Sony A9F Review (XBR55A9F, XBR65A9F) – What are the difference to A1E?
Unlike in last year where Sony only launched one series for their OLED TV lineup, in 2018, they launch two models of their OLED TV lineup, which are Sony A9F and A8F. Like most TVs which available in the market, Sony A8F comes with a conventional vertical design, a solution for you who don’t too like with A-Frame design offered by A1E. Meanwhile, A9F still adopts the A-Frame design of the predecessor A1E with its “Acoustic Surface” sound technology. Nevertheless, if A1E comes in 3 screen sizes including 55 inch, 65 inch, and 77 inch, A9F lacks the biggest screen 77 inch and only comes in 2 screen size option including 55 inch (XBR55A9F) and 65 inch (XBR65A9F). On the other hand, as the successor of A1E, A9F certainly comes with some improvements and new features that expected make it can deliver better picture quality and performance than the predecessor. So, what new features and improvements brought by A9F over A1E the predecessor?
Sony A9F Key Specs
|Resolution||4K (2160 x 3840)|
|Size Available||55 Inch (XBR55A9F), 65 Inch (XBR65A9F)|
|Panel Technology||OLED Panel|
|Backlight||Self-Lighting Pixel (No Backlight)|
|Dimming Technology||Pixel Dimming|
|Picture Engine||4K HDR Processor X1 Ultimate|
|Clarity Enhancement||4X-Reality Pro, Dual Database Processing, Object-based Super Resolution|
|Contrast Enhancement||Dynamic Contrast Enhancer, Object-Based HDR Remaster, Pixel Contrast Booster|
|Color Enhancement||Live Color Technology, Precision Color Mapping, Super Bit Mapping 4K HDR, TriLuminos Display|
|HDR Support||HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision|
|Motion Control||MotionFlow XR|
|Platform||Android TV 8.0 Oreo|
|Key Apps||Web Browser, ChromeCast, Google Home, Google Voice Assistant, Amazon Alexa, PlayStation Now, and more|
|Remote||Voice Remote Control|
|RF (Terrestrial Cable)||1|
|Composite In (AV)||0|
|Speaker Type||Acoustic Surface(Actuator + Subwoofer)|
|Total Audio Output||13 W + 13 W + 13 W + 13 W + 13 W + 13 W + 10 W + 10 W|
|Price||Please click here|
As we have mentioned, design of Sony A9F adopts the A-Frame design of the A1E the predecessor, but of course, with same changes. Like A1E the predecessor, if viewed from the front, all you see is a single panel of glass with very thin border on all four outer sides. The gap between the first pixel and border is even almost no visible. Nevertheless, since its stand supports the screen from the back, this causes the TV lean back at a slight angle. The changes brought by A9F over A1E are on their kickback stand. If the kickstand of A1E is rectangular with the same length on upper and lower sides, on the kickback stand of A9F, the lower side is shorter than upper side. A bit difference is about where their kickback stand supports the screen. If on A1E, its screen is supported at almost the top on its back side, on A9F, its kickback stand supports the TV a slight down. Nevertheless, essenti8ally, their kickback stand supports the TV fairly well. In addition to act as the stand, it also act as the places where all of their electronics parts, inputs/outputs, and others are located. The weakness of this design, since it doesn’t have feet and the screen directly sit on the table, it needs longer table than a TV with conventional vertical design like A8F the lower series. Additionally, if you want to mount on the wall, a conventional vertical TV will be more practice even though A9F also can be mounted on the wall.
Technology and Features
One of the major improvements brought by Sony A9F over A1E the predecessor is about its image processor where it is powered by 4K HDR X1 Ultimate, the newest image processor of Sony TV, while A1 is powered by 4K HDR X1 Extreme. This also distinguishes it to the lower model A8F. According to Sony’s claim, with the number of additional technologies embedded like Object based Super Resolution, Pixel Contrast Booster and others, this processor is twice as powerful as X1 Extreme, particularly in handling motion and improving picture clarity. Additionally, its processor is also able to makes its Smart TV performance is faster than A1E or the series below it like A8F, X900F or others. The other improvements offered by A9F, it is already featuring the newest version of Google Android TV that is 8.0 versions or Android Oreo. As we know, expect A9F and Z9F, the 2018 models of Sony TVs are still featuring Google Android TV 7.0 version or Nougat. A1E is even featuring older version that is 6.0 version or Android Marshmallow.
Meanwhile, coming with OLED panel that has infinite contrast ratio and perfect black level, for maximizing its performance, Sony A1E is powered by the number of Sony’s most advanced technologies. For maximizing its color reproduction, there are Live Color Technology, Precision Color Mapping, Super Bit Mapping 4K HDR, and TriLuminos Display technology. Additionally, for maximizing contrast, there are Dynamic Contrast Enhancer, Object-Based HDR Remaster, and Pixel Contrast Booster. Special for Pixel Contrast Booster, it is a new technology that brought by A9F. And for maximizing its performance in up-scaling non 4K content to 4K resolution or converting non HDR to HDR, there are some technologies behind A9F like 4X-Reality Pro, Dual Database Processing, Object-based Super Resolution. And special for Object-based Super Resolution, it is also new technology offered by A9F where we didn’t find this technology on the 2017 model or the series below it. And maximized for HDR experience, like the predecessor A1E, Sony A9F also already supports the number of most popular HDR format like HDR10, HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma), and Dolby Vision. It doesn’t support Advanced HDR by Technicolor that supported LG OLED TV or HDR10+ that supported by Samsung HDR TVs.
And for producing sound, Sony also adopts the technology that brought by A1E that called “Acoustic Surface”. As we know, for producing sound, this technology doesn’t use conventional speaker. And as instead, it utilizes its screen that vibrated by an actuator and the result is fairly impressive. A bit improvement offered by A9F over the predecessor, A9F 3.2 audio channels with 98 watts of total sound output while A1E only has 2.1 audio channel with 60 watts of total sound output.
Performance of Sony A9F
Contrast and Black Level
Since Sony A9F uses OLED panel, its performance in producing black level is undoubtedly. As we know, the major strong point offered by OLED TV is its ability in producing infinite contrast and perfect black level. This is caused each of pixel of OED panel can switch on/off or dim individually without affected by the light condition of other pixel surrounding. Additionally, since each of its pixels can emit its own light, it doesn’t need a backlight like needed by LCD LED TV. When showing black objects, the pixels in this area don’t emit light at all and it light condition is not affected by other pixels surrounding still emit the light. The certainly makes blacks of images can be shown perfectly. Additionally, perfect black level produced also makes darker colors can be shown fairly accurate. Not only that, the support of new images processor X1 Ultimate and Pixel Contrast Booster technology makes A9F can produce black with better subtlety than A1E the predecessor or A8F the series below it or even some models of LG OLED TVs. The means, although blacks of images can be equally shown excellently on their screen with excellent black level, but on the screen of A9F, details of images look finer with more visible detail rendering, particularly with HDR content. The result, shadow details of HDR images can be shown excellently like the movies creator’s intended, even when it is set in pitch dark environment. If you are a fan of thriller or horror movies or you prefer to watch TV in a dark room, A9F will be a perfect TV for you.
If all OLED TVs including Sony A9F outperform LED TV in producing black level, this is not as true to their performance in producing peak brightness, particularly when compared to premium LED TVs. With SDR content, peak brightness reached by A9F is a bit brighter than 300 nits and this certainly is far from what reached by Sony Z9F or Samsung Q9FN. Nevertheless, for OLED TV, its peak brightness can still be said fairly well and at least, it is bright enough to overcome the glare in most rooms. Small bright area even can be shown at more than 400 nits, makes highlight of images can be shown brighter than the rest. But as is typical of OLED TV, large white scene cannot be shown fairly bright, even dimmer than 200 nits due its peak brightness is limited by ABL (Automatic Bright Limiter). What offered by A9F is a bit better than the predecessor A1E. Meanwhile, with HDR content, A9F also can produce a bit brighter peak brightness than the predecessor A1E, but still a bit dimmer than A8F or some models of LG OLED TVs. With brighter than 600 nits, this certainly is bright enough to show HDR images so looks fairly bright in most room. But just like with SDR content, it is able to show small highlights brightly, but large white scene will be shown too dim as is typical of OLED TV. Additionally, since its peak brightness is still below 1000 nits, it certainly cannot show HDR images at brightness level what intended by movies creator. Nevertheless, at least, it is still able to show HDR images brighter than 550 nits like what recommended by UHD alliance. The excellence, since it has pixel dimming level, when showing a small highlight in a dark room, there is no unwanted adjacent lights visible in around bright object. Overall, peak brightness of A9F is similar to most model of 2018 OLED TVs which available in the market. If there is a difference, this is not too significant.
Sony A9F can produce excellent wide color gamut, a bit better than what produced by A1E the predecessor or similar to what produced by all models of 2018 4K HDR OLED TVs including its sibling A8F. In DCI P3, its color coverage is wider than 97% that means almost all colors in DCI P3 color space can be shown fairly saturated. There are only some certain colors like deep greens that cannot be shown fairly saturated. This is certainly excellent for content that mastered in DCI P3 like HDR10 content. Additionally, its color coverage in Rec.2020 is also fairly good, more than 70%. This means, most of colors in Rec.2020 can be still shown fairly accurate. The result, although some certain colors cannot be shown as saturated as other colors, HDR images that mastered in Rec.2020 like Dolby Vision contents still look colorful. Meanwhile, the support of X1 Ultimate makes Sony A9F has better color volume than the predecessor A1E, even most models of 2018 OLED TVs including its sibling A8F. If most models of OLED TVs usually cannot produce bright saturated colors, A9F can do this job much better, even though it still cannot produce colors as bright as pure white. On the other hand, like all models of OLED TVs, it can produce its color gamut in darker colors fairly well. Combination of wide color gamut and good color volume certainly makes color of HDR images displayed on its screen looks very accurate and vivid. The other excellence offered by Sony A9F than other models of 2018 4K HDR OLED TV is about its color gradient. This cannot be separated from the great performance of its X1 Ultimate image processor behind it. Color gradient of HDR images displayed on their screen looks smooth, smoother than its sibling A8F or its predecessor A1E, even most models of 2018 4K OLED TVs. Some slight bandings may be still noticeable in all colors but still better than most TVs. Overall, Sony A9F has excellent color reproduction, better than the predecessor A1E or its siblings A8F, particularly when showing bright scene of HDR images.
Side Viewing Angle
As we know, in addition to perfect black level, the other excellence offered by OLED TVs including A9F is about their excellent viewing angle coverage. Its viewing angle coverage is much better than LED TV even with IPS panel. Its ability in maintain color may be not far better than LED TVs where color of images displayed on its screen start to shift at less than 30 degrees. But at wider angle, the color shift is not as significant on LED panel. Meanwhile, the excellence that offered is about its ability in maintaining brightness and black level. On the screen of A9F, brightness will decrease started at more than 60 degrees, far wider than what offered by LED TV. Let alone its ability in maintaining black level, it is outstanding. If on the screen of LED TV with VA panel, black level will look degraded started at less than 15 degrees off center and front, on the screen of A9F, black level is not degraded at all, even from extremely wide angle. The result, when viewed from an angle, the picture displayed on its screen look as good as when viewed from the front and center. For you who often watch TV with a group of your family where they usually watch TV from multiple angles, A9F will be a good TV for you.
Motion handling and 24p Playback
Like other model of OLED TVS, Sony A9F also has excellent motion handling. Its pixel response time is extremely low, much lower than the lowest pixel response time LED TV reach, The result, when it is playing fast moving images like sports, fast movies, or fast games, the picture produced looks very smooth and clear with almost no trail following fast moving object. Some blur that may be visible when it is playing 60 fps content is more due by persistence than pixel response time. Meanwhile, since it doesn’t use backlight, it doesn’t use PWM to dim its backlight like on LED TV. This makes its screen is almost flicker-free. But even some, on the other hand, this will make some duplications that may bother some people. And to overcome this issue, like the predecessor A1E, Sony A9F has an optional BFI (Black Frame Insertion) that can flicker its screen at 60 Hz. It is very helpful to minimize persistence blur particularly when it is playing 60 fps content like video games or sports. But on the other hand, since its screen flickered at 60 HZ, this will cause the flicker is noticeable. This means, you have two options that you can choose according to your desire. For you who feel uncomfortable with flicker, you can disable this mode, otherwise, for you who feel uncomfortable with persistence blur. To enable this feature, “Motion Flow must be set to “Custom”, Clearness to “High” and “Smoothness” to “Min”.
Meanwhile, like the predecessor A1E, Sony A9F also can do a good job when playing 24p movies, no matter the frame rate of the source, all of them will be displayed on its screen smoothly with judder-free. This means, no matter it is native 24p videos like DVD or Blu-Ray’s player, 24p videos via 60i signal like movies from satellite TV, 24p videos via 60p signal like movies from streaming devices like Apple TV or Fire TV, or 24p videos via streaming apps like Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Videos, and others, all of them will be shown clearly and smoothly with judder-free. To remove the judder completely, you just need to set “MotionFlow” to “Custom”, “Smoothness” to “Min” and “CineMotion” to “Auto”.
Like most of other 4K TVs which available in the market, as its major connectivity, Sony A1F is also equipped with 4 HDMI ports where all of its HDMI ports already supports CEC, HDCP 2.2, and HDMI 2.0 Full bandwidth. Additionally, there is also 1 port (HDMI 3) that support ARC (Audio Return Channel). Additionally, it also equipped with 3 USB ports where 2 ports are USB 2.0 (HDMI2 and 3) and 1 port is USB 3 (USB 1). In addition to HDMI and USB ports, there are also 1 Composite In (AV In), 1 RF IN (Terrestrial), 1 Digital Audio Out (Optical), 1 Analog Audio Out (Mini Jack), 1 Ethernet port, and 1 IR in for its IR blaster. And as its wireless connectivity, it is equipped with built-in Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth.
Meanwhile, discussing about its input lags, although not as low as the competitor like LG OELD TV lineup or Samsung QLED TV, Sony A9F also has good excellent input lags, better than the predecessor A1E or its siblings A8F. In PC and Game mode, no matter the resolution of the source, its input lags are below 30 ms that means it is good for any games. This means, no matter you are playing 4k or 1080p games, causal or fast movies, non HDR or HDR games, you will feel comfortable to play games with A9F. In 4K resolution, its input lags may be only a bit lower than the predecessor, but in 1080p resolution, there is a significant improvement.
As its smart TV platform, Sony A9F is featuring Google Android 8.0 Oreo, the newest version of Google Android TV. For this time, only two models of Sony’s 2018 4K TVs lineup that already support Android Oreo, those are A9F and Z9F. Meanwhile, the other models like its siblings A8F and X900F or lower models are featuring Google Android 7.0 Nougat. In this 8.0 version, there is some significant improvement that makes it is more comfortable to use. Unlike in previous version where their interface is overcrowding that makes the navigation is a bit confusing, now, its main interface is highly customizable and well organized. Some common apps like setting menus, inputs or others where in previous they are located in the bottom, in this version, they are moved to the top of the page. Let alone it is supported by faster chipset. In addition to its navigation is easier than older version, its performance is also faster and more responsive. Meanwhile, in term of apps provided, like the predecessor, it also has a lot of preinstalled apps like YouTube, Netflix, Web Browser, Games, Live TVS, and others. The excellence is about its app store called Google Play Store. Since it is supported by thousand of developer, the apps, games, contents and more which provided are also thousands, more complete than apps store of other platforms like WebOS by LG or Tizen OS by Samsung. Not just that, it also already support Google Home and Amazon Alexa, allow you to control and monitor your other compatible device like Air Conditioner, Refrigerator, Dish Washer, and other via your Sony TV. Additionally, it also supports Google Voice Assistant, allow you to do a lot of more with your voice command.
As the controller, Sony A9F uses Sony’s voice remote like we found on other models of Sony’s 2018 4K TV lineup like A8F, Z9F, X900F or others. Its remote is large and has a lot buttons. In addition to basic buttons like “Number Buttons”, “direction buttons” “power button” volume buttons” and others, it also has some quick access button for Netflix and Google Play. At the center top of the remote, there is also Google Voice Assistant button to start voice navigation. And like we have mentioned, since it supported Google Voice Assistant, its voice navigation is far better work well for some functions like opens apps, change the inputs, search with in apps, ask some basic question and others.
Unlike LG OLED TVs lineup where the picture quality and performance of top model is almost similar to lower models, Sony A9F offers some advantages than the predecessor Sony A1E or the lower model A8F. The better performance of A9F than the lower model cannot be separated from the great performance of X1 Ultimate as its picture engine. Compare to its sibling A8F or its predecessor A1E, A9F can produce finer details in dark scene, better color volume in very bright color, smoother color gradient, lower input lags, faster smart TV platform, more impressive sound quality and others. And of course, its design also becomes the other advantage offered by A9F over its lower model A8F. Overall, performance of A9F is excellent, better than most models of OLED TVs, even though its peak brightness is not as bright as LG’s 2018 OLED TVs like C8 or E8.
Should I buy this TV? In term of picture quality and performance, Sony A9F is undoubtedly. Overall, it is an excellent TV for mixed usage, whether for watching movies, TV Shows, Sports, or playing games. Additionally, it also has excellent design. Nevertheless, for some people, they may not too fond with its design. In addition to it needs longer table due its screen sit directly on the table, it is not also too effective when mounted on the wall, even though it also can be mounted on the wall. As other consideration, there is A8F that is sold cheaper and has conventional vertical design, but its performance is not as good as A9F in some aspects.
Compared to the Competitor
Sony A8F vs A8F
Sony A8F is the lower model of A9F. In the market, it also comes in 2 screen sizes, 55 inch (XBR55A8F) and 65 Inch (XBR65A8F). With the same screen, (XBR55A9F vs XBR55A9F, XBR65A8F vs XBR65A9F), A9F is sold hundreds dollar more expensive than A9F. The most difference between them, A9F comes with A-Frame design while A8F comes with a conventional vertical design. Like we have discussed above, overall, A9F has better picture quality and performance due its HDR processor called X1 Ultimate, while A8F is powered by X1 Extreme like the predecessor A1E. It has finer details in dark scene, better color volume, better color gradient, lower input lags, and others. Additionally, A9F also comes with newer version of Android TVs. Overall, A9F is better than A8F, but the advantage offered by A8F, it is sold cheaper. To read complete review of A8F, please click here.
Sony A9F vs Z9F
Equally coming in Sony’s 2018 Master Series, Sony Z9F is also already powered by 4K HDR Processor X1 Ultimate. But even so, if A9F comes with OLED panel, Z9F comes with LED Panel with VA technology. But unlike other VA TVs, its native contrast ratio is too weak, makes black level produced is not as deep as other TVs. But the advantage, since it is powered by X-Wide Angle technology, it has a bit better viewing angle coverage than most VA TVS, but of course, not as wide as what offered by A9F. Additionally, on other aspects like black level, color gamut, color volume, motion handling, and others, its performance is not as good as A9F. Nevertheless, since they are powered by the same processor, they have some performance in some feature like equally have low input lags, fast and responsive smart TV platform, and others. Overall, A9F is better than Z9F, but if you need a very bright TV, Z9F is one of the best. To read complete review of Z9F, please click here.
Sony A9F vs LG OLED C8
With the same screen (OLED65C8P vs XBR65A9F, OLED55C8P vs XBR55A9F), Sony A9F may be sold more expensive than OLED C8P, but this is more caused by their design than performance. The excepting of their design, each of them has advantages and disadvantages to the others. The advantages of OLED C8, it has a bit brighter peak brightness and a bit lower input lags. While the advantage of Sony A9F, it can produce finer details in dark scene and has a bit better color reproduction. Both of them are also equally featuring attractive and responsive smart TV platforms, OLED C8 comes with WebOS 4.0, A9F comes with Android 8.0. Which one is a better certainly comes back to your own preferences. Nevertheless, overall, they are equally good TVs for mixed usage. But also can be considered, if you don’t care about their design, OLED C8 is sold cheaper than Sony A9F. To read complete review of LG OLED C8, please click here.
- Perfect Black Level and Infinite Contrast
- Excellent Viewing angle coverage
- Excellent Motion Handling
- Gorgeous Design
- Has permanent burn in risk
- Cannot show bright white scene brightly