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Sony A8G / AG8 OLED TV Review

A beautiful – but expensive OLED display with the best upgrade capabilities in the segment

OUR DETERMINATION

The Sony A8G / AG8 OLED is an excellent 4K HDR TV with excellent image performance, incredible upgrade capabilities, and the best motion processing in the segment. We have some reservations about Sony’s Acoustic Audio Surface technology and plastic remote control that uses an IR blaster to control the TV, but it works in the only category that matters: image quality.

Sony A8G / AG8 OLED TV

FOR

Excellent 4K HDR performance
Super customizable images
Best Motion Processing

AGAINST

Average sound quality
Quite expensive
IR remote control is really terrible

When it comes to OLED TVs, you’ll probably think of LG – basically the only company in the world that produces enough panels on a large scale to supply the entire industry. But TV manufacturers that buy those panels (namely Sony and Panasonic) are using technology and making it their own with custom processors, borders, and stands designed indoors, as well as installing their own smart TV platform – or in the case of Sony, of a licensed partner.

The result is a TV that differs both in form, functionality, and price from the TVs that LG produces and therefore worth considering in more detail.

That leads us to the Sony A8G OLED (Sony AG8 if you are in the UNITED Kingdom and Europe) using an LG OLED panel and transmitting it with a Sony X1 Extreme processor and Android TV Oreo with the Google Assistant built into the TV.

Sure, it is a little more expensive than the lower-cost LG B9 OLED and LG C9 OLED, but if you want the best upgrade, motion processing, and image customization options, opt for the Sony A8G / AG8 OLED.

Price and release date

After more than a decade of designing OLED TVs, Sony shows no signs of slowing down: In 2019, Sony released the A9G OLED – which we love – and the Sony A8G OLED (see again here), as well as some LED-LCD TVs such as the Sony X950G (XG95) and Master Series Z9G.

The A8G/AG8, which come in two sizes, 55 inches and 65 inches, sold for $1,799 (£2,199, 3,195 Australian dollars) and $2,499 (£2,999), too. (Note: Only the 55-inch version is currently on sale in Australia.)

Those prices will likely fall when the Sony A8H OLED is released in late 2020, but it is now one of the more expensive OLED on the market and on par with the price of last year’s LG E9 OLED.

Design

Despite having the same place of birth as the panels in LG’s OLED B9 and C9 TVs, Sony chose to wrap it in a minimalist frame with a crescent-shaped stand. That gives it a slightly different look than the LG B9 OLED that uses a stand to keep the TV upright.

The stand can be rotated backward if you want a slightly different look, and in terms of cable management, you can thread the cord through the back of the TV foot, which will help your entertainment center look neater.

Although the bezel on the front is quite minimal, the TV is a bit cramped in the middle of the rear. It is where the internal parts of the TV are located and that is where you will find IO ports, which have a fairly rich number: On both 55-inch and 65-inch versions of this TV you will find four HDMI ports with HDCP 2.3 and one with ARC, along with a digital audio output, 3.5 mm backing and three USB ports.

For true TV enthusiasts, the Sony A8G / AG8 does not support eARC, nor does it have any HDMI 2.1 ports (something that is not modified for the next version of 2020, the Sony A8H OLED).

Last but not least, there is a physical power button and volume control button located next to the ports on the back in case you lose the remote control.

Speaking of remote control, perhaps this is our least loved design choice of the A8G – for a beautiful and advanced TV like this one, it is crazy that Sony still offers it an unnecessary large IR control.

It is easy to see that Sony wants to design an all-in-one type of remote that has both a numeric keypad, color buttons for choosing a cable box, a play control, a smart TV button, and buttons for your media players and digital set-top boxes. While this level of control is great, the remote is large, bulky, and always requires visibility for everything except the Google Assistant voice search.

Sony is very fortunate to offer a TV with an IR extender, which you will need to use if your soundbar covers the IR receiver on the front of the TV, but we want a Bluetooth remote with more streaming service shortcuts and a remote finder instead.

TL design; DR: The Sony A8G/ AG8 has all the elements of a high-end TV with a few unpleasant elements – such as a remote control and bulky middle part – from lower-end TVs.

Smart TVs (Android 8.0 Oreo)

Like the A9G OLED, the A8G steps down using Android Oreo – the latest version of Android TV that supports the built-in Google Assistant and a familiar line design that separates Android TV from smart TV platforms such as Tizen and WebOS.

Other TVs may have ruined Android TV for you – as the processors of some TVs are unlikely to keep up with the platform’s resource-intensive images – but on the A8G/AG8 everything is flexible and responsive, with a relatively deep catalog of applications. can be found along the bottom row.

Each row is an image that represents the content inside an app. For example, YouTube stores will have YouTube videos recommended to you based on what you’ve seen before. The same is true of the Netflix, Google Play Movies, and Play Music rows.

This design makes finding new content relatively easy, but it can bury the library of apps that you now need to scroll a little to access. Among the supported applications you will find Disney Plus, YouTube TV, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, Crunchyroll, CBS All-Access, ESPN, Starz, HBO Now and many more.

If you want to use your phone to control your TV, there are some third-party Sony remote apps that allow you to do it – but the best way is to use only the built-in Chromecast to transmit any content you want to watch from your phone to your TV. This feature is great if you have multiple people, each wanting to share media – for example, a group of you who want to show you different YouTube videos and can take turns streaming without connecting directly to your TV – or if you just want to share some quick images with your family on the big screen.

Like other Android devices, the Sony A8G comes with a built-in Google Assistant, which is especially useful if you are looking for a specific movie or for a particular actor/actor. After that, TVs can also be controlled by devices with other Google Assistants such as the Google Nest Mini, and there are even some limited crossovers with Amazon’s Alexa functionality. According to Sony, there are plans for support for Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit, but they are not available for us to the check-in time for this review.

Smart TV TL; DR: Android TV can be a mixed bag in terms of performance, but on the A8G / AG8 it works great and is fully offered all the most popular applications.

HD/SDR Performance

Any old 4K TV can take Ultra-HD content and make it look great, but the Sony A8G / AG8 is one of the few that can take any content, regardless of age and quality, and make it shine. That’s mainly thanks to the X1 Extreme Processor that uses a multiple-face upgrade process to reduce particles, sharpen edges, and enhance colors. This is something that all 4K TVs do to some extent, but hardly any TV does it as well as Sony.

To test the courage of the A8G, we launched The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring on DVD – a classic film worth reviewing every few years. result? The Shire, always looking picturesque thanks to its New Zealand setting, looks particularly green on the A8G, with its stunning green and bright blue skies, and the Lothlorien and Mines of Moria forests have an almost elegant look – which we are loved for.

Other dark scenes that may look grainy and gray on other TVs, like The Battle at Weathertop, look great on the A8G/AG8 due to noise reduction algorithms and real black re-regeneratable OLED panels.

The only limitation to the TV’s HD/SDR performance is that it can suffer a slight deterioration in blackness when there is not enough data in the video – basically, anything near black is reduced to black instead of natural colors – and the TV can capture scenes that are colorful and a little too much with it. (The Rivendell scene from The Fellowship of the Ring is insanely orange with standard settings.)

The other difference, and may not matter to most, is that the X1 Extreme Processor does not make object-based HDR improvements the way the X1 Ultimate Processor does. That means that some of the objects on the screen may look sharper and more vivid on the more expensive A9G, but we neither notice it nor affect our viewing experience.

At the end of the day, this TV offers better HD/SDR performance than most other TVs – and that’s before you get to the world of high-octane 4K HDR content.

HD/SDR TL performance; DR: It may be a bit overwhelming in some scenes, but most X1 Extremes do a great job of upgrading and improving old HD/SDR footage.

4K/HDR Performance

While OLED TVs have been once appreciated for lower brightness levels than LCD monitors, the A8G / AG8 will surprise you with a maximum brightness of 800 nits. That’s not as much as the Samsung Q90 QLED or Vizio P-Series Quantum X, both of which easily reach 2,000 nits – but that’s a big improvement over previous generations.

That increase in brightness means that the A8G/AG8 looks great in both dark settings and a light-filled living room while making HDR content look more colorful and impacted.

That said, Sony is quite cautious when categorizing its colors and tends to be less brilliant than other manufacturers. Based on its reference-level partner – Sony’s Pro OLED home screen, the BVM-X300 – A8G/AG8 creates images that look natural as soon as they ship and can be truly tweaked the way you want with Sony’s deep customization options. Image pre-settings include Vivid, Standard, Cinema, Games, Custom, Graphics, and Photos, with a fairly flexible Standard and can be applied in most cases.

You will have a little fewer options when it comes to setting motion processing intensity, but overall, the default MotionFlow and CineMotion settings (set to ‘5’ and ‘High’, respectively) are pretty great.

Two big disappointments here are the lack of Netflix Correction Mode, which Sony offers on both the A9G/ AG9 and X950G / XG95, but also the lack of any screen synchronization technology such as AMD FreeSync or Nvidia G-Sync.

However, the A8G/AG8 will automatically switch to low latency gaming mode when a game console is detected, so that’s a big plus.

In terms of format, this TV supports Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG, and has Dolby Atmos switched over if you have a soundbar speaker or a compatible speaker system.

Another positive note for lovers of movies and watching television: not many monitors can compete with A8G / AG8 in contrast. That makes it a perfect companion for shows like Night on Earth or Altered Carbon, both of which have alternating scenes between light areas and completely dark parts. There is a TV that can handle both without a truly great color range or color decentralized.

4K/HDR TL performance; DR: If you’re the perfect image-like type and not too saturated, this is the OLED you’re looking for.

Sound

Like other OLED displays in the product line, the A8G/AG8 uses Sony Audio Surface Sound technology instead of traditional speakers to add sound to excellent image performance. Overall, Sony’s exclusive technology gives pretty good sound, but it’s still not perfect, especially when stacked on a proper soundbar.

For those who missed the launch of the Sony A1E OLED in 2016, acoustic Surface Audio uses acts attached to the back of the TV to create sound with a screen.

The result is a sound that seems to come from the middle of the screen and creates a wide field: The voice seems to come directly from the lips of actors and actresses, and although it lacks some bass, music still does a good job of filling the entire room.

The only problem with Sony’s Audio Surface Sound solution is that the sound field comes with clarity – especially at the low end. Unfortunately in large rooms, dialogue can be lost and bass brings but without any real power behind it. Admittedly, traditional speakers don’t usually work better in these types of conditions, but it’s particularly annoying that your TV costs as high as this OLED.

TL audio; DR: For most living room settings, the A8G/AG8 offers good sound with a wide field, but those with wide and airy spaces should be vigilant.

Other plates to ponder …
The biggest competitors to the A8G / AG8 are LG’s OLED B9 and C9 TVs from 2019 since they use the same correct panel with slightly different processors, exterior designs, and speakers, as well as WebOS instead of Android TV.

The reason you choose LG OLED is that it’s about $500 cheaper – and sometimes higher when they’re discounted. The Sony A8G/AG8 will undoubtedly cost more, and what it offers – better upgrade and motion processing – may not be worth the less interested viewers.

Final verdict

After more than a month of using it, we are really impressed with the A8G / AG8. Sony remains the king of upgrades – taking old HD/SDR DVD scenes and making it look modern – and always impresses with its natural imagery and perfect motion processing in the frame. We have some reservations about Sony’s Acoustic Audio Surface technology and plastic remote control that uses an IR blaster to control the TV, but it works in the only category that matters: image quality.

In fact, we recommend buying this instead of a Sony A9G/AG9 if you want to save around $1,000/£1,000. The second one gives you a slightly better processor, better remote control, and Netflix Correction Mode, but the A8G looks the same in many respects so small extras may not be very important.

That being said, it remains on the expensive side, especially compared to the LG B9 and C9 OLED – since they cost much less and offer many of the same image quality at a more pleasant price. You will lose some of Sony’s exclusive technology, but for some, saving $500 is absolutely worth the trade-off.

Looking forward to seeing A8G / AG8 in our list of the best 4K TVs

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