Sony KD-65A90J OLED TV review

The annual grumbles from certain quarters about OLED TVs only making relatively small technological steps forward every year do not apply to Sony’s new KD-65A90J.

This 65-incher delivers two substantial new chapters in Sony’s OLED story: a new panel sporting a laminated aluminium heat sink, so that it can be run more brightly, and a new Bravia XR ‘Cognitive’ video processor.

The first of these is exciting given that Sony’s previous OLED TVs, while typically excellent, have tended to run relatively dark.

The new processor, meanwhile, sounds like a bold step away from the X1 Ultimate processing system it replaces. Its aim, essentially, is to tweak incoming images to make them more closely resemble the way our eyes see/interpret the real world. So, for instance, objects in a picture will be given varying degrees of emphasis through the manipulation of sharpness, brightness and colour, reflecting the way our eyes and brain focus on our surroundings.

Feet of excellence
The A90J is Sony’s premium OLED TV range for 2021, and it looks it. Images appears on a glassy screen surrounded by practically no bezel at all, while the feet can either be attached flat under each corner so you can barely see them, or at a different angle so they lift the screen up enough to squeeze a soundbar underneath.


Smart features are provided by Google TV. This improves handsomely on previous Android systems, serving up content in a more thoughtful, focused, and customisable way. Most of the UK’s main terrestrial broadcaster catchup services were AWOL at the time of writing, though – Sony is promising to add them via firmware updates.

The set is ‘IMAX Enhanced’, meaning IMAX considers it capable of unlocking the full quality of films mastered using IMAX’s proprietary processes. It can play IMAX Enhanced streams from Rakuten and Sony’s high-bitrate Bravia Core service, and features an IMAX Enhanced preset.

But there's a wrinkle. These so-called IMAX Enhanced streams don’t carry the DTS:X soundtracks required for a full IMAX Enhanced experience. Therefore you'll want to use a 4K Blu-ray player with an IMAX Enhanced disc and either play it through an IMAX-Enhanced capable AVR/soundbar, or pass its DTS:X soundmix out from the Sony via HDMI eARC to suitable hardware.

The 65A90J’s HDMI inputs are au fait with 4K/120Hz gaming video feeds but not variable refresh rates. Sony again promises an update for this later in the year.

Gamers will, however, be pleased to read this set keeps input lag in its Game mode to around 16ms, while Xbox users and film fans can enjoy Dolby Vision HDR as well as the standard HDR10 format. As usual for a Sony TV, however, HDR10+ is a no go.

Drama queen
The promising new panel delivers the goods. Measured light output on a white HDR window covering 10 per cent of an otherwise black screen reveals just over 900 nits in Sony's boldest preset (Vivid). That’s an increase of approximately 30 per cent from last year’s A9 set, and what this means for the end user is an HDR experience that immediately feels more dramatic, punchy and lifelike.

Small, bright HDR peaks, such as the lights of the night-time fairground in the opening scene of Jordan Peele's horror flick Us (4K Blu-ray), carry much more impact, as do the street lights that silhouette the film's ‘dark side’ family.


More brightness also means more colour volume, which allows Sony’s always impressive Triluminos system to craft a physically wider range of tones. The saturated reds and sun-drenched yellows of Peele's palette look utterly gorgeous.

It’s the impact of the 65A90J's HDR highlights that first jumps out at you, but the set then proves a dab hand at bringing brighter sequences to life. When Tyler meets his fate, the well-lit interiors of his modern home enjoy a full-screen intensity that's beyond the scope of any previous Sony set.

The 65A90J's new brightness and colour strengths don't compromise the traditionally fantastic black levels of OLED. The night sky and corners of the creepy hall of mirrors during Us’s opening sequence appear every bit as richly dark and consistent as they usually do on the best OLED models. Meanwhile, shadow details are exceptional despite the starker contrast. Scenes like the assault on the blacked-out house remain full of subtleties, despite the near-dark presentation.

Sony’s motion processing keeps this cinematic feeling flowing brilliantly, smoothing judder without creating egregious soap opera effect or causing unwanted artefacts. Sharpness levels are also imperious, regardless of whether you’re watching a native 4K source or – thanks to Sony’s superlative upscaling – regular HD.

The icing on the cake is Sony’s new Bravia XR processing. I found this ekes out even more detail and subtlety from high-quality 4K sources than Sony’s X1 Ultimate silicon did, while also getting the maximum benefit from the higher brightness and colour volume of the TV's OLED panel. And outside of the occasionally over-enthusiastic Vivid mode, there's little sense that the processing is overplaying its hand. The results can often only be described as beautiful.

For sonics, the 65A90J employs Sony's Acoustic Surface+ technology, where a pair of screen actuators are backed up by two rear-mounted bass drivers. It's unconventional but impressive, providing room- filling immersion and impact with the atmospheric Us soundtrack. Beavering away in the background is the Bravia XR processor, which places effects both onscreen and off with accuracy.


Dialogue is clear, and there’s generally enough headroom to cope with the dynamic cut and thrust of movie soundmixes – trebles and high-pitched voices can become slightly harsh during dense, loud moments.

At this premium price, there are competitors that go a step further with their integrated sound systems (such as Philips OLED+936) although overall the good about the 65A90J’s sound far outweighs the bad.

A step up
It’s a shame this range-topping model lacks (hopefully temporarily) a couple of key features, but there’s no doubting the quality of its images. This is far and away Sony’s best OLED TV yet, offering a real step forward in terms of brightness and colour vibrancy. It's super-stylish too. To see one in action is to want one.

HCC Verdict: 5/5

Sony KD-65A90J

Price:  £3,500

We say: A new high-brightness OLED panel joins forces with a bold but beautiful processing system. The result is exquisite, cinematic pictures.

Sony KD-65A90J specifications

4K: Yes. 3,840 x 2,160
HDR: Yes. HDR10; HLG; Dolby Vision
TUNER: Yes. Freeview HD; satellite HD
CONNECTIONS: 4 x HDMI inputs; 3 x USB; optical digital audio output; Ethernet; headphone output; hybrid composite video/S-Centre Speaker input
SOUND (CLAIMED): 60W, 2.2-channel
4K/120 PLAYBACK: Yes
DIMENSIONS (OFF STAND): 1,502(w) x 834(h) x 317(d)mm

FEATURES: Built-in Wi-Fi; USB multimedia playback; Bravia XR Cognitive processing engine; Google TV smart system; high-brightness panel; ALLM; VRR via firmware update; Apple AirPlay; Acoustic Surface+ audio; IMAX Enhanced; Netflix Calibrated mode; Dolby Atmos; XR Motion clarity

Sony UK