CES 2019 is only just getting started, but one thing is abundantly clear already: This is the year that 8K goes from being a cool concept, to something you can actually put in your living room. Today, Sony has officially taken the wraps off its first 8K TV for consumers: The Master Series Z9G 8K LCD, and it’s a technical tour-de-force. If it’s anything like the prototype we saw last year, it should be a show-stopper.
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8K is a lot of resolution — four times more than 4K — which would be wasted on a small screen. So the new Z9G series come in two monstrous sizes: 85-inch, and 98-inch. At nearly 100-inches, that’s projector-class image size, an impressive feat for any TV, let alone an 8K model. Sony claims it has updated both its Picture Processor X1 Ultimate image processor, and its X-Reality PRO technology to be optimized for 8K content, ensuring that all content regardless of its native resolution, looks as good as possible. As part of Sony’s Master series, these two 8K models also feature Netflix Calibrated Mode and IMAX Enhanced.
Last year, on its OLED TVs, Sony debuted technology it calls Sound-from-Picture Reality, which makes dialog sound as though it’s coming from the actors on-screen, and not from the TV’s speakers. It accomplished this using OLED Acoustic Surface Audio, where the screen itself acts as a speaker. Apparently this technology doesn’t lend itself to LCD panels, so the Z9G models are equipped with four, front-firing speakers — two on the top, and two along the bottom of the screen. This combination, when managed correctly, has the same effect as the OLED panel-as-speaker, or so Sony claims. If you’ve already got a 5.1 or better surround sound system, the TV’s speakers can take the place of your center channel.
Sony’s OLED TV lineup also gets a refresh for 2019, with the Master Series A9G coming in 55-, 65-, and 77-inch sizes. These new models are thinner, and when combined with Sony’s SU-WL855 wall-mount system, the company claims they can reduce the distance to your wall by half, as compared to last year’s models. There’s a new, Sony-built panel controller, with “Pixel Contrast Booster,” for more color and contrast in bright areas of the image. Also improved is HD and SD content up-scaling. The OLED panel-as-speaker tech has been upgraded, and is now known as Acoustic Surface Audio+, and features two actuators and two subwoofers. Similar to the Z9G, the A9G can act as a center channel speaker too.
Both the Z9G and A9G models share the following features:
- Android TV, with Google Assistant, and compatibility with Google Home, and Amazon Echo smart speakers
- An RF-enabled smart remote
Of course, Sony’s got new non-Master Series updates as well, in both OLED and LED flavors:
A8G Series Bravia 4K OLED TVs in 55- and 65-inch sizes, get the new 4K HDR Processor X1 Extreme, for better HDR performance, and IMAX Enhanced.
X950G Series 4K LED TVs in 55-, 65-, 75-, and 85-inch sizes, get Picture Processor X1 Ultimate for similar improvements to HDR performance, full-array local dimming backlight with X-tended Dynamic Range Pro, Netflix Calibrated Mode, IMAX Enhanced, plus both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.
Last but not least, Sony is also updating its Blu-ray player offering, with the new Sony UBP-X800M2. It’s a slender and sleek UltraHD unit, with support for three flavors of HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10, as well as the up-and-coming HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma). It will play almost every physical disc media out there, including SACD/DVD-A, and has built-in streaming options for Netflix and YouTube. There’s passthrough of both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, and word has it that the X800 does a pretty great job at upscaling non-4K content, just in case you’re non happy with how your 4K TV handles the task.
Sony says it will release pricing and availability info for all of these new models in the spring.
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