On the occasion of the latest IFA, Sony has introduced two TVs, an LCD model, the ZF9 that we have already tested, and a higher-end OLED, the Sony AF9. After testing the LCD TV of the Japanese manufacturer, the time has come to switch the OLED TV to the test bench. Here is our full review on the Sony KD-65AF9.
The Sony AF9 TV with Android TV
This test was performed with a 65 inch model loaned by the manufacturer.
Design and connectivity
While the Sony ZF9 was available in 65 and 75 inches, the Sony AF9 TV is offered with lower screen diagonals, for 55 (130 cm) or 65 (164 cm) inches. The model we were able to test was the 65 inch, also known as its charming code name Sony KD-65AF9.
The edges of the TV are only one centimeter wide
The first thing that marks with the Sony TV is its particularly licked design. The Japanese manufacturer offers very neat finishes with particularly fine screen borders. We find edges of 1 cm wide all around the screen except below, with 2 cm wide. These thicker edges at the bottom are actually very simple: the Sony TV has no foot, the tile is placed directly on the furniture and stands straight thanks to a base system that unfolds at the back.
At the finest, that is to say on most of the slab, the TV is 1 cm wide. With the extended foot, which contains most of the electronics, there is however 32 cm thick. Another particularly valuable point concerns the materials used. We find metal on the entire edge of the TV, and glass (or plastic imitation glass) on the back. The foot can be dressed with a fabric covering to hide the connectors. Thus, the TV can easily adapt with style to any situation, even placed in the middle of the living room. Especially since we will appreciate the integrated cable management system, with clamps to group the different elements.
The connectors, accessible at the bottom of the foot of the Sony AF9
Nevertheless, this design is not free of defects, especially in terms of connectors. Because of their location, down the foot, they can be complicated to access. Only one HDMI socket (out of a total of four) can be accessed directly to the left of the foot, provided you remove a small plastic cover, just like a single USB port (on three), found on the right of the foot. For all other connectors, it will necessarily be placed on the back of the TV and remove the fabric cover, even if you have to move the Sony AF9 for this if necessary. So be careful to connect all your devices, consoles, box or Blu-Ray player at once, under penalty of having to often move the animal, from 30 to 35 kg depending on the model anyway.
In addition to the four HDMI sockets (HDCP 2.3, CEC, eARC, up to 4K 4096 × 2160 at 60Hz) and the three USB sockets, you will find complete connectivity with RF, IF, composite video output, optical digital audio output and headphone output.
The Sony AF9 is equipped with Android TV version 8.0.0. At the time of writing this test in early February 2019, however, it only had the October 2018 security patch.
We find very logically the same software interface as the Sony ZF9 tested last December. On the home screen, icons are categorized – called strings on Android TV. You can add a Netflix channel that includes video service suggestions, a YouTube channel with your subscriptions, or an application channel with your favorite apps. Note also that the Google Play Store can integrate many other applications optimized for a TV like Twitch, OCS or myCanal. In total, the TV also offers 16 GB of storage, enough to allow you to directly store some video files without necessarily having to connect an external hard drive or a USB key.
The Sony AF9 includes Google Assistant activable voice or remote control
For control of the TV, note that it integrates natively the Chromecast function, like all TVs on Android TV. It is also possible to control the TV with the smartphone through the Android TV application on Android, but also to search or fill certain text fields by voice using Google Assistant. This function can be convenient because of the TV's rather limited remote control. It does not include a keyboard and it will necessarily go through the virtual keyboard on the screen and the multidirectional cross to enter laboriously letter after letter.
The Sony AF9 TV uses an Ultra HD OLED panel incorporating a total of 3840 x 2160 pixels. In addition, it is compatible with all major HDR codecs, including HDR10, HLG and even Dolby Vision. It should be noted that Sony is the only manufacturer of TVs Android TV to integrate Dolby Vision codec. Allowing for the encoding of 12 bits of information, compared to 10 for the HDR 10, it is currently the richest in terms of depth of contrast or richness of colors. For upscaling to 4K as for HDR, the Sony AF9 relies on the last home chip of the manufacturer, the image processor X1 Ultimate.
The Sony AF9 features a 4K HDR10 compliant Ultra HD image and Dolby Vision
In use, the image may appear a little blue in standard mode. Our test probe actually measured it at a temperature of 8500K, well above the 6500 K recommended for the temperature of white light. However, by activating the "expert" picture mode, the TV makes perfect sense. Colorimetry is much better with a white temperature around 6400K. The infinite contrast of the image, due to both the OLED and the Dolby Vision HDR for the codec compatible content, will also be appreciated. The TV easily manages to illuminate particularly bright points of the image while maintaining close elements with very dark pixels, almost extinct.
The contrast is particularly deep on the TV
Note that the TV can go up to a maximum brightness of 240 cd / m², which can be a bit low given the glossy coating and reflections that can project on the TV, and down to a minimum of 62 cd / m² (on white).
The Sony TV offers a total of eight modes of calibration: Vif, Standard, Cinema, Games, Graphics, Photo, Custom and a mode specifically designed for Netflix, without there being any real difference. As we have seen, we will generally advise the Expert mode. However, to play, we generally prefer to go through the Games mode that reduces the image processing to have a lower latency between the interactions with the controller and their display on the screen.
The subwoofers are housed in the foot
The Sony TV uses Acoustic Surface Audio + technology. In other words, it is equipped with a screen vibration system to turn it into a speaker on four different points. In addition to these four midrange speakers, the Sony AF9 has two tweeters in the back, but also a subwoofer on the back, at the foot. All in all, we have 4 x 13 W for midrange, 2 x 13 W for treble and 2 x 10 W for bass.
Six audio modes are available on the Sony AF9
Sony offers six sound modes on its TV: Standard, Dialogue, Cinema, Music, Sports, Dolby Audio. The first, activated by default, is rather dull and we prefer to quickly switch to Cinema, Music or Dolby Audio mode to better enjoy the sounds. We appreciate the very good sound power of the TV which, even at high volume, does not saturate. Above all, the bass is particularly present thanks to the two integrated boxes, enough to enjoy pleasant scenes of action. Finally, the TV is compatible with many audio codecs, be it Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Pulse, Dolby AC-4 or Digital Surround DTS. The surround effect can be manually set in the Sony AF9 settings.
Price and availability
The Sony AF9 TV is available in two screen diagonals: 55 or 65 inches. The smallest model is available around 2500 euros, while the largest version appears at 3500 euros.
Where to buy Sony KD-55AF9 at the best price?
For a similar price, Sony also offers an LED LCD TV with larger diagonals of 65 and 75 inches, the Sony ZF9. In addition, Philips offers the OLED 903 TV, while LG markets its C8 model. Both are available below 2500 euros.
The Sony AF9 TV offers stunning picture quality, thanks to the depth of its OLED, but also the excellent image processing in HDR with HDR10 and Dolby Vision codecs. The same goes for the sound quality, which is particularly convincing if you leave the standard mode. The TV offers a well spatialized sound, rich and with good bass. However, the TV is slightly penalized by its ergonomics. As Android TV remains a good system, the integration of Google Assistant is fluid and the aesthetics of the TV is full of the view, as some choices seem strange. Accessibility to different jacks can be quite complicated on the back of the TV and the remote control lacks at least a physical keyboard to type some elements in text fields like Netflix for example.
Flawless image quality
Very good audio performance
Very convincing design
Remote control inconvenient
Hard to reach jacks