One of the best TV money can buy
Sony Bravia A8F TV 55-inch detailed review
Sony demonstrated the A8F OLED at CES 2018 and the only obvious difference between the A1 OLED and the A8F was the stand. If you log on to Sony India’s website and compare the specifications of the 2 TVs, you will see that under the hood they are powered by Sony’s flagship technology that we saw in 2017 and literally, only the stand has changed. Is it still considered a TV? Read on and find out!
Panel size: 55-inch (also available 65-inch)
Panel type: OLED
Panel resolution: 3840 x 2160 – 4K
Panel refresh rate: 60Hz
HDR 10 support: Yes
Dolby Vision Support: Yes
Weight (with stand): 22 kg (28 kg for 65-inch)
HDMI port: 4
USB port: 3
Bluetooth: Yes, 4.1
Speaker: Acoustic Surface (actuator + subwoofer)
Built-in storage: 16GB
Price: Rs 249990 for 55-inch and Rs 359990 for 65-inch
Construction and design
The design of Sony A8F is like premium. We had the TV at the top of the table for the review period. The stand has a small footprint which means when you place it on a small table, it will hold. There is only one major drawback to having a TV on a table stand and it can be a contract breaker for some. If you are someone who has a soundbar or your Blu-ray player, gaming console or something 3-inch long, you will disrupt the TV viewing experience because there is no space between the stand and the TV. It all sits flush. If you have a tabletop that has nothing but a TV, you may want to consider keeping it on a tablet. Otherwise I recommend wall mounting the TV.
Most of the connection options are on the back of the TV. There you have an Ethernet port, RF port, 3 HDMI ports (including 3 ports for HDMI ARC), a USB port, optical audio port and antenna port. Next to it are your composite video input, 1 HDMI input, two USB ports, IR blaster port and headphone out. Lots of connection options.
One good thing about TV is the cable management behind it. If you’re a fan of cable handling, there’s a panel that covers the back and helps you root the cable nicely. With good cable management, you can watch TV on your wall / table top. The bezels around the TV are thin and the LED light under the TV can be turned off to give you the most immersive viewing experience.
Overall, the TV’s build quality is top notch, and its design is ideal for a slim minimalist and home entertainment setup. Unlike the A1 OLED TV, the A8F doesn’t have a picture frame bend and I think that’s a good thing.
Display panel and image quality
The A8F’s panel is similar to the A1 OLED TV. So, the picture performance you are getting is the same as in 2017 Now, that’s not a bad thing at all because the A1 OLED’s performance was one of the best and continues to be so. The TV boasts 4K resolution and supports Dolby Vision. Thanks to the Netflix app on TV, you can enjoy all your content on the glorious 4K and Dolby Vision. If you have a 4K Apple TV, you have a great screen to enjoy content from that device. Thanks to the OLED panel, you get some of the best colors, the deepest possible black and the brightest visuals we’ve ever seen on a TV. The only downside is that the panel is reflective. This is not a problem with Sony TV, it is a problem with all OLED TVs available in the market. So, if you have a light source behind you while watching TV, you will be able to see it on the panel. Let’s break down the TV performance further.
The beauty of an OLED TV is its infinite contrast ratio, its ability to create true black and deep colors, and everything in the Sony A8F. Watching Netflix through the built-in app gave us access to Dolby Vision content and it looked breathtaking. The sequel to the Daredevil Season 2 episode 3 stair fight was detailed. The 4K HDR library on Netflix and Prime Video in India is limited, but what is there is an absolute treat. Grand Tour Season 1 Episode 1 A site to watch on TV where you drive a lot through the desert. If you are going to use 4K HDR content from a very good source, this TV will be a great experience. Since the TV supports Prime Video and Netflix via the Android UI, we don’t need to rely on the Xbox One X to test 4K content on streaming services.
A large catalog of Netflix and Prime video content in India is available in 1080p. From Spider-Man Homecoming to John Wick and much more we’ve enjoyed a lot of movies on this TV. John Wick’s Red Circle Fight sequence looked great which is a testament to the superior power of TV. The Red Circle fight scene has a lot of red, blue and dark mixed in and it looks great.
One thing you should know before we move on to gaming. HDMI 2 and 3 ports are not set to HDMI 2.0 full bandwidth by default. To make the most of the 4K HDR devices you connect to TV, I recommend going to Settings and activating them. It could be a device like Apple TV 4K, Xbox One X, PS4 Pro or NVIDIA Shield.
We played our standard suite test games on TV using PS4 Pro and Xbox One X. These games range from Battlefield 1 to Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, God of War, Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, and more. If you have access to 4K enabled consoles, you’re in for a treat. We’ve played a lot of God of War on the Mi TV 4 and switching to the Sony A8F shows the difference between a 40k TV and a TV worth Rs 3.4 lakh. Don’t think Mi TV 4 is bad. Absolutely not. That’s right- with an OLED panel, the game’s visual elements will show you things you’ve never seen before. The same can be said for the sequence of red storms in Gears 4.
Speaking of words, the Sony A8F has the same acoustic surface that we saw in the A1 OLED. This makes the whole screen a speaker. The two vibrators behind the TV vibrate the screen to make sound. There is also a subwoofer on the back of the TV for low frequencies. The audio on the TV is just as good as the A1. The beauty of the system is that if any character is talking on the left side of the screen, the sound will come from there. It gives quite an overall sound experience especially when you consider that it is a built-in speaker of a TV. This effect is best pronounced when watching a movie. Alas, there is no neighborhood experience and for that you have to invest in a home theater, but the TV has a fairly impressive stereo separation.
If there is a section that lacks a TV (actually, there are two, but more on the latter in the latter) it is with the remote control. This is the same remote control that was present with Sony’s 2016 flagship. This is 2018 The remote works and gives you access to all possible inputs and shortcuts. You have dedicated playback controls that work with all streaming apps. You have a shortcut to Netflix and no other streaming service. If you look at how LG and Samsung have their speed-enabled remote, compact, stylish and convenient to use, then Sony’s remote seems old. It definitely works, but it doesn’t look like much from 2018.
UI is another category where TV overhaul is required. Technically, it’s not Sony’s fault, but Google’s because Sony is running on the stock Android TV UI. Boot up the home screen and you’ll see some useless YouTube recommendations at the top. There are two separate lines for apps and the settings are below. If you watch LG’s Web OS on TV, you will understand what a neat TV UI looks like.
Another downside of the UI is that it is slow, which is unacceptable on a TV worth Rs 3 lakh. There were moments when I pressed the action menu button and had to wait more than 10 seconds for the menu to appear on the screen.
It’s nice that the TV works on Android which gives you access to a large library of apps, built-in Chromecast and the ability to sideload apps if needed.
The TV’s remote control has voice recognition that works like Google Assistant on a smartphone and is one of the most useful features on a TV.
The last row
The Sony A8F is a fancy new bottle with some fine old wine, such as the A1 in a new form factor. This does not mean that it is a bad TV. It is true that if you want to pick an OLED from Sony, then if you already own the A1 then there is no reason to consider it over the A1. For beginners, the 55-inch Sony A8F is available at Rs 2,49,990 and the 65-inch variant at Rs 3,59,990. The A1, on the other hand, sells for Rs 3,59,990 for a 55-inch and Rs 4,59,990 for a 65-inch. One thing to consider is that Sony has unveiled the X1 Ultimate processor at CES 2018. X1 Ultimate is capable of object-based processing. It would be very interesting to watch a Sony TV powered by X1 Ultimate. Until then, if you want to pick a flagship OLED, you must consider the A8F.