Sony A8F Review (XBR55A8F, XBR65A8F) – Sony’s 2018 4K HDR OLED TV
Sony A8F is the 2018 model of Sony’s 2018 4K HDR OLED TV lineup and also the successor of Sony A1E in last year. But unlike the predecessor A1E that came with a unique design called “One Slate” where the screen tilted slightly back, in this year, it no longer uses this design. Additionally, one of the major shortcoming of the design of the predecessor, it cannot be hanged on the wall. As the instead, it comes with excellent design with a very small stand, makes it can fits on most table, even for small furniture and at the same time, it can be hung on the wall easily. Unlike Sony A1E the predecessor that came in 3 screen sizes, in this year, A8F comes in 2 screen sizes only including 55 inch (XBR55A8F) and 65 (XBR65A8F) and sold in price range at $2500 – $4000, depending on the screen size. But of course, their price certainly is not fixed and could still change at any time and usually will drop as time goes by.
Sony A8F Key Specs
|Resolution||4K (2160 x 3840)|
|Size Available||55 inches (XBR55A8F), 65 inches (XBR65A8F)|
|Panel Technology||OLED Panel|
|Backlight||Self-Lighting Pixel (No Backlight)|
|Dimming Technology||Pixel Dimming|
|Support HDR||HDR 10, HLG, and Dolby Vision|
|Picture Engine||4K HDR Processor X1 Extreme|
|Clarity Enhancement Technology||4K X-Reality Pro, Dual Data Base Processing|
|Color Technology||TriLuminos Display, Live Color Technology, Precision Color Mapping, Super Bit Mapping 4K HDR|
|Contrast Enhancement||Dynamic Contrast Enhancer, Object Based HDR Remaster|
|Motion Enhancement||MotionFlow XR|
|Platform||Android TV 7.0 version|
|Key Apps||Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Opera Browser, Chrome Cast, MiraCast, PlayStation Now, and more|
|Remote||Voice Remote Control|
|RF (Terrestrial Cable)||1|
|Composite In (AV)||1|
|Digital Audio Out||Yes (Optical)|
|Analog Audio Out||Yes (Mini Jack 3.5 mm)|
|Built-in Wi-Fi||Yes (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac)|
|Speaker Type||Acoustic Surface(Actuator + Subwoofer)|
|Total Audio Output||10 W + 10 W + 10 W + 10 W + 10 W|
|Price||See the price on Amazon|
Short Review of Sony A8F
In term of technologies that support it, there are not many thing brought by Sony A8F over A1E the predecessor. On its screen, Sony doesn’t use its own OLED panel but still uses LG OLED Panel. Like the predecessor, it is also still powered by 4K HDR Processor X1 Extreme as its picture engine. As we know, there are the number of Sony’s most advanced technologies embedded on X1 Extreme engine like Dual Data Base Processing, Object Based Remaster Technology, Precision Color Mapping, Super Bit Mapping 4K HDR, and Dynamic Contras Enhancer. All of these technologies makes this engine is very powerful in processing HDR images, makes A8F is able to deliver HDR picture with excellent contrast, brightness, color, and clarity. And for allowing you to enjoy HDR experience with different HDR formats, Sony A8F already supports most of HDR formats including HDR 10, HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma), and Dolby Vision. Meanwhile, for maximizing its performance when handling fast moving images, like the predecessor, Sony A8F is also powered by Motion Flow XR technology and also has an optional BFI (Black Frame Insertion Mode) at 60 Hz. And for producing sound, like the A1E predecessor, Sony A8F uses Acoustic Surface Technology as the instead of traditional speaker.
While on the technologies which support its picture quality, there are no major changes brought by A8F, it brings some improvements on its smart TV. Still coming with Android OS as its smart TV platform, it has been integrated with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa Home Assistant. With built-in Google Assistant, you can control your TV and connected devices with your voice commands. Not just that, with Amazon Alexa, you can also control your Amazon Alexa Compatible Devices like Air Conditioner, Dish Washer, Laundry machine and more with the voice navigation on its Voice remote.
Sony A8F Performance
Contrast and Black Level
Like other OLED TVs, Sony A8F also has perfect black level and infinite contrast ratio. As we know, unlike LED TV where for producing light, it uses backlight, OLED TV doesn’t have backlight. As the instead, for producing light, each of its pixel can emits it own light. As we know, each pixel of OLED panel can switch on/off/dim individually without affected by the light condition of other pixels surrounding. Although in fact, it doesn’t have local dimming due it doesn’t have backlight, with individually self-lighting pixel, this is equivalent to LED TV that has local dimming with pixel dimming level, while for this time, there is no LED TV with pixel dimming level. As result, black produced by Sony A8F is really perfect, no matter it is showing totally black or small dark object in bright background. Even when it is set in a dark environment when the impact of high contrast ratio is sensitive, black produced by Sony A8F still looks really black. This certainly makes dark scene displayed on its screen looks excellent, particularly when showing HDR images. Shadow details of HDR images looks very clear like what expected by HDR technology itself. Essentially, the performance of A8F in producing black is undoubtedly, make it as a great TV for you who like watch horror or thriller movies.
Peak brightness produced by Sony A8F might not as excellent as premium LED TV like Sony X900F or Samsung Q7FN, but for OLED TV, its peak brightness can be said excellent. When playing SDR contents, its peak brightness is brighter than 300 nits that means it is bright enough to overcome the glare, makes it can maintain its amazing picture quality from the glare in most bright room. Meanwhile, when playing HDR content, Sony A8F even can reach brighter peak brightness, brighter than 600 nits. What reached by A8F might be still a bit worse than LG OLED C8, but it is still quite bright to make HDR images looks fairly bright, allow you to enjoy good HDR experience in most bright room. The excellence, since it has self lighting pixel, when showing a small bright object in dark background, “blooming” or unwanted adjacent light around small bright object can be well-minimized. But a bit unfortunate, since its peak brightness is still below 1000 nits, it cannot show highlight of HDR image at 1000 – 4000 nits of brightness range like the creator intended. But for OLED TV, its peak brightness is great considering the minimum peak brightness recommended by UHD alliance to show HDR images fully, particularly HDR10 image is 550 nits. The other a bit shortcoming, since it has a feature called ABL (Automatic Bright Limiter), when showing totally bright scene, its peak brightness will drop to below 200 nits. This means when showing the whole scene is bright, its peak brightness is too dim. But fortunately, a scene with the whole objects are bright in HDR content is rare, so this should not be a problem for A8F. Furthermore, all OLED TVs also have similar characteristic when showing the whole scene is bright.
Not just on black level, contrast, and brightness which excellent, Sony A8F also has excellent color gamut. Color gamut delivered by A8F can cover more than 97% of DCI P3 color space that means it is excellent for HDR images, particularly which mastered in DCI P3 like HDR10 images. Additionally, its color gamut also can cover more than 70% of Rec.2020 color space that means it is also good enough for HDR images which mastered in Rec.2020 like Dolby Vision. What reached by Sony A8F even is only a bit less than what reached by Samsung QLED TV as the TVs with the best color gamut. But unfortunately, its color volume is not as good as Samsung QLED TV. In producing extremely dark colors, it may be able to do a better job, but it is not able to produce saturated bright color. This means, colors of HDR images will looks very accurate only when it showing dark or moderately bright colors, while very bright colors around its peak brightness will look less accurate. This will be noticeable when it is showing a bright outdoor scene. Nevertheless, overall, colors of HDR images displayed on its screen will looks accurate, no matter the HDR format of the source. Still about its color performance, Sony A8F also can produce excellent color gradient, particularly when showing a content with 10 bit or higher depth of colors. This means when showing HDR images, color gradient of the picture displayed on its screen will look very smooth without major color bandings. In darker colors, particularly in dark greens, some little imperfections may still be visible, but overall, its color gradient is great, particularly showing HDR images.
Side Viewing Angle
Like other models of OLED TV, Sony A8F also has wide viewing angle coverage. Colors may still look shift at less than 30 degrees off center and front, but it is wider than LED TV where on LED screen, color will start to shift at less than 20 degrees. Additionally, at wider angle, the color shift is not also as significant as on LED screen. The advantage of OLED panel than LED panel is about its ability in maintaining black level. If on LED panel, black level usually will start to degrade at less than 15 degrees, on OLED panel, it can maintain its black level at far wider angle, even when viewed from extremely wide angle. The result, when viewed from the side, the picture displayed on the screen of OLED A8F will still look excellent, not far different than when viewed from the center and front. This certainly makes A8F is very suitable for you who often watch TV from the side or with a group of your family where they usually watch TV from multiple angles.
Motion handling and 24p Playback
In handling motion blur, performance of Sony A8F is also excellent. This is due it has extremely low pixel response time, far lower than the lowest reach by LED TV. As a result, when it is playing fast moving images like sports or fast games, the picture displayed on its screen looks very smooth with no motion trail visible following fast moving object. The blur that may be visible is more due by persistence than pixel response time. Additionally, since it doesn’t have backlight, there is also almost no flicker visible. However, flicker-free might make most people are more comfort in watching TV, but on the other hand, this will make some duplications. As we have mentioned, blur that visible is more due by persistence of 60 Fps content. For overcome this issue, Sony A8F has an optional BFI (Black Frame Insertion) mode at 60 Hz. By enabling this feature, this is very helpful to make motion looks clearer, particularly when playing 60 fps content like sports or video games. But on the other hand, this will make flickers is visible on its screen. For you who are not comfort with flicker, you can disable this feature, while if you are not comfort with blur, you can enable this feature.
Meanwhile, when playing 24p movies, performance of Sony A8F is also excellent. No matter the frame rate of the video source, whether it is native 24p videos like DVD or Blu-ray movies, 24 videos from streaming apps like YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Video, and others, 24p videos via 60i signal like movies from satellite TV, or even via 60p signal like movies from streaming devices like Apple TV, Fire TV, and others, all of them will be shown smoothly and clearly with judder-free. Nevertheless, to remove the judder, you need makes some certain settings like set “Motion Flow” to “Cinema” and set “CineMotion” to “High”.
Like other model of premium TVs, Sony A8F is also equipped with 4 HDMI ports as its major connectivity. All of its HDMI ports already supports HDCP 2.2 and CEC, while that support HDMI 2.0 Full Bandwidth are only two ports those are HDMI 2 and 3. Meanwhile, none of them support HDMI 2.1. Additionally, it is also equipped with 3 HDMI ports where 1 port is USB 3.0 (USB 1) while 2 ports are USB 2.0 (USB 2 and 3). There are also 1 Tuner In (RF In), 1 Ethernet port, 1 Digital Audio Out (optical), 1 Analog Audio Out (Mini Jack 3.5 mm), and IR in for IR blaster. Sony A8F doesn’t have Composite and Component In. As its wireless connectivity, it is equipped with built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
But unfortunately, the input lags of Sony A8F in “PC” and “Game” mode is not too excellent, particularly at 1080p source. Although not as low as the input lags of the competitors like LG C8 or Samsung Q8FN, but its input lags at 4K resolution is still low enough for playing any 4K games responsively, even for fast paced games. But at 108p source, its input lags is too high and only comfortable for playing casual games while for playing fast paced games, this may be disappointed.
As its Smart TV, Sony A8F is featuring Google Android TV 7.0 version. In this version, the layout is very simple. There are some multiple rows where each of rows is used to group the number of apps which have similar functions. This certainly makes navigation is simple. Meanwhile, talking about apps provided, there are a lot of preinstalled apps provided. There are a lot of VoD services like YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Videos, and many more, Web Browser, Games, Chrome Cast, Miracast, and many more. Not just that, it also has an app store called “Google Apps Store” that supported by tons of developers, makes apps, games, and contents provided are very complete and diverse, many more than what provided by Samsung Apps Store or LG Apps Store. Additionally, it also has been integrated with Google Voice Assistant, makes it has excellent voice navigation. It has been also integrated with Google Home and Amazon Alexa, allow you to control your Amazon Alexa compatible Devices via your Sony TV. It may have a lot of apps, but on the other hand, this makes its layout is crowded. Additionally, this also makes its performance is slow and less responsive. When navigate the menu, it froze frequently with animations are choppy. The slow performance of its smart TV will be more noticeable particularly when accessing the menus from within apps. But even so, overall, the excepting of its performance issue, its smart TV platform is great.
As the controller, Sony A8F is equipped with Sony’s voice remote. It s similar to what used by Sony X900F or some other models of Sony’s 2018 4K TV lineup. Its remote is fairly large and has a lot of soft touch buttons. IN addition to standard buttons, it also has some quick access buttons to most functions. Additionally, it also has two dedicated buttons to Netflix and Google Play, allow you to launch these apps without entering the menu. Like smart remotes of the competitor, this remote is also equipped with built-in microphone for voice navigation. Works together with Google Voice Assistant, it allows you to do a lot of more things with your voice commands like ask some basic question, change inputs, and set other TV functions. Additionally, you can also control your compatible Amazon Alexa Compatible devices connected on your Sony TV with your voice command.
Like other OLED TVs, perfect black level and infinite contrast ratio becomes the major advantage offered by Sony A8F. Additionally, color gamut, side viewing angle, motion handling also becomes the strong points offered by A8F. Meanwhile, although not as bright as the competitor, Sony A8F also has excellent peak brightness for OLED TV. With strong performance on almost all aspect of picture quality, this makes A8F suitable used in a room with any light condition. Additionally, A8F is also a great TV for most mixed usage like watch TV shows, movies, or sports. Its excellent viewing angle coverage also makes it is as a great TV when used in a wide room with viewers watch TV from multiple angles. But even so, since its input lags at 1080p resolution is too high, Sony A8F is not suitable when used for playing 1080p games, particularly for fast paced games. Additionally, since it has permanent burn-in risk, playing the same game for a long time should be also avoided. In addition excellent picture quality in most room, overall, Sony A8F also has attractive smart TV platform though it has some issue on the performance. The other interesting thing offered by A8F, this TV doesn’t have traditional speaker. And as the instead, its uses a Sony’s proprietary technology called “Acoustic Surface” that utilize its own screen to produce sound. And for a built-in sound system, sound performance of Sony A8F is impressive.
Should I buy this TV? If you come for picture quality only, there might some cheaper solution for you like LG OLED B8 or OLED C8 that has similar picture quality. But even so, if you are also interested with some features offered like its excellent design, smart TV platform, or even its sound technology, this TV may be a good option for you. Now, the decision certainly comes back to you according to your own preference and budget.
Compared to the Competitor
Sony A8F vs A1E
Sony A1E is the predecessor of A8F. Since it is an older model and its price has been dropped, with the same screen (XBR55A8F vs XBR55A1E, XBR65A8F vs XBR65A1E), it is sold hundreds dollar cheaper than A8F. Its peak brightness may be a bit less dim than A8F, but overall, picture quality and performance offered by Sony A1E is similar to the A8F. Additionally, A1E also comes with “Acoustic Surface” as its sound system and Google Android TV as its Smart TV platform. A major difference between them, A1E comes with a design called “One Slate” makes its screen is titled slightly back when located on the table. Additionally, it is also hard to be hung on the wall. For some people, they may not too comfort with its design. If you feel comfort with its design, this TV may be a good cheaper option for you considering picture quality and features offered is not far different to A8F. But since it is a last year model and it has been discontinued, if you want to get it, you should buy it immediately. To read complete review of Sony A1E, please click here.
Sony A8F vs LG OLED C8
Sony C8 is the mid-end of LG’s 2018 OLED TV lineup. Like Sony A1E, with the same screen (XBR55A8F vs OLED55C8PUA, XBR65A8F vs OLED65C8PUA), it sold hundreds dollar cheaper than A8F. Although it is sold cheaper than A8F but it has some advantages like a bit brighter peak brightness and lower input lags. But even since, since they use the same OLED panel made by LG, their picture quality is also the same, except on its peak brightness. Additionally, apps provided by its smart TV platform may not as complete as Google Android TV, particularly downloadable apps provided by their apps store, but its performance is faster and more responsive. The other advantage offered by LG C8, it has support Dolby Atmos and HFR (High Frame Rate) Content. If you come for picture quality only, LG OLED C8 may be a better alternative for you in buying OLED TV. To read complete review of LG C8, please click here.
Sony A8F vs LG E8
LG E8 is also part of LG’s 2018 4K OLED TV and one level above C8. With the same screen (XBR55A8F vs OLED55E8PUA, XBR65A8F vs OLED65E8PUA), LG E8 is sold hundreds dollar more expensive than A8F. Although it is sold hundreds dollar more expensive than LG C8 the lower series, picture quality and performance offered is not far different than C8. Meanwhile, the advantage that offered, it comes with a design called “picture on glass” design that makes it looks very elegant your room. But unlike LG E7 the predecessor, LG OLED E8 is not equipped with built-in sound bar.
Sony A8F vs Samsung Q9FN
Samsung Q9FN is the top model of Samsung’s 2018 4K QLED TV lineup. With the same screen (Sony XBR65A8F vs Samsung QN65Q9FN, it is sold far cheaper than A8F. Although its black level and contrast is not as perfect as A8F, but for LED TV, its black level and contrast is very deep and strong, including the best in 2018. Meanwhile, the major advantage offered, it can produce far brighter peak brightness, brighter than 1500 nits, make it is able to show HDR images at 1000 – 4000 nits of brightness range like the content creator intended. Additionally, it also has a bit wider color gamut and better color volume, makes its colors renditions is better than A8F. However, its color gradient is not as smooth as what offered by A8F. Additionally, although not as excellent as Sony A8F, Samsung Q9FN also can do an excellent job when handling motion blur. Q9FN also has lower input lags than A8F, makes it is more responsive when used for playing games. With Tizen OS that powered by a quad core processor, smart TV platform of Q9FN is also not less attractive than Android TV of Sony A8F. Meanwhile, the major drawback, since it uses VA panel technology, its side viewing angle coverage is bad. Additionally, this TV also doesn’t support Dolby Vision and as the instead, it supports HDR10+ format, a new HDR format that use dynamic metadata like Dolby Vision. To read complete review of Samsung Q9FN, please click here.
- Perfect Black Level and Infinite Contrast
- Excellent Motion Handling
- Excellent Side Viewing Angle Coverage
- Have a risk to permanent burn-in
- Input lags at 1080p resolution is too high