Sony A8G OLED 4K TV Review – Including a Comparison to the A9G
XBR-65A8G HDR 120Hz Smart OLED TV
Product Name: XBRA8G
Product Description: 4K HDR OLED display featuring self-illuminating LEDs for infinite contrast and absolute black levels.
Sony OLED XBR-65A8G
See full review below
Model year: 2019
Screen size reviewed: 65”
Bottom Line: Sony’s A8G delivers the impressive picture quality that I have come to expect from OLED TVs. And as with all OLED TVs I have recently reviewed, the A8G delivers superb contrast and black levels, intense and very accurate color reproduction, in addition to producing sharp and finely detailed high-resolution images.
And in my opinion and experience with this TV, the “Pros” definitely out weight the “Cons”. So I recommend you put the A8G, and even the A9G, on your shortlist of excellent TVs to consider owning.
- With stand: (W x H x D) 57 1/8” x 33 5/8” x 11 1/2”
- Without stand: (W x H x D) 57 1/8” x 32 7/8” x 2 1/8”
- With stand: 49.6 lbs.
- Without stand: 44.8 lbs.
Warranty: One year parts and labor
- Superb overall picture quality w/ HDR, 4K and 1080p images
- Infinite contrast and perfect black levels
- Intense color reproduction
- Very good wide-angle viewing performance
- Excellent 4K upscaling
- Delivers outstanding dark room performance
- Somewhat expensive, especially when compared to premium LED/LCD models of similar size
- Risk of possible image retention and burn-in when static images are left on the screen for long periods of time
- ABL (Automatic Brightness Limiter) my dim picture brightness when large areas of brightness appear on the screen
The A8G is one of two OLED displays that Sony currently has available. The other model is the top tier A9G and is part of Sony’s Master Series line of displays that utilize their best technology. The A8G is available in 55” ($1,999.99) and 65” ($2,999.99) screen sizes. The A9G is available in 55” ($2,799.99), 65” ($3,799.99) and 77” ($6,999.99) screen sizes.
In addition to evaluating the A8G in this review, I will also be doing a features and performance comparison between the A8G and A9G throughout this review process. Also, I will highlight the key differences between the two models and explain what you will gain in performance with the A9G.
Design and Features
The A8G is a well designed and solidly built TV, with its most notable physical feature being its ultra-thin panel which measures just over a ¼’ thick. This level of slimness certainly adds to its aesthetic appeal and will present an ultra-modern touch to your room’s décor. The bezel that surrounds the screen is also very thin and measures only 0.39” at its thinnest points. The back of the panel has a compartment that contains the TV’s electronics which gives the TV a maximum depth of approximately 2-1/8”.
The display panel is lit by OLED pixels that are self-illuminating, so not backlighting is required to light the pixel structure as is the case with LED/LCD panels. OLED displays offer superior contrast and black levels over your typical LED/LCD display. Both the A8G and A9G screens contain a glossy finish.
The stand design on the A8G is not very attractive and is somewhat utilitarian in appearance in my opinion, and resembles an oversized horseshoe. However, this design does support the 65” panel very well. And I should also mention that when the stand is mounted to the TV, most of it is hidden from view and only the curved shape of the stand can be seen from the front of the TV. So, in the end, this TV/stand “setup” when fastened together looks perfectly fine in my opinion.
By comparison, the A9G has a similar build quality to the A8G. The A9G also has an ultra-thin panel, but its bezel is slightly thinner measuring 0.31” at its thinnest points. The overall panel depth on the A9G is not as deep and measures 1-5/8”.
The A9G has a completely different stand design that I like much better appearance-wise than the A8G’s, and presents a flat oval-shaped design when viewed from the front and doesn’t draw much attention to itself. The stand is mounted to the center portion of the display panel, and I was actually very surprised at how much solid support the stand gave the A9G’s 65” screen size considering its mounting location. And there was virtually no TV wobble when I gently rocked the panel back and forth.
The A8G is supplied with a basic remote, nothing flashy. It has an intuitive button layout that allows for easy functionality. The remote has quick access buttons for GooglePlay and Netflix. The remote also features a built-in mic for voice recognition and provides voice control for select Android TV functions through the built-in Google Assistant.
By comparison, the A9G’s remote is slimmer and contains a silver finish which gives it a somewhat classy look when compared to the A8G’s remote. Button layout and functionality are similar, and of course, it has voice control. The A9G’s remote also adds a “Quick Settings” button that allows direct access to picture and sound mode settings. Neither remote is backlit.
- 4K HDR Processor X1 Extreme engine includes powerful real-time image processing for ultra-detailed pictures and includes Super Bit Mapping 4K HDR, Precision Color Mapping, Object-Based HDR Remaster and Dynamic Contrast Enhancer video processing
- 4K X-Reality PRO w/ Dual Database Processing upscales images to near-4K clarity while working at the pixel level to clean the picture and reduce noise
- High Dynamic Range extends picture contrast and brightness when viewing HDR content The A8G is compatible with Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG HDR formats
- Self-illuminating OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) display panel produces infinite picture contrast and absolute black levels. OLED pixel-level dimming enables each of the panel’s 8.3 million pixels to brighten, dim, or power off completely, displaying exceptional picture detail, contrast, black levels and image depth.
- HDR Remaster improves color and contrast for SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) content
- IMAX Enhanced certification for improved performance with IMAX Enhanced 4K/HDR content
- TRILUMINOS Display technology for a wider color range
- 10-bit panel displays more colors with finer steps of gradation for greater color reproduction with HDR sources.
- MotionFlow XR for blur/judder reduction
- Netflix Recommended TV – This certification makes it easier for consumers to know which manufacturers HDTV’s work best with its streaming video service.
Features available only on the Master Series A9G:
- Sony’s best processor – the Picture Processor X1 Ultimate includes powerful real-time image processing for ultra-detailed pictures
- Pixel Contrast Booster enhances color contrast in high-luminance scenes
- Netflix Calibrated Mode mimics the settings on Netflix’s mastering monitors to ensure an accurate picture
- Auto Calibration – CalMAN ready for use with CalMAN auto-calibration software
- eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel)
- The A9G is compatible with Apple HomeKit and AirPlay 2 to allow wireless streaming from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac (via a future firmware update summer 2019)
- TV Center Speaker Mode – allows you to use the A9G’s speakers as your center channel when connected to an A/V receiver
Smart TV Features – A8G, A9G
- The A8G and A9G are equipped with Android TV w/ Google Play and contains Android’s Nougat (7.0) operating system and incorporates Android TV with access to a wide variety of apps from Google Play and has been optimized for playback on this TV. Android TV also gives you access to movie, music, sports and other entertainment apps.
- Android TV with Chromecast Built-in lets you cast your favorite entertainment apps and video content from your Android or iOS device, or laptop
- Supports voice control of compatible apps: Built-in Google Assistant controls basic TV functions and works with Google Home-compatible voice control assistants. The TV also works with Amazon Alexa-compatible voice control assistants
Sound Reproduction – A8G, A9G
- Acoustic Surface technology makes the entire screen a speaker (40 watts total power)
- Bluetooth wireless audio streaming to a compatible speaker or set of headphones
- The TV can be set up to output sound from Bluetooth, the built-in speakers and the headphone output at the same time
- 4 HDMI 2.0b inputs – HDCP 2.3 compliant (A9G HDMI 2.0b HDCP 2.3)
- 1 Composite video input (adaptor cable required)
- 3 USB inputs – one is USB 3.0
- 1 Ethernet input
- 1 RF input for antenna/cable/satellite
- 1 Digital optical audio output
- 1 Analog audio output – 3.5 mm
- Dual-band Wi-Fi (802.11ac 2.4/5Ghz) provides fast, reliable wireless streaming
Note: The A9G has speaker terminal inputs to connect to an A/V receiver and use the TV’s speakers as the center channel.
Note: To get the most accurate picture images when viewing the A8G without having the display calibrated, use the “Custom” or “Cinema Pro” picture modes.
Sony has done a great job in engineering the A8G; its picture images were virtually flawless with most content and were some of the best I’ve seen to date, which has become the norm for the OLED TVs I reviewed over the past several years.
The key to the A8G’s exceptional picture quality is its OLED panel which allows it to produce infinite contrast and absolute black levels, and this was readily apparent on the A8G as the black levels were very deep, dark and inky in nature when viewing scenes that contained plenty of dark content. Viewing dark scenes on OLED TVs is always a pleasure, and the A8G was no exception. Furthermore, the A8G’s great contrast range and black levels delivered picture images that were more faithful to what the content producers intended, which is high praise for any TV to achieve.
Shadow detail in dark scenes with low light was rendered very good on this display. The A8G’s OLED technology made it easier to discern objects in these dimly lit scenes that were cast in the shadowed areas of the image leaving no doubt of what types of objects and items I was viewing.
Black screen uniformity was perfect on this TV since OLED displays are capable of turning off each pixel individually which resulted in absolutely no light leakage.
Color reproduction was excellent on this TV. The richness and vibrancy of the color palette were top-notch. Colors were also very accurate and natural in appearance with a great sense of realism. OLED TVs also deliver such brilliant colors that simply leap from the screen giving objects in any given scene a three-dimensional appearance.
Picture detail and clarity were a very strong attribute of the A8G. During my evaluation, I was impressed with how much fine detail I could see in building architecture and landscape foliage which was even more impressive when viewing long distant shots that showed very good clarity of objects deep into the scene which also revealed the A8G’s excellent image transparency.
HDR content provided the best picture quality from the A8G, displaying images that were visually brilliant, delivering very good peak highlights which added more natural realism to the onscreen images. And as expected, nighttime outdoor scenes really came to life with much more presence, clarity, and detail. Colors were also more vivid containing a solid and natural richness you just don’t see in non-HDR content.
In general, OLED TVs aren’t as bright as LED TVs, yet they still have plenty of peak brightness to faithfully produce SDR and HDR content. This capability is most important when displaying HDR content properly, which the A8G did so without any picture shortcomings.
Wide-angle viewing was very good on this TV since OLED displays don’t suffer from the strong picture dimming, contrast and color saturation loss that plague most LED/LCD TVs. This means that viewers with seating placed off-axis will still be able to watch TV without any of the issues that degrade picture quality when viewed from wide angles.
Motion handling was very good on the A8G as I did not detect any motion artifacts, such as motion blur, with the fast-paced content I viewed during this evaluation. With normal TV watching, I usually leave all motion handling features turned off unless needed. However, if you do find the need to eliminate motion artifacts, the A8G as the necessary motion handling features to reduce or remove motion artifacts. This option can be found in the TV’s menu under the “Motion” tab.
The sound quality of the A8G was above average for a flat panel TV due to Sony’s Acoustic Surface technology which places two actuators (speakers) and two woofers directly behind the TV screen. This unique design really adds to the overall sound quality. The sound was enveloping with a very wide soundstage. Sound effects were placed and emitted with pin-point accuracy and aligned perfectly with the action on-screen; as well as when the action moved across the screen the sound followed in precise unity.
Dialogue sounded great too and was processed with excellent clarity and intelligibility. The Acoustic Surface technology also allowed voices to sound more natural and to emanate precisely from the actors wherever they were positioned on-screen. Music also sounded very good coming from the A8G; the soundstage had good separation and instruments were placed precisely within the sound field and were produced with good musical clarity and detail.
Generally speaking, the A8G delivered overall very good sound quality, however, it was lacking in one particular area and that was bass output. Whether it was music or movie sound effects, the bass output wasn’t very deep and didn’t have a lot of punch. But I wasn’t totally surprised by this performance since the TV’s speakers are too small to produce deep bass.
A8G performance downsides: As with the LG C9PUA OLED TV I recently reviewed, there isn’t much in the way of serious negative concerns regarding the A8G in my opinion. And none of these so-called issues would be a deal-breaker for me. With that said, here’s what you should know:
OLED TVs can have issues with temporary image retention and screen burn-in, which can be caused by leaving static images on the screen for long periods of time, such as channel ID logos and app menus, or video game status bars. During my review process, this was not an issue. Care should be taken to avoid any of the possible screen burn-in issues mentioned above.
Another possible downside for some consumers may be the TV’s ABL (Automatic Brightness Limiter) which dims the entire screen when there are large bright areas present, such as during a hockey game or very bright outdoor scenes. This adjustment in brightness, however, isn’t extreme.
Note: These performance downsides also apply to the A9G.
Performance Comparison – A8G vs A9G
The performance differences between the two displays are very minimal; in fact, both displays actually perform equally in most performance parameters. This is primarily due to OLED technology which has very little performance variations across the board. This means an entry-level model can perform just as well as a higher-end model (depending on the electronic component design such as better picture processing) especially when the OLED TVs are made by the same manufacturer.
Furthermore, the OLED panel playing field is equally balanced since there is only one manufacturer that currently supplies OLED panels to the TV industry, which is LG. (Sony OLED TVs use LG OLED panels)
With that said, there are a few areas where the A9G did perform better than the A8G and I will get to that in a moment. But first, let’s talk about their similarities.
Note: All of the following statements and comments are of my own opinions which I established while observing both TVs side-by-side during the review process.
Native contrast and black levels were equal on both displays as well as black uniformity. Color reproduction was virtually equal on both TVs as I observed similar amounts of color vibrancy and intensity. And I was hard-pressed to see any real differences in color variations.
Motion handling appeared equal on both displays, as did side angle viewing performance.
Picture peak brightness with SDR and HDR content on both displays was virtually identical from my live viewing observations, and these observations were confirmed from actual measurement info I obtained from a respected online publication.
I found the sound quality to be the same as both TVs use Sony’s Acoustic Surface technology for better sound reproduction when compared to what is usually found on most flat panel displays.
Now onto the advantages, the A9G has over the A8G. However, as mentioned earlier, these performance advantages are minimal at best.
All of these advantages are centered on the A9G’s superior processing power which is established by the A9G’s Picture Processor X1 Ultimate. This processor outclasses the A8G’s 4K HDR Processor X1 Extreme processor. The A9G’s processing allowed me to see the subtle differences in picture clarity and detail in favor of the A9G. But to see these small differences I had to look hard and scrutinize the picture images very closely.
The Android-based smart TV OS interface functioned very smooth on the A9G when compared to the A8G which was not as smooth. The A9G was also slightly quicker at launching apps. This performance was again due to the A9G’s better processing.
Color gradient was slightly better on the A9G allowing for a smoother transition in color changes.
And finally, input lag was better on the A9G thanks again to its superior processing power. In Game mode, the A9G’s input lag for a 1080p signal @ 60Hz is approx. 27 ms. A 4K signal @ 60Hz is approx. 27 ms.
Whereas the A8G’s input lag for a 1080p signal @ 60Hz is approx. 48 ms and a 4K signal @ 60Hz is approx. 31.0 ms.
Sony’s A8G and A9G are excellent examples of what “near” picture quality perfection should be. And as I’ve said in past, OLED TVs deliver the best available picture quality to consumers, in my opinion, and the two models in this review definitely adhere to this statement. And once you view an OLED display for the first time and thereafter, it can leave you with a visual addiction that makes it difficult to settle for anything less than OLED technology.
I highly recommend either of these TVs, but if you want to save some cash and at the same time give up very little in performance, then go with the A8G. Nevertheless, if having the latest and top of the line features such as the Picture Processor X1 Ultimate processor used in the A9G, which does give you a marginal bump in performance, then choose the A9G. That being said, you won’t go wrong selecting either model.
You may also like this review of LG’s C9PUA OLED 4K TV.