Sony has introduced a number of new television models for 2021. Five models fall under the new Bravia XR range, including an 8K LCD TV and two OLED TVs. The televisions in this series support HDMI 2.1 and all contain a new image processor.
Sony first comes with two new OLED televisions, including the A90J. It comes in 83, 65 and 55 inch sizes. The format of 83 “is new this year. This has become possible because panels of this size are now also made available by the OLED panel manufacturer LG Display. The A90J will probably be the new top model of Sony’s OLED televisions. It goes for the 55” and 65 “models for a minimalist design with a foot that can place the television in two positions, including to make room for a soundbar. The 83” model of the A90J is not referred to as minimalist and has aluminum screen edges.
A90J (left) and the A80J
The A90J should perform somewhat better in contrast and color reproduction and the peak brightness should achieve relatively higher values due to, among other things, better cooling. This makes the A90J resemble the HZ2000 from Panasonic, an OLED TV that achieves a higher peak brightness of 1000cd/m² by means of a heatsink. It is not yet known where the A90J will come out, but it will be Sony’s brightest OLED television to date.
For the rest, the A80J seems to largely correspond to the A90J. Both models have Acoustic Surface Audio+ where the screen is vibrated, so that the sound seems to come from the screen. Sony also says that both models achieve higher peak brightnesses and deeper black values and that they respond to the environment in terms of image and sound, although it is not clear whether that also means that Dolby Vision IQ is present. Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos are, although it is also not clear whether it is the low-latency variant of Dolby Vision or the better variant where the TV hardware does the work and not the source device. Further specifications have not yet been announced.
In addition, Sony releases the Z9J, an 8k LCD TV that comes out in the diagonals 85 and 75 inches. It does not appear to be a mini LED television, partly because the term mini LED is not mentioned. Sony speaks of a ‘full array LED panel’, with which the company probably refers to Full Array Local Dimming. However, it is unknown how many LEDs are involved, how large they are and especially how many dimmable zones there are. The Z9J is also described by Sony as a television with a minimalist design and has a base that allows three positions.
Furthermore, Sony also comes with two 4k LCD televisions in the Bravia XR series: X95J and the X90J. The former comes in 85, 75, and 65 inches and the X90J has four different sizes, namely 75, 65, 55 and 50 inches. Apart from minor design differences and the partly different screen sizes, the main differences between the two models seem to be that the image processor will offer slightly better performance in terms of contrast on the X95J and that the three-position foot is only present on the X95J.
X95J (left) and the X90J
The five different televisions of the Bravia XR series have a number of elements in common, including the addition of HDMI 2.1. So far, Sony has only applied this standard in a few models and that did not go smoothly, such as with the XH90 LCD TV. Until now, Sony’s OLED televisions only had HDMI 2.0, but that will change with the 2021 models from the Bravia XR series. The company specifically mentions 4k and 120fps, Auto Low Latency Mode and eARC. Variable Refresh Rate is also listed as present, but that feature will not be available until after a firmware update. That is a feature that is mainly aimed at gamers, in which the refresh rate of the television is dynamically tuned to the number of images per second that the GPU produces. That reduces tearing and makes playing smoother. It has not been announced when the televisions will receive the necessary firmware update. Incidentally, Sony’s own PlayStation 5 does not yet support VRR, while the Xbox Series X does.
Sony’s new Cognitive Processor XR is included in all models in the Bravia XR range. This image processor uses AI and, according to the company, would outperform other similar chips that use artificial intelligence. In addition, Sony states that conventional AI can only detect and analyze the image for a number of elements, such as color, contrast and details, but that those elements are not analyzed in conjunction. According to Sony, the Cognitive Processor XR can do this, with the company making the comparison with the human brain. The chip would ‘understand how people see and hear’. The image processor must improve the various elements in conjunction with each other, in order to achieve an image in which everything is coordinated and looks lifelike. The chip can also enhance the sound to match what is seen in images; in this it works together with the Acoustic Surface Audio+ function.
Other elements that all come back to the different Bravia XR televisions are, for example, the presence of Google TV, a platform built on the Android TV OS with which Google wants to bring together as much content as possible in the same interface, including movies, shows, live TV and content from apps and subscriptions. There is also the Sound-from-Picture Reality function, in which the image processor adjusts the position of the sound to the images on the screen. Incidentally, the new chip can also convert sound to 3D sound, which should probably include the addition of virtual channels. Furthermore, voice support is built in, as well as compatibility with smart speakers and the support of IMAX Enhanced and Netflix Calibrated Mode. Finally, Bravia Core is also part of the Bravia XR series. This is a partnership with Sony Pictures Entertainment, with a number of film titles from Sony’s stable available to users and a large IMAX Enhanced collection. It is not clear whether this is free of charge. This content is streamed with a bandwidth of up to 80Mbit/s, which is a lot higher than the bandwidth that regular streaming services use. This bandwidth of 80Mbit/s roughly comes close to the bandwidth of physical uhd-blu-rays.
Finally, Sony also comes with two 4K LCD TVs that fall outside the Bravia XR series: The X85J and the X81J. The X85J supports HDMI 2.1, although ALLM and VRR will need to be added later with firmware updates. With the X81J it is unclear whether it also supports HDMI 2.1, as Sony only says that eARC is present. It therefore seems that this television has to do without HDMI 2.1 for the time being. Sony has not yet announced prices or release dates for the various models.