Thursday, November 1, 2018

Sony Z9D vs Z9F vs A9F OLED

Sony Z9D vs Z9F vs A9F Comparison Table (Differences Only).
Z9D Z9F A9F
Panel type LCD LCD OLED
The Sony Z9D and Z9F use an LCD panel with LED backlight whereas the Sony A9F is an OLED TV so it has no backlight, meaning that some features (i.e. X-tended Dynamic Range PRO, Backlight Master Drive, X-Wide Angle, X-Motion Clarity) are not applicable to the A9F OLED (or even needed). Conversely, the Pixel Contrast Booster and Acoustic Surface are not applicable to Sony Z9D and Z9F due to being LCD TVs.
Z9D Z9F A9F
X-tended Dynamic Range PRO 16x 12x N/A
X-tended Dynamic Range PRO is used by Sony for indicating the backlight local dimming and boosting capabilities of their full-array LCD TVs, and the perceived contrast ratio when compared to an edge-lit TV without local dimming. Given that the peak brightness in HDR is comparable between Sony Z9D and Z9F, the difference in the X-tended Dynamic Range PRO rating is due to a variation in the black level, as well as different number of local dimming zones (the latter is discussed in the Backlight Master Drive section). Although both the Sony Z9D and Z9F use VA (Vertical Alignment) type of LCD panel, which has the ability to natively provide deep black level, the minimum luminance level is not the same. The reason is the optical design used in the Z9F's panel for the purpose of improving viewing angles which, unfortunately, has an impact on the black level. The Sony Z9F therefore has a slightly lower contrast ratio than the Z9D. None of the above applies to Sony A9F since it has an infinite contrast ratio and wide viewing angles at the same time due to its ability to turn off individual pixels when displaying black color (hence the perfect black level), and the more straightforward OLED TV structure which has the light source almost immediately to the front instead of a backlight that needs to pass-though many different layers (hence the picture quality doesn't degrade off-axis in OLED TVs).
Z9D Z9F A9F
Backlight Master Drive Yes No N/A
The Sony Z9D has the Backlight Master Drive which uses an ultra-dense LED structure, with each individual LED being controlled by a local dimming algorithm. As a result, the local dimming zones count is higher on the Z9D vs Z9F, and so is the level of precision with which dimming is carried out. Considering that the Backlight Master Drive has an optical design intended to keep light beam of each LED straight, the Sony Z9D is therefore less prone to exhibiting blooming artifacts (halos around bright objects against a dark background) in comparison to Z9F, especially during more challenging scenes. The Sony A9F OLED TV, as previously mentioned, has self-lighting pixels, so there is no blooming artifacts, irrespective of how complex the scene is.
Z9D Z9F A9F
X-Wide Angle No Yes N/A
The Sony Z9D behaves like a typical VA LCD TV when viewed off-axis, meaning that image starts to lose saturation and brightness fairly quickly. Despite also having a VA panel, the Sony Z9F is able to retain color saturation and brightness a bit longer than the Z9D due to the X-Wide Angle optical layer although it cannot quite reach the Sony A9F's viewing angles.
Z9D Z9F A9F
X-Motion Clarity No Yes N/A
All three Sony TVs are able to insert black frames when watching fast motion content in order to reduce the sample-and-hold type of motion blur. In order to do that LCD TVs such as Sony Z9D or Z9F cycle their backlight on and off. Having the entire bakclight off, even for a few milliseconds, leads to a significant reduction in brightness and may create visible flicker. In order to avoid that, the Sony Z9F uses its local dimming and boosting capabilities during the black frame insertion process for the purpose of optimizing each backlight cycle depending on where motion is happening in the frame. As a result, the motion clarity is improved without impacting the overall image brightness. The Sony A9F doesn't have a backlight, so this technology is not applicable to it.
Z9D Z9F A9F
Processor X1 Extreme X1 Ultimate X1 Ultimate
Although the two image processors have a number of features in common (such as Dual database processing, Super Bit Mapping, Precision Color Mapping, Object-based HDR remaster, Dynamic Contrast Enhancer), it needs to be said that the X1 Ultimate is able to process video signals at ultra-high bit rates which makes it less likely to cause any processing artifacts while performing any of the aforementioned tasks in comparison to the X1 Extreme chip. Another advantage of the X1 Ultimate is its ability to optimize the video signal for different type of panels: either LCD in case of the Z9F, or OLED in A9F. The X1 Ultimate has one new feature (compared to the X1 Extreme), and it's related to upscaling:
Z9D Z9F A9F
Object-based Super Resolution No Yes Yes
The resolution on all three Sony TVs is 3840x2160, and if you watch high quality 4K content, then the Object-based Super Resolution feature won't be of much use. However, with standard or high definition (including Full HD) sources, some improvement in the level of detail in individual objects can be observed. Nevertheless, the upscaling quality is mostly on par between the X1 Ultimate and X1 Extreme processors since both of them support Dual database processing. One database contains image patterns aimed to provide before and after references in order for the quality of upscaling to improved while the other is for removing compressed image noise (also by utilizing before and after references).
Z9D Z9F A9F
Pixel Contrast Booster N/A N/A Yes
Sony Z9D and Z9F utilize traditional RGB (Red, Green, Blue) subpixel structure, so they don't have any problems saturating bright colors, and a feature such as Pixel Contrast Booster is not needed (or even applicable since they don't have a pixel level control due to being LCD TVs). The reason why the A9F has a Pixel Contrast Booster is that the white sub-pixel (in the 4 sub-pixel OLED panel structure) allows spectrally broad light to be mixed with otherwise relatively pure red, green, or blue, thus reducing the overall saturation in highlights.The Pixel Contrast Booster is therefore intended to compensate for the color saturation loss at high luminance levels, so the dynamic range (at the high end of the brightness scale) is extended.
Z9D Z9F A9F
Acoustic Surface N/A N/A Yes (Audio+)
Only OLED TVs are able to use the Acoustic Surface technology because they don't have a backlight which allows actuators to be placed behind the OLED module so that the screen itself is producing sound. Specifically, 3 actuator pairs invisibly vibrate the A9F's OLED screen, thus creating mid-range and high-frequency sound.
Z9D Z9F A9F
Speaker Configuration 2ch 2ch 3.2ch
The Sony Z9D and Z9F have a 2 channel audio system. They use 2 full-range drivers but their size is different: the Z9D has 30x80mm full-range drivers whereas the Z9F uses 25x90mm full-range drivers. The speakers on the Z9D and Z9F are of the bass-reflex variety, and are down-firing. There are no dedicated subwoofers on the two Sony LCD TVs. The Acoustic Surface technology on the Sony A9F provides front-firing sound. Furthermore, the Sony OLED TV has two subwoofers (and three pairs of actuators). The A9F delivers 10 Watts of amplification to each of its subwoofers, and 13 Watts to each of its 6 actuators, meaning the total audio power output is 98 Watts vs only 20 Watts on either the Z9D or Z9F.
Z9D Z9F A9F
CalMAN Autocal ready No Yes Yes
To perform an auto-calibration, you'll need the CalMAN software (sold separately), in addition to a pattern generator and colorimeter (sold separately).
Z9D Z9F A9F
Smart TV Android 6.0 Android 8.0 Android 8.0
Being 2018 TVs, the Sony Z9F and A9F come with the latest version of Android TV. There is a firmware update available for the Sony Z9D that brings Android 7.0 to this TV.
Z9D Z9F A9F
Table top stand Traditional Traditional Kickstand
The Sony Z9D and Z9F are able to maintain upright position when mounted on a table top surface since they use traditional stands. There is a difference, however, in the design of the stand: the Sony Z9D has a single, centrally mounted slate stand whereas the Sony Z9F's stand consists of two chevron-shaped legs. The Sony A9F, in contrast, uses an easel-type of stand which results in the Sony OLED TV leaning (slightly) backwards when mounted on a table top surface. The kickstand is foldable so it doesn't prevent this TV from being mounted on a wall (the A9F is compatible with VESA 400x200 brackets).

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