Sony XR-55A84K OLED TV review

hcchighreccomendSony's regular OLED TVs now face competition from the brand's own Quantum Dot-enhanced models. But that doesn't stop John Archer enjoying the 55A84K

Explaining where the 55A84K fits into Sony's current TV scheme of things is no easy task. First we need to clear up that it's a traditional 'White OLED' (WOLED) design, with white sub-pixel, not a new Quantum Dot OLED set. This should mean that its pictures are (probably) not as bright or richly coloured as Sony's A95K QD OLED – although at £1,299, the 55in model tested here is a great deal more affordable than its same-sized A95K sibling.

More confusingly, we also have to explain how the 55A84K relates to the A90K and A80K OLED ranges that flank it. You'd think the A90K designation would indicate that those models were more high-end. That's not actually true, though; Sony saves the A90K designation for its smaller, 42in and 48in OLED TVs, with the only differences beyond their size being that a) the A90Ks use centrally mounted stands while the A84Ks have dual multi-position feet, and b) the A90Ks drive their Acoustic Surface Audio+ systems with two actuators and one subwoofer outputting 25W, while the A84Ks use three actuators and two subwoofers for a total output of 50W. In other words, despite their 'lower' model number, the 55A84K lineup is actually better specified.

As for differences over the A80K TV, the 55A84K is exclusively available from Currys and comes with a slicker metal remote. Buyers also receive 10 free premium movie releases and 24 months of unlimited streaming from Sony's Bravia Core service, instead of the five movies and 12 months of streaming bundled with the A80K.

Caught on camera
In addition to Bravia Core, the TV offers a wealth of smart content through the Google TV platform, backed up by YouView. There's built in Google Assistant voice control too, and you can add an optional Bravia Cam (£199) that introduces video calls, gesture control, proximity alerts and the ability to adjust the picture and sound to compensate for your seating position.

Back to Sony's Acoustic Surface Audio+ system, which uses the TV's screen as its speakers. This genius idea means there's no need to squeeze regular drive units into the TV's trendy, minimalistic form, and that the sound it produces pushes directly out towards you rather than originating from below or even behind the screen. On the 55A84K, viewing Sam Mendes' 1917 on 4K Blu-ray, this invisible array makes the film's dense, detailed and explosion-filled soundmix feel immediate and immersive.

Excellent though the 55A84K's sound is, it's the TV's image performance that matters most. And while it can't compete with the recently auditioned A95K QD OLED, there's much here to celebrate. As with other high-spec OLED TVs, it uses a brightness-enhancing EX panel. Sony marries this to the latest version of its Cognitive Processor XR picture engine. Inevitably the 55A84K's 4K screen delivers high dynamic range playback, adding Dolby Vision to the basic HDR10 and HLG options. The HDR10+ format favoured by Samsung, Philips, Panasonic, TCL and others is ignored, however.


Sony's uncluttered remote opts for Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+ and Bravia Core hot-keys

The picture quality is beautiful. I say beautiful quite specifically, rather than spectacular, brilliant or sensational, as the 55A84K's visuals aren't as forceful in their charms as one or two rivals. Their appeal instead lies in their subtlety and gorgeous balance of colour and light. This TV paints an all-round refined and therefore believable picture, perhaps only beaten in that regard by Sony's own more expensive QD OLED A95K.

Dark arts The crater and debris-filled expanse of no man's land that Schofield and Blake cross in 1917 looks grotesquely detailed and real, with even the tiniest shift in colour tone of the bare, scorched earth and mud revealed, along with every weave and texture of the soldier's clothing.

There's no softness to reduce the impact of Roger Deakins' stunning native 4K photography, and this mix of unforced clarity, forensically accurate colour handling and some Cognitive XR secret sauce means even with the relatively muted shades on display in this sequence you get an incredible sense of depth and three-dimensionality.

Another 1917 sequence, the near-dark scene where Schofield spends time with a woman and her baby in a candle-lit basement, shows not just the sort of neutral, deep black tones we've come to expect from OLED TVs, but also a fantastic amount of subtle shadow detailing and dark colour refinement. Ramming home the beauty of the sequence is the stability of the presentation, and the precision of the lighting effects.

The feeling of clarity and depth that's really the 55A84K's trademark isn't besmirched by motion issues, even with 24p sources. On the contrary, judder and blur are surprisingly mild as the moving camera follows 1917's heroes through the trenches in the film's opening scenes – even without Motionflow processing activated. If you do want to smooth things more, perhaps with sports content, multiple Motionflow options are available that are impressively effective.


Image fettling on the A84K OLED is handled by Sony's Cognitive Processor XR system

Sony's processing continues to be extremely good at delivering gorgeous results with standard dynamic range HD material. The extra pixels needed to convert 1080p to the screen's native 4K pixel count are generated without grittiness , and the TV offers gentle but worthwhile SDR to HDR conversion with many of its picture presets. Custom modes turn the SDR-to-HDR conversion off for purists, but most users will, I think, be shocked at how effective Sony's HDR remastering is.

A touch of finesse
While I've talked about the 55A84K's picture refinement, particularly with darker content, it isn't by any stretch of the imagination 'dull'. Its EX panel can serve up brightness peaks of 733 nits on a 10 per cent white HDR window, enough to give HDR highlights a gleaming, lifelike feel.

There's no denying that a few OLED and premium LCD TVs provide more full-screen brightness, but the 55A84K's balance and immaculate light control provides sumptuous compensation. Sometimes a beautifully realistic, nuanced picture that celebrates the finer things in 4K HDR life can be at least as appealing – especially to home cinema fans – as a more 'in your face' approach.

HCC Verdict: 4.5/5

Sony XR-55A84K
Price: £1,299

We say: Sony's OLED is not as bright as some rivals, but discerning movie fans will struggle to find a more refined and immersive picture and sound experience..


4K: Yes. 3,840 x 2,160 HDR: Yes. HDR10; HLG; Dolby Vision TUNER: Yes. Freeview HD; satellite HD CONNECTIONS: 4 x HDMI inputs; 2 x USB; optical digital audio output; Ethernet 4K/120 PLAYBACK: Yes SOUND (CLAIMED): 50W BRIGHTNESS (CLAIMED): N/A Contrast: N/A DIMENSIONS (OFF STAND): 1,227(w) x 712(h) x 53(d)mm WEIGHT (OFF STAND): 17.9kg

FEATURES:Wi-Fi; Bluetooth; Cognitive Processor XR; IMAX Enhanced; Variable refresh rate support; ALLM; XR OLED Motion; HDR Remastering; Triluminos colour; Netflix calibrated; multi-position feet; USB multimedia playback; Google TV with Chromecast built-in; Dolby Atmos; Bravia Core VOD platform

Sony UK