Sony A9F vs A8F Review (XBR55A9F vs XBR55A9F, XBR65A8F vs XBR65A9F)
Sony A9F and A8F are two models of Sony OLED TV that launched in 2018. As we know, one of the major advantages offered by OLED TV is infinite contrast ratio and perfect black level that makes OLED TVs including A8F and A9F are as good performers when used in a dark room or in producing black level. But of course, not only black level and contrast ratio that becomes the mainstay of Sony A8F and A9F, but also its excellent pixel response time, wide viewing angle coverage, and others. Meanwhile, still use OLED panel made by LG, both Sony A9F and A8F present different design nuances than LG OLED TVs lineup that of course also becomes their own attraction for both. In the market, both Sony A8F and A9F equally come in 2 screen sizes, 55 inch and 65 inch. And when I was writing this comparison, with the same screen size (XBR55A8F vs XBR55A9F, XBR65A8F vs XBR65A9F), A9F is priced more than $500 more expensive than A8F. But of course, their prices are not fixed and could still change at any time. So, what are the advantages offered by A9F so it is sold hundreds dollar more expensive than A8F?
Sony A9F vs A8F Key Specs
|Specs and Features||Sony A8F (XBR-A8F)||Sony A9F (XBR-A9F)|
|Screen sizes available||55 Inch (XBR55A8F), 65 Inch (XBR65A8F)||55 Inch (XBR55A9F), 65 Inch (XBR65A9F)|
|Resolution||4K (2160 x 3840)||4K (2160 x 3840)|
|Dimming||Pixel Dimming||Pixel Dimming|
|Backlight||Self Lighting Pixel||Self Lighting Pixel|
|Picture Engine||4K HDR Processor X1 Extreme||4K HDR Processor X1 Ultimate|
|HDR Formats||HDR 10,HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma), Dolby Vision (via firmware update)||HDR 10, Dolby Vision, HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma)|
|Ultra HD Premium Certification||Yes||Yes|
|Color Technology||4 Sub pixels technology (RGBW)||4 Sub pixels technology (RGBW)|
|Color Enhancement||TriLuminos Display, Live Color Technology, Precision Color Mapping, Super Bit Mapping 4K HDR||TriLuminos Display, Live Color Technology, Precision Color Mapping, Super Bit Mapping 4K HDR|
|Contrast Enhancement||Dynamic Contrast Enhancer, Object-Based HDR Remaster||Dynamic Contrast Enhancer, Object-Based HDR Remaster, Pixel Contrast Booster|
|Clarity Enhancement||4k X-Reality Pro, Dual Database Processing||4K X-Reality Pro, Dual Database Processing, Object-Based Super Resolution|
|Motion Enhancer||Motion Flow XR||Motion Flow XR|
|Smart TV Platform||Google Android TV 7.0 version (Nougat)||Google Android TV 8.0 version (Oreo)|
|Smart Features||Web Browser, VoD Service, Cloud Games, Google Play Store, Google Voice Assistant, Amazon Alexa, etc||Web Browser, VoD Service, Cloud Games, Google Play Store, Google Voice Assistant, Amazon Alexa, etc|
|Remote||Sony Voice Remote||LG Magic Remote|
|RF (Terrestrial Cable)||1||1|
|Composite In (AV)||1||1|
|Channel||2.1 Channel||3.2 Channel|
|Total Audio Output||10 W + 10 W + 10 W + 10 W + 10 W||13 W + 13 W + 13 W + 13 W + 13 W + 13 W + 10 W + 10 W|
|Speaker type||Acoustic Surface (Actuator + Subwoofer)||Acoustic Surface (Actuator + Subwoofer)|
|Price||See the price on Amazon||See the price on Amazon|
The differences between Sony A8F and A9F
One of the major differences between Sony A9F and A8F is their design. Adopting the design of the predecessor A1E, Sony A9F also comes with a design called “One Slate”. This means, A9F is not just focused on picture quality but also design. Unlike most TVs which available in the market where a stand usually support the TV from below so makes the stand is visible from the front, the stand of A9F supports this TV from the behind, so if viewed from the front, the stand is not visible. But as the impact, this makes its screen lean back at a slight angle and cannot stand straight up. If viewed from front, there is nothing visible but the TV’s screen with very thin border. From the side, since the all electronic component of this TVs is located in the incline stand, this makes the screen is looks very thin at all of the four outer parts and rather thickened at the middle as a stand holder. This TV also has excellent cable management that makes the back of TVs also looks very clean. Under the screen, there is a rubber feet in order to the TV’s screen doesn’t contact with the table directly and easily slip. With built by premium materials, the TV will look very elegant on your table. But even so, its design makes Sony A9F is difficult to move or mounted on the wall.
If Sony A9F comes with a design called “One Slate, Sony A8F comes with conventional vertical design found on most TVs. Nevertheless, its design is not less impressive than A9F. From the front, the TV looks almost clean with thin border. In order to be seated on the table, the TV is well-supported by a stand with small footprint. Since its stand has small footprint, this allows A8F can be seated on most table. From the side, this TV looks very thin only on the upper third. Meanwhile, the rest is the area where all electronic components are located. Nevertheless, all of them are well-covered by plastic panel, so makes backside of the screen also looks very clean. With its design, this makes A8F is easier to be mounted on the wall than A9F.
The other difference between them is about their processor where Sony A9F is powered by 4K HDR processor X1 Ultimate while A8F is powered by X1 Extreme. X1 Ultimate is the new processor as the enhancement of X1 Extreme and for this time, it is only used by A9F and Z9F Series. In addition to what embedded in the X1 Extreme Precision Color Mapping, Dynamic Contrast Enhancer, Super Bit Mapping 4K HDR, Object-Based HDR Remaster, and Dual Database Processing, there is also Object-Based Super Resolution. Sony claims performance of X1 Ultimate is two times more powerful than X1 Extreme and can do a better job with some key features like providing smoother color gradient with less color banding in HDR, up-scaling non UHD content to 4K, concerting SDR to HDR content, and others.
As we see on comparison table above, actually, both Sony A8F and A9F support the same HDR formats which are HDR10, HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma), and Dolby Vision. They don’t support HDR10+ and Advanced HDR by Technicolor. Special for A8F, with default firmware, it doesn’t support Dolby Vision yet. So, for playing Dolby Vision content of A8F, you need to update its firmware.
Pixel Contrast Booster
Sony A9F has a new feature called Pixel Contrast Booster OLED Panel Driver where we don’t find this technology on other models of Sony OLED TV including A8F and A1E. Sony claims this technology can deliver more subtle color toning, particularly in very bright of HDR images. With this technology, A9F should have brighter brightness level and better color volume than A8F, particularly when they are playing HDR images.
That unique if Sony A8F A9F, to produce sound, both of them equally use a technology that called “Acoustic Surface”. Instead of conventional speaker, this technology utilizes their own screen to produce sound that driven by an actuator. Nevertheless, their difference is not about their sound technology, but the number of channels and total sound output. Sony A8F is equipped with 2.1 channel speaker system with 50 watts of totals sound output while A9F comes with 3.2 channel speaker with 98 watts of total sound output. On A9F, there is an additional actuator sits on the middle that expected can create a stronger center speaker effect. This is very useful to reduce the sound misplaced that happens on A8F or A1E, especially when the viewers watch TV from the side angle.
Smart TV Platform
Both Sony A8F and A9F may be featuring the same smart TV platform that IS Google Android TV, but their version is different. For this case, Sony A9F runs Android TV 8.0 Oreo while A8F runs Android TV 7.0 Nougat. On the newer version, there is a significant update on its user interface well now it is well organized and highly customizable. Now, some common apps like inputs, setting menu and others are moved to the top of the screen, make navigating or finding something is easier. Additionally, with faster processor, this makes smart TV experience of A9F is faster and more responsive than A8F. The excepting of their user interface, there is no major changes brought by Oreo version than Nougat version.
Sony A9F vs A8F Performance
Black Level and Contrast
Like other model of OLED TVs, black level and contrast are the major strongest aspects of picture quality of Sony A8F and A9F. Unlike LED TVs that use the backlight for their lighting, OLED TV doesn’t use backlight. Instead, it has self-lighting pixel where each of its pixel can switch on/off/dim individually as needed without affected by the lighting condition of other pixel surrounding. This certainly makes OLED panel has very accurate lighting precision up to pixel dimming level. And since the lighting condition of each pixel is not affected by the lighting condition of other pixel surrounding, when showing blacks, these pixels doesn’t emit any alight at all, makes blacks can be shown perfectly. The result, dark scene of images can be shown excellently, even for HDR contents where to maintain shadow details of HDR images so can be shown like the creator’s intended, this requires very deep black level. Additionally, perfect black level produced by them also makes darks scene displayed on their screen still looks excellent when they are set in a pitch dark environment. As we know, in a dark room, the effect of native contrast ratio is very sensitive where with low contrast ratio, black produced will look tend to grey. Essentially, OLED TV including Sony A8F and A9F is excellent performer in displaying dark scenes in a dark room. With excellent performance in producing blacks, this certainly makes them are very suitable for you who often watch movies with a lot of dark scenes like Horror or thriller or watch TV in a dark room.
In term of peak brightness, both Sony A9F and A8F also have similar performance. With SDR content, their peak brightness is brighter than 300 nits that means it is quite bright to overcome the glare when they are set in a bright room. Additionally peak brightness reached by them also fairly bright to make the picture displayed on their screen looks fairly bright in most room. It can even show small bright objects brighter than the rest that means it is good. But a bit unfortunate, when showing large white scene, its peak brightness dim to below 200 nits due limited by TV’s ABL (Auto Bright Limiter). This certainly makes bright white scene cannot be shown fairly bright and look too dim. With HDR content, both Sony A8F and A9F can even get brighter peak brightness than with SDR content, brighter than 600 nits, makes HDR images can be shown fairly bright in most room. But like with SDR contents, when showing large white scene, its peak brightness also dims significantly to below 200 nits due TV’s ABL. The excellence, since they have self-lighting pixel that makes their lighting is very precision, when showing small bright object in a dark room, there is no blooming visible around the small bright object like we see on LED TVs. Overall, for OLED TVs, peak brightness of Sony A8F and A9F is excellent, but still not as good as what offered by LG OLED TV. Additionally, since their peak brightness is still less than 1000 nits, this certainly makes them are not able to show HDR images at 1000 – 4000 nits of targets like the creator’s intended. But even so, they are still able to show HDR images brighter than 550 nits like what recommended by UHD alliance for OLED TV.
Both Sony A9F and A8F equally can also produce wide color gamut and their color gamut is also similar. Both of them can cover more than 97% of DCI P3 color space and their color gamut is only a bit worse than Samsung Q7FN or Q8FN. This means it is excellent for HDR content that mastered in DCI P3 like HDR 10 images. Additionally, their color gamut coverage in Rec.2020 is more than 75%, wide enough to show colors of HDR Images mastered in Rec.2020 so looks very accurate and vivid. Color gamut produced by A8F and A9F is similar to what produced by LG OLED TVs like C8 or E8 or from other manufacturers that equally use LG’s OLED panel. While their color gamut is similar, the use of X1 Ultimate Engine makes Sony A9F has better color volume than A8F, particularly in very bright colors. Like LG OLED TVs, Sony A8F can produce very deep colors across its color gamut fairly well, but it cannot produce overly bright colors fairly accurate. Meanwhile for A9F, although it cannot produce colors as pure as white, but overall, it can well-produce its wide color gamut at its entire brightness range. The color volume excellence of A9F over A8F will be more noticeable when they are showing very bright scene like bright outdoor scene. Additionally, the use of X1 Ultimate engine also makes Sony A9F has better color gradient than A8F. On the screen of Sony A8F, some imperfections are still visible particularly in dark greens and reds. Meanwhile on the screen of A9F, although there are still little imperfection in all colors, gradient in every colors looks smoother than A8F. On the other hand, although not smooth as A9F, overall, color gradient of A8F also looks fairly good.
Side Viewing Angle
As we know, the other excellence offered by OLED TVs including Sony A9F and A8F than LED TV is about its excellent viewing angle coverage. Like on the screen of LED TV, color of images produced by them may still look shift at less than 30 degrees off center and front. But at wider angle, the color shift is not as significant as on LED VA panel. The brightness also looks decreased, but only if viewed from extremely side angle. This is far better than LED TVS with VA panel where usually their brightness usually will look decreased started at about 30 degrees off center and front. Meanwhile, the excellence offered by OLED TV including Sony A8F and A9F is about its ability in maintaining black level where black level produced by them will looks consistent at any angle, even when viewed from extremely angle. Their performance in maintain black level is certainly far better than LED TVs with VA panel where its black level usually start degraded at less than 15 degrees. The result, when viewed from the side, the picture displayed on the screen of A8F and A9F will looks far more consistent than LED TV even for LED TV with IPS panel.
Motion handling and 24p Playback
The other excellence of Sony A8F and A9F is about their outstanding pixel response time, allow them can do an excellent job in handling motion trail. Their pixel response time is extremely low, far lower than the lowest reached by LED TV. The result, when playing fast moving images like sports or fast movies, there is almost no ghosting trail visible behind fast moving object, while blur that may be still visible is more caused by persistence. Additionally, as typical of OLED TV, since both of them don’t have backlight, by default, this also makes their screen is nearly flicker-free. But on the other hand, flicker free will cause persistence blur that bother some people, particularly when they are playing 60 fps content. So for solving this issue, both of them have an optional BFI (Black Frame Insertion) mode at 60 Hz that can be enabling by setting “Motion Flow” to “Custom” and set “Clearness” to “High”. By enabling this feature, persistence blur that caused by 60 fps content will be minimized significantly, makes motion looks far clearer. But since their screen flickers at 60 Hz, this certainly makes flicker is visible for most people. This means you have two options. For you who don’t feel comfortable with flicker, you can disable this mode. But otherwise, for you who don’t feel comfortable with persistence blur, you can enable this mode.
Meanwhile, when they are playing movies, both Sony A9F and A8F also can do excellent job. No matter the frame rate of the movies, whether it is native 24p videos like DVD or Blu Ray’s movies, 24p videos via 60i signal like movies from satellite TV, 24p videos via 60p signal like movies from streaming device like Apple TV, Fire TV, etc, or movies from streaming apps like YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Videos, and others, all of them will be shown clearly and smoothly with judder-free. To remove the judder, you just need set to “MotionFlow” to “Custom”, “CineMotion” to “Auto”, and “Smoothness” to “Min”.
Like most of middle to upper TV, both Sony A8F and A9F are also equally equipped with 4 HDMI ports as their major connectivity where all of their HDMI ports already support HDCP 2.2, CEC, and HDMI 2.0 Full bandwidth. Additionally, 1 port also supports ARC (Audio Return Channel) that is on HDMI 3. Additionally, both of them are also equally equipped with 3 USB ports where 2 ports are USB 2.0 (USB2 and 3) and 1 port is USB 3.0 (USB1). In addition to USB and HDMI ports, they also equally have 1 RF IN (Terrestrial), 1 Composite IN (AV In), 1 Digital Audio Out (Optical), 1 Analog Audio Out (Mini Jack), 1 Ethernet port, and 1 RF IN for their IR Blaster. As their wireless connectivity, they equally equipped with built-in Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac and built-in Bluetooth.
Meanwhile, the excellence of A9F over A8F is about their input lags in “PC” and “Game” mode, particularly at 1080p resolution. At 4K resolution, the input lags of Sony A9F may be lower than A8F, but their difference is not too significant and essentially, the input lag of A8F is also fairly low. But even so, at 1080p resolution, the input lag of A9F is far lower than A8F. The input lag of A8F at 1080p resolution is even too high for fast paced games. With its excellent input lags, this makes playing any games with A9F will feel comfortable and responsively, even for fast paced games. Meanwhile, with A8F, playing 4K games may still feel comfortable and responsive but for 1080p games, it is only comfortable for casual games. While for fast paced games, you may be disappointed.
Both Sony A8F and A9F are equally featuring Google Android TV as their smart TV platform. But the difference, A9F comes with Android 8.0 Oreo while A8F comes with Android 8.0 Nougat. On the newer version, there is a significant update over previous version, particularly on their main interface. The main interface of Oreo version is better organized and more customizable than previous version. Additionally, now some apps like inputs and setting menu are moved to the top right of the screen and the apps. Overall, android 8.0 is easier to navigate than the previous version. In addition to their main interface, there are also some updates brought by Android Oreo that makes its performance is better than Android Nougat like their streaming ability or others. Additionally, the support of faster chipset also makes smart TV performance of A9F is faster and more responsive than A8F. Meanwhile, in term of apps provided, there are not many changes. As their preinstalled apps, there are some streaming apps like YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Videos, and others, Web browser, Live TVs, Chrome Cast, Games, and many more. The interesting is about their apps store called “Google Play Store”. We all know, Android TV is one of most popular OS that supported by thousands of developer that certainly makes apps, contents, games, and other provided by Google Play Store are also very a lot and complete. That is not less interesting, Android TV now has been also integrated with Google Voice Assistant and Google Home. With Google Voice Assistant, you can do a lot of more things with your voice commands. Meanwhile, Google Home allows you to monitor and control your other compatible devices like Washing Machine, Air Conditioner, Refrigerator, and others via your TV. Even not just Google Home Compatible Devices, but they also already support Amazon Alexa.
As their controller, Sony A8F and A9F have the same remote and also similar to we found on other models of Sony’s 2018 4K TV. Their remote is large and has a lot of buttons. In addition to basic buttons like volume button, power button, number buttons, direction buttons, and other, there is also a wide array of buttons that provide quick access to most functions. Additionally, there are also two dedicated buttons of Netflix and Google Play, allow you to launch these apps without entering the home menu. This remote is also equipped with built-in microphone for voice navigation. Since their platform has been integrated with Google Voice Assistant, their voice control can work excellently. With your voice command, you can change the input, set volume, launch apps, search within apps, ask some basic question, and many more. Their remote also supports CEC menu that allow you to control some functions of other CEC compatible devices connected on your Sony TV via HDMI ports.
|Performance||Sony A8F||Sony A9F|
As we have discussed a lot above, there are some advantages offered by A9F as higher model over A8F. One of the most prominent is about their design where A9F adopt the design of last year model A1E that called “One Slate” while A8F comes with conventional vertical design. Actually, their design is equally excellent. Nevertheless, this also comes back to your taste. Meanwhile, coming with a newer chipset called X1 Ultimate, Sony A9F offers some improvements over A8F that still powered by X1 Extreme. With this new engine, A9F can provide better color volume that makes it can produce more accurate color, particularly when showing bright scenes. Additionally, it also has smoother color gradient than A8F. The other advantage offered by A9F is about its input lags, where it has better input lags than A8F, particularly at 1080p resolution. The sound performance of A9F is also more powerful than A8F since it is powered by a sound system with 98 watts of total sound output, while the total sound output of A8F is only 50 watts. Additionally, the other advantage offered by A9F is about their smart TV platform where with Android Oreo that powered by a faster chipset, its smart TV performance is faster, more response and also easier to navigate than A8F with Android Nougat. Overall, A9F is better, but picture quality and performance offered by A8F is also already excellent.
Which is a better choice between them? As we have mentioned above, with all advantages offered, Sony A9F is sold hundreds dollar more expensive than A8F. But unlike LG OLED TVs lineup where their major difference is only on their design, while picture quality and performance of the lowest model is almost similar to the highest model, A9F has some advantages than A8F on some points like we have discussed a lot of above. And of course, hundreds dollar more for A9F is not only for its design. Now, the decision comes back to you according to your own preferences. But essentially, both of them are good TVs for you for variety of use.