The Sony X80K (available at Amazon for $648.00) is a mid-range LED TV and one of the most affordable Sony offerings of the year. Its respectable performance and budget-friendly price tag will please plenty of shoppers (especially those who are upgrading to 4K for the first time), but there are better options available for folks with more specific needs.
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About the Sony X80K
What we don’t like
Despite limitations dictated by its relatively low price, the X80K has a lot going for it: an accurate out-of-the-box picture, a fast, user-friendly smart platform, and an easy-to-setup design. But while some concessions are expected in this price range, the X80K fails some tests that other TVs do not: there are almost no next-gen gaming features to speak of and contrast and panel uniformity suffer from a lack of local dimming.
For most people, the X80K is a safe pick. That said, if you’re looking for a gaming TV or one that showcases HDR content, you owe it to yourself to look at the X80K’s competition, including Samsung's Q60B and TCL's 5-Series.
The remote control includes a built-in microphone for voice commands.
The Sony X80K is available in six sizes ranging from 43 inches all the way up to 85 inches. Our review unit is a 55-inch model that we purchased ourselves.
Here’s how the series shakes out from a price standpoint:
While we typically don’t expect there to be much of a performance gap between differently sized TVs belonging to the same series, it’s possible that the X80K’s panel type might vary depending on size (a common occurrence among contemporary LED TVs). When it comes to performance, different panel types offer competing strengths and weaknesses.
Unfortunately, Sony doesn’t disclose panel types for its LED TVs (though it’s possible to identify panel type by examining the display’s pixel structure). Our 55-inch X80K features an ADS panel (whose performance attributes are similar to that of an IPS panel), but at this time, we can’t confirm the panel type for the rest of the sizes in the X80K series.
With sizing and pricing out of the way, let’s take a look at the TV’s specs:
The X80K ships with a new version of Sony’s standard remote control, which offers a built-in microphone for voice controls and a handful of dedicated app buttons.
The Sony X80K features four HDMI inputs, but unfortunately none of them are HDMI 2.1.
The X80K offers a standard set of connectivity options including four HDMI ports, but gamers and dedicated A/V enthusiasts should note that the TV does not feature a single HDMI 2.1 port capable of displaying 4K content at 120Hz.
Here’s what you’ll find in a side-facing cutout on the back of the X80K’s panel:
Before testing each TV, we make sure the panel is on and receiving a continuous signal for at least 2 hours. Our 55-inch X80K received this standard warm-up time before any readings were taken. After research and consultation with other experts, we’ve updated our warmup time from 24 hours to 2 hours which should be ample time for modern display technologies and also better approximates how real buyers use their TVs at home. In addition, the TV received the latest firmware updates at the time of testing.
For both SDR and HDR tests, we’re using the X80K’s Custom picture mode. We’ve chosen this setting because of its accuracy, but performance may vary depending on which picture mode is enabled. For example, you might experience a brighter picture with different settings enabled, but it may interfere with color temperature and overall color accuracy.
To get a sense of the TV’s average performance, we use a standard ANSI checkerboard pattern for most of our basic contrast tests. We also use white and black windows ranging from 2% to 90% to test how well the contrast holds up while displaying varying degrees of brightness.
Our peak brightness measurements are taken with sustained windows to represent the TV’s peak brightness over a sustained period of time. Specular highlights (like brief flashes of reflected light) might reach higher brightness levels, but not for sustained periods of time.
All of our tests are created with a Murideo Seven 8K signal generator and tabulated via Portrait Displays’ Calman Ultimate color calibration software.
I'll expand on our test results throughout the review, but for now, here are some key takeaways:
During testing, the X80K’s Color Temperature was set to Expert 1. For SDR tests, the TV’s Brightness and Gamma sliders were kept at their default position. In addition, the Advanced Contrast Enhancer, Black Adjust, and Live Color settings were all disabled.
For Clarity-related settings, Sharpness was kept at its default position (50), Random Noise Reduction and Digital Noise Reduction were kept off. Lastly, Motionflow and Film Mode were disabled.
Credit: Reviewed / Tim Renzi The X80K does a lot with its mid-range hardware. The Sony X80K may lack some of the advanced display hardware we’ve seen in recent years (more on that in a bit), but despite its limitations, it sports an impressive out-of-the-box picture. In other words, if you’re a “set it and forget it” type of viewer with no calibration aspirations, the X80K is a worthy companion.
The X80K does a lot with its mid-range hardware.
In its most accurate picture mode (Custom), the X80K shows off rich, realistic-looking color, thanks in part to its Triluminos Pro color enhancement technology (Sony’s take on quantum dots). The TV covers about 87% of the HDR color gamut (DCI-P3).
For SDR content (that is, cable broadcasts and a lot of the content you'll see on streaming platforms), the X80K gets the job done. Unless your living room gets a ton of sunlight, it will hold up well during daytime viewing.
I’m also impressed by the X80K’s HDR performance; despite its shallow black levels and limited brightness, all of the HDR10 and Dolby Vision content I watched looked quite good. You won’t get the sort of eye-popping depth that comes with a mini-LED TV or an OLED TV, but the X80K has an eerie ability to look better than its hardware and performance specs would indicate.
For example, there’s not much of a difference between the X80K’s HDR and SDR peak brightness levels in our measurements, but there is a noticeable difference in how its HDR highlights look during actual viewing. At one point, while watching Our Planet in Dolby Vision, the reflected light of water rolling off the back of a whale genuinely looked brighter than what its readings would indicate. Those very same highlights on the Samsung Q60B—a direct competitor of the X80K—looked less impressive, despite the Q60B's brighter screen.
To be clear, neither the X80K nor the Q60B is the TV to buy if you really want to see what all the HDR fuss is all about. That said, the X80K does more with its mid-range hardware than Samsung, and I suspect that has to do with Sony’s image processing. Given its superior full-field brightness in both SDR and HDR, the Samsung Q60B is a better bright-room option than the X80K, but it’s sort of stunning how much Sony is able to elevate a direct-LED display with no local dimming.
Like all of Sony’s smart TVs in 2022, the X80K comes with the Google TV smart platform baked right in. The software is similar to that of a Chromecast streaming device, and for the most part, it’s a great way to manage your streaming habits.
As is the case with most streaming platforms, there’s a heavy amount of sponsored content to contend with on the Google TV home screen. Fortunately, the software is fast, and navigation is fairly straightforward. All of the most popular streaming apps are either pre-installed or just a couple of clicks away, and you could certainly get away with using the X80K’s smart platform as your go-to streaming hub.
In true Sony fashion, the TV is absolutely stuffed with picture and audio calibration options. If you appreciate a good tinker, the X80K gives you plenty of tools—more than most TVs in this class.
Setting up the X80K is easy enough.
Setting up the X80K is a total breeze, thanks to a pair of feet that slot into the panel without the need for tools. Once upright, the X80K takes on a secure pose with no wobble to speak of. It’s not exactly the thinnest TV on the block (we have the direct-LED backlight to thank for that), but it doesn’t look (or feel) cheap.
Unfortunately, unlike some higher-end Sony models this year that offer multiple stand configurations, there’s only one position for the X80K’s feet. If you intend on springing for one of the extra-large variants, be sure that your media console is wide enough to accommodate the X80K’s wide-set feet.
Credit: Reviewed / Tim Renzi Look out for clouds of light on the bottom of the display. The Sony X80K isn’t an ideal choice for dark-room viewing. Its shallow black levels (which settle around 0.2 to 0.3 nits during most content) limit shadow detail, and the panel casts a grayish-blue glow over scenes that take place in the dark. Sequences in space, for instance, look more blue than black. The culprit is primarily the TV’s lack of local dimming, which severely limits the X80K’s contrast control.
Look out for clouds of light on the bottom of the display.
There’s also significant light bleed in the bottom corners of the panel, which is noticeable during dark scenes, credits sequences, and while browsing certain app interfaces. Even from a direct, head-on angle, clouds of light are easily detectable on the bottom of the display.
When content is bright, the X80K does a workmanlike job of limiting the damage of its shallow black levels, but once a scene gets dark, all bets are off. As much as I appreciate the TV’s ability to produce a clear, colorful picture with limited hardware, the Samsung Q60B is probably the better choice for cinephiles. The Q60B is also limited in its display hardware, but its black levels are much deeper and it isn’t saddled with uniformity issues during dark content.
If you’re in the market for a TV that’ll serve your next-gen gaming needs for the foreseeable future, the X80K isn’t a great choice.
None of its HDMI ports are equipped for 4K gaming at 120Hz, its panel is limited to a 60Hz refresh rate, and the only gaming-related feature under its belt is Auto Low Latency Mode (which simply optimizes the TV for gaming whenever a console is detected).
If you want key gaming features like 4K/120Hz gaming and Variable Refresh Rate, you’ll have to look elsewhere. For Sony TVs, this means looking into the X85K, the X95K, or one of the company’s OLED TVs.
It’s not exactly surprising that the X80K doesn’t offer a robust set of gaming features (the similarly priced Samsung Q60B doesn’t, either). But there are TVs right around this price range that offer more for gamers (like the TCL 5-Series with Google TV). And, if you don't mind spending a little more, the TCL 6-Series and the Hisense U7G are fantastic mid-range gaming TVs.
Be sure to compare this television to its competition before purchasing it.
The Sony X80K is a decent mid-range TV for budget-conscious shoppers looking to upgrade their TV for the first time in several years. Most folks will be pleased with the X80K’s performance, as it offers an accurate, colorful picture in both SDR and HDR, and its built-in smart platform is fast and friendly enough for power users and neophytes alike.
If you’re looking for a TV that really showcases HDR, or if you’re looking for a cinematic, dark-room experience, the X80K isn’t the way. Even in this price range, there are TVs that offer better contrast and picture uniformity than the X80K, including the Samsung Q60B and the TCL 5-Series with Google TV.
Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 owners in the market for a gaming-friendly TV will have to look elsewhere, too. The aforementioned TCL 5-Series with Google TV is a similarly priced model with ALLM and VRR in tow. If you don’t mind spending a bit more, the TCL 6-Series and the Hisense U7G offer ALLM, VRR, and the ability to play 4K games at 120Hz.
If only a Sony TV will do, you’ll have to spend a bit more on the X85K or a lot more on the X95K to net those gaming features.
The X80K impressed me for how well it performs with mid-range hardware, but its mid-range hardware nevertheless puts it at a disadvantage when compared to its competition.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Michael Desjardin graduated from Emerson College after having studied media production and screenwriting. He specializes in tech for Reviewed, but also loves film criticism, weird ambient music, cooking, and food in general.
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