Hi, I’m Daniel from rtings.com Today we’re testing the A8F – Sony’s 2018 OLED TV. It offers excellent performance across the board but looks especially impressive in dark rooms due to the ability to produce perfect blacks.
The picture quality is almost identical to last year’s Sony A1E OLED. We bought the fifty five inch size to test, but it also comes in sixty five inches. We do expect this larger size to have very similar performance, but bigger TVs tend to have more uniformity issues.
We’ll go over the design of the TV, and then focus on the picture quality. We’ll then look at the motion handling and input lag before comparing to competing models currently on the market. The design of the A8F is sleek.
Unlike last year’s A1E, it sits upright on a central stand with a small footprint. This is good for those who want to put it on a smaller table, and or those who don’t like the tilt of the 2017 model.
There are two sets of inputs – one set directed out the side and another set down the back. These side inputs are nice and easy to access if the wall is placed close to a TV or mounted as they are easier to access.
These inputs can all be neatly covered up by plastic panels so that the back looks tidy and uniform. It is also possible to route all of the cables down through the rear of the stand, which is nice. Only two of the HDMI ports support HDMI 2.
0 full bandwidth, and one of these is also the HDMI port for audio return channel or ARC. This may be a limitation for people who have multiple full bandwidth devices, such as a PC and multiple HDR game consoles.
The TV is very thin when viewed from the side, so you should take care when moving it despite the excellent build quality. Looking at the TV through a thermal camera, we can see that the heat is relatively evenly distributed.
You can see warmer areas where the electronics are behind the panel. Now to the picture quality. We’ll be comparing to TVs which are currently available, but this will change as more models are released throughout the year.
For an updated comparison with new models as we buy and test them, see the review page on our website which is linked below. Like other OLEDS, the Sony A8F can produce perfectly deep blacks as it can turn each pixel off completely.
This results in deep and detailed dark scenes. Unlike LCD TVs, the A8F and other OLED TVs don’t require local dimming. Blooming in this video is a result of reflections in the glass or in the lens of our camera.
This results in excellent dark room performance. For those who have a wide room and sometimes watch the TV from an angle the A8F is a great choice. When viewed at an angle the brightness doesn’t change much and the image remains mostly accurate.
This is much better than TVs with VA panels such as the Sony X900F and Samsung Q9FN. The TV is excellent at dealing with reflections. It has a glossy finish so reflections do remain defined rather than smeared but their intensity is reduced significantly.
Like many other TVs with excellent reflection handling, this does result in a purple tint though which some people don’t like. It is especially visible when the TV is off. The A8F can produce bright highlights in our HDR real scene at about six hundred and forty nits.
Looking at the distribution of brightness results we can see that only a few TVs can get brighter with this scene. Other small areas like the 2% and 10% window can also get bright, however full-screen brightness is a different story.
An automatic brightness limiter or ABL restricts the TV from drawing too much power, which causes the screen brightness to change depending on the content. Most of the time this isn’t noticeable, but when displaying content with large bright areas such as a hockey game or for PC use this can be distracting.
It is possible to disable the ABL by turning the ‘Peak Brightness’ option off. This prevents the change in brightness, but results in a fairly dim image at about 110 nits across the whole screen. For those who want a bright TV to overcome glare then a bright LED TV may be worth it.
The 50% gray uniformity is excellent. This is generally the case for OLED TVs which fare better than LCD models. This is great for sports, as dirty screen effect isn’t distracting when watching hockey or football.
Very dark grays do show some banding though when viewed in a dark room, which may be noticeable in dark scenes. This varies between units, but it is a common result for new OLEDs. The A8F supports a wide color gamut, which is excellent for producing vivid highlights in HDR.
It isn’t as good as the Samsung QLEDs, but still makes HDR content pop. Like other OLED TVs, the A8F may have the risk of burn-in after displaying long periods of static content. This is because they use an organic compound to emit light, which degrades with usage.
For normal use this is unlikely to cause any issues, but we are still investigating how this affects long-term performance. You can see more information about this in the video series linked below. The A8F has an instantaneous response time, like other OLED TVs.
This means that fast moving content has almost no visible trail following it, as seen in the photo of our moving logo. It is great for gaming and watching sports, especially with high frame rate content.
Unfortunately for low frame rate content this also means that there is no blur to smooth between frames. This results in jarring movement when displaying long, slow panning shots in movies. Like the Sony A1E of 2017, the A8F also supports a black frame insertion feature.
For 60 Hz content this displays each frame for half the duration, with black frames interspersed. It works well to clear up persistence blur, which is useful for gamers. This increased clarity isn’t without downsides though as those sensitive to flicker may find it distracting and is reduces the screen brightness significantly.
It also isn’t possible with a one-hundred and twenty hertz signals from a PC as it causes every second frame to be lost. The input lag of the A8F is good but varies depending on the resolution of the source.
4k content has a lower input lag than 1080p, with is the same result we’ve found for other Sony TVs that have the X1 Extreme processor. Overall, it is good for new consoles and gaming but a bit higher than the competition with lower resolution sources.
The A8F runs a version of Android TV which is customized by Sony. It has a very wide selection of apps and features but is quite slow to use and the interface often stutters or freezes. It does have the Google Assistant though, which works well to interface with other smart devices and to quickly access most functions on the TV.
So overall, the A8F is an excellent TV with impressive picture quality especially when viewed in a dark room. It isn’t without flaws though, as those who view a lot of static content may be concerned about burn-in and the whole screen can’t get very bright to overcome glare or for PC use.
If these flaws are important to you then one of these LCD TVs may be a better choice. The Sony A1E is the predecessor to this years A8F. Both TVs offer almost identical performance, but they have a different design and the A8F sits upright rather than leaning backwards.
Due to the similarities, the cheaper TV is the way to go. LGs 2018 OLEDs such as the C8 also offer almost identical performance. Both of these 2018 models have the same OLED panel, and both offer a very similar set of features including black frame insertion and the ability to smooth gradients.
Overall the C8 is slightly better, as it has lower input lag for gamers but if this doesn’t matter to you then the cheaper TV is a better choice. Some of Samsung’s 2018 QLED TVs like the Q9FN have full-array local dimming and are able to produce deep dark scenes.
This isn’t quite as good as the perfect blacks of an OLED when viewed in a completely dark room though. On the other hand, the Q9FN can produce some of the brightest and most vivid colors of any TVs we’ve tested.
If you’re concerned about burn-in or want a brighter TV for a bright room then the Q9FN is the way to go, but for a dark room or wide seating an OLED is a better choice. The Sony X900F is an LED TV with great performance across the board.
It isn’t as good as an OLED in completely dark rooms, and also loses accuracy when viewed at an angle. If you’re looking to save some money but still want an impressive HDR experience, then the X900F is the way to go.
So that’s it! You can check out all of the measurements on our website. If you like this video, subscribe to our channel, or become a contributor. Also, we are currently hiring in our offices in Montreal for various positions.
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