It's been a bumper year for Sony TVs, with a slew of Master Series models and the launch of Sony's first 8K TV. But what if you can't afford a model that costs the same as a small second-hand car?
The good news is that Sony's 2019 range includes some outstanding mid-range models and one very tempting entry-level OLED. The AG8 might lack a few bells and whistles when compared to its AG9 sibling, but you get 4K HDR OLED performance at a tempting price point – wrapped in a sleek Sony package.
But before opening your wallet, it's worth knowing how it compares to other budget OLED sets. LG, for example, offers a similar entry-level OLED TV packed with premium features at an affordable price.
So with Black Friday bargains coming thick and fast, and retailers offering juicy discounts on myriad 2019 OLED TVs, should you buy a Sony AG8?
Should you buy a Sony AG8 OLED TV?
Hot on the heels of announcing its flagship Master Series ZG9 and AG9 models, Sony announced the more affordable AG8 (or A8G in the US). The AG8 slots in just below the AG9 and is available in two screen sizes – 55in and 65in – with support for 4K and HDR, the latter in the HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision formats.
Sony's Android Smart TV platform utilises Google Assistant built-in, so the TV works with Google Home or Amazon Echo devices, and it also supports Apple AirPlay 2.
Like the more expensive AG9, the AG8 utilises Acoustic Surface sound technology, which involves actuators that vibrate the entire screen in order to produce audio. We were hugely impressed with the technology (proclaiming the AG9 one of the best-sounding TVs of the year), but you can make room for a soundbar by lifting the TV off its stand, turning the stand around 180 degrees and replacing the TV, which will now be standing a few inches off the surface of your furniture.
The AG8 does lose out to the AG9 in one key area. It has the X1 Extreme chip rather than the X1 Ultimate of the AG9. Consequently you'll miss out on some of the most advanced picture processing features, but the core experience shouldn't be vastly different. Plus, we felt that the AG9 "didn't quite meet the expectations set by its hefty price tag." Provided you can live without the latest chipset, the AG8 could turn out to be the sweet spot in the range.
The AG8's closest competitor is the five-star LG C9, a similarly-good entry-level 4K HDR OLED TV with built-in Google Assistant voice controls and the option to install an Alexa app.
The LG C9 offers a near-identical feature count, but it's 5mm thinner and blessed with a 1mm thinner bezel. It also one-ups the Sony AG8 with officially certified HDMI 2.1 ports.
On the flipside, Sony's AG8 boasts IMAX Enhanced certification, meaning it can display IMAX-mastered content as intended. Whether that's something to get excited about remains to be seen as the content isn't yet available.
The Sony AG8 might not have the latest and greatest picture processing chip, but it offers a wealth of premium features, great performance and a picture with plenty of detail.
Now that you can save £1000 off the price of the 55in model (£1200 off the 65in), it's fantastic value for money in almost every respect – especially given that it's one of the best-sounding entry-level OLEDs currently on the market.
LG's C9 is slightly more svelte and offers the benefit of HDMI 2.1. We also expect it to be the punchier performer, given that it proved more dynamic than the AG8's more premium sibling, the AG9, back when we tested that.
That said, for some the promise of Sony's lauded picture processing and Acoustic Surface audio tech will make the AG8 the one to buy, even though we can't offer a definitive verdict on it.