Sony has been a major player in the TV world for decades, and it's no surprise that the company's 2021 TVs are hotly anticipated. And with plenty of new sets and features coming for 2021, Sony's position as a leading TV manufacturer is perfectly safe for the coming year.
Admittedly, Sony seems to be playing it a bit safe this year, with announcements focused not on major innovations but rather on iterative updates to existing models. But don't think that the Sony TV family is getting smaller or any less impressive. With 8K and OLED models and a move from Android TV to Google TV, the latest Sony TVs promise better performance than ever, and some of the smartest features yet.
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There are many, many sets in the Sony 2021 TV lineup, ranging from super-expensive 8K models to competitively priced 4K OLED televisions and down to reasonably affordable 4K LED offerings.
To help you choose, here's our run down of every set in the Sony 2021 TV lineup, plus what you need to know about the new tech inside them.
Editor's Note: (April 13, 2021) Sony has started selling the flagship Master Series A90J OLED TV. We've updated the relevant portions of this story to reflect this change in availability.
Sony 2021 TV lineup: Android TV becomes Google TV
The biggest change coming to the Sony 2021 TV lineup is the move from using the standard Android TV interface to the newer Google TV software platform seen on Google's latest Chromecast devices. These are the first TVs with Google TV built-in, providing a new entertainment experience that enhances the underlying Android TV technology with better organization for apps and subscriptions and more curated recommendations for movies, shows and live TV.
Google TV also prominently features Google Assistant and Google Home voice interaction, and several of Sony's new TVs feature far-field microphones that enhance this capability with room-listening mics that let your TV function more like an always-on smart speaker. The result is hands-free voice interaction, instead of having to speak into the TV remote like a CB radio handset.
The onscreen presentation is improved with the ability to bookmark shows and movies into a watch list, along with personalized recommendations based on what you've watched and what services you use. (See our article Google TV: Meet the new smart TV software coming to Sony and TCL TVs this year to learn more)
Sony 2021 TV lineup: Cognitive Processor XR
The beating heart of any modern smart TV is the processor, as TV capabilities blur the line between computer and media consumption device. With that processing chip handling everything from video processing such as motion handling and color adjustments to smart features and streaming, TV manufacturers are focusing more than ever on the silicon behind the smart TV.
All the sets in the Sony 2021 TV lineup are powered by the cognitive processor XR, which Sony is touting as using new processing methods that replicate the way humans see objects and images and hear sound and dialogue. Sony calls this new suite of optimizations "cognitive intelligence", but it's mostly marketing for the company's proprietary blend of picture and sound tweaks.
In practice, it means that in addition to analyzing picture elements like color, contrast and detail individually, the new approach divides the screen into numerous zones and detects where the "focal point" is in the picture. It then applies several enhancements to the different sections of the screen at once. The result should be a more lifelike picture and a better viewing experience overall.
While that sounds like a lot of vague promises to make, Sony's video processing is routinely at the forefront in the TV industry, and we expect similar performance in these new 2021 Sony TVs.
Sony 2021 TV lineup: XR Sound — Positional sound and 3D Surround Upscaling
Sony's processing extends to sound as well as video, with what it's calling XR sound, a suite of audio tweaks designed to make the Sony 2021 TV lineup sound better than other sets. Included in this assortment of optimizations is XR Sound Position and 3D Surround Upscaling.
XR Sound Position uses Sony's sound-from-screen technology to make audio match the position of objects and people on screen, so that dialogue appears to be coming from the actors relative to their position in the shot. It also tracks objects with their associated sound, such as the rumble of a motorcycle or the roar of a jet plane as they move across the screen.
3D Surround Upscaling seems more complicated (and processor-wise, it may very well be), but it's easy to understand as a step above and beyond mere stereo sound. In simple terms, the upscaling aspects will upmix standard 2.0 and 5.1 audio to a virtual multi-channel format like Dolby Atmos (5.1.2), which all of the new Sony models also support. As a result, all audio should sound better and provide a more immersive experience on the 2021 Sony TVs.
Sony 2021 TV lineup: Upgraded features — HDMI 2.1, ATSC 3.0, Netflix and IMAX
Other upgrades coming to models across the Bravia and Master Series model lines include HDMI 2.1 compatibility, hands-free voice functions, smart speaker compatibility, and new options that Sony promises will better deliver the creators intent regardless of format.
HDMI 2.1 connectivity puts the latest HDMI standard on all Sony 2021 TVs. In addition to carrying standard 4K signal picture and sound, the 2.1 standard expands the bandwidth available over HDMI, allowing higher frame rates and higher resolutions. On 4K TVs that means you can now get 4K picture at 120Hz, and 8K sets can now get full 8K resolution over HDMI.
Other HDMI 2.1 features include variable refresh rate (VRR) and auto low latency mode (ALLM), two superb convenience features that gamers will love, as well as eARC, an enhanced version of ARC that simplifies connections to soundbars and other sound systems.
Sony also offers new ways to get the best picture and sound with Netflix Calibrated mode and IMAX Enhanced mode. Sony is one of the notable abstainers from the popular filmmaker mode that's been added to LG and Samsung TVs, which removes a lot of the video processing and motion smoothing to present movie content in as pure a form as possible. What Sony has instead is a Netflix Calibrated mode, which is designed to offer the best mix of settings for displaying streaming titles from Netflix, and was created with cooperation from Netflix's engineers and technicians. It also has IMAX Enhanced mode, which offers similar optimizations for the less popular IMAX Enhanced format, and includes both HDR and brightness standards as well as some unique audio standards.
Finally, Sony is offering the largest number of TVs with the new ATSC 3.0 tuner built in. From the premium 8K set to the 4K OLED models and even several 4K LED smart TVs, the majority of the Sony 2021 TV lineup has ATSC 3.0 tuning built-in, making it ready for the Next Gen TV, including 4K over broadcast. If you want to future-proof your antenna setup, these are the TVs to get.
Sony 2021 TV lineup: Bravia CORE streaming service
In an exclusive service for Sony TVs, Sony Pictures Entertainment has a new streaming service to deliver premium and classic Sony movies to Bravia and Master Series TVs. The service is called Bravia CORE (which stands for Centre of Real Entertainment), and Sony is promising the highest streaming picture quality through it. With streaming up to 80 Mbps (four times the throughput used for streaming 4K movies through Netflix and similar services), Bravia CORE promises lossless 4K picture, complete with HDR and IMAX Enhanced picture and sound, essentially giving users a library of streaming content that is equal to UHD Blu-ray quality.
The service is coming as a pre-installed app on the Sony 2021 TV lineup, and the purchase of the TV provides you with credits you can use for new movies. A library of classic movies is also available for unlimited streaming, provided you have a registered account. Streaming is free for the first 12 or 24 months, and more premium TVs have a longer period and different credit allotments, giving you more access to premium movies if you bought a more expensive set.
According to Sony's official Bravia CORE FAQ, the app is not set up to process payments at this time, so it's entirely a freebie to add value to purchasing a Sony TV. However, that will likely change in the future, with a pay-as-you-go or single-purchase option for newly released movies in the near future. (See our guide Sony Bravia Core: What you need to know about Sony’s new streaming service to learn more.)
Sony 2021 TV lineup: Sony 8K TVs
Though Sony has been fairly aggressive about launching 8K TVs in the past, there's only one 8K set lined up for 2021: the Sony Master series Z9J, an LED TV that will be available in 75- and 85-inch sizes.
Sony Master Series Z9J 8K LED TV
Like the rest of the 2021 Bravia line, the Z9J 8K uses Sony's Cognitive XR processor and boasts three 48Gbps HDMI 2.1 ports. It also has 8K upscaling, which obviously wouldn't be useful on a 4K set. An anti-reflective layer is used to minimize glare and reflections in the large screen.
Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio are both supported, and hands-free microphones let you use the built-in Google Assistant without speaking into the remote. Sony also has outfitted the TV with Acoustic Multi-Audio technology, which uses an array of speakers inside the TV chassis and embedded in the frame to produce rich sound that seems to come directly from the screen.
The larger-sized 75 and 85-inch Z9J TVs will also have a three-position stand, with wide and narrow stand positions to offer more flexibility in setup and using a soundbar with the TV.
Pricing for the Z9J 8K TVs has not yet been announced, though we hope to hear official news in the coming weeks.
Sony 2021 TV lineup: Sony 4K OLED TVs
Sony is also bringing back its excellent OLED TVs for 2021, with the Sony Master Series A90J and Bravia A80J 4K OLED TVs.
Sony has added contrast tuning to the OLED models to bring out the best picture quality on the panels, adjusting the brightness and deep blacks for better HDR performance, as well as boosting the color across a wider palette to better handle subtle color differences. If past experience is any indicator, Sony's video processing often provides a slight edge over LG's OLED TVs, even though both use LG-manufactured OLED panels.
Each of these models offer two HDMI 2.1 ports out of the available four HDMI connections, giving you full support for 120Hz refresh rates, ALLM and VRR for gaming.
Both OLED models also feature Sony's Acoustic Surface Audio+ technology, which uses the glass panel of the OLED display as the sound-emitting surface for the TV, producing true sound-from-screen audio that can track audio to objects and actors on screen. This is only available on Sony's OLED TVs, and it's consistently been one of the standout features offered by the premium sets.
Finally, both the Master Series A90J and Bravia A80J have three-position stands that let you choose between wide and narrow-set feet, or a middle position that's sized to fit a Sony soundbar.
Sony Master Series A90J 4K OLED TV
The top model in Sony's 4K collection is the Sony Master series A90J 4K OLED TV.
Available in 55- and 65-inch sizes as well as an extra large 83-inch set, the A90J is Sony's top-of-the-line 4K set, and offers a range of premium features, such as a seamless micro bezel around the OLED panel, built-in cable management and one feature we wish came standard with all TVs — a backlit remote control.
The 55- and 65-inch sizes of the Sony Master Series A90J 4K OLED TV are already being sold through Best Buy and Amazon, for $2,999 and $3,999 respectively. The 83-inch model has not had a price announced, but retailer B&H Photo lists the 83-inch A90J OLED TV model as going on pre-order starting May 17th.
Sony A80J 4K OLED TV
The next step down in Sony OLED TVs is the Sony A80J 4K OLED TV, but it's not looking like it's a big drop in features or performance.
The Bravia A80J OLED offers almost everything the Master Series A90J does, from the Cognitive Processor XR chip and Acoustic Surface Audio+ to Sony's new Google TV interface and hands-free interaction.
The only notable differences seem to be the lack of backlight on the remote, and a step down in audio power: the A90J uses four speakers/drivers with a pair of 20-watt primary speakers, while the A80J uses three speakers/drivers, with all three powered at 10 watts.
The Bravia A80J will be available in 55, 65 and 77-inch screen sizes, but not the larger 83-inch size offered by the Master Series A90J.
The Sony Bravia A80J is not yet being sold, but Sony has confirmed pricing details, and we're pleased to see that the 55 and 65-inch models to come in at a lower price than the Master Series A90J models do. Retail availability hasn't been announced yet, but B&H Photo has the products beginning pre-order starting April 19.
Sony 2021 TV lineup: Sony 4K LED TVs
The lion's share of the Sony 2021 TV lineup year will be found in the 4K LED TV line, with models ranging from budget-friendly (well, as budget-friendly as Sony's TVs get) to premium 4K smart TVs.
All of the 4K models boast Sony's Cognitive Processor XR, and have Google TV, but the models are differentiated with features like hands-free interaction and Acoustic Multi-Audio, which aren't available on every Sony LED TV.
Sony X95J 4K LED TV
For an excellent LCD panel with all of Sony's bells and whistles, there's the Sony X95J 4K LED TV. With full array backlight and features like Dolby Atmos and Acoustic Multi-Audio sound, as well as a backlit remote, this is the best option among Sony's more affordable 4K sets.
Available in 85-, 75- and 65-inch sizes, the TV features a minimalist design with Sony's Seamless Edge bezel, which shrinks the borders around the screen down to a fraction of an inch. A three-position stand gives you several options for set up with or without a sound bar — but the smaller 65 -inch model only has a two-position stand.
The Sony X95J 4K LED TV will be available in 65, 75 and 85-inch sizes. Pricing and availability details have not been announced.
Sony X90J 4K TV
The next step down is the Sony X90J 4K LED TV, which still features Google TV and HDMI 2.1 support, but loses some of the finer touches seen on the more expensive X95J models.
A more traditional looking stand raises the TV up more, but has two position options for more flexibility when putting the TV on a shelf or entertainment unit.
The X90J loses the remote control backlight and has less powerful contrast enhancement, but is in other respects very similar to other Sony models, with Acoustic Multi-Audio, HDMI 2.1 compatibility and both Netflix Calibrated and IMAX Enhanced modes.
However, it is worth noting that the X90J does not have hands-free capability or the room-listening mics that feature entails. If you're looking for a slightly less invasive smart TV, this is the one to get.
A related model, the Sony X92 4K LED TV, boasts the same feature set and capabilities, but in a 100-inch screen size.
Sony has revealed pricing for some (but not all) models of the Sony X90J 4K TV, starting at $1,299 for the smaller 50-inch model, the 55-inch set selling for $1,499 and the 65-inch size selling for $1,799. Pricing for the 75-inch model and the 100-inch X92 have not been announced.
The 50, 55 and 65-inch models are available for pre-order now through B&H Photo and Best Buy, and will begin selling by the end of the week.
Sony X85J 4K TV
One of Sony's more affordable sets, the Sony X85J 4K TV is notable in that it comes in the widest range of sizes. With screen sizes ranging from 43 to 85 inches, it's got more size options than any other model in the Sony 20201 TV lineup, and features HDMI 2.1 and Google TV.
Unlike the other models above, the X85J does not have an ATSC 3.0 tuner.
Sony hasn't announced pricing or availability for the Sony X85J 4K TV, but it will be sold in 43, 50, 55, 65, 75 and 85-inch sizes.
Sony X80J 4K TV
Rounding out the more affordable end of the Sony 2021 TV lineup is the Sony X80J 4K TV.
It's Sony's most affordable model, but that also means it's got fewer advanced features than any other Sony smart TV listed here. While the X90J offers Google TV and support for formats like Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, it has only 60Hz refresh rates, no HDMI 2.1 ports (all four ports use the HDMI 2.0b standard), and a standard TV tuner.
Sony has started selling most models of the X80J through retailers like Best Buy and RC Willey. The 43 and 50-inch models are available for pre-order now, and will be joining the 55 and 65-inch models in full retail availability by the end of the week.
- More: Check out the best cheap OLED TV deals
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Brian Westover is currently Lead Analyst, PCs and Hardware at PCMag. Until recently, however, he was Senior Editor at Tom's Guide, where he led the site's TV coverage for several years, reviewing scores of sets and writing about everything from 8K to HDR to HDMI 2.1. He also put his computing knowledge to good use by reviewing many PCs and Mac devices, and also led our router and home networking coverage. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he wrote for TopTenReviews and PCMag.