Thursday, November 1, 2018

Sony A8F vs A9F vs A1E Review (XBR65A8F vs XBR65A9F; XBR55A8F vs XBR55A9F)

The Sony A8F vs A9F differences are in the image processor, quality of upscaling (and video processing in general), color saturation in HDR highlights, number of audio channels/actuator pairs, subwoofer placement, calibration options, Smart TV version, design. The Sony A8F vs A1E differences, on the other hand, are mainly due to the sound quality (only in the low-frequency range), design (which has an impact on how close you can mount the Sony A8F or A1E to a wall, as well as whether the TV sits straight up or at an angle when mounted on a table top surface).
Sony A8F vs A9F vs A1E Comparison Table (Differences Only)
Processor X1 Extreme X1 Ultimate X1 Extreme
The X1 Ultimate has an advantage in minimizing the chance for any processing artifacts to be created due to its ability to process video signals at ultra-high bit rates. Furthermore, the X1 Ultimate can fine-tune the video signal for the type of panel TV uses. The X1 Ultimate chip has one other advantage over the X1 Extreme, and it is related to upscaling.
Object-based Super Resolution No Yes No
Enhances the resolution individually for different objects. Although mainly standard or high definition sources benefit from this feature, certain improvement in the level of detail in individual objects can be observed with Full HD sources as well. That being said, the upscaling characteristics of the X1 Ultimate and X1 Extreme chips are not that different since both of them support Dual database processing, with one database containing image patterns dedicated to upscaling while the other is for removing compressed image noise.
Pixel Contrast Booster No Yes No
Result of the different OLED panel controller used by the A9F vs either A8F or A1E rather than the different processor. The reason why such feature is needed is because OLED TVs tend to experience color saturation loss at high luminance levels due to their 4 sub-pixel structure, or more precisely: the white sub-pixel which adds spectrally broad light to the mix of otherwise relatively pure red, green, and blue, thus reducing the overall saturation in highlights. The Pixel Contrast Booster is intended to compensate for the sub-optimal color saturation at high luminance levels, so the dynamic range (at the high end of the brightness scale) is extended. Considering that SDR content is mastered for a peak white of only 100cd/m2, the advantage the Sony A9F has over either the Sony A8F or A1E in terms of saturating bright colors is limited to spectral highlights in HDR content.
Acoustic Surface Yes Yes (Audio+) Yes
The A9F has 3 pairs of actuators that invisibly vibrate the screen in order to produce sound in the mid- and high-frequency range whereas there are 2 pairs of actuators on either Sony A8F or A1E. The difference in actuator pairs leads to a different number of audio channels as well. The 3 pairs of actuators on the A9F allow this TV to have a center channel in the addition to the left and right ones which why the Acoustic Surface on the Sony A9F is labelled as Audio+. The Sony A8F and A1E, on the other hand, have only two pairs of actuators, hence their speaker system is stereo (without a center channel).
Speaker Configuration 2.1ch 3.2ch 2.1ch
Not only the A9F has a center channel, but it allows all three pairs of actuators to be used as center speaker in your existing audio setup thanks to a dedicated mode.
Woofer(s); Size Two; 60mm Two; 60mm x 100mm One; 80mm
The low frequency range is reproduced by dedicated subwoofer(s) on either one of the three Sony OLED TVs but there is a difference in their number, size, and placement which is in the kickstand of either the Sony A9F or A1E, and the back of the Sony A8F since this TV doesn't use a kickstand. In case of the Sony A1E, the woofer is rear-facing and can be found behind a removable cover made of fabric material which has the ability to dampen bass to a degree (provided you keep the cover in place). The Sony A9F, on the other hand, has side-facing subwoofers which may be somewhat beneficial to the bass response in case of wall mounting your TV but it depends on the acoustics of your room.
CalMAN Autocal ready No Yes No
To perform an auto-calibration, you'll need the CalMAN software (sold separately), in addition to a pattern generator and colorimeter (sold separately).
Smart TV Android 7.0 Android 8.0 Android 6.0
The A9F has the latest version of Android TV. The A1E can be updated to Android 7.0
Table top stand Dark Silver Slate Kickstand Kickstand
The Sony A8F is able to maintain upright position when mounted on a table top surface owing to its more conventional dark silver slate stand. The clearance beneath the display is less than 0.2 inches so there is no room to place a soundbar directly in front of the TV. The same applies to either A9F or A1E, except that they lean (slightly) backwards towards their kickstand, and there is no clearance beneath the display.
VESA Compatibility 55": 300x200 65": 300x300 400x200 55" 65": 400x200 77": 400x300
The 55-inch and 65-inch size class in either the Sony A9F or A1E are compatible with the same VESA standard. The A8F can be mounted closer to a wall than either the Sony A9F or A1E since their foldable kickstands prevent them from being mounted flush to a wall.
Pricing/Availability Sony A9F Sony A8F Sony A1E
65-inch class XBR65A9F XBR65A8F XBR65A1E
55-inch class XBR55A9F XBR55A8F XBR55A1E
Check availability and pricing on for the A9F in the 65-inch XBR65A9F and 55-inch XBR55A9F class; the A8F in the 65-inch XBR65A8F and 55-inch XBR55A8F class, as well as the A1E in the 65-inch XBR65A1E and 55-inch XBR55A1E class (affiliate links).
Identical features Another technology that the X1 Ultimate and X1 Extreme chips have in common is Super Bit Mapping. It allows either the Sony A8F, A9F or A1E to process 8-bit or 10-bit content with 14-bit precision so that there are no quantization errors, and the gradation is smooth. Considering that all three Sony OLED TVs use a 10-bit panel, and are able to render over a billion color shades, the Precision Color Mapping is particularly useful in applying the optimal tone and shade of color after analyzing the scene on a pixel level. Both the X1 Ultimate and X1 Extreme have that ability, in addition to being equipped with a Dynamic Contrast Enhancer. The latter, however, is not needed for SDR content since OLED TVs already have an infinite intra-image contrast ratio due their self-illuminating pixels (instead of a backlight). The Dynamic Contrast Enhancer, however, plays a major role in HDR since it activates the frame-by-frame optimization in order for HDR10 content to be rendered optimally in different scenes (especially those without highlights) because by default it's only optimized for the MaxCLL (Maximum Content Light Level) that static metadata defines. While on the subject of HDR formats, it should be said that in addition to HDR10 all three Sony OLED TVs: A9F, A8F, and A1E support HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) and Dolby Vision. There are some caveats when it comes to Dolby Vision, though. First, support for this format is added after a firmware update. Second, Dolby Vision is supported via the TV's internal streaming apps. In order to transmit Dolby Vision signal over HDMI, your Ultra HD Blu-ray disc player (or other Dolby Vision capable devices connected via HDMI to your TV) will also require a separate firmware update that specifically addresses compatibility with the Dolby Vision profile Sony has implemented on their TVs. In terms of SDR-to-HDR upconvertion, there is no difference between the X1 Ultimate vs X1 Extreme chips since the Object-based HDR remaster is applied automatically across most SDR picture modes for the purpose of enhancing image depth by remastering different objects individually.

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