LAS VEGAS — After a year of strong performance from Sony’s 4K TVs in 2017, there was no doubt that the company would have something worthwhile to show at CES: the biggest electronics trade show of the year. At a press conference held in Sony’s enormous installation on the CES show floor, the company announced several new products for 2018. Included in the new lineup were two 4K TV model lines, slated for early this year: the Bravia A8F OLED and the X900F series, which uses an LCD panel.
An Encore for the Bravia
Among Sony's new 4K TVs is the Bravia A8F series: the successor to 2017’s Bravia OLED A1E (our current pick for the best picture quality on the market). It’s Sony’s top-of-the-line 4K OLED TV, and the update brings with it the same rich color, deep black levels and wide viewing angles offered on last year’s model. The display features 4K resolution, with support for HDR, including the Dolby Vision format.
Sony plays it relatively safe on the design front with a nearly bezel-less design. However, unlike the lean-back design seen on last year’s model, the Bravia A8F has a more traditional stand and upright design. If last year's model is anything to go by, the gorgeous OLED panel in the A8F comes courtesy of LG. New this year, however, is Sony’s X1 Extreme processor, which handles processing for not only the picture itself, but also HDR brightness data, motion smoothing to eliminate artifacts and blurring in fast-paced content.
Like the Bravia A1E, the A8F will feature Sony’s acoustic surface audio, which turns the glass panel of the OLED into a speaker, vibrating the screen itself so that audio comes right from the picture. Sony claims that this makes actors sound like they’re speaking, and explosions seem more realistic, as the sound emanates directly from the source. If it’s anything like the 2017 model, the audio quality should be quite impressive.
Sony has announced the Bravia A8F in 55 and 65-inch sizes.
Going Big with the X900F Series
Consumer demand for 4K TVs has brought with it a growing appetite for sets that are larger than 65 inches, pushing manufacturers to introduce sets in the 70- and 80-inch range. Sony’s premium LCD model line, the X900F Series, is getting in on the action with new 75- and 85-inch models, in addition to more standard 49- to 65-inch models.
The model has a strong family resemblance to the 2017 sets we’ve reviewed, with a slim bezel and full array backlighting. There are some updates to the stand design as well. Instead of the single U-shaped stand with one wide foot, the new sets use a pair of L-shaped feet. Like the current stand designs, Sony has a built-in cable management system.
Like the Bravia A8F series, the new X900F models also feature Sony’s X1 Extreme processor, which the company boasts will offer clearer picture and smoother action than current sets. These improvements are part of Sony’s new technology, X-Motion Clarity, which combines image processing, algorithm-driven local dimming and reduction in visual artifacts like motion blur.
Both the Bravia A8F and the X900F Series use Android TV for their smart-TV functionality. Google Assistant is built in, so compatibility with Google Home and Amazon Alexa is a safe bet. We’ve always had positive experiences with Sony’s version of Android TV, and the new models look set to continue this.
It’s worth noting, however, that while Sony will continue to offer the same Google Assistant from last year’s sets, competing 4K TVs from LG and Samsung are getting a serious upgrade. Call them intelligent TVs, or smarter smart TVs, or just call it AI, but other manufacturers have pushed hard to make their smart TVs even better. LG has added its ThinQ AI with Google Home functionality, and Samsung has brought its Bixby voice assistant to new 4K sets. Sony, on the other hand, has not announced any similar updates to its smart TVs.
Pricing and Availability
Sony has not disclosed pricing, but estimates that the new TVs will arrive at retail outlets in Spring of 2018.