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New 2021 Sony Bravia XR TV Series Overview
New 2021 Sony Bravia XR TV Series Overview
If you are an old-time fan of Sony TV’s like a lot of us here at Audio Advice, you might remember the year 1985 when Sony introduced their very first XBR TV. It was a 25” model with detachable speakers and had the best TV picture anyone had ever seen. Several models followed it with equally impressive performance, including their famous 34” XBR HDTV around the turn of the century. For decades, the XBR moniker has meant the best TV picture on the market.
When Sony told us about their brand new video processor called the XR, we were very excited about how this could make their great picture even better. But when they said it was such an improvement they were dropping the XBR name and changing all their best TVs to be XR models, we knew this new processor was a huge deal!
In this overview, we will dive into the new tech many of the 2021 TVs will have in common. We will then go into each model series to describe what you get as you spend more to get Sony’s best technology.
There are 28 different TVs in the 2021 Sony line, and 16 of those use the new XR processor. Since we are all about the best quality at Audio Advice, we will focus on those models.
Technology These 16 Models Share
Bravia XR Cognitive Intelligent Processor
Of all the big changes for 2021, the new XR processor is the one that is going to give you the biggest picture improvement over the previous models. Last year, many of the Sony sets had their X1 Ultimate processor. The XR upgrade adds cognitive intelligence which is actually beyond artificial intelligence to imitate the visual process of the human brain. The XR processor is looking at every frame of the image and breaking it down into thousands of elements it is processing all at the same time. Sony set out to make their processor look at the image much like the human brain would process real life. Everywhere you look, there are certain parts in your field of vision that you focus on more. The XR processor uses AI to make the picture look more like what you would see in real life.
The video technology used in the new Sony sets has many aspects. There is separate processing going on for each of the critical components of the image: color, contrast, motion, and clarity. To produce a lifelike image, all of these aspects need to be perfectly executed. The job of the XR Cognitive Intelligent Processors is very similar to the director of an orchestra. If you can imagine everything going on inside each of these elements as a musician or group of musicians. The XR processor acts as the director to decide how much of each component to apply to each of the thousands of elements inside every single frame of the image.
Within the groups of color, contrast, motion, and clarity as you move up in the model line, the technology used improves for some aspects, but the XR processor that is doing the directing is identical in all of the new models with this groundbreaking video processor.
Although we hope most of you would plan to add a full surround system or great soundbar to a TV of this level, the new XR processor also improves the audio if you are using the TV for your movie sound.
XR Triluminos Pro
Sony has been famous for their Triluminos video processing for years which maps colors from a wider palette to reproduce finer gradients of shades and hues. The new XR Triluminos Pro takes this color palette and widens the color space even more through 3D color algorithm processing. If you thought the current Sony sets had a wide range of colors, wait until you see the new models with Triluminos Pro!
If you have ever seen bands on your TV picture where there are very small gradients of color changes across the whole screen, like you might see in a sunrise image, you have seen what is called banding. Sony has always had a great system to reduce banding but takes it to a new level with the XR processor. 4K images that might have banding on other TV brands will look super smooth on these new sets.
Let’s face it, right now, most of the content we enjoy is not in 4K, or even better, 8K. Sony has always done a great job of upscaling the incoming signal to 4K or 8K if the set supports it and this year these models have XR Upscaling which takes advantage of the better processor to turn your 1080p or 1080i signal into something that looks even better.
We have always been very impressed with how well Sony pulled this off as it applies so much to streaming content and we love the fact it is even better for 2021.
Improved Light Sensor
All better TVs typically have the technology to adjust the picture based on the amount of light in the room. This year, Sony has improved their tech to not only adjust for ambient light but also color tones. The two top-of-the-line models even add a color sensor to adjust the white balance. These are both fully defeatable in the menu system should you have consistent lighting in your media room.
New Bravia Core App with Pure Stream
If you have been wanting a big library of 4K content, Sony has come to the rescue with their new Bravia Core streaming platform. This is included on all of the models with the new XR processor and gives you access to the huge library of Sony content. The really great news for those of us with high-speed internet is their Pure Stream technology. You’ll need 100 down to get the full benefit, but this gives you the same picture quality as a 4K UHD Blu-ray disc. With the largest library of IMAX Enhanced content available, the Bravia Core app is pretty darn cool!
This is a subscription service, but every TV comes with a free time period from 1-2 years and some credits for movie purchases that vary based on the model.
You will want a good WiFi system in your home to make the best use of this service as the hard-wired jack on the back of the TV will not support these speeds, but the WiFi antennas do.
Sony moves from Android TV with the new models. This is basically a new visual layout that promises great search features. We will be curious to play with this and see if it actually works as well as the universal search on Roku or drives you to YouTube or Google PPV content.
One big pro though of using the built-in app is Sony’s Calibrated for Netflix mode. The Sony and Netflix engineers worked together to develop a system to deliver content closer to the original source. This does work fantastically using the built-in apps on a Sony TV that supports the Calibrated for Netflix mode.
For anyone lucky enough to have a new gaming console, this is a big deal! HDMI 2.1 supports up to a 48Gbps peak bit rate and 120 frames per second on 4K content. The great news is latency is reduced to as low as 8.5ms if you use the Game mode on the new Sony sets. If you are into competitive gaming, these features will give you a big edge in shooting, sports, and other games with instant on-screen action.
All of these sets have at least two inputs that support this higher speed. We also like the fact all of the new Sony models have eARC. ARC stands for audio return channel. This tech sends the audio signal back down to your home theater receiver or soundbar via a compatible HDMI cable. We do not know of a single home theater receiver that fully supports HDMI 2.1 yet so most of us will be plugging our game consoles directly into the TV. eARC upgrades ARC to send full Dolby Atmos immersive audio back into your soundbar or receiver. This also applies to enjoying Netflix using the Netflix calibrated mode as you will need to use the app on the TV.
We should point out that of the two high-speed inputs, one of them is the eARC input. So if you are using eARC to get your audio back into your system this really only gives you one input for 2.1.
Sony Smart TV
As you might expect, these all support Airplay2, Alexa, Homekit, Google Home, and all have a voice remote.
Now we will get into the 6 series Sony has introduced that use the great new XR processor
Sony Bravia XR X90J 4K HDR LED TV Series
These models replace the 2020 X900H models. The sizes available are 50”/55”/65”/75”. All of these are full-array LED models as were the previous models.
You’ll get all of the great new technology Sony has developed at some very affordable prices. The new XR processor uses what is called XR Contrast Booster to improve the picture contrast. These models have XR Contrast Booster 5, which is improved over last year’s models.
For someone looking to get into that great Sony picture and stay on a budget, the X90J offers a whole lot of bang for the buck and covers the most popular sizes.
Sony Bravia XR X92 4K HDR LED TV
This is a one-model series for a huge 100” set! The feature set is identical to the X90J series.
We can’t wait to see one of these in-person to experience all of these great picture enhancements on a giant 100” flat panel screen! Sony tells us this set is going to be in very short supply from day one, so if you want one, please let us know ASAP.
Sony Bravia XR A80J 4K HDR OLED TV Series
OLED TVs have always appealed to video purists as they can deliver perfect black. When you couple a great OLED panel with Sony’s new XR processor, you get an even more amazing picture.
The A80J models come in 55”/65”/77” sizes. These use Sony’s new XR OLED Contrast engine for great clarity. These also have stand setup options to allow room for a soundbar.
If you are going to use the TV for audio, Sony has actually made the front of the screen a speaker which works pretty well.
Sony Master Series Models
This year Sony has an OLED and LED Master Series. These are the best of the best. Sony puts their highest grade components and best build quality into these sets. Then after each panel comes off the production line, every single one is individually calibrated!
In the pro video world, Sony makes a famous monitor called the BVM-X300. This is a 30” set designed for video mastering that will set you back 35K! Sony uses this model as their reference when they calibrate each individual Master Series TV. The factory calibration includes panel gamma, brightness, and color uniformity of the screen, and white balance.
When you want the best picture quality on the planet, choose the Sony Bravia XR Master Series.
Sony Bravia XR A90J 4K HDR OLED Master Series
Of all the new models, this is the series we are the most excited about. We love the image an OLED panel can produce, but until now, if you wanted a bright image, you had to go with LED.
With the new A90J models, that world has changed. The new sets have a much brighter picture than the previous models. Some independent third-party testers have measured a 40% improvement! And if that were not enough, Sony is introducing a new size, 83”! Yes, that is one big OLED set. Other sizes in this model range are 55” and 65”
Sony improved brightness by a combination of mechanical and software technology. First, they laminate a piece of aluminum to the back of the OLED panel. This serves as a heat sink which allows them to push the OLED panel harder with no heat issues. Then they use a special temperature mapping technology to map the heat of the aluminum heat sink. This is all fed into the XR processor which analyzes the image and the panel to enable Sony to give you a great picture with the brightness of an LED, which is just incredible. Sony calls this combination of great tech XR OLED Contrast Pro and it is in every one of these sizes.
The A90J also adds a color sensor to the light sensor which actually looks at the color temperature of the light hitting the set and adjusts the white balance accordingly.
Physically these have different stand options base on the size. All three can either have the feet on the edges of the panel, putting the set almost flush to your TV stand top, or all can raise it up to accommodate a soundbar. The 83” model will let you move the feet in towards the middle of the TV just in case your stand is barely large enough for the TV.
The 55” and 65” models have a very neat edge where it is super small and looks like it is part of the panel.
For those of you using the TV for audio, the A90J models have bigger and more powerful actuators. Although we feel for a set with a picture this good, you should get an audio system to match.
Finally, these models have a very nice backlit metal remote control that adds a nice luxury touch.
Sony Bravia XR Z9J 8K HDR LED Master Series
We finally get to the top of the line 8K sets. These will come in a 75” and 85” size.
While there is not much in the way of 8K content on the market, there are still big reasons to consider an 8K panel. First, these use Sony’s XR 8K upscaling to turn all of your none 8K content into a stunning picture.
These 8K models have over 4 times the number of pixels as a 4K TV. This means all of your content will just look far sharper on these sets.
Sony’s XR Contrast Booster 15 gives these an even better picture on 4K content than the Z95J models which share a lot of the other features these do. Both the 75” and 85” have the upgraded color light sensor and the X-Antireflection screen and wide-angle viewing.
These sets give you the same stand options as the A90J OLED line with an option for flat against your TV cabinet, raised up for a soundbar, or with the 85” moving in the feet towards the center.
To see an 85” picture upscaled to 8K is super impressive. We can’t wait to see how good the IMAX Enhanced content on Bravia Core looks on these great new 8K models.
We hope this overview of the new XR models from Sony has been helpful in understanding the differences. At Audio Advice, we have been fans of Sony TVs for decades. Sony also has by far and away the best customer support in the industry. There is just no comparison to the other big brands when it comes to customer service.
You really can not go wrong with any Sony TV as they all have incredible pictures, but we can say, as you move up, you will get an even better quality picture. This year, more than ever before, the step-up models are well worth the price difference when you consider most of us keep a TV for at least 10 years if not more.
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