Understanding the different types of Sony TVs

Understanding the different types of Sony TVs

Sony has come out of the TV traps impressively early for 2021, already revealing pretty much every detail of its entire Bravia range for the coming year. Model numbers, core technologies, screen sizes, prices where announced… all this information and more is covered in this article. 

Since I’ve detailed most of the technical innovations Sony is introducing for its 2021 Bravia range in this separate article, I’ll steer clear of long technical explanations here, focusing instead on highlighting each TV series’ key features – and the main differences between different levels in the range.

It’s worth noting at this point that Sony has thankfully decided to unify its model numbering across the world for 2021, rather than using different model numbers in different territories. Though there is one big – literally – model difference between the US and other markets. 

Without further ado, here, from flagship down, is everything we can expect to see from Sony’s TV division for 2021 (unless it drops an extra surprise or two in the autumn, as it sometimes does). 

The Sony 85Z9J.
The Sony 85Z9J. PHOTO: SONY

Z9J Master Series

Screen sizes: 85-inch ($9,999/£TBC/€TBC), 75-inch ($6,999/£TBC/€TBC)

Screen Technology: Full array LED with local dimming

HDR support: Dolby Vision, HLG, HDR10

Built-in Dolby Atmos: Yes

Processor: Cognitive Processor XR

HDMI support: HDMI 2.1, inc VRR (firmware update required), 4K/120Hz, eARC, ALLM

Sony’s flagship TVs for 2021 are, for the third year running, 8K models. It’s perhaps a sign of 8K’s still fairly sluggish uptake that Sony is for now sticking with just a single 8K range. At the same time, though, there’s no doubt that Sony sees the Z9Js as a genuine flagship set, throwing a full roster of picture features at it rather than just relying on its high pixel count alone. 

The full list of key Z9J features looks like this:

  • The Cognitive Processor XR tries to apply the way humans see and hear in real life to Bravia XR TVs picture and sound quality.
  • XR Triluminos Pro, XR Contrast Booster and XR 8K Upscaling improve color range, local contrast and playback of sub-8K sources respectively
  • Latest XR Motion Clarity technology cross-analyses data to ensure action stays smooth, bright and clear with no blur
  • X-Wide Angle technology reduces the loss of colour and contrast usually associated with watching LCD TVs from wide angles.
  • Acoustic Multi-Audio uses a unique speaker arrangement to combine cinematic surround sound with accurate sound positioning, where audio effects seem to come from the correct place on the screen (or off screen)
  • BRAVIA Core: A new streaming service exclusive to Sony Bravia TVs, and pre-loaded on all Bravia XR models. It will feature recent and library films from Sony Pictures Entertainment, and promises to deliver these films using high bit-rates to deliver an allegedly near-4K Blu-ray level of picture quality. The service will also support IMAX Enhanced titles.
  • Google TV support
  • Easy connectivity, including Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit
  • Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Hands-free voice search works alongside Google Assistant for a smarter viewing experience
  • X-Anti Reflection – minimises reflections from bright rooms and objects
  • HDMI 2.1 feature compatibility, including 4K 120fps, Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and eARC
  • Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos support – Note that for 2021, all Sony TVs that support Dolby Vision will use the so-called TV-led version of the technology. This has been proven to deliver slightly better results than the old ‘source-led’ version that almost all previous Sony TVs have used. 
  • Ambient Optimization – optimies picture and sound quality to the current room environment
  • Minimalist one slate design – embraces the screen in a single pane of glass to put the focus on the pictures you’re watching. 
  • Three-way stand – its feet can be fixed in a narrow position for a smaller footprint; under each corner where they blend in with the exterior edge trim; or in a position that lifts the TV up to accommodate a soundbar.
  • Netflix Calibrated Mode – picture settings optimized for Netflix content
  • IMAX Enhanced support – the set has been rated by IMAX as being capable of doing justice to the premium picture quality of IMAX Enhanced 4K Blu-rays and streams.
  • Calman Ready – support for a full professional calibration
Sony 65A90J
The Sony 65A90J PHOTO: SONY

A90J OLED MASTER Series 

Resolution: 4K

Screen sizes: 83-inch ($7,999/£6,999/€6,999), 65-inch ($3,999/£3,499/€3,999) and 55-inch ($2,999/£2,699/€2,999)

Screen Technology: OLED

HDR support: Dolby Vision, HLG, HDR10

Built-in Dolby Atmos: Yes

Processor: Cognitive Processor XR

HDMI support: HDMI 2.1, inc VRR (firmware update required), 4K/120Hz, eARC, ALLM

The headline changes as you move down from the Z9J to the A90J are a drop to 4K from 8K, and a shift from Full Array With Local Dimming LED technology to OLED technology. 

OLED technology can, of course, deliver superior local contrast, since each pixel makes its own light. Despite the A90Js carrying new brightness-boosting technology, though, they can’t achieve the same levels of brightness that the Z9J can.

8K OLED TVs are currently hugely expensive if you’re wondering why Sony doesn’t offer an 8K OLED option. 

The full list of key A90J features looks like this:

  • Cognitive Processor XR 
  • XR OLED Contrast – this adjusts brightness for higher peaks in glare and deeper blacks in shadow 
  • XR Triluminos Pro – enables a wider, more subtly rendered color palette 
  • XR Motion Clarity 
  • BRAVIA C0re
  • Google TV
  • Easy connectivity, including Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit
  • Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Netflix Calibrated Mode and IMAX® Enhanced support 
  • Calman Ready for professional calibration
  • XR 4K Upscaling
  • HDMI 2.1 feature compatibility, including 4K 120fps, Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and eARC
  • Improved Acoustic Surface Audio+ technology – Sony OLEDs vibrate their actual screens to create sound, and the 2021 iteration uses a new dual-ring design for the screen exciters to deliver a more powerful and detailed sound.
  • Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos support
  • Ambient Optimization 
  • Two-way stand – a corner mounting option for a more minimal design, and a raised position to make space for a soundbar. The 83-inch model has an extra ‘narrow position’ stand option.
  • Minimalist one slate design with Seamless Edge bezel
  • Hands-free voice search works alongside Google Assistant to provide a smarter viewing experience
Sony 65A80J
The Sony 65A80J. At my house. PHOTO: SONY

A80J OLED Series

Resolution: 4K

Screen sizes: 77-inch ($4,499/£4,199/€4949), 65-inch ($2,799/£2,699/€3149) and 55-inch ($2,199/£1,999/€2,299)

Screen Technology: OLED

HDR support: Dolby Vision, HLG, HDR10

Built-in Dolby Atmos: Yes

Processor: Cognitive Processor XR

HDMI support: HDMI 2.1, inc VRR (firmware update required), 4K/120Hz, eARC, ALLM 

Sony’s step-down OLED range for 2021 uses ‘regular’ OLED panels rather than the new enhanced brightness panels found in the A90J series. The A80J screens won’t have received the individual factory fine tuning and checks that Sony’s Master Series screens, including the A90J OLEDs, receive. 

Here is the full list of key A80J features:

  • Cognitive Processor XR 
  • XR OLED Contrast – this adjusts brightness for higher peaks in glare and deeper blacks in shadow 
  • XR Triluminos Pro – enables a wider, more subtly rendered color palette 
  • XR Motion Clarity  
  • Acoustic Surface Audio+ technology.
  • Three-way stand – three stand position options, including a narrow position for a smaller footprint, a corner position that delivers the most minimal design, and an option that raises the screen to accommodate a sound bar 
  • BRAVIA Core
  • Google TV
  • Easy connectivity, including Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit
  • Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
  • XR 4K Upscaling technology upscales 2K signals close to true 4K quality for incredibly real and detailed pictures
  • HDMI 2.1 feature compatibility, including 4K 120fps, Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and eARC
  • Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos immersive audio will transform entertainment with ultra-vivid picture quality and incredible moving sound12 
  • Ambient Optimization optimises picture and sound quality in any environment
  • Minimalist one slate design with Metal Flush Surface embraces the screen in a single pane of glass
  • Hands-free voice search 
  • Netflix Calibrated Mode
  • IMAX Enhanced
  • Calman Ready for professional calibration
Sony 85X95J
The Sony 85X95J PHOTO: SONY

X95J LED Range

Resolution: 4K

Screen sizes: 85-inch ($4,999/£TBC/€TBC), 75-inch ($3,499/£TBC/€TBC) and 65-inch ($2,299/£TBC/€TBC)

Screen Technology: Full array LED with local dimming

HDR support: Dolby Vision, HLG, HDR10

Built-in Dolby Atmos: Yes

Processor: Cognitive Processor XR

HDMI support: HDMI 2.1, inc VRR (firmware update required), 4K/120Hz, eARC, ALLM

This is Sony’s premium 4K LCD solution for 2021. As such, many of its features echo those of the Z9J 8K model – apart, of course, from the X95Js’ screens carrying far fewer pixels. Experience suggests, though, that the X95J will also be less bright than the Z9J, and will carry significantly fewer local dimming zones. Sony never discusses dimming zones, so I won’t be able to put any firm numbers on this until I get the TVs in for testing.

The specifications provided for the new Bravia range do, though, introduce a new system for distinguishing between the capabilities of its three Bravia XR LCD models. This finds the Z9J labelled as using XR Contrast Booster 15, delivering the most brightness, while the X95J uses XR Contrast Booster 10, with lower brightness.

Here is the full list of key X95J features:

  • Cognitive Processor XR
  • Minimalist one slate design 
  • X-Wide Angle technology (except for the 65-inch model)
  • Full Array LED panel, XR Triluminos Pro and XR Contrast Booster deliver deeper blacks and more intense brightness
  • XR Motion Clarity
  • Acoustic Multi-Audio sound system
  • Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio support 
  • X-Anti Reflection 
  • XR 4K Upscaling 
  • HDMI 2.1 feature compatibility, including 4K 120fps, Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and eARC
  • Ambient Optimization 
  • Three-way stand, including a narrow position for a smaller footprint, a minimalist corner foot mount option, and an elevated option that lets you fit a soundbar under the screen
  • BRAVIA Core
  • Google TV 
  • Easy connectivity, including Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit
  • Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Hands-free voice search with Google Assistant
  • Netflix Calibrated Mode 
  • IMAX Enhanced
  • Calman Ready for professional calibration
Sony 65X90J
The Sony 65X90J PHOTO: SONY

Sony X92J/X90J range

Resolution: 4K

Screen sizes: 100-inch (X92J, available in the US only, Price TBC), 75-inch ($2,499/£TBC/€TBC)), 65-inch ($1,799/£TBC/€TBC), 55-inch ($1,399/£TBC/€TBC) and 50-inch (X90J, $1,299/£TBC/€TBC)

Screen Technology: Full array LED with local dimming

HDR support: Dolby Vision, HLG, HDR10

Built-in Dolby Atmos: Yes

Processor: Cognitive Processor XR

HDMI support: HDMI 2.1, inc VRR (firmware update required), 4K/120Hz, eARC, ALLM

Sony’s step-down 4K LED range continues the full array LED with local dimming approach and holds on to most of the same key features. The main difference between the X90J and the X95J will be that the cheaper model will use fewer dimming zones and will run less brightly. Using Sony’s new nomenclature for this, the X90J will get ‘XR Contrast Booster 5’. 

The X90J models also lose the wide viewing angle and anti-reflection technologies found on the X95Js.

In the past, the X90 series have also tended to use a less powerful processor than the X95 series. The X90J appears, though, to be getting the same Cognitive Processor XR as the X95J.

The X90J features a less premium design than the X95J.

Here is the full list of the X90J’s key features:

  • Cognitive Processor XR 
  • Full Array LED panel, XR Triluminos Pro and XR Contrast Booster combine to deliver deeper blacks and more intense brightness
  • XR Motion Clarity 
  • XR 4K Upscaling
  • HDMI 2.1 feature compatibility, including 4K 120fps, Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and eARC
  • Acoustic Multi-Audio 
  • Ambient Optimization technology
  • Minimalist design with a flush surface that maximises the screen and minimizes the bezel
  • BRAVIA C0re
  • Google TV 
  • Easy connectivity, including Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit.
  • Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio support. 
  • Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Hands-free voice search with Google Assistant.
  • Netflix Calibrated Mode 
  • IMAX Enhanced support 
  • Calman Ready for professional calibration
Sony 65X85J
The Sony 65X85J PHOTO: SONY

X85J Range

Resolution: 4K

Screen sizes: 85-inch ($2,999/£TBC/€TBC), 75-inch ($1,799/£TBC/€TBC), 65-inch ($1,499/£TBC/€TBC), 55-inch ($1,199/£TBC/€TBC), 50-inch ($899/£TBC/€TBC) and 43-inch ($799/£TBC/€TBC)

Screen Technology: Edge-lit LED

HDR support: Dolby Vision, HLG, HDR10

Built-in Dolby Atmos: Yes

Processor: X1 4K HDR processor

HDMI support: HDMI 2.1, inc VRR (firmware update required), 4K/120Hz, eARC, ALLM (firmware update required)

This is the point in Sony’s 2021 TV range that you lose the Bravia XR designation – because you lose the Cognitive Processor XR. Instead you get a much less powerful X1 4K HDR processor. Nor do you get the Bravia Core service available from this range down.

It appears, too, that we move to edge LED lighting for these sets, with the likely reduction in local contrast that this will inevitably cause. 

It is still a 100Hz panel, though, complete with Sony’s Triluminos color system, Sony’s now superseded bu tstill good 4K X-Reality Pro processing, and both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support. Best of all, it still supports 4K/120Hz, VRR and ALLM next-gen gaming features. This makes this series a potentially strong affordable big-screen gaming option. 

We don’t known at this stage, though, if some or all of the X85J models might use low contrast IPS panels rather than the higher contrast (but typically reduced viewing angle) VA panels used higher up Sony’s range. 

Here is the full list of the X85Js’ key features:

  • 4K HDR Processor X1 is claimed to reproduce more depth, textures and natural colours, with Object-based HDR remaster technology
  • 4K X-Reality™ PRO picture processing technology upscales sub 4K sources by combining advanced noise reduction techniques with a special pattern database.
  • 100Hz native panel
  • HDMI 2.1 feature compatibility, including 4K 120fps, Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and eARC
  • X-Balanced speakers deliver a powerful and immersive soundscape 
  • Ambient Optimization technology 
  • Minimalist design with flush surface to maximise the screen and minimize the bezel
  • Google TV
  • Easy connectivity, including Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit
  • Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio support 
  • Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
Sony 65X80J
Foot detail of the Sony 65X80J. PHOTO: SONY

Sony X81J and X80J

Resolution: 4K

Screen sizes: 75-inch (X81J, $1,649/£1,499/€1749), 65-inch ($1,149.99/£1,049/€1249), 55-inch ($949.99/£899/€1049), 50-inch ($849.99/£799/€929) and 43-inch (X80J, $749.99/£699/€799)

Screen Technology: Edge-lit LED

HDR support: Dolby Vision, HLG, HDR10

Built-in Dolby Atmos: Yes

Processor: X1 4K HDR processor

HDMI support: HDMI 2.1, but the only 2.1 feature supported is eARC audio over HDMI

The big news here with Sony’s new entry-level 4K TVs is that the panel drops down from native 100Hz to native 50Hz, and we lose the next-gen gaming features found on all of Sony’s other 4K TVs for 2021.

Here is the full list of key X81J and X80J features:

  • 4K HDR Processor X1
  • 4K X-Reality™ PRO picture processing technology 
  • 50Hz native panel
  • HDMI 2.1 feature compatibility (eARC only)
  • X-Balanced speakers deliver a powerful and immersive soundscape 
  • Ambient Optimization technology 
  • Minimalist design maximises the screen and minimises the bezel
  • Google TV 
  • Easy connectivity, including Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit
  • Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio support 
  • Works with Alexa and Google Assistant

Sony W800

Resolution: HD

Screen sizes: 32-inch

Screen Technology: LED 

HDR support: None

Built-in Dolby Atmos: No

Processor: Bravia Engine

HDMI support: HDMI 2.0

This is the only non-4K set in Sony’s 2021 range, and is aimed predominantly at second room use. It does still get an HD-friendly Bravia Engine processor, though, as well as an Android TV smart system.