Sony KD-55A1 Ultra HD 4K OLED TV Preview
Look ma, no speakers!
What is the Sony A1?To no one's surprise, Sony announced their long awaited A1 BRAVIA Ultra HD 4K OLED TV at CES 2017. The new model is available in three screen sizes, the 55-inch KD-55A1, the 65-inch KD-65A1 and the 77-inch KD-77A1. The new TV combines a flat UHD panel with support for High Dynamic Range, specifically HDR 10, HLG and, via a firmware update in the summer, Dolby Vision. The A1 uses Sony's X1 Extreme processor, which was launched last year on the ZD9, and includes the latest version of the Android Smart TV platform. Sony have also developed a new audio system that uses the screen itself as a speaker, keeping the design of the TV clean and minimalist.
DesignThe new A1 OLED TV uses a clean and minimalist design with nothing but a screen at the front. It also sits at a slight angle, reminding us of Sony's previous Monolith design, and the rear stand contains the electronics, connections and amplification. There is a removable panel behind which you'll find all the connections, including four HDMI inputs, and this also allows for tidier cable management. The stand has a subwoofer built-in, whilst two actuators attached to the rear of the panel use the screen itself as a speaker, thus allowing the panel to be only 8mm thick and keep the design clean and free of speakers. The stand can also be folded in towards the panel and the A1 wall mounted using a standard VESA wall bracket.
FeaturesSony's A1 OLED TV supports HDR 10 and, via a firmware update in the summer, Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) and Dolby Vision. The A1 uses the same X1 Extreme processor found on the ZD9, which includes dual databases, superbit mapping for 4K and object-based HDR remastering. There will also be an HDR gaming mode and the TV includes a proprietary filter to reduce reflections and eliminate any discolouration. The A1 will initially launch with Android M and be upgraded to Android N when the Dolby Vision update is released. However, one feature you won't find on the A1 is 3D because, along with all the other TV manufacturers, Sony has dropped that particular format from their 2017 line-up.
PictureThere's no point trying judge a display's picture quality on a show floor, only by objectively testing the TV in controlled circumstances can we fully establish the image capabilities of the A1. As is often the case with Sony they wouldn't confirm either the peak brightness or the size of the colour gamut but we will test for peak brightness performance in the most accurate picture mode, as well as the percentage of DCI-P3 and Rec.2020 that the A1 can reach. Naturally being an OLED TV the blacks looked impressive, even on the CES show floor, but we will have to wait until our actual review to see how the A1 performs just above black. The A1 did look impressive at CES, even if it was with content chosen by Sony, although at least they were also using film clips provided by Sony Pictures. When we actually review the A1 we will measure the greyscale and colour accuracy with both standard and high dynamic range content, as well as the black levels, peak brightness, contrast ratios, motion handling and video processing.
ConclusionThere's no question that Sony's announcement of the A1 is great news for TV enthusiasts, with the new OLED going models available from LG and Panasonic. The increased choice is obviously a good thing and allows Sony to being their video processing expertise to an OLED panel. The striking design and innovative sound system are also interesting and the new TV will support HDR 10, HLG and Dolby Vision. Once you add in the latest version of Android TV you have a potent mix and an OLED TV that is sure to be popular. Although Sony wouldn't confirm an exact release date, given the Dolby Vision update comes out in the summer we would expect to see the A1 released around the same time and pricing has yet to be announced.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £3,499.00
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