We upgrade our phones every couple of years. It’s time we had the same attitude towards our living rooms, particularly as we spend so much time in them.
A new TV with a better picture serves everyone in the household, whether that’s for movie night, tucking into the next box-set or diving into some gloriously indulgent next-generation gaming. How old is your TV? Old enough to upgrade to an OLED?
If an OLED’s on your mind then a Sony Bravia A9 or A85 OLED TV should make your shortlist.
With panel sizes ranging from 48in all the way up to 83in, some of the best picture and sound technology around, a smart platform stuffed with streaming services and a sackful of gaming features, there’s a hell of a lot to like about Sony OLEDs. The fact that Sony is often responsible for some of the most stylish TV design around is a handy bonus too.
Award-winning picture and sound
We reviewed both the 48in Sony A9 OLED TV and the 55in Sony A8 and the results were impressive. Both received five stars with the A9 picking up the Product of the Year title at the more recent What Hi-Fi? Awards as the top TV to buy.
These 4K, Dolby Vision HDR-toting Sony TVs are on sale right now at Currys with hundreds of pounds in savings compared to the prices at which we reviewed them. Look out for the 48in A9 as well as the 55in and 65in A85 TVs. (The A85s are a Curry’s exclusive with the same picture and sound quality as the A8 but with a slightly more stylish set of feet and remote.)
While all OLED displays begin life as equals, it’s Sony’s picture technology that has lifted these sets head and shoulders higher than others. That’s largely down to Sony’s X1 Ultimate processor – the brains behind these TVs’ pictorial beauty. It allows intelligent, real-time analysis of each scene so that it can enhance the definition of individual objects in an image, improve contrast and boost both colour and clarity even in the bright areas of a picture.
In the right models, that can make for some near perfect blacks with some serious punch and purity when the colours kick in – the kind of picture that can let you lose yourself in films and make gaming feel more real than ever.
Certainly with the 48in A9 and 55in A85, the X1 Ultimate processor helps dig up some wonderful dark detail too meaning that no parts of the picture are lost to the shadows, leaving you wondering what’s supposed to be going on in the scene.
Sony’s real secret weapon, though, the one area where no other manufacturer has been able to match it to date, is with motion processing. With Sony’s X-Motion Clarity technology, even fast action stays smooth and clear. Almost all blur and judder is removed without losing sharpness, brightness or a natural cinematic feel.
And if Sony’s smarts with picture processing are something to behold, then its audio technology leans towards the mind-blowing. If you don’t have space for a home cinema audio set-up or soundbar, then a Sony TV is the way to go for great TV sound.
Sony has thought long and hard about the problems of TV sound which are largely two-fold. First: super-thin, flatscreen TVs just don’t offer much room for speakers to work. Second: if you do the normal thing and place speakers around the back of the set, then they’re in one of the worst positions for the user to appreciate the audio.
The answer for Sony has been to turn the whole panel itself into a speaker with a technology it calls Acoustic Surface Audio. Actuators on the frame of the TV cause the screen to invisibly vibrate and make the sound which is then directed right at the viewer, all without disturbing the picture. It also brings a better connection between the audio and video with the sound itself coming from the action on screen.
The results for the 48in A9 and 55in A85 are some dynamic and exciting audio with an excellent spacious feel. It’s crisp and clear and all the dialogue feels like it’s coming right from the actors’ lips.
Great for gaming
If it’s gaming you want, then consider the 48in Sony A9 OLED. Named Product of the Year, this TV is a very decent choice for anyone with an Xbox or PlayStation. Sony’s Bravia Sync system means that it will auto-switch to the TV’s Game mode the moment a games console is plugged in.
The Game mode optimises picture processing for faster frame rates and a smoother gaming experience. That means an input lag time of less than 19ms – fast for a TV – which should ensure some of the most responsive gaming in the business and help give you the edge over the online competition.
Naturally, the bigger Sony OLEDs will also be great for PlayStation but it’s the 48in OLED size that has proved particularly popular. It delivers all that brilliant picture performance to help you immerse yourself in bright and colourful virtual worlds but also in a panel size that’s perfect for a second TV. So, whether you want to squeeze it into your bedroom or (wo)man cave, it should fit just right for some solo screen action.
All the Apps
Google’s app-packed Android TV smart platform is Sony’s operating system of choice for its A85 and A9 OLED TVs, and that brings access to all of your favourite streaming services. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Google Play Movies & TV and Rakuten, all in 4K and HDR (Dolby Vision in the cases of Netflix and Disney+) plus the catch-up services from BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and My5 - you name it, it’s all there. Plex is on board for local streaming of your own media files; and music and radio are covered by Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, BBC Sounds and TuneIn.
What’s more, Sony has bolstered the stock Android TV app offering to mean no streaming service is left behind. The normally absent Now TV and BT Sport apps, for example, are both present and correct on these OLEDs, and that means you’ll never be short of direct access to sport.
For any app that you can’t find - and there won’t be many - there’s always the Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast built-in technologies to lean on. Both allow you to stream an app service straight from your mobile, tablet or PC right onto your OLED TV. Sorted.
That’s more content than you can shake a stick at, in some of the best audio and video quality around. Head over to Curry’s and take a look for a great deal on a Sony OLED TV.