Sony A90J OLED TV Review

Tested using Methodology v1.6
Reviewed Apr 06, 2021 at 09:43 am
Sony A90J OLED Picture
8.8
Mixed Usage
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
9.4
Movies
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
8.2
TV Shows
Value for price beaten by
: Samsung QN85A QLED
8.6
Sports
Value for price beaten by
: LG GX OLED
9.1
Video Games
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
8.9
HDR Movies
Value for price beaten by
: Sony A8H OLED
8.9
HDR Gaming
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
8.5
PC Monitor
Value for price beaten by
: Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED
Type OLED
Sub-Type
WRGB
Resolution 4k

The Sony A90J OLED is an amazing 4k TV from Sony's Master Series. Like other OLEDs, it delivers unparalleled picture quality thanks to its self-emitting pixels, which produce perfect blacks and a near-infinite contrast ratio. While its HDR brightness is only decent relative to LED TVs, it still delivers a great HDR experience thanks to its wide color gamut and high contrast ratio. It also has a near-instantaneous response time for clear motion, but some gamers may be disappointed by the lack of variable refresh rate (VRR) support, even though it’s set to arrive with a future firmware update. On the upside, it has two HDMI 2.1 ports, eARC, and Dolby Vision support. It also has wide viewing angles and superb reflection handling. As with all OLEDs, there’s some risk of permanent burn-in, but we don’t expect it to be an issue if you watch varied content.

Our Verdict

8.8 Mixed Usage

The Sony A90J is an amazing TV for mixed usage. It delivers exceptional picture quality for movies and TV shows, and its near-instantaneous response time results in smooth motion for sports and video games. While it doesn't get as bright as an LED TV, it's bright enough to bring out most highlights in HDR, aided by its near-infinite contrast ratio. Unfortunately, there's a risk for permanent burn-in, though it shouldn't be an issue if you watch varied content.

Pros
  • Near-perfect black levels.
  • Image stays accurate at most viewing angles.
  • Motion looks exceptionally smooth.
Cons
  • Risk of permanent burn-in.
  • May not be bright enough for some.
9.4 Movies

The Sony A90J is a fantastic choice for watching movies. With its near-infinite contrast ratio, it can produce deep, inky blacks with perfect uniformity. It has no issues upscaling lower resolution content, like DVDs or Blu-rays, and it removes 24p judder from any source. Unfortunately, the extremely quick response time can cause stuttering in lower frame rate content like movies.

Pros
  • Near-perfect black levels.
  • Removes 24p judder.
  • Upscales low resolution content without issue.
Cons
  • Risk of permanent burn-in.
  • Low frame rate content may stutter.
8.2 TV Shows

The Sony A90J is great for watching TV shows. It has fantastic reflection handling, so glare shouldn't be an issue, despite its lower brightness. The Google TV platform is also smooth and lets you access all your apps and shows from one smart hub. It has wide viewing angles, which is great if you watch TV at an angle. Unfortunately, it may be susceptible to permanent burn-in with static elements like a news banner or logo.

Pros
  • Fantastic reflection handling.
  • Image stays accurate at most viewing angles.
  • Google TV platform is smooth and easy to use.
Cons
  • Risk of permanent burn-in.
  • May not be bright enough for some.
8.6 Sports

The Sony A90J is excellent for watching sports. Its near-instant response time results in smooth motion, and it has a Black Frame Insertion feature to further reduce blur. It also has wide viewing angles, which is great for watching the game with friends. While it isn't the brightest TV, it has fantastic reflection handling, so glare shouldn’t be an issue. That said, there's a risk of permanent burn-in, especially with static elements like a score box or channel logo.

Pros
  • Fantastic reflection handling.
  • Image stays accurate at most viewing angles.
  • Motion looks exceptionally smooth.
Cons
  • Risk of permanent burn-in.
  • May not be bright enough for some.
9.1 Video Games

The Sony A90J is fantastic for playing video games. It has a near-instantaneous response time that results in exceptionally clear motion, and its exceptionally high contrast ratio is great for gaming in the dark. Unfortunately, it lacks VRR and ALLM support, though it's meant to receive it in a future firmware update.

Pros
  • Near-perfect black levels.
  • Motion looks exceptionally smooth.
  • Low input lag.
Cons
  • Risk of permanent burn-in.
  • No VRR support currently.
8.9 HDR Movies

The Sony A90J is excellent for watching movies in HDR. It has a wide color gamut, and its perfect black levels create a near-infinite contrast ratio, which helps make highlights pop, despite the lower brightness that's typical of OLEDs. That said, the ceiling in brightness means that the very brightest details may be lost.

Pros
  • Near-perfect black levels.
  • Removes 24p judder.
  • Upscales low resolution content without issue.
  • Wide HDR color gamut.
Cons
  • Risk of permanent burn-in.
  • Low frame rate content may stutter.
  • May not be bright enough for some.
8.9 HDR Gaming

The Sony A90J is excellent for HDR gaming thanks to its extremely fast response time and perfect black levels. While it doesn't get as bright in HDR as most LED TVs, it's among the brightest OLEDs we've tested. It also has a wide color gamut. However, some gamers may be disappointed by its lack of VRR and ALLM support, although it's meant to be added in a future update.

Pros
  • Near-perfect black levels.
  • Motion looks exceptionally smooth.
  • Low input lag.
  • Wide HDR color gamut.
Cons
  • Risk of permanent burn-in.
  • No VRR support currently.
  • May not be bright enough for some.
8.5 PC Monitor

The Sony A90J is an excellent TV to use as a PC monitor. It has a low input lag and exceptional response time. It can also display proper chroma 4:4:4 at most resolutions, and its wide viewing angles ensure the image stays accurate at the edges when sitting up close. Unfortunately, it doesn't support 1440p @ 120Hz and currently lacks VRR support. There may also be more risk for burn-in with static elements like a desktop user interface.

Pros
  • Image stays accurate at most viewing angles.
  • Low input lag.
  • Displays proper chroma 4:4:4.
  • Near-instantaneous response time.
Cons
  • Risk of permanent burn-in.
  • No VRR support currently.
  • Doesn't support 1440p @ 120Hz.
  • 8.8 Mixed Usage
  • 9.4 Movies
  • 8.2 TV Shows
  • 8.6 Sports
  • 9.1 Video Games
  • 8.9 HDR Movies
  • 8.9 HDR Gaming
  • 8.5 PC Monitor
  1. Updated Apr 08, 2021: Retested TV with video games in 4k at 120Hz to check for differences in banding between SDR and HDR.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The Sony A90J is part of Sony’s high-end Master Series, taking the place of 2020's Sony A9S OLED but available in larger sizes. It’s Sony’s flagship 4k OLED in 2021 and sits directly above the Sony A80J OLED. It competes with other high-end OLEDs like the LG G1 OLED and premium LED TVs like the Samsung QN90A QLED.

Design
Design
Style
Curved No

The TV looks similar to other high-end Sony OLEDs but with a newly designed stand that offers more adjustability. With its thin bezels and metal accents, it looks sleek and premium and is sure to make an impression in any living room.

Design
Stand

The stand can be set up in one of two ways, either with the feet flat, bringing the TV flush against the table, or raised up to give you space for a soundbar. There's also a third configuration where the feet face inward to make a smaller footprint, but it's only available on the 83 inch variant.

Footprint of the stand: 51.1"x12.5" (standard position) or 45.3"x12.5" (soundbar position)

Design
Back
Wall Mount VESA 300x300

There isn’t much in the way of cable management except for some paneling that covers a portion of the cables and an included cable tie, but overall it looks fairly clean. The back of the panel itself is metal while the rest is plastic with vertical ridges.

Design
Borders
Borders 0.35" (0.9 cm)
Design
Thickness
Max Thickness 1.61" (4.1 cm)

It’s quite thin overall and should look great when wall-mounted, although not all of the inputs are side-facing and may be hard to reach.

9.5
Design
Build Quality

The build quality is superb. It feels incredibly sturdy in either of the stand positions, with no wobble or flex. All in all, it's a very solid-feeling TV, as expected from a high-end model like this.

Picture Quality
10
Picture Quality
Contrast
Native Contrast
Inf : 1
Contrast with local dimming
N/A

The Sony A90J has a near-infinite contrast ratio thanks to its OLED panel, which can produce perfect blacks. They look deep and inky, especially in a dark room, ideal for movies.

6.7
Picture Quality
SDR Brightness
Real Scene Peak Brightness
277 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
464 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
481 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
481 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
311 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
187 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
451 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
460 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
464 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
309 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
185 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.059

The Sony A90J has okay SDR brightness. It’s a bit dim in real scenes compared to an LED TV, for instance, and the Automatic Brightness Limiter (ABL) causes scenes with large areas of brightness to dim overall, so the brightness isn’t the most consistent across different scenes.

We measured SDR brightness after calibration, using the ‘Custom’ Picture Mode, the ‘Expert 1’ Color Temperature, Peak Luminance set to ‘High’, and Brightness at max.

To get the brightest possible image, you can set the Picture Mode to ‘Vivid’ and keep all of the default settings. We were able to measure 680 nits in the 2% window using these settings, but we don’t recommend it because it may negatively affect picture quality.

10
Picture Quality
Local Dimming
Local Dimming
No
Backlight
No Backlight

Like all OLEDs, the Sony A90J can turn pixels on and off individually and doesn't require a backlight. This means there's no local dimming feature, but it can produce perfect blacks without any blooming around bright objects. The videos above are provided for reference only, so you can see how blacks look with bright objects using our test pattern and in real content, both head-on and off-angle.

10
Picture Quality
Local Dimming In Game Mode
Local Dimming
No
Backlight
No Backlight

In 'Game' mode, the same is true as outside of 'Game' mode, so blacks look perfect. The videos are provided for reference only since the A90J doesn't require a local dimming feature.

7.3
Picture Quality
HDR Brightness
Real Scene Highlight
712 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
801 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
842 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
617 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
324 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
177 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
752 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
780 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
597 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
322 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
175 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.092

Brightness in HDR is decent. It’s better than most OLEDs we’ve tested thus far, although it doesn't come close to the brightest LED TVs like the Samsung QN90A QLED. Still, the overall brightness of scenes is on-target and can bring out most highlights. As with SDR, however, there isn’t much consistency across scenes with different luminance levels. Very large areas of brightness are dimmer.

We measured HDR brightness before calibration, using the 'Custom' Picture Mode, with Brightness set to max, Contrast at '90' (by default), Color Temperature set to 'Expert 1', and using the 'Gradation Preferred' setting in the HDR Tone Mapping menu.

In 2021, there’s a new settings menu called HDR Tone Mapping. Our measurements use the 'Gradation Preferred' setting, but it may be helpful to note that while the 'Gradation Preferred' setting results in a more accurate EOTF, the 'Brightness Preferred' setting lets you get a brighter image without having to make too many other adjustments. If you want to see the difference these settings make, you can see the 'Brightness Preferred' EOTF here and the EOTF with HDR Tone Mapping disabled here.

To make HDR brighter, set Advanced Contrast Enhancer to 'High', Peak Brightness to 'High', set Brightness, Contrast, and Gamma to max, and 'Brightness Preferred' in the HDR Tone Mapping menu. These settings result in this EOTF. We should also note that we were able to adjust the settings to achieve a peak HDR brightness measurement of 1291 nits in the 2% window, which is close to the 1300 nits that early reviews claimed. However, the screen got very hot and quickly dropped back down to a lower luminance level, so while the TV is technically capable of hitting an exceptionally high peak brightness for an OLED, realistically speaking, you won’t get that kind of brightness with real content using ideal settings.

7.0
Picture Quality
HDR Brightness In Game Mode
Real Scene Highlight
609 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
803 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
770 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
512 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
294 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
194 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
763 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
723 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
499 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
293 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
192 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.086

The HDR brightness in 'Game' mode is very similar to the HDR brightness outside of ‘Game’ mode. It’s hard to even tell the difference when switching between the two. That said, the brightness measured slightly less bright than outside of 'Game' mode, especially the real scene brightness. As with SDR, you can set HDR Tone Mapping to 'Brightness Preferred' to get a slightly brighter image, though we expect that this will depend highly on the content.

We took these measurements using the same settings as our regular HDR brightness test, except in the ‘Game’ Picture Mode.

8.6
Picture Quality
Gray Uniformity
50% Std. Dev.
1.377 %
50% DSE
0.137 %
5% Std. Dev.
0.333 %
5% DSE
0.063 %

The Sony A90J has excellent gray uniformity, but this may vary between units. The screen looks very uniform overall with almost no dirty screen effect, and we didn’t notice any banding or issues in near-dark scenes, although this can occur with more extensive use.

10
Picture Quality
Black Uniformity
Native Std. Dev.
0.297 %
Std. Dev. w/ L.D.
N/A

Like all OLEDs, the Sony A90J can completely turn off individual pixels to achieve perfect black uniformity.

8.6
Picture Quality
Viewing Angle
Color Washout
51 °
Color Shift
27 °
Brightness Loss
64 °
Black Level Raise
70 °
Gamma Shift
61 °

The Sony A90J has excellent viewing angles. They're wide enough that the image won't look washed out or inaccurate if you watch at an angle.

9.3
Picture Quality
Reflections
Screen Finish
Glossy
Total Reflections
1.4 %
Indirect Reflections
0.1 %
Calculated Direct Reflections
1.3 %

The Sony A90J has fantastic reflection handling. It diffuses both direct and indirect reflections very well, so glare shouldn’t be an issue, especially in more moderate lighting conditions.

8.5
Picture Quality
Pre Calibration
White Balance dE
1.93
Color dE
1.99
Gamma
2.18
Color Temperature
6700 K
Picture Mode
Custom
Color Temp Setting
Expert 1
Gamma Setting
0

The Sony A90J has amazing out-of-the-box color accuracy, though this can vary between units. Colors and white balance are both excellent with few inaccuracies. The color temperature is quite close to our 6500K target, but it’s on the cooler side. Lastly, gamma follows the target very well, with only the brightest scenes appearing a bit brighter than they should.

9.7
Picture Quality
Post Calibration
White Balance dE
0.13
Color dE
0.72
Gamma
2.20
Color Temperature
6511 K
White Balance Calibration
10 point
Color Calibration
Yes

After calibration, the accuracy is exceptional. Any remaining inaccuracies shouldn’t be noticeable to the naked eye, and the color temperature is very close to the target. Gamma is practically perfect. The TV was also very easy to calibrate. You can see our recommended settings here.

8.0
Picture Quality
480p Input

No issues upscaling 480p content like DVDs.

8.0
Picture Quality
720p Input

The Sony A90J upscales 720p content like cable TV well.

9.0
Picture Quality
1080p Input

1080p content, like Blu-Ray, looks good, with no upscaling issues.

10
Picture Quality
4k Input

4k content is displayed perfectly with no issues.

0
Picture Quality
8k Input

The Sony A90J doesn't support an 8k signal.

Picture Quality
Pixels

Like all OLEDs, the Sony A90J uses a WRGB sub-pixel layout, where the pixels are never all on at the same time. While this TV is said to be able to brighten all four pixels at once to achieve a higher peak brightness, we never saw all four sub-pixels lit at the same time, even when we recorded 1291 nits. You can see some of the blue sub-pixels lit up in this photo.

8.5
Picture Quality
Color Gamut
Wide Color Gamut
Yes
DCI P3 xy
98.16 %
DCI P3 uv
97.91 %
Rec 2020 xy
70.95 %
Rec 2020 uv
72.12 %

The Sony A90J has an excellent color gamut. It's wide enough for HDR content and has near-perfect coverage of the commonly used DCI P3 color space. Its coverage of the wider Rec. 2020 is only decent, though.

7.3
Picture Quality
Color Volume
Normalized DCI P3 Coverage ITP
78.5 %
10,000 cd/m² DCI P3 Coverage ITP
42.8 %
Normalized Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
67.3 %
10,000 cd/m² Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
32.1 %

The color volume is decent. It only really struggles a bit with very bright colors.

9.3
Picture Quality
Gradient
Color Depth
10 Bit
Red (Std. Dev.)
0.063 dE
Green (Std. Dev.)
0.077 dE
Blue (Std. Dev.)
0.065 dE
Gray (Std. Dev.)
0.070 dE

The Sony A90J has superb gradient handling. It looks really good, despite some minor banding in the grays and greens. If you notice banding and it bothers you, you can enable Smooth Gradation to help smooth out gradients, although it may produce artifacts.

9.2
Picture Quality
Temporary Image Retention
IR after 0 min recovery
0.27 %
IR after 2 min recovery
0.06 %
IR after 4 min recovery
0.03 %
IR after 6 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 8 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 10 min recovery
0.01 %

There’s a bit of temporary image retention immediately after playing a high-contrast video for 10 minutes, but it disappears quickly. Keep in mind that image retention can vary between units.

2.0
Picture Quality
Permanent Burn-In Risk
Permanent Burn-In Risk
Yes

Like all OLEDs, the Sony A90J is susceptible to permanent burn-in, which can happen when static elements like a channel logo or desktop interface stay on the screen for an extended period. However, we don't expect it to be an issue for most people who watch varied content, and there are also built-in features to minimize the risks, including Pixel Shift and Panel Refresh. You can read more about those here.

Motion
9.8
Motion
Response Time
80% Response Time
0.2 ms
100% Response Time
3.1 ms

The Sony A90J has a near-instantaneous response time, like all OLEDs. For the most part, motion looks smooth with very few artifacts. Nevertheless, you may still notice persistence blur caused by the way our eyes track movement. This is also why our photo is blurry despite the fast response time.

10
Motion
Flicker-Free
Flicker-Free
No
PWM Dimming Frequency
0 Hz

Because it's an OLED, the Sony A90J doesn't have a backlight, but it can still emulate the Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) of LED TVs by turning its pixels on and off. For that reason it isn't flicker-free; the slight dip in brightness that you can see in the chart every 8 ms is due to the TV's 120Hz refresh rate.

10
Motion
Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
Optional BFI
Yes
Min Flicker For 60 fps
60 Hz
60Hz For 60 fps
Yes
120Hz For 120 fps
Yes
Min Flicker for 60 fps in Game Mode
60 Hz

The Sony A90J has an optional Black Frame Insertion (BFI) feature, which can help reduce motion blur by inserting black frames into content at regular intervals, typically matched with the frame rate of the content. For a BFI frequency of 120Hz, you should set Motionflow to 'Custom' and set Clearness to '1' or '2'. For 60Hz, set Clearness to '3' (max).

Motion
Motion Interpolation
Motion Interpolation (30 fps)
Yes
Motion Interpolation (60 fps)
Yes

The Sony A90J can interpolate lower frame rate content up to 120fps to make motion look smoother, which is also known as the 'Soap Opera Effect'. It performs fine during slower scenes, but there's a fair number of artifacts in busier scenes or panning shots. To use it, set Cinemotion to 'High' and Smoothness to max.

5.2
Motion
Stutter
Frame Hold Time @ 24 fps
38.6 ms
Frame Hold Time @ 60 fps
13.6 ms

Due to the TV's fast response time, low frame rate content can appear to stutter since each frame is held on longer. Motion interpolation can help if stutter bothers you.

10
Motion
24p Judder
Judder-Free 24p
Yes
Judder-Free 24p via 60p
Yes
Judder-Free 24p via 60i
Yes
Judder-Free 24p via Native Apps
Yes

The Sony A90J can remove judder from all sources. You don't need to enable any additional settings for native 24p content. For 24p content via 60p/i or via native apps, set Cinemotion to 'High' and Motionflow to 'Custom' but leave the sliders at 0.

0
Motion
Variable Refresh Rate
Native Refresh Rate
120 Hz
Variable Refresh Rate
No
HDMI Forum VRR
No
FreeSync
No
G-SYNC Compatible
No
4k VRR Maximum
N/A
4k VRR Minimum