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Sony A8H OLED 4k TV Review (2020) – A great improvement, but is it enough?

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Sony A8H OLED 4k TV Review (2020) – A great improvement, but is it enough?

Sony has started to release this year’s lineup of their OLED TVs, beginning with their entry level model, the Sony A8H. Besides being a tongue twister, the A8H has some impressive performance, and looks to be decent improvement over last year’s model, the A8G.

Hi, I’m Brandon, a Test Developer at RTINGS.com, where we help people find the best products for their needs. In this video, we’ll start by looking at the design and inputs of the TV, and then we’ll move on to our test results for the picture quality.

We’ll also look at the motion handling, input lag and sound. Throughout the video, we’ll be comparing the Sony to competing models which are currently available. For an updated comparison of models as we buy and test them, you can check out the full review on our website.

And If you’d like to skip straight to our test results, then see the links in the description below. Let’s get started. We bought the 55” model to test, but it’s also available in 65” as well.

We expect this larger size to have very similar performance. In Europe, there is also the A85 series, with the only difference seemingly being the stand. Let’s start with the design. The Sony A8H has a very clean design, it’s fairly simple in shape, but quite elegant.

The build quality is also superb, it feels solid with no obvious issues in it’s construction. The stand supports the TV well and there’s almost no wobble. The bezels are quite thin, ever thinner than last year’s model, and it sits close to the ground thanks to it’s low profile stand.

If needed, the stand also has a secondary height setting that sits the TV up much higher. This provides enough room to fit most sounds bars and other small electronics. The back of the TV is plain, with just a cut-out for inputs along with a VESA mount.

If you do decide to wall mount it, it’ll look good as the back panel will align flush with the wall, and the TV itself is extremely thin. The controls, or shall I say control, is located on the left side of the TV where there’s just a single button.

This is a step down from last year’s model which at least had three buttons. With this button, you can turn the TV on or off, change the channel, change the input source, adjust the volume, and restart the TV.

You do this through a series of short and long presses to navigate the on-screen menu. Although I’m not sure anyone wants to go through that, so make sure you have the remote nearby. Now let’s take a look at the inputs.

The Sony A8H has a pretty decent selection of inputs that should satisfy most people. Some of the inputs are facing out the left side, and the rest are located in a cut-out on the back of the panel, facing downwards.

There are 4 HDMI 2.0 ports, 3 USB ports, an Ethernet jack, a TV Tuner, a Digital Optical Audio Out, an Analog Audio Out, an IR input, and lastly a Composite In, although there’s no adapter included in the box.

HDMI port 3 supports ARC and eARC, which is a nice addition over last year’s model, which only supports ARC. You may notice there aren’t any HDMI 2.1 ports, which is disappointing considering competing models, like LG CX, do support it.

Although it doesn’t matter too much, since this TV doesn’t support VRR or 4k @ 120Hz, some of the main features of HDMI 2.1. There isn’t much in the way of cable management, as you can only route the cables through the back of the stands.

If you plan on wall mounting, you’re going to have to find you’re own solution. First we’ll start with the contrast, which is regarded as one of the most important aspects of picture quality. The contrast ratio is the relative brightness of the brightest white compared to the darkest black that a TV can display.

A high contrast ratio helps dark scenes appear more detailed, especially in a darker environment. Because this is an OLED TV, the pixels are self-emissive, meaning each one can be turned off to give a true black.

This gives the TV a remarkable contrast ratio and is one of the main selling points of OLED displays. Content on this display will appear deep and full of detail, even in dark scenes. Another advantage of self-emissive pixels are the viewing angles, which is how accurate the picture remains when viewed off center.

Light emitted from an OLED pixel is dispersed fairly evenly across all angles, lending this TV to have exceptional viewing angles. This is great if you plan on using it in a wide-open environment, where some viewers may not be seated directly in front of the screen.

While still not perfect, it’s better than most LCD displays, even those that implement a wide viewing angle technology, like the Samsung Q90T. We actually measured slightly better viewing angle performance on last year’s model, but this is likely due to panel variance or margin of error, and we expect them to perform similarly in person.

Now onto the gray uniformity, which is how even and uniform colors appear throughout the display. Ideally, every pixel of the display will be the same brightness and color as every other pixel, but unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

Screen uniformity issues can result in some areas of the display appearing darker or brighter than their surroundings. This is what’s known as the dirty screen effect, and it can be distracting when viewing fast moving content, such as sports, like football or hockey.

Luckily, this TV has outstanding gray uniformity, so there shouldn’t be an issue here. Even in dark scenes, we didn’t notice any vertical or horizontal lines that some other TVs struggle with. It is worth noting that gray uniformity can vary between units, so yours may perform differently than ours.

If you come across a panel that doesn’t correspond to our results, let us know in the comments below. As for black uniformity, as expected, this TV performs perfectly. This is because the pixels are self-emissive, and turn off when displaying black.

So there won’t be any backlight uniformity issues as found on some LCD displays. If your TV is in a brighter environment, then it’s important to have good reflection handling to counter-act distracting glare.

Like with all OLEDs we’ve tested, the A8H has excellent reflection handling. The display has a glossy finish, but it does great job at cutting out light thanks to it’s anti-reflective coating. This creates clear, defined reflections which some may prefer over the more diffuse reflections found in TVs like the Q90T.

It does create a slight purple-ish tint to the reflections, but this shouldn’t be an issue when viewing content. Also important for a bright environment is the peak brightness, which is how bright a screen can get when displaying content.

Along with reflection handling, a brighter screen can help overcome distracting glare from the sun or other light sources. Peak brightness will differ depending if content is mastered for SDR or HDR. For SDR content, the Sony gets decently bright, at about 430 nits at it’s peak.

Keep in mind this is at it’s peak, and the brightness of the display will change depending on the scene, as well as how long it is been displayed. This is due to the Auto Brightness Limiter and you can see how it affects brightness in our full measurements on screen now.

It doesn’t get as bright as LED backlit displays, which is a clear advantage in their favor, but it is a decent step up over last year’s A8G. If you plan on watching HDR content, then the ability to produce brighter regions of the image is important for impactful highlight detail.

This is what really helps content ‘pop’ in HDR, especially on OLED displays. For HDR content, the A8H has decent brightness, getting up to 780 nits in our 2% window, but again, there is a lot of variation depending on the window size and scene duration.

It can get as low as 150 nits in a 100% window, but we still expect most people to be pleased with the HDR performance. That said, it may not get bright enough for some HDR enthusiasts, who plan on watching content that was mastered at 1000 nits.

Bright LED displays, like the Samsung Q90T, are going to offer better highlight detail since they can easily hit above 1000 nits, although they’ll lack some of the benefits of OLED. Also important for HDR is the ability to take advantage of wider color spaces that content can be mastered in.

In this regard, the Sony is no slouch, as it covers about 97% of the P3 color space, and around 75% of the Rec 2020 color space. This is great and HDR content will look rich and saturated. The Sony also has a pretty good color volume.

It excels in dark colour reproduction, although it does struggle with displaying very bright colors due to it’s ordinary brightness. Now let’s look at the pre-calibration measurements, which is how closely the colors align with our calibration target, after only changing some basic picture settings.

Out of the box, the A8H has great color accuracy. The gamma is nearly perfect and most color inaccuracies won’t be noticeable. Although the white balance is a little off, resulting in a color temperature that’s a bit warmer than we prefer.

Before moving onto motion handling, it’s important to note that this is an OLED display, and there is the risk of permanent burn-in if displaying static content for long periods. OLED pixels use an organic compound to emit light, which degrades with usage.

You can see our video here for an investigation into this issue, however, we don’t expect this to be a problem with how most people use their TVs. Now let’s take a look at the response, or the time it takes for a display to change from one color to the next.

A slow response time can result in a blurry trail behind fast moving objects, so it’s important to have a fast response time, to help reduce motion blur. Since this is an OLED panel, it has near-instantaneous response times.

We measured an 80% response time of just 0.2ms, and a 100% response time of 2.3ms. Motion blur will not be an issue here, although the instant response times can make low frame-rate content appear to stutter.

If that bothers you, you can enable motion interpolation in the settings. To make motion appear smoother, this TV can interpolate low frame rate content up to 120fps. It works fine for slow moving scenes, but unfortunately there’s a lot of artifacting during quick movement.

This likely due to the TV interpolating intense scenes, which other TVs tend not to do. Another way to improve motion blur is to enable Black Frame Insertion. BFI turns the display off between frames to reduce motion blur caused by the sample and hold technique of modern displays.

You can learn more about how this here. The TV can flicker at 60Hz or 120Hz no matter the framerate of the content, which is nice as it can be adjusted depending on the user’s preference. Since the TV doesn’t have a backlight, there isn’t any PWM flickering.

We did measure a slight dip in brightness every refresh cycle, but this shouldn’t be noticeable to the naked eye. Now onto Input Lag, which is important for gaming as you want the TV to feel responsive to your inputs.

This TV has low input lag and it’s a great improvement over last year’s A8G, which is slower by about 10 to 30ms. With game mode enabled, we measured an input lag of around 18.5ms in most scenarios.

Outside of game mode, it jumps up to 93ms in 4k and 110ms in 1080p, so make sure to turn game mode on if you want to have a responsive experience. Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, this TV doesn’t support Variable Refresh Rate, which may be disappointing to some.

This is in stark contrast to the similarly priced LG CX, which supports VRR and 4k@120hz. Those looking to do PC gaming or to prepare themselves for next-gen consoles may want to look elsewhere. The TV also struggles with properly displaying a 1440p image, but it does fine with 1080p and 4k.

It’s capable of 120Hz, but only with a 1080p signal. Doing so at 1440p causes it to skip frames. Now let’s take a look at the sound. Like other Sony TVs, the A8H is using Sony’s Acoustic Surface Audio, which is just a fancy way of saying it vibrates the screen to produce sound.

This actually works quite well and it has a good frequency response with little compression at max volume. However, it does lack low and sub bass that’d you’d find in dedicated room speakers or a sound bar.

The microphone in the remote can automatically adjusts the frequency response of the TV, based off the acoustics of the room, which is nice touch. Finally, let’s take a look at the smart features. Like other Sony TVs, this one is running Android TV version 9.

0. Because of this, there’s a huge variety of apps that can be accessed through the Google Play store. Navigating the menu is very smooth, and it’s pretty fast to get to where you need, thanks in part to customizable quick menu.

The remote also has mic to summon Google Assistant, which works well for the most part, but it can’t change certain settings. Unfortunately, there is a row of ads on the home screen, but these can be removed with some tinkering.

So overall, the Sony A8H is an excellent TV. It’s an OLED that delivers great picture quality on all fronts. Compared to it’s predecessor, the A8G, it’s a solid step up thanks in part to it’s improved brightness, color volume, and input lag.

However, some may find it’s feature set disappointing when compared to other models like the LG CX. The CX offers a better gaming experience because of it’s lower input lag and VRR support. The Sony does have a slight edge in picture quality though, so if gaming isn’t a huge focus, it’s still a good pick.

If you’re looking for a display with a higher peak brightness that offers great detail in highlights, then there’s the Samsung Q90T. This TV can get much brighter and offers VRR support, but since it’s not an OLED, it lacks many of the benefits found in the Sony.

So that’s it! What do you think of the Sony A8H? Is it worth picking up over the competition? Let us know in the comments. As always, you can check out all of the measurements on our website. If you like this video, subscribe to our channel, or become an insider on the website for access to our latest results first! Also, we are currently hiring in our offices in Montreal for various positions.

So, if you want to help people find the best product for their needs, have a look at our careers page. Thank you for watching and see you next time.

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