Ideal for cinematic experiences
In 2017, Sony entered the OLED ring with the launch of the Sony A1 OLED TV. Not only is Sony’s first entry into the OLED market, Sony has also done a lot of new things with TVs. For starters, it had a picture-frame-like design, giving it a unique look. This is also the first time Sony has introduced its acoustic surface technology where the whole display was basically a speaker. It’s 2020, and we have Sony’s flagship OLED TV, the A8H, for the year now. While the TV has a design that has evolved over the years, it also includes the evolution of Sony’s technology, including OLED panels, Triluminos displays, and acoustic surface audio. Simply put, it’s one of the best TVs for a movie-watching experience, and we’ll find out why in the Performance section. The TV may not boast of HDMI 2.1, and we’ll cover it in the gaming section, but for home theater enthusiasts it has EARC.
Sony A8H: Specification at a glance
Panel size: 65-inch (also available in 55-inch)
Panel type: OLED
Panel resolution: 3840 x 2160 – 4K
Panel refresh rate: 60Hz at 4K (120Hz at 1080p)
HDR 10 support: Yes
Dolby Vision Support: Yes
Weight (including stand): 23.6 kg
HDMI port: 4
USB port: 3
Speaker: 30W (actuator x 2, subwoofer x 2)
Built-in storage: 16GB
Price: Rs 2,79,990 for 65-inch
Sony A8H OLED TV: Display and Picture Quality
Sony has added a lot of technology to the A8H’s display. To get things started, it’s an OLED panel, meaning each pixel is self-illuminated, giving you the deepest black and most vibrant colors. Adding vitality to the colors, we have Sony’s Triluminos display and Sony’s Pixel Contrast Booster which claims to make the content more vivid. Then there’s Sony’s 4K X-Reality Pro engine, with heavy lifting of upscale content and processing powered by Sony’s X-1 Ultimate chip. Needless to say, Sony has dropped everything on this TV except a coffee maker and kitchen sink. Does packing every piece of technology make it the ultimate TV or waste a lot of cooking soup? Let’s get some content performance.
Sony A8H: 4K and HDR performance
Directly from the bat, one thing to note is that the TV is not as bright as the Sony Z8H (Review). However, it is an LED TV. It is an LED which means it has deeper black and more vibrant colors. Let’s split it into content.
The sequence of the last battle of Wonder Woman (4K Dolby Vision Print) has many more contrasting moments where Wonder Woman and his enemy trade explode and blend into the mix. When lightning strikes in the right corner of the scene, it emits some passive light into the surrounding area, making the nocturnal trees clearly visible. Thanks to the self-illuminated nature of OLEDs, the TV can handle dark and bright areas quite well, in continuation of such fights that take place at night.
On a show like the Grand Tour, Season 1, Episode 1 has some bright sunshine with car jolts across a desert. We’ve noticed that some TVs may find it difficult to render sand color correctly, or some highlights have clippings, but not on this TV. It renders some colors of the car nicely.
Even our Planet on Netflix (S1E1) has a transitional sequence from night to day and from starry skies to bright sunny deserts, with no clippings in the highlights or no loss of detail.
So what is lacking? Okay, this is an OLED panel at the end of the day which means, during the day eating content, the panel can be reflected. This is not only a problem with OLED, but also something we have seen on all OLED TVs. The trick is to make sure there are no live reflections on the TV to draw the screens or enjoy the content during the day. The viewing angles are also great and even in a wide-angle, you can easily and accurately swallow content with color.
Sony A8H: FHD performance
Full of 1080p content on Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube and much more. Shows like Young Sheldon, which naturally has a bright color palette, are a treat to watch on this TV. These are presented in a lively melody that one can enjoy. Even movies like Spider-Man: Homecoming are lively. On the other hand, we have a mission: Impossible. Stopping the flow of speed, we did not see any jolt in the fast moving motorcycle chase sequence. The skin tone also looks natural in the default standard preset.
Sony A8H: Gaming Performance
We don’t have PS5 or Xbox Series X to judge next generation games on this TV, but we do have some cross-gen games. We played Spider-Man: Miles Morales (Review) and Dart 5 on this TV and the experience was good. Both games run at 30 FPS in Fidelity mode (for Dart 5) and the gameplay was fun. The input lag was minimal and the colors of these 2 games demanded special mention. For Spider-Man, we have a snow-covered New York City that looks pretty good in addition to the PS5’s ray-tracing magic. Similarly, on the Xbox, we played Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Gears 5 (review).
The Assassin’s Creed and Dark Corridor landscapes in the inaugural act of Gears 5 were breathtaking, especially when playing at night. Turn off the lights and watch color pop on this TV.
Unlike LG’s 2020 OLED offers, the Sony A8H does not support HDMI 2.1, meaning you won’t get features like 4K at 120Hz, VRR, ALLM, etc. The built-in game mode on the TV helps input lag The only Sony TV to come with the HDMI 2.1 feature mentioned above is the Sony X90H (Review) and that too with only two HDMI 2.1 ports. Although HDMI 2.1 is the go-to standard for next-gen gaming, its requirement is still a question. Although there are a few games that can achieve 120Hz, it looks like most next-gen games will target 4K at 60Hz with all the bells and whistles to enable re-tracing. So, the short answer is if you want to run Dart 5 on your TV at 60Hz with dynamic 4K resolution, the experience on this TV should be any better. But if you want to play the game in low 1080p resolution at 120Hz, you better look elsewhere.
Sony A8H: Audio performance
Sony’s Acoustic Surface Audio has evolved over the years, and one of the major areas of change here is bus and channel separation. Watch Ready Player One, the first big race at the 13 minute mark. In it, cars are moving along the side of the screen and not only the separation of left and right channels is noticeable, but you can also hear the base when King Kong starts attacking cars. Of course, this is nowhere near the Sony HT-G700 (review) or Philips 3.1 soundbar (review) that we’ve reviewed before, but its presence is enough that you don’t need a soundbar for 1 day with this TV.
In fact, things like voice and channel separation are one of the attractions of TV. The characters talking to each other on the left and right of the screen show clear channel separation. The TV can be quite loud considering its sheer 30W output on paper. When setting up the TV, you can use the mic on the remote control to calibrate the audio in your listening position for a better sound experience.
Sony A8H: UI
The UI is the same as what we saw on the X90H and Z8H with Android TV. We have support for a slightly redesigned settings menu, tried and tested Android TV UI, Google Assistant, Chromecast capabilities, and AirPlay, all of which work quite well. The UI is as smooth as we saw in the X90H without any lag or stuttering. You will also get access to all the popular streaming services from the Play Store
Another thing that is similar to the X90H is the remote control. Remote backlighting is not available on the Z8H. It has the same textured backs, dedicated buttons for Grip, Netflix and Google Play, playback controls and more. It has a traditional design with a number pad access.
Sony A8H: Build and design
As we mentioned at the outset, Sony’s OLED design has changed over the years. The A1 had a picture frame similar to the design, the Sony A8F sat flush with the tabletop, and had a base that held the TV in the center. The Sony A8H has two separate feet so that the TV can be placed in the right place and the TV can be mounted on a table in two positions. It can be flush with the tabletop we have here, or it can be raised a little, which gives you some space to put a soundbar or set-top-box under the TV. It’s nice to have 2 location options. Coming to the display, it is extremely thin as we have seen on all OLED TVs. The back has a rectangular bulge that holds the internal and connection ports.
For connectivity, the A8H has an HDMI port, two USB ports, headphones and video. In the back, in a small hole, we have three HDMI ports, a USB port, optical, LAN and a good old antenna.
While there are plenty of connectivity options, I’d like more HDMI ports to be tilted to the side because the lower ports can be difficult to get if the TV is mounted on the wall.
The last row
OLEDs are the pinnacle of content usage and movie experience, and the Sony A8H provides this front. 4K, HDR, Dolby Vision, SDR and FHD content as far as it has excellent image quality. It has good sound output as well. Android has evolved to a point where it is no longer a backward experience. What the TV doesn’t have is that it doesn’t come with HDMI 2.1 features like 4K at 120Hz or VRR, which can be detrimental to those looking to invest in next generation console and GPU proof TVs. Peak brightness, though not as high as the Z8H, is bright enough to enjoy HDR content.