ve been impressed by Sony’s Acoustic Surface Audio+ and it seems unlikely to be the last. It’s one of the very best sound systems incorporated into a television - by which we mean it’s about the most convincing, most articulate and most believable-sounding television you can buy.

A lot of this is down to the fact that the entire screen is contributing – it means images and sounds are married far more closely than with other systems. Where dialogue in particular is concerned, the direct nature of the audio delivery helps the cinematic feel of the presentation no end.

By the standards of television audio systems, the A90J is a notably punchy and genuinely dynamic performer. It can generate actual low-frequency impact, thanks to that pair of rear-firing drivers, and is difficult for even the most explosion-happy blockbuster to fluster.

But it almost goes without saying the Sony A90J’s audio quality (impressive though it is by prevailing standards) doesn’t really hold a candle to its picture quality. So where we normally say a good TV requires a half-decent soundbar, the Sony A90J OLED deserves a really decent one. 

Should you buy the Sony A90J OLED?

Sony A90J OLED TV

(Image credit: Sony)

Buy it if… 

You want as much performance as your money will buy
Where picture and sound quality is concerned, the Sony is impressive in every department.

You’re not sure if you will buy a soundbar
This Sony OLED TV can be placed in various positions, meaning you can change your mind as to your home cinema setup as you go.

You never liked Android TV anyway
The switch to Google TV as Sony’s smart TV interface will please pretty much everyone.

Don’t buy it if… 

You like a bargain
The Sony A90J OLED is many things, but ‘cheap’ is not one of them.

You’re expecting a super-slim chassis
This isn’t the first OLED TV to overpromise and underdeliver where profile is concerned – and there are sleeker silhouettes out there.

You want HDMI 2.1 across all inputs
Only two ports support the HDMI 2.1 standard one of which is also shared as an eARC port. If you want to connect a high-end sound bar along with your PS5, Xbox Series X and a PC then you need to look elsewhere.

Simon Lucas

Simon Lucas is a Senior editorial professional with deep experience of print/digital publishing and the consumer electronics landscape.