When it comes to 4K OLED TVs, you probably think of LG – the only company in the world that produces enough panels on a scale to supply the entire industry. But the TV manufacturers that buy these panels (i.e., Sony and Panasonic) take over the technology and make it their own with custom processors, self-designed edges and stands, and install their smart TV platforms – or in the case of Sony, a licensed partner. This is our Sony A8G OLED TV Review.
The result is a TV that differs in form, function, and price from the TVs LG produces and is therefore worth watching. That brings us to the Sony A8G OLED (Sony AG8 if you’re in the UK and Europe), which takes an LG OLED panel and imbues it with Sony’s X1 Extreme Processor and Android Oreo TV with Google Assistant built into the TV itself. Of course, it’s a bit more expensive than the cheap LG B9 OLED and LG C9 OLED, however, if you want The Best upscaling, motion processing and image adjustment options, look no further than the Sony A8G/AG8 OLED.
Sony A8G OLED TV Review: Design
Although it has the same birthplace as the panels in LG’s B9 and C9 OLED TVs, Sony chose to place that panel in a minimalist frame with a crescent-shaped tripod. This gives it a bit different look than the LG B9 OLED, which uses a base to keep the TV upright. The stand is reversible if you want a different look, and in terms of cable management, you can pull cords through the back of the TV’s legs, which should help to make your entertainment center look neat.
While the bezel at the front is quite minimal, the TV is a bit crumbly in the back of the middle part. That’s where the TV’s internals are hosted, and that’s where you’ll find the IO ports, which are quite generous in quantity: On both the 55-inch and 65-inch models of this TV, you’ll find four HDMI with HDCP 2.3 and one with ARC, a digital audio output, 3.5mm port, and three USB ports. For true TV enthusiasts, the Sony A8G/AG8 is not eARC compatible, nor does it have HDMI 2.1 ports – but this is something that could be changed on the upcoming Sony A8H due later this year.
Finally, there is a physical on/off button and a volume control next to the ports, in case you ever lose the remote. Speaking of the remote, it is probably our least favorite design option of the A8G. It is crazy that Sony still ships it with an unnecessarily large IR remote control. It’s easy to see that Sony wanted to make an all-in-one remote control that has both a numeric keyboard, colored buttons for cable box selections, playback controls, smart TV buttons, and buttons for your media players and set-top box.
Although this level of control is excellent, the remote is large and bulky and always requires line-of-sight for everything except a Google Assistant voice search. Sony happily supplies the TV with an IR extender, which you need to use when your soundbar covers Their receiver of the TV. Still, we much prefer a Bluetooth remote control with more shortcuts for streaming service and a remote control search button.
Smart TV (Android 8.0 Oreo)
Like the Sony A9G OLED, the step-down A8G uses Android 8.0 Oreo – the latest version of Android for TV that supports built-in Google Assistant and a simple drive-based design that helps to separate Android TV from smart TV platforms such as Tizen and WebOS. Other TVs may have ruined Android TV for you – because some TV processors just aren’t able to keep track of the platform’s resource-intensive visuals. However, on the A8G/AG8, everything is smooth and responsive, with a relatively deep catalog of apps found along the bottom row.
Each row is a visual representation of the content in an app. For example, YouTube will have recommended YouTube videos based on what you’ve viewed before. The same goes for Netflix, Google Play Movies & TV, and Play Music rows. This design makes searching for new content relatively simple, but it can bury the library of apps that now need a little scrolling to catch up. Among the supported apps, you will find Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, YouTube TV, Crunchyroll, ESPN, Starz, CBS All-Access, HBO Now, and many more.
If you want to use your phone to control the TV, several third-party Sony apps let you do that – but by far, The Best way is to use the built-in Chromecast to pour the content you want to watch from your phone to the TV. This feature is excellent if you have several people who all want to share media – for example, a group friend who wants to show you all different YouTube videos and take turns casting them without connecting directly to the TV itself – or if you wish to share some quick images with the family on the big display.
Like other Android devices, the A8G comes with built-in Google Assistant, which is especially useful if you’re searching for a particular movie or actress. The TV can, Therefore, be controlled by other Google Assistant devices such as a Google Nest Mini, and even has a limited crossover with Amazon’s Alexa functionality. According to Sony, support is planned for Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit.
Sony A8G OLED TV Review: HD/SDR Performance
Any 4K TV can take Ultra-HD content and make it look excellent, but the Sony A8G/AG8 is one of the few that can take any content, regardless of age and quality, and make it shine. This is mainly thanks to the X1 Extreme Processor, which uses a versatile upscaling process to reduce grain, sharpen edges and enhance colors. This is something that all 4K TVs do to a certain extent, but almost none of them do as well as Sony. To test the A8G, we threw The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring on DVD – a classic that’s worth watching every few years.
The only drawback of the TV’s HD/SDR performance is that it can experience a little crushing black if there isn’t enough data in the video. Anything that comes close to black drops to pure black instead of its natural color – and the TV can take scenes with lots of colors and go a little overboard. (The Rivendell scene from The Fellowship of the Ring has a crazy orange tint with the default settings). The other difference, and one that may not be as important, is that the X1 Extreme Processor doesn’t do object-based HDR improvements like the X1 Ultimate Processor does.
This means that some objects on the screen may look sharper and more vivid on the more expensive A9G, but we haven’t noticed it, and it hasn’t affected our viewing experience either. In the end, this TV offers better HD/SDR performance than most other TVs – and that’s before you enter the high-ohmic world of 4K HDR content.
Sony A8G OLED TV Review: 4K/HDR Performance
While OLED TVs have been filtered in the past for their lower than-LCD brightness, the A8G/AG8 will stun you with 800 nits of peak brightness. However, that’s less than, for example, a Samsung Q90 QLED or Vizio P-Series Quantum X, both of which can easily exceed 2,000 nits – but it’s a significant improvement over previous generations. That perceived uptick in brightness means the A8G/AG8 looks excellent in both dark environments and bright living rooms and helps the HDR content look more colorful and impactful.
That said, Sony is quite conservative when it comes to color layout and tends to be less vivid than other manufacturers. Based on its reference-class counterpart – Sony’s Pro OLED mastering monitor, the BVM-X300 – the A8G/AG8 produces natural-looking photos right out of the box and can be tuned precisely the way you want with Sony’s deep customization options. Image presets include Vivid, Standard, Cinema, Game, Custom, Graphics, and Photo, where Standard is quite versatile and can be used in most conditions.
You have slightly fewer options when it comes to setting the motion processing power, but generally, the standard MotionFlow and CineMotion settings (set to ‘5’ and ‘High’ respectively) are pretty good. The two big issues here are the lack of Netflix Calibrated Mode, something Sony offers on both the A9G/AG9 and the X950G/XG95, but also a lack of screen syncing techs like AMD FreeSync or Nvidia G-Sync. However, the A8G/AG8 will automatically switch to a low-latency gaming mode when it detects a game console, so that’s a big plus.
In terms of format, this TV supports HDR10, Dolby Vision, and HLG, and has Dolby Atmos if you have a compatible speaker or soundbar. Another positive note for cinemagoers and TV binge-watchers: there aren’t many screens that can compete with the A8G/AG8 in terms of contrast. This makes it a perfect companion for shows like Night on Earth or Altered Carbon, both of which have scenes that traverse bright and dark sections. Having a SmartTV that can handle both without color band or gradation is genuinely stunning.
Sony A8G OLED TV Review: Sound
Like other OLED TVs in the lineup, the A8G/AG8 uses the company’s Acoustic Surface Audio technology rather than the traditional down-firing speakers to add sound to the excellent image performance. Generally, Sony’s proprietary technology sounds pretty good, but it’s not quite perfect yet, uniquely when placed against a good soundbar. For those who missed their debut on the Sony A1E OLED of 2020, Acoustic Surface Audio uses actuators attached to the back of the TV to create sound using the screen.
The result is a sound that appears to come from the center of the screen and produces a full sound image: Voices seem to come straight from the lips of the actors and actresses, and although it lacks a little bass, the music fills the whole room well. The only problem with the Acoustic Surface Audio solution is that the sound image is at the expense of clarity – especially in the low end. Unfortunately, in large, open spaces, the dialogue can be lost, and the bass can be carried, but it doesn’t have any real power behind it. Now, admittedly, traditional speakers don’t usually do better in these kinds of conditions, but it’s especially shocking when your TV costs as much as this OLED.
Price and Availability
After more than a decade of designing OLED TVs, Sony shows no signs of slowing down: of 2020, Sony launched the A9G OLED – which we loved – and the Sony A8G OLED, as well as some LED-LCD TVs such as the Sony X950G (XG95) and Master Series Z9G. The A8G/AG8 is available in two sizes, 55-inch and 65-inch, available for $1,799 and $2,499 respectively. (Note: Only the 55-inch version is currently sold in Australia).
The se prices are likely to decrease when the Sony A8H OLED is released later of 2020, but for now, it is one of the more expensive OLEDs on the market, matching the cost of last year’s LG E9 OLED.
Sony A8G OLED TV Review: Conclusion
After more than a month, we were impressed by the A8G/AG8. Sony is the king of upscaling – taking old DVD HD/SDR video output and making it look modern. And always impresses with its visuals and frame-perfect motion handling. We have some complaints about Sony’s Acoustic Audio Surface technology and the plastic remote that uses an IR blaster to control the TV. Still, it performs in the only category that matters: picture quality.
So much so that we would recommend buying it instead of a Sony A9G/AG9 if you want to save around $1,000/£1,000. The latter provides a slightly better processor, better remote control, and a Netflix Calibrated Mode, but the A8G looks the same in so many ways that the little extras probably don’t matter much.
That said, it’s still on the expensive side, especially when compared to the LG B9 and C9 OLED – because they cost much less and offer much of the same image quality at a more affordable price. You lose some of Sony’s technology, but for some, it’s worth $500.
The Sony A8G OLED is a fantastic 4K HDR TV with amazing image performance, incredible scale, and in-class motion processing.
- Amazing 4K HDR performance
- Ultra-customizable picture
- Best motion processing
- Middling sound quality
- Fairly expensive
- IR remote is really awful