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Sony's new TVs boast brighter OLED punch, Google TV

Gamers and A/V enthusiasts should be excited about Sony's latest.

The 65-inch Sony A90J Master Series OLED Credit: Sony

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CES 2021 won't officially kick off until January 11, but Sony has already dropped a ton of tantalizing tidbits about its 2021 TV lineup. In addition to basic series information, there were a few announcements that gave us a glimpse at where Sony is directing its efforts this year and beyond: namely, new software and better hardware.

The centerpiece of the press release is Sony's new Cognitive Processor XR chip, which powers each entry in the Bravia XR TV lineup. Sony says the chip—along with its "cognitive intelligence" software—analyzes each frame and adjusts the visual and audio experience based on what it identifies as the focal point. Not for nothing, the tech giant is also rolling out brighter OLEDs to compete with blazing bright QLED and Mini LED rivals and a new Google-based smart platform, and future-proofing every Bravia XR TV with HDMI 2.1. Here's what we know so far.

Google TV is replacing Android TV

Sony A90J OLED TV With Google TV Software Integration
Credit: Sony

For Sony's 2021 TV lineup, the Android TV smart platform will be replaced by Google TV.

Sony is adding Google's newest streaming platform, Google TV, to all of the TVs in its 2021 lineup. It appears to essentially the same version of Google TV that recently debuted on the newest Chromecast, though some of Sony's previously implemented software features will be folded into the Google TV architecture, like the ability to assign shortcuts to HDMI inputs.

We loved how much Google TV simplified and streamlined the Chromecast experience and we're eager to see how it fares as a dedicated TV smart platform. While we've always enjoyed the flexibility of Android TV, its cluttered user interface and clunky navigation fell short of the streamlined experience we've come to appreciate from Roku TVs. Time will tell if Google TV can compete with our favorite smart platform.

Brighter OLEDs

Sony A80J OLED TV
Credit: Sony

Sony reports that both of its 2021 OLED TVs feature hardware and software enhancements that will improve their overall brightness.

A disappointing truth about OLED TVs is how much dimmer they are compared to contemporary LCD/LED TVs, especially when compared to LED TVs equipped with quantum dots. While their incredible contrast makes up for it in part, even the Sony A8H—the best Sony TV we reviewed last year—doesn't get as bright as most of the high-end, non-OLED TVs we reviewed in 2020. For several years now, shoppers in the market for a premium TV have had to choose between the perfect black levels of an OLED TV or the blazing brightness of a quantum dot TV. Given the standoff, it's no wonder OLED TV manufacturers have been pouring resources into making brighter panels. This year, Sony is calling its shot.

Both of the company's 2021 OLED series—the A90J and the A80J—pair new panel hardware with improved picture processing software, which Sony says contribute to better overall contrast and higher peak brightness levels. How did Sony do it? According to the company, these panels feature an aluminum sheet that boosts the OLED display's brightness.

HDMI 2.1 and next-gen features

The 65-inch Sony X90J LED TV
Credit: Sony

The 65-inch Sony X90J, seen here, will feature HDMI 2.1 support, VRR, ALLM, and eARC.

One of the most disappointing aspects of Sony's 2020 TV lineup was the lack of love for HDMI 2.1, which allows for 4K resolution at 120 Hz as well as next-gen gaming features like Auto Low Latency Mode and Variable Refresh Rate (the latter of which Sony has promised to introduce in a software update for some of its 2020 TVs, like the X900H).

In 2021, Sony TVs are loaded for bear. All of the entries in the Bravia XR lineup will feature HDMI 2.1, ALLM, VRR, and eARC support for more efficient connection to eARC-ready audio gear, allowing gamers and A/V enthusiasts alike to shop for a Sony TV with the confidence that they'll be getting the most out of their Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5.

Sony 2021 TV lineup series information

While prices won't be announced until later in the spring, here's what we know about every TV Sony has announced thus far. As noted above, each series features Sony's Cognitive Processor XR, Google TV, HDMI 2.1, ALLM, VRR, and eARC.

Sony Bravia XR Z9J Master Class LED TV
Credit: Sony

Sony Bravia XR Z9J Master Class LED TV

Sony Bravia Z9J Master Series

  • Sizes: 75-inch, 85-inch
  • Resolution: 8K
  • Display type: Full-Array LED
  • Voice search: Yes
  • Dolby Atmos: Yes
Sony Bravia XR A90J Master Series OLED TV
Credit: Sony

Sony Bravia XR A90J Master Series OLED TV

Sony Bravia A90J Master Series

  • Sizes: 55-inch, 65-inch, 83-inch
  • Resolution: 4K
  • Display type: OLED
  • Voice search: Yes
  • Dolby Atmos: Yes
Sony Bravia XR A80J OLED TV
Credit: Sony

Sony Bravia XR A80J OLED TV

Sony Bravia A80J

  • Sizes: 55-inch, 65-inch, 77-inch
  • Resolution: 4K
  • Display type: OLED
  • Voice search: No
  • Dolby Atmos: Yes
Sony Bravia XR X95J LED TV
Credit: Sony

Sony Bravia XR X95J LED TV

Sony Bravia X95J

  • Sizes: 65-inch, 75-inch, 85-inch
  • Resolution: 4K
  • Display type: Full-Array LED
  • Voice search: Yes
  • Dolby Atmos: Yes
Sony Bravia XR X90J LED TV
Credit: Sony

Sony Bravia XR X90J LED TV

Sony Bravia X90J

  • Sizes: 50-inch, 55-inch, 65-inch, 75-inch, 100-inch
  • Resolution: 4K
  • Display type: Full-Array LED
  • Voice search: No
  • Dolby Atmos: Yes

We're excited to see how these TVs will hold up in our lab tests later this year, especially if Sony's latest OLED TVs are able to set a new high water mark for peak brightness in that category. If the integration of Google TV proves successful, we might be looking at some of the best Sony TVs we've seen in quite some time.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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