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FIRST LOOK: Sony A8F 4K UHD OLED TV, An Overpriced Shocker

Sony’s new 4K OLED TV is a shocker but what can expect from a Company that builds a product using third party manufacturers and other TV Companies parts.

I first saw this TV at CES, then in a set up here in Australia and to be honest for the price the latest A8F TV is like buying a car branded BMW that’s built by someone like Skoda or Ford without a price reduction. Sony is not the brand it once was and their latest TV is a Company trading on brand clout from the past.

The first thing you have to recognise is that Sony has spent the best part of the last decade losing money in the TV market. Where they use to build their own TV’s they now outsource to cheap TV builders and it’s starting to show.

The biggest component in their latest OLED TV offering is the display panel and that’s made by LG, as for their 4K HDR Processor X1 Extreme processing engine that is at least 18 months old. In comparison both Samsung and LG have this year delivered brand new processors for their top end 2018 TV’s and it shows with better colour management and brightness and significantly increased motion control which is ideal when watching sporting events such as the Soccer World Cup in Russia.

Even the Australian Financial Review who are big fans of Sony products described the A8F as ‘merely a cosmetic upgrade on last’s year’s model’

The publication claims that ‘For good and for bad, this year’s A8F looks more or less like all the other TVs on the market”.

The AFR also claimed that the remote control on the A8F is a disgrace.

It doesn’t even belong on Sony’s cheapest Android TVs, much less a premium TV such as the A8F. It’s odd that the company seems to have listened to complaints about the slight angle on last year’s A1 OLED and answered it by totally redesigning the whole look of the TV but is deaf to the cacophony of complaints about its remote controls.

If you are looking at this TV for the first time in a retail store don’t get sucked in because the demo video that Sony has given retailers is set to store mode and what you get when you get the TV home is nothing like what you see in store. This is an issue that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission needs to look at as it can be misleading for some consumers when visiting a retail store.

Trusted Reviews described the A8F as not being “a true ‘second-generation’ follow-up to last year’s wildly successful Sony A1”.

It’s a facelift, the opposite of the thing Apple does where they update an existing phone’s performance but leave the body identical. The performance is largely unchanged, but the body has had a tweak.
Sony is planning a firmware upgrade for the A8F later in the year and what I don’t know is whether this has come about because of complaints.

The most immediate change is that Sony has removed the flashy, pull-out stand around the back in favour of a regular slab of metal that holds the AF8 upright. I suspect that the design did not appeal to most consumers who either wall mount or cabinet mount their TV.

What is a plus is that Dolby Vision is now supported in addition to HDR10.The A8F models also still use Sony’s Acoustic Surface technology to make the screen the TV’s speakers, and still uses Android TV to provide its smarts, complete with built-in Chromecast.

I still not certain about this sound technology as audio is still hard to hear. As for my personal preference I find that audio is significantly improved when one attaches a pair of headphones to the TV either via a cable or via a Bluetooth connection.

At $3999 for a 55″ Sony OLED model and $5,999 for a 65-inch A8F model this is seriously overpriced with both Samsung, LG and Panasonic offering a better alternative.

I also suspect that October we will start seeing several brands selling an OLED with the same processing power of the A8F at half the price Sony is asking for a brand sticker stuck on an LG OLED TV panel. Among the brands planning an OLED TV for later this year are Philips, Hitachi, Toshiba and Blaupunkt.

Rating 4/10