In the test, the Sony Bravia A8 proved to be an all-round beautiful television, which also plays well in terms of picture and sound quality. Now it is over 40 percent cheaper! At the current price, the OLED TV is even more seductive. The TV consists practically only of a screen, frames or speakers cannot be seen.
Sony Bravia A8 Review
No speakers are visible on the Sony Bravia A8, the television uses its super-flat OLED screen as a huge speaker membrane. This Sony trick isn’t new, but it’s still good. The sound comes in the best possible clarity from where it belongs in the middle of the picture.
The picture is also pleasing, the colors are brilliant and natural, as is typical for OLED, and the A8 is a bit restrained in terms of maximum brightness. The Android operating system is boring Sony to AirPlay and HomeKit for Apple users, the app selection includes the most important streaming services. In addition, videos can be started from the smartphone via Chromecast, a great package.
It looks like applied minimalism: The Sony Bravia A8 doesn’t have a millimeter too much frame. Viewed from the side, it resembles the often quoted line in the landscape. This Sony television is virtually pure screen. This makes it ideal for wall mounting, but there is another important reason. The test reveals which it is and whether the device is convincing in terms of quality and features.
Sony Bravia A8 OLED screen for top picture quality
Sony uses a so-called OLED screen in the Bravia A8. In contrast to the more widespread LCD screens, this technology works with self-illuminating pixels, millions of tiny LEDs made of organic material form the individual pixels. The advantages of this technology: With the pixels switched off, perfect deep black can be displayed. LCD screens, on the other hand, only create a very dark gray.
The difference can be seen in completely darkened rooms. But the color rendering also benefits from the deep black background of the OLED screens in lighter surroundings. In addition, there is great viewing angle stability and fast switching times for streak-free playback. OLED televisions always work with double the refresh ratefrom 100 to 120 Hertz. The anti-reflective coating is good, the reflections are less noticeable than you would expect from such a black glass surface. The Sony A8 remote control includes a microphone for the Google Assistant. It can also be used to find YouTube or Netflix videos.
Sony Bravia A8: The screen is also the speaker
The screen is of course not everything in a television. Sony packs the compulsory electronics from power supply unit through image processing, main processor and RAM to the receiver and connections in a 4.5 centimeter flat housing that takes up almost two thirds of the back of the screen. This is hardly noticeable even when looking from the side, from most perspectives the Sony looks like a pane of glass a few millimeters thick.
The only question left is: what to do with the speakers? There is no frame for it, the otherwise common hiding place in the bottom would not sound ideal. The solution has already been found in the previous models Bravia A1 and AG9 Proven: Sony also uses the OLED panel as a loudspeaker in the A8. The manufacturer calls this “Acoustic Surface Audio“. To do this, Sony installs special speaker drivers on the back of the screen. They put the entire screen in the desired vibrations to generate sound.
They are not visible, but the resulting sound quality is really good with excellent speech intelligibility. Nice side effect: the sound comes advantageously from the center of the picture and spreads more evenly in the room than with conventional speakers. Two woofers in the back support the screen speakers. Sony crowns the good sound properties with an automatic calibration (“Acoustic Auto Calibration”), the feet can be mounted upright on the outside (picture) or further inside flat under the Sony A8.
The Sony A8 isn’t the brightest, but it’s consistently good
In terms of image quality, the Sony doesn’t let anything burn thanks to the OLED screen technology. There was nothing wrong with the color matching in the test, and the brightness levels also corresponded exactly to the specifications. Sony drives the maximum brightness (650 candela per square meter) less than other manufacturers with their OLED televisions. This is hardly noticeable in practice because the maximum brightness only occurs selectively anyway.
On the other hand, this measure reduces the risk of burn-in effects. Nothing of this was seen in the test, even after long-term display of test images. The color gamut of the Sony A8 determined with Portrait Displays Calman is typical for OLED televisions: It reaches far into the peaks of the brightly highlighted target color space without oversaturated with over-saturated colors.
Sony Bravia A8: The best picture settings for the Sony A8
In its factory settings, the Sony A8 initially pleases with a crisp picture, but if you take a closer look, you notice that the colors and contrasts are too cool. The image quality is significantly better in the “User” image mode. The light sensor is activated at the factory, which regulates the image according to the ambient brightness. It can stay switched on. Whether and how the Sony smooths movements in films can be set under “Motionflow“.
The automatic option delivers good results without annoying artifacts. The “X-Motion Clarity” improves the sharpness of movement, but costs a bit of image brightness and that is a matter of taste. The automatic settings for both noise suppression work very well in practice. In addition, graduated color gradients (” banding “) can be created very nicely with the “Uniform gradation” option in the middle setting The Sony manages all of this without any significant side effects. The Sony A8 showed the best possible image quality in the “User” image mode.
Sony is also opening up Android to Apple users
As is typical for Sony, the equipment is complete. In addition to four HDMI connections, there is an analog AV input on the back, for example for an old game console. For the latest Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 consoles, the Sony A8 is not the very first choice, because its HDMI inputs can digest a maximum of 60 frames per second, but the new consoles can deliver 120 Hertz and variable frame rates.
These features of HDMI 2.1, the Sony A8 is not capable of doing this. The games with which this is noticeable must first be shown in practice with the new consoles. The Sony also has a headphone connection, alternatively Bluetooth headphones can be connected. The quick menu is useful for such actions, as it allows users to adjust their needs as quickly as possible. Interesting: The Sony TV is compatible with AirPlay and HomeKit, an unusual feature for an Android device.
The iPhone users are happy to be able to send photos and videos to the Sony screen via WLAN and to integrate it into the automated system of the Apple Smart Home. Sure with an Android TV: Apps for the common streaming providers can be installed there, plus a few games and music offers. The back of the Sony A9 is well equipped with four HDMI inputs, AV input, three USB ports and TV sockets for cables and antennas as well as satellite.
Test conclusion of Sony Bravia KD-65A8 and KD-55A8
No speakers are visible on the Sony Bravia A8, the television uses its super-flat OLED screen as a huge speaker membrane. This Sony trick isn’t new, but it’s still good. The sound comes in the best possible clarity from where it belongs in the middle of the picture. The picture is also pleasing, the colors are typical OLED brilliant and natural. The Android operating system is drilling Sony with AirPlay and HomeKit for Apple users, the app selection includes the most important streaming services. In addition, videos can be started from the smartphone via Chromecast, a great package.
Sony offers the A8 in two sizes. The screen of the tested KD-65A8 is 164 centimeters. The market launch cost 3,300 euros, but with a little luck it is now available for less than 2,000 euros. The KD-55A8 is 140 centimeters tall and has dropped even more in price. At the beginning, 2,600 euros were due, now it’s only 1,400 euros. Things look a little different with the even smaller OLED television from Sony. The Sony KD-48A9 in the new 48-inch format with 121 centimeters of image size is stable at 1,600 euros and is therefore even a little more expensive than its big brother.
Sony Bravia A8 Pros:
- Good tone
- Great picture quality
- Extensive equipment
Sony Bravia A8 Cons:
- Instructions in the menu difficult to use
- No time shift function