Sony KD-65ZF9 test: our full review – Android TV

    With its new ZF9 TV, Sony is trying to prove that high-end LCD TVs always have a reason to exist. Available in two sizes: 65 inches for the KD-65ZF9 and 75 inches for the KD-75ZF9, it faces directly the Philips OLED 903 that we have already tested. But does he succeed in convincing the use? We tell you everything in our complete test.
The Sony ZF9 TV
Available screen sizes: 65 or 75 inches (165 or 190 cm)
Screen type: LCD, Direct LED backlight in local dimming
Definition: 4K UHD (3840 x 2160 pixels)
Software: Android TV (8.0)
HDR: Yes (HDR10, HLG, DolbyVision)
Connectors: 4xHDMI (4K, 60Hz, HDR), 3xUSB, IEC75 antenna, 2x satellite, Ethernet RJ45, optical output, headphone output, L / R audio input
WiFi: 5 (802.11ac)
Bluetooth: 4.2
Speaker: 2.0, 10W + 10W
Tuner: 2 digital, 1 analogue, 2 satellites (DVB-T / T2, DVB-C, DVB-S / S2)
Annual consumption: 225 kWh (65 ") or 326 kWh (75")
Dimensions: 1453/837/67 mm (65 ") or 1676/963/67 mm (75")
Weight: 28.2 kg (65 ") or 38.5 kg (75")
This test was performed with a model loaned by the manufacturer.
Design and connectivity
At first glance, the Sony ZF9 TV surprises with its imposing size. Admittedly, if it exists in 65-inch (KD-65ZF9) and 75-inch (KD-75ZF9), the Japanese manufacturer does not offer a model of its TV with a 55-inch screen. The Sony ZF9 is primarily designed for large living rooms and can hardly accommodate in a small studio or a student room.

From an aesthetic point of view, the Sony TV is quite classic with its thick black borders of 7 mm front. Note, however, that the manufacturer opted for a bimaterial effect with textured metal for the front frame and smoother metal on the back. The back of the TV is covered with a plastic with the same texture as the front. Overall, LCD technology requires, we can only emphasize the significant thickness of the TV with 2.3 cm at its minimum and up to 6.7 cm at the maximum.
Still on the back, we note that Sony offers a plastic cover to intelligently hide the connectors. Convenient when you want to place the TV in the middle of the living room, but also to optimize its cable management. Indeed, in addition to this plastic cover, Sony has also integrated a hollow in the feet of the ZF9 in order to pass the cables, power supply on the right, and HDMI and USB on the left.
Regarding the connectors there also nothing to complain about the Sony ZF9, it includes four HDMI sockets including an ARC socket regardless of the screen diagonal chosen, as well as two USB-A. Similarly, it is appreciated the ability to export the sound of the TV on a home theater with optical audio connectivity if desired.
The Sony ZF9 TV is equipped with the latest version of Android TV, the 8.0. He also has the security patch of July 2018, but after setting up the TV, he offered us the patch of October 2018.
The Android TV interface
Even if it is very close to the version 7.0 of Android TV by the organization of the home screen, Android TV 8.0 still brings a lot of evolutions. We find a storage of icons on the home by category: applications, my selection, Sony Select, Netflix, YouTube, Play Movies and TV, Play Music and Tutorials. An icon on the left of the line, however, just specify what types of content, where the latest versions of Android TV left somewhat the user in the blur. The opportunity also to ensure that we want to remove the "channels" Sony Select or Tutorials.
Android TV is a rather rich ecosystem of applications, it is quite possible to add others through the Play Store or simply using an APK, be it Twitch, Molotov or OCS. Good point, Amazon Prime Video is installed by default, just like Netflix. It should also be noted that some applications like Vimeo or OCS can add "strings" on the home screen. Convenient to highlight the contents of our favorite applications.
Several channels are available on Android TV
For the TV controls, Sony offers only one remote control with its ZF9 TV. Rather classic, it incorporates the buttons Netflix and Google Play as shortcuts and is rather complete, even if we would have liked a keyboard and more, to avoid moving through the virtual keyboard of the screen. In the menus of the TV, it is also possible to activate the voice recognition, used to launch Google Assistant or to avoid painfully entering the letters on the virtual keyboard.
Android TV requires, we appreciate that the Sony ZF9 natively integrates a Chromecast. On the other hand, the TV is not compatible with AirPlay or even DLNA technology. Finally, note that Sony offers a game mode in the display settings, to reduce the latency of the screen, the price of an image whose quality of treatment can be slightly reduced.
Image quality
The Sony KD-65ZF9 has a slab with a 4K Ultra HD resolution of 3840 pixels by 2160. On the KD-65ZF9 model with a diagonal of 65 inches you get a resolution of 68 pixels per inch (dpi). ) while on the KD-75ZF9 and its 75-inch screen, the resolution is 59 dpi. In all cases, the density is sufficient to take full advantage of the image from two meters distance.
The Sony ZF9 is compatible with 4K HDR
For its backlighting, Sony used Direct LED technology in local dimming. Yes, because despite the high price of nearly 3000 euros, the Sony ZF9 does not use an OLED but LCD panel. The manufacturer is catching up, however, thanks to a well-controlled HDR, both for native HDR content and those shot in SDR. The blacks stay deep enough and the whites are well lit thanks to the local dimming backlight, even if we naturally do not reach the level of what an OLED TV like the Philips 903 offers.
To handle the image processing, both for the 4K upscale HDR, Sony has used its image processor X1 Ultimate, the same that equips its TV OLED AF9, sold 1000 euros more. In use, we are faced with a compelling upscaling, even for Full HD content that can be found on OCS and which are converted artificially into 4K. The level of detail remains pleasing to the eye and the HDR processing allows to play well on the chiaroscuro in the scenes of Blade Runner 2049. Again, without being at the level of the image quality of the Philips TV, the Sony ZF9 is doing very well for an LCD model.
The TV is big, very big
Using our probe, we measured a color temperature at 9000K in standard mode. A lot too high, far from the recommended 6500K of natural light. By switching to a cinema picture mode, we are left with a white balance at 7200K, closer to the recommended color, but still far from perfect.
Cinema mode is best for viewing content.
We also measured a maximum brightness at 533 cd / m². A very high luminance that allows you to comfortably enjoy your screen without having to fear the glare of the sun in your living room. It is also appreciated that the TV has a brightness sensor to automatically adapt to the ambient light. Finally, the contrast we measured amounts to 3337: 1. A score there too far from what OLED TVs offer with their infinite contrast, but which remains extremely powerful for a LCD panel, especially thanks to the backlight dimming local.
Overall, even if we regret that at this price Sony does not offer an OLED panel like most of its competitors, it is clear that the LCD screen of the ZF9 is of excellent quality and achieves part to make forget the defects inherent to the technology.
The Sony TV is equipped with two stereo speakers with a power of 10W each. Speakers qualified "Bass Reflex" theoretically to increase acoustically the volume of the bass without it affecting the treble or midrange.
In fact, the finding is much more mixed. If the voices and the most acute sounds pass without any problem, it is less the case of the bass. The TV produces muted bass at low or medium volume and it is hardly better by increasing the overall sound power of the TV.A statement that holds as well when you want to listen to streaming music for action scenes which are clearly lacking in the absence of a real subwoofer or integrated passive radiator. We would have appreciated that the basses have their own speaker.
The TV has several audio modes
We will console ourselves by noting that the menus of the TV allow to modify the audio rendering. If the standard mode is disappointing, as we have seen, the sound reproduction is much warmer in "music" mode or in "cinema" mode. The first will produce a more balanced sound with more bass, while the second offers a wider sound even if the different voices mix more.
Price and availability
The Sony ZF9 TV is available around 3000 euros for the 65-inch version KD-65ZF9, and 5500 euros for the 75-inch model, KD-75ZF9.
Where to buy Sony KD-65ZF9 at the best price?
At this price of nearly 3000 euros, the Sony TV faces two competitors that we have tested, the Philips OLED 903 and LG OLED C8. Both TVs offer an OLED panel, but are more compact than Sony, with a model of only 55 inches for the same price.

Photo gallery

                    With its ZF9, Sony has taken a risk: offer a TV at nearly 3000 euros while maintaining an LCD panel. While it is undeniable that the proposed image processing is among the best for an LCD today, it is far from flawless. At this price, the Sony TV faces the competition of OLED tiles offering much better contrasts, brightness often more powerful and especially a much thinner design. The ZF9 may be an excellent LCD, it is not at the level of its OLED competitors at the same price. If it catches up with its largest diagonal screen – which reserves the largest shows – and version 8.0 of Android TV, the audio is unfortunately not at the level either. We will therefore prefer to ignore the Sony TV, despite its undeniable quality. Not because it's a bad TV, but because we find much better elsewhere, for a similar price.
                        Good points
                        High performance 4K HDR and upscaling processing
                                                            Android TV version 8.0
                                                            Good maximum brightness
                                                            Complete connectivity
                        Negative points
                        High price for LCD
                                                            Average sound quality
                                                            No keyboard on the remote
                                                            (no model 55 inches)


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