2020 has changed the way we consume media. For obvious reasons, the whole going out and about and seeing things has receded. So as we are all hunkered down inside our homes, a TV has become a prime canvas of cinema and entertainment for us. Now, if you google for the best TV, one name that ranks high on the ladder is — Sony A8H.
Sony has gone all out on making this flagship offering an absolute piece of tech. Here, just take a look at its kitchen sink of specs:
Sony A8H Specs
|Model||Sony A8H OLED|
|Size tested||65-inch (164 cm)|
|Dimensions (HxWxD)||Approx. 57 1/8 x 33 x 2 1/8 inch (1,448 x 836 x 52 mm) w/o stand|
Approx. 57 1/8 x 33 3/4 x 12 7/8 inch (1,448 x 857 x 326 mm) w/ stand
|Weight||Approx. 21.8/23.6 kg (with/without stand)|
|HDR formats supported||HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG|
|Video processor||Picture Processor X1 Ultimate|
|Picture modes||Vivid, Standard, Cinema, Game, Graphics, Photo, Custom, Dolby Vision Bright, Dolby Vision Dark, Netflix calibrated|
|Special Display features||4K X-Reality PRO clarity enhancement, X-Motion Clarity (for 120Hz BFI) Live Color enhancement, Dynamic Contrast Enhancer, Pixel Contrast Booster, Object-based Super Resolution, Object-based HDR remaster, Triluminos Display, Hands-free voice control|
|Audio||Audio Acoustic Surface Plus, Dolby Atmos, DTS Digital Surround, Voice Zoom. S-Force simulated Front Surround|
|Audio modes||Standard, Dialog, Theater, Music, Sports, Dolby Audio|
|Software||Android TV 9.0 with Google Play Store apps|
|Onboard CPU and Storage||Mediatek MT5893; 16 GB|
|Connectivity||HDMI inputs 4 (2.0a Full Bandwidth; HDCP 2.3 (HDMI 1,2,3,4), HDMI-CEC, ARC, eARC) |
USB 3 (FAT16/FAT32/exFAT/NTFS)
Digital Optical Audio Out 1
Analog Audio Out 3.5mm 1
Composite In 1 (adapter required, not incl.)
Tuner (Cable/Ant) 1
IR In 1
|Wireless||Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 GHz, 5 GHz), Chromecast, Apple Airplay, Apple Homekit, RF|
|Power Requirements||99W ~ 159W (max), 0.5W (in standby), Backlight off mode, Dynamic backlight control|
The big TV has been part of my small home for about a week now and here’s how my experience went about. I’ll be sharing the lot you could expect, the little (but perhaps of significance to you) things you’d be missing, and by the end, you’d know whether it’s the ultimate TV you are looking for.
Welcome, this is the Smartprix review of the Sony Bravia A8H 4K OLED TV. Feel free to time jump to the specific section you are interested in —
- Sony A8H Review: Design, Remote, and Setup
- Sony A8H Review: Software and Settings
- Sony A8H Review: Display, Audio, and Connectivity
- Sony A8H Review: Verdict
Sony A8H Unboxing and Setup
- AC Power Cord (detachable)
- Table Top Stand
- Setup and Instructions guide
The TV comes in an elephantine cardboard box. Inside, the TV sits shielded by styrofoam casing. It will take 2 or more people to pick it out and set it on a table or wall. The tabletop stands are easy to slot in. Here, follow this video demonstration that should help:
The whole affair takes around 15 mins. Needless to say, it’s better to proceed with caution.
On with the review then.
The A8H is flat as a pancake. The slim jim (0.8cm wide) has got narrow rims and even when it’s turned off, its design is something any onlooker would envy. Just find a good place to seat/mount the thing. The stand can be used in two height settings (four pieces: two feet and two brackets). Prop it higher, if you want to place a soundbar or streaming box beneath it.
Regardless of whether it’s sitting on a table or flush on the wall, in one look, one might wonder about its guts. Well, it’s nuts and bolts, ie., the motherboard and machinery are enclosed within a plastic casing behind the display panel. The back of the screen is thus primarily metal with a plastic backpack. If I were to nitpick, I would say the plastic here and on the remote and charging plug doesn’t feel very “premium”. But, those things are in no way obvious or impacting the user experience.
ALSO READ: Realme Smart TV SLED 4K 55-inch Review
The minimalism is all the more attained through a neat cable management trick. It’s as simple as routing the wire through the cavity within the stand’s feet.
The remote is similar to what we had used with the A9G (review). It’s serviceable thanks to all the versatile buttons on the deck. Plus the voice control support is nifty to have. If only it had Bluetooth connectivity and backlighting it would’ve been more convenient in certain situations. If I’m not wrong, I believe Sony has released an updated remote with a dedicated Google Assistant button, Bluetooth connectivity, etc.
Anyway, pressing the power button turns on the system. The initial setup process is fairly simple and straightforward. Some of the screens that come include Google sign-in, privacy disclosure, audio tuning with respect to the position of the TV in your room, and the pairing of external devices.
A8H is runs Android TV (ver. 9.0) software. It features the whole suite of Google Play Store library. You can install games and apps to your heart’s desire. For starters, I would recommend Solid Explorer for file management, Puffin for internet browser, VLC for video viewing (although the default media player is pretty functional), and Android TV for wireless control.
The UI feels very responsive without any noticeable lags or judders. Even the boot times are impressively quick. Whilst using, I had got an OTA update and download takes place seamlessly behind the scenes and intimates you for a restart when it’s done.
Coming to qualms, there are two. First, the “suggested content” can’t be removed directly from the “customize channel” option. Instead, you have to follow a workaround (uninstalling the Android TV Core Services), the tutorial for which you can find online. But hey, do it at your own risk. Second, the typing experience on Android TV, especially in areas like YouTube Search, can be annoying. Now, I understand they are not the fault of the manufacturer, per se. But, they are irksome and something you may feel too.
Besides those, the software UX is rather sorted here. You get to tweak pretty much every aspect of the TV experience. More on that in the coming section.
The out of the box calibration feels quite close to accurate. One could feel the premium-ness oozing out of the 65-inch slab of spectacle. There are several visual modes to choose from. I prefer Cinema mode, although the Standard preset is pleasing too. Vivid overdoes the saturation and isn’t my niche. If you intend to game, then the Game mode should prove more ideal for smoother frames/ lower latency.
I ran everything from HDR scenic videos on YouTube, 4K movies to some games. The OLED screen is capable of projecting 10bit colors (97% DCI-P3 gamut) with rich production, near-perfect viewing angles, deep blacks, and stark contrasts. The TV is powered by Sony’s in-house X1 ultimate picture processor, aided by a bunch of enhancement agents like Triluminous for colors, 4k X-Reality Pro for clarity, Pixel Contrast Booster, X-Motion Clarity for motion smoothing, among other things. That’s a boatload of jargon, IKR. You just outta know the A8H is equipped with techniques to tweak an already amazing screen.
As a side note, you are better off with the Enhanced HDMI signal format (within settings menu) for engrossing in the 4K 60Hz and 10-bit HDR goodness.
To test the contrast and blacks, I played Blade Runner 2049, which is a Future Noir flick. I was amazed by the way the TV handled various electric neon aesthetics (no particular blooming or bleeding instance) whilst retaining the details in the dark portions. There were a lot of scenes where the characters come out of shadows, and the transition was smooth with no noise.
The magic of Black Frame Insertion was evident in fast-paced action sequences in cinematic gems like Ready Player One and Train to Busan. I didn’t witness any tearing or banding issues. The TV curtails reflections to a great extent, whilst consuming media, that is.
The Sony TV also features Netflix Calibrated Mode, Dolby Vision (Player-led), ARC, and even eARC (an HDMI 2.1 spec). That means you can send better, uncompressed HiFi (Dolby and DTS) Bluray/4K Bluray content from your TV to any AV receiver at faster speeds.
But, all is not good. The absence of a full flat HDMI 2.1 means you don’t enjoy VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) and 4K content at 120Hz. And something you may care about, although I didn’t face is image retention or worse, a Permanent Burn-in risk (a known problem with OLEDs). Modern OLED panels are really good at handling burn-in and we don’t think this is something you need to fret about much.
As for the audio, you get 2 actuators and 2 subwoofers, and the output emerges from the screen. Yes, the glass vibrates to produce sound. And lemme tell you this thing works. It is rapt enough and rather refined for an actual soundbar alternative. Now, if you have a massive room then, going with a really good speaker system might not be a bad idea.
And finally, it’s time for the…
Sony A8H is a visual nirvana. Yep, just like the pitch, it has got a captivating display and powerful audio delivered from a sleek and stylish design. The software is functional too and features a galore of apps at your disposal. So, I don’t have any major misgivings about what it offers.
But, what it doesn’t might bother you. Yes, I am referring to HDMI 2.1. In 2020, the lack of it is sorely missed. In Sony’s own words, “If you wish to purchase a new TV consider one that supports HDMI 2.1 features to enhance your viewing experience on next-generation consoles and video devices”. I agree, it is something that you either care about or won’t even notice.
So, unless you are a competitive gamer who must have 4K120hz and VRR, the Sony A8H deserves a Solid A for all it brings to the table (or wall). It costs a fortune for sure, but then this is a remarkable thing to experience.
- Amazing OLED display
- Compelling audio output
- Feature-rich software with useful customization options
- Voice Control and Google Assistant and Alexa
- Built-in Chromecast, AirPlay, and Homekit.
- Missing HDMI 2.1 (No VRR and 4K120Hz)
- Neither Bluetooth nor backlighting on the remote
- Typing on Android TV is a chore
Sony A8H FAQ
Q. Does Sony A8H support eARC?
A. Yes, the HDMI 3 port features eARC.
Q. Does Sony A8H support HDMI 2.1?
A. No Sony A8H doesn’t support HDMI 2.1. So, it doesn’t do VRR and 4K120Hz either.
Q. Does Sony A8H support Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision?
A. Yes, Sony A8H supports both Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision.
Q. Does Sony A8H support AirPlay?
A. Yes, Sony A8H does support AirPlay and Homekit.
Q. Does Sony A8H have Bluetooth?
A. Yes, you can use Bluetooth headphones, speakers, and soundbars with Sony A8H.
Q. Does Sony A8H support Chromecast?
A. Yes, Sony A8H features Chromecast built-in.