The New 4K TV Season: Sony

If you’re looking for a premium TV that hits the sweet spot between affordability and features, Sony’s new X9000F looks set to be the unrivalled choice.

So far it’s the stand-out model in Sony’s 2018 range because it represents a significant step up from last year’s X9000E, which was a fantastic all-rounder, whereas Sony’s latest OLED TV, the A8F, largely is a refinement of 2017’s groundbreaking A1.

This makes the X9000F Sony’s top LCD TV after its Z9D, which continues to be the company’s LCD flagship for a third year in a row.

However, Forbes reports Sony may be holding back its ultimate TVs until later in the year, with successors to both the Z9D, one of the best-specified and best-value TVs you can buy, and the A1, thanks to a new-generation processing chip.

An apparent mistake on Sony’s US website seems to have confirmed that the brand does indeed have at least a couple of new premium models waiting in the wings … We can only speculate at this point about how the the Z9Fs might improve on their illustrious predecessors, but the hope must be that they’ll deliver more brightness, more powerful processing (potentially the X1 Ultimate system shown at the CES), maybe even more dimming zone control and possibly (though probably not) HDMI 2.1 ports.

Given that Sony’s latest range of OLED TVs were called the A8Fs (reviewed here), it seems pretty certain that the A9Fs will be new OLED TVs. And given that the A8Fs were essentially just redesigns of Sony’s A1E debut OLED TVs, the presumption must be that the A9Fs will be true second-generation OLED sets. So hopefully they will bring more brightness (given that this was the main weakness of the A8Fs/A1Es) and, again, even more powerful processing.

But you can expect these TVs to cost considerably more than the X9000F, which is priced from $3,500 and comes in 55-, 65- and 75-inch flavours with Full Array Local Dimming.

Reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, with most agreeing it supremely balances performance with price.

About the only serious sticking points are the cumbersome Android operating system, which isn’t without its merits, and the unwieldy-looking, ultra-wide splayed feet.

While they’re at odds with Sony’s signature minimalist styling, they have been designed to stick out at an outrageous angle to accommodate the company’s matching HT-X9000F soundbar.

Otherwise, the common view is the X9000F is hard to beat if you want a bright TV with deep blacks and superb motion.

Less well received has been the step-down X85F series, in 55-, 65-, 75- and 85-inch options, with one of the a/v world’s most respected reviewers, John Archer, dubbing it a “fatally flawed … mid-range mistake”.

The A8F is virtually the same as the outstanding A1, but with an improved design that ditches the easel-style stand for a conventional pedestal that requires less surface space and doesn’t tilt the screen as much (although that was never a problem for viewing and gave the A1 a striking, sculptured appearance).

However, T3 magazine reckons the A8F’s “design and tech tweaks make it an even better telly … This is currently the best TV you can buy. To see one is to want an upgrade (unless you splashed out on an A1 last year), and the visuals and sound are simply stunning.”

And FlatPanelsHD “found the 2018 OLED panel to have reduced banding, overall great panel homogeneity, and higher peak brightness than last year’s Sony A1. Sony’s video processing is great and the company has further improved motion performance.”

It’s also been launched at a much lower price point — $8,000 for the 65-inch model — compared to the insanely silly $12,000 for the A1 (which has now dropped to $10,000 but typically can be bought for much less).

Like the A1, the A8F uses Acoustic Surface technology that emanates audio from the screen rather than speakers below it and has built-in woofers to help deliver decent stereo sound that for many will negate the need to invest in a soundbar (although, unlike LG’s 2018 TVs, it doesn’t have native Dolby Atmos).

Otherwise, it shares many of the X9000F’s strengths, including Dolby Vision, voice search, built-in Chromecast and exemplary processing.

Sony has launched a new global TV commercial to promote its 2018 OLED TVs that was shot in Queenstown.

Here’s Sony’s press release, including pricing/model details, plus links to in-depth reviews of the new range:

Sony’s new BRAVIA OLED televisions deliver a superior 4K viewing experience. With over eight million self-illuminated pixels, the A8F series offers intense detail and stunning picture quality, providing more than four times the detail of Full HD. Acoustic Surface technology delivers sound from the whole screen to enhance the immersive viewing experience. The 4K HDR Processor X1™ Extreme will change the way you look at TV, showing images and tones as they truly are by delivering exceptional colour, contrast and clarity. With advanced voice control and Android TV™ operating system there’s instant access to movies, TV shows, apps and games. TV lovers can enjoy hit shows and movies on Google Play Movies & TV, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Lightbox, YouTube, and others. 

BRAVIA OLED TVs start from $5999.95 for a 55” screen size. 

LED models start from $1599.95 and Full Array LED models from $3499.95. 

SONY BRAVIA OLED KEY FEATURES 

Picture and Sound 

  • BRAVIA OLED with 8 million self-illuminating pixels offering a significantly enriched visual experience with unprecedented black, authentic colour, and a wide viewing angle. 
  • Acoustic Surface™ technology: the entire screen resonates with great sound emanating directly from the screen itself. This allows a perfect unification of picture and sound that conventional TVs cannot deliver. 
  • 4K HDR Processor X1™ Extreme providing the ultimate 4K HDR viewing experience by incorporating three technologies: Object-based HDR remaster, Super Bit Mapping™ 4K HDR and Dual database processing. 
  • TRILUMINOS™ Display: vibrant and expanded colour, further enhanced for colour accuracy. 
  • Uses 4K X-Reality™ PRO to produce stunning detail with Sony’s unique algorithm of reality creation database for any content, such as TV broadcasting, DVD, Blu-ray Disc, Internet video and digital photos. 
  • Motionflow™ XR keeps the action smooth and details sharp even in fast-moving sequences. This innovative technology creates and inserts extra frames between the original ones. It compares key visual factors on successive frames, then calculates the split second of missing action in the sequences. Some models also include black-frame insertion for a blur-free and truly cinematic look. 
  • Dolby Vision™ brings scenes to life with striking highlights, deeper darks and vibrant colours. Dolby Vision is an HDR solution that creates an immersive, engaging cinematic experience in the home 

Design 

  • One Slate design – an approach that condenses the BRAVIA A-series into a single slate, giving the product a natural elegance for users to experience as a work of art in itself, eliminating the need for distinct elements like speakers, a bezel, or a stand. 
  • The narrow aluminium look frame maximises the viewing area, its aluminium effect makes the TV look elegant and refined. 

Smart TV 

  • Android TV™ lets you explore a world of movies, music, photos, games, search, apps and more. Voice Search allows you to find content, ask questions and control your TV. With Chromecast™ built-in, you can easily send content from your smartphone or tablet to the TV. With access to Google Play™, you can enjoy your favourite movies, TV shows and games on your TV1.
  • Key apps include Netflix, YouTube, Prime Video, Spotify and Lightbox.

See Sony’s website for more on the A8F, X9000F and X8500F.

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One Response to “The New 4K TV Season: Sony”

  1. This TV is really beautiful and perfect for our home!

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