Sony A8H OLED 4K HDR TV Review

Sony A8H

XBR-65A8H 120Hz Smart OLED TV

Review Summary
Sony XBR-A8H

Product Name: XBRA8H

Product Description: OLED Self-illuminating display | Picture Processor X1 Ultimate | 4K X-Reality PRO | TRILUMINOS Display technology | X-Motion Clarity | Android TV with Google Play | Acoustic Surface sound technology

Brand: Sony

  • Sony XBR65A8H
5

See full review below

Model year: 2020

Screen size reviewed: 65”

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Bottom Line: The XBR65A8H OLED TV is one of the best TVs available and offers outstanding reference picture quality delivering superb contrast and black levels, intense and very accurate color reproduction and sharp and finely detailed high-resolution images. Its upgraded video processing also enhances its picture performance over last year’s model and should put it on par with the flagship A9G.

Dimensions:

With stand: (W x H x D) 57 1/8” x 33 3/4” x 12 7/8”

Without stand: (W x H x D) 57 1/8” x 32” x 2 1/8”

Weight:

With stand: 52 lbs.

Without stand: 48.1 lbs.

Warranty: One year parts and labor

Pros

  • 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
  • Better than average sound quality

Cons

  • Risk of possible image retention and burn-in when static images are left on the screen for long periods of time (Sony has built-in two features that can help minimize these risks – Pixel Shift and Panel Refresh )
  • ABL (Automatic Brightness Limiter) my dim picture brightness when large areas of brightness appear on the screen

Intro

The A8H is the follow-up model to last year’s excellent performing A8G, and is one of only two new OLED displays being produced by Sony for 2020. The other model is the Master Series A9S which is only available in a 49” screen size. The A8H is available in 55” and 65” screen sizes.

Design and Features

Sony A8H

Side View

Like most OLED TVs, the A8H is a beautifully crafted display and will add aesthetic appeal to almost any room décor. I’m still amazed at how thin the panel depths are on OLED TVs and the A8H adheres to this standard design with a panel depth of approximately ¼” thick. The rear of the panel has a compartment that contains the TV’s electronics which gives the TV a maximum depth of approximately 2-1/8”.

When viewed from the front, the A8H features ultra-thin bezel accents which are almost undetectable which gives the TV a bezel-less appearance. The outer edges of the TV screen are surrounded by very thin black borders which are also almost undetectable and allow for the picture image to expand virtually the entire width and height of the display panel.

The display panel is lit by OLED pixels that are self-illuminating, so no 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.  The A8H screens surface contains a glossy finish.

The A8H features a new two-position (adjustable) pedestal stand design: In the standard or lower position, the TV has an overall height of 33.75″ and only sits 0.75″ from the mounting surface. In the soundbar or upper position, the TV has an overall height of 35.75″ and sits 2.75″ from the mounting surface; allowing more room for a soundbar to be placed beneath the screen.

To change the height position of the feet, you will need to disassemble the brackets from the pedestal feet, reposition them, and re-install feet by easily snapping them back into place on the bottom of the TV panel.

Remote ControlSony A8H remote

The A8H has an upgraded remote and is the same remote that is supplied with the A9G; the only difference is the surface finish which is black instead of silver.  This slim profile remote has an intuitive button layout that allows for easy functionality. The remote has quick access buttons for Google Play 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.

A8H Feature Highlights:

As mentioned earlier the 2019 A8G is an excellent performing OLED TV. The A8H follows in its footsteps and has some upgrade features over last year’s model.  The A8H now has Sony’s best processor – the Picture Processor X1 Ultimate. It also has Pixel Contrast Booster technology which enhances color contrast in high-luminance scenes. These two features are available on the A9G and have now trickled down to the A8H. These improvements may now put the A8H’s performance on par if not equal to the A9G, in my opinion. However, I was not able to do a side by side comparison of the two models to confirm this.

Note: The Sony A9G OLED TV has carried over to 2020 as a current model. See the review here.

  • Picture Processor X1 Ultimate includes powerful real-time image processing for ultra-detailed pictures and includes Object-Based Super Resolution, Super Bit Mapping 4K HDR, Precision Color Mapping, Object-Based HDR Remaster and Dynamic Contrast Enhancer video processing.
  • Pixel Contrast Booster enhances color contrast in high-luminance scenes
  • 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. (No HDR10+)
  • 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.
  • X-Motion Clarity for motion blur reduction (120Hz refresh rate)
  • Netflix Recommended TV – This certification makes it easier for consumers to know which manufacturers HDTV’s work best with its streaming video service.
  • 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 A8H is compatible with Apple HomeKit and AirPlay 2 to allow wireless streaming from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac
  • Automatic Ambient Optimization: Sony’s unique ambient optimization technology automatically adjusts the picture to your room’s ambient lighting.

Smart TV Features

  • The A8H features Android TV with Google Play and contains Android’s PIE (9.0) 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 movies, music, sports and other entertainment apps.
  • 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

  • Acoustic Surface technology makes the entire screen a speaker (30 watts total power)
  • Acoustic Auto Calibration microphone in the remote measures your room’s “sound” and optimizes settings
  • 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

Connectivity

  • 4 HDMI 2.0b inputs – HDCP 2.3 compliant
  • HDMI 3 input supports eARC/ARC
  • 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
Sony A8H Rear Panel

Rear Panel

Performance

Note: To get the most accurate picture images when viewing the A8H without having the display calibrated, use the “Custom” or “Cinema” picture modes.

The A8H delivers absolutely stunning picture quality which comes as no surprise considering it is an OLED TV and in return provided some of the best picture images I’ve seen to date.

Although I wasn’t able to do a direct comparison with the A8G, I am willing to say that the A8H will have slightly better picture quality in the areas of image clarity and detail, and slightly better color gradient processing for a smoother transition in color changes. The Android smart TV OS interface should also function more smoothly as well and apps launching slightly quicker. These suspected improvements are due to the upgraded video processing in the A8H.

I must also factually state that the A8H has a bit more peak brightness output with SDR and HDR content when compared to the A8G. This info was acquired from a reliable source.

With the exception of the performance criteria mentioned above, I believe the performance between the A8H and A8G should be very similar. That being said, the following performance parameters are basically a carbon copy of what I found in my review of the A8G.

The A8H’s OLED TV panel technology allows for infinite contrast and absolute black levels, and this was very obvious on the display as black levels were very deep, dark and inky in nature when viewing scenes that contained plenty of dark content.

Shadow detail in dark scenes with low light was produced with very good quality on this display. The A8H’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 for an awe-inspiring image

Picture detail and clarity were fantastic of the A8H. During my evaluation, I was impressed with how much fine detail I saw 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 A8H’s excellent image transparency.

HDR content provided the best picture quality from the A8H, 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 for displaying HDR content properly, which the A8H did so without any picture shortcomings.

Rtings.com has posted “real scene” SDR (standard dynamic range) peak brightness at 316 nits, and HDR (high dynamic range) peak brightness at 654 nits.

Note: If you desire an OLED TV with a bit more peak brightness output, then check out LG’s OLED CX model. See review here.

Sony A8H

Wide-angle viewing was very good on the A8H 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 A8H 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 A8H has 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 A8H 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 A8H; 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 A8H 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.

Conclusion

Sony’s XBR-65A8H OLED TV offers reference quality picture performance and is an excellent example of what “near” perfect picture quality should be while delivering the best picture images currently available to consumers. Since their introduction, the pricing of OLED displays has steadily decreased and are now much more affordable than just a few years ago. Nevertheless, they still remain more costly than LED/LCD TVs.

And speaking of cost, LG offers OLED models that are less expensive than the A8H, yet also provide outstanding OLED picture quality.

I highly recommend the A8H for its stunning picture quality and industry-renowned video processing which add up to class-leading performance that is hard to find fault with.

So if you want one of the best TVs currently available, then check out the A8H.

Sony XBR-A8H Room View

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