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Review: Sony KD-65A1 (A1 series) OLED TV

Sony KD-65A1
The Sony KD-65A1, in short the A1, has a OLED screen, it offers a nice innovation Acoustic Surface. The screen is used as a loudspeaker.

The Sony KD-65A1, in short the A1, has a OLED screen, it offers a nice innovation Acoustic Surface. The screen is used as a loudspeaker.

Sony KD-65A1 – specifications

  • What: Ultra HD OLED TV
  • Screen size: 65 inches (165 cm), flat
  • Connections: 4x HDMI (1xARC 4x v2.0a), 1x composite video, 1x stereo minijack, 1x optical digital out, 3x USB (1x 3.0), 1x headphones, 3x antenna, Bluetooth 4.1
  • Extras: HDR10, (Dolby Vision and HLG after firmware update in 2017), WiFi (802.11ac) built in, Android TV (6.0 Marshmallow), USB / DLNA media player, DVB-T2 / C / S2, CI + lock, voice control, X1 Extreme processor, Acoustic Surface
  • Dimensions: 1.451 x 832 x 339 mm (including foot)
  • Weight: 36.2 kg (including foot)
  • Consumption: 154 / 0.5 watt (Energy label A)
  • Models:
    • 55-inch: KD-55A1 (3.999 euro)
    • 65-inch: KD-65A1 (5.999 euro)
    • 77-inch: KD-75A1 (19.999 euro)

Sony KD-65A1 – design

For the A1 series, Sony has designed a new design: ‘slate’ (slate). The focus is entirely on the image, without any distractions. Mission succeeded we think then, the 65-inch image dominates our TV cabinet. To achieve that, Sony went very far. There is no foot under the screen, so the screen itself (about 0.8 cm thin) is on your TV cabinet.

It leans slightly backwards, against a large central support. There is also no frame, only a black border around the image of about an inch. At the bottom left, very discreet, the Sony logo. And centrally below a white accent LED that you can switch off if desired. No visible speakers, which are cleverly hidden, of which more later.

The setup is solid as a house, but the work to set up the device is quite difficult. The large and thin screen is quite heavy, and you do not want to just grab it at the edge. The central support also has considerable weight and that is largely at the bottom of the support for stability reasons. Assembling these two things and putting them in their place was no easy task.

Just like on the other models we saw this year, Sony has the necessary facilities at the connections to neatly lead the cables away.

Connections

The selection of connections is fairly standard. Four times HDMI, an optical digital audio output, headphone jack and three times USB and Bluetooth. The composite video input seems completely unnecessary to us, and you do not want that defective analog quality on a 65 inch screen.

The connections are all at the bottom of the large back support, pointing downwards. This way you can easily lead the cables away. Unfortunately it makes the connections absolutely not easy to reach, unless you leave enough room to walk behind the device. With us the TV stood on a piece of furniture against the wall, a current arrangement, and reaching behind the wide screen to plug in an extra cable is not easy. Provide an extension cable for your USB connection if you regularly use it.

Sony also offers a wall mount for wall mounting on the A1-series oled TVs. The backrest then folds against the screen, so that you still have a fairly tight wall mount.

Sony KD-65A1 – ease of use

Like all other 2017 Sony models, the A1 is equipped with Android TV, version 6 (Marshmallow). An upgrade to version 7 (Nougat) would become available during the year. Installation is fast and smooth, especially if you have an Android smartphone or tablet at hand. Since the platform is identical (both in terms of remote control and chipset), you can also reread our review of the XE93.

Remote control

The A1 series remote is identical to that of the Sony XE93 series. That means you get a classic zapper with rubbery top, and low profile keys. The remote had something more luxurious, more in line with the rest of the device, but you can not complain about it in all honesty. He is well in hand, the layout is excellent and the keys do not require too much pressure. Central are prominent Netflix and Google Play tests. The microphone key must first be activated in the menus (Network and Accessories, -> Voice controlled remote control).

Sony KD-65A1 review remote

Sony KD-65A1 – features

Smart TV platform

The Mediatek MT5891, with a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 and Mali-T860 GPU has 2GB RAM and 16GB internal storage. They ensure a smooth and pleasant experience. For a top model like this we like to see just that little bit more, but we understand that Sony opts for uniformity to save costs.

Smart functions

The Android TV interface fills the entire screen, with recommendations at the top. Then you get a row of apps, games and the inputs. At the very bottom you will find all settings. Compared to LG WebOS and Samsung Smart Hub, the interface looks unnecessarily large.

Android TV’s main asset is the built-in Chromecast function. This allows you to browse Netflix on Youtube on your smartphone, for example, and to show the selected content on your television with the press of a button. Your smartphone remains usable for other things. A list of apps that support Google Cast can be found in the Google Home app on your smartphone.

One of the most useful features is the Discover button. You can get recommendations from YouTube, Netflix, live TV, and connected media in a small bar at the bottom of the screen. You can also create a list of favorite apps so you can quickly access them without going through the Android Home menu. You decide which things may or may not appear in the Discover bar and can even change the order.

The media player is very complete and played all our video test files, including HDR video. The music player knows no advice with ALAC, but with all standard music formats. And he also reads all the tags. With apps such as Plex, Kodi and VLC available you can also create a complete media library experience.

Sony KD-65A1 – Image quality

The Sony A1 series uses an OLED screen (the panels come from LG), and that means that we already look forward to the many advantages of OLED: perfect black and above all an impressive contrast within the image. The wide viewing angle, good reaction time and the large color range are naturally also included.

Main settings

The best choice starts from the Cinema Pro mode.

General Advanced / Brightness colour Sharpness / Movement
Picture mode: Cinema Pro
Brightness: Max
Color: 50
Light sensor: Off *
Brightness: Max
Contrast: 90
Gamma: -2
Black level: 50-52 *
Adjust black: off
Adv. Contrast optimization: off
Xtended Dynamic Range: Middle *
Color: 50
Color tone: 0
Color Temperature: Expert 1
Live Color: Off
Image sharpness: 50
Reality Creation: Car *
Reduce random noise: Off
Reduce digital noise: Off
Smooth Gradation: Low Motion Flow: True Cinema / Standard *

Explanation;

  • Start from the Cinema Pro mode, which gives beautiful images.
  • Do you think the images are slightly too strong when darkening than the light sensor.
  • Black level: the screen masks a minimal amount of black detail. You can draw the black level to a maximum of 52 without any adverse effects. In case of doubt, you should leave it at 50.
  • Xtended Dynamic Range: this setting gives a nice HDR hue to all images. You can switch it off or put it on ‘low’ for a less strong effect, but in view of the clever results we like to keep it activated.
  • Reality Creation improves detail view. The Auto mode is generally fine, those who prefer the pure approach turn it off, or switch to Manual 20. For more detail, you can go up to 40, but avoid higher settings.
  • Motionflow: the purists keep it on True Cinema. If you want something more fluid, you switch to Standard.
  • If you look a lot in strong daylight, try the Cinema Home setting.

General image properties and image processing

The X1 Extreme image processor of the KD-65A1, which was also used in the XE93, produces great results. Top quality upscaling, beautiful and subtle detail improvement and decent noise reduction. As always, you will of course not get a 4K picture when you watch a DVD, and that is all the more visible on a 65 inch screen. But the Sony does its best, and anyone who activates the noise reduction and ‘smooth gradations’ with low-quality material, enjoys a decent image, even if you notice that a lot of detail is lacking. From solid Full HD content, you can fully enjoy the large images and the fine detail. Let especially ‘smooth gradations’ activated (in low mode). With this, Sony works out any color bands in a very efficient way.

Sony KD-65A1 review

The movement sharpness of this screen is good. The screen does not have a ‘Bright’ position, so we prefer ‘Standard’. ‘Fluent’ shows something too many artefacts. If you want to tinker yourself, choose ‘User’ and set ‘Suppleness’ to 3-4. ‘Brightness’ is best placed on ‘low’, in ‘high’ mode you get extra detail, but the image flickers too much.

Sony delivers on the KD-65A1 a virtually perfect calibration in the Cinema Pro image preset. The gray scale tends to be a little too much in blue in the brightest shades, but that is hardly noticeable. Especially the color reproduction is excellent. Both in our extensive color test and in the display of skin colors, the Sony presents great results. Combined with the top contrast, you enjoy images with intense depth and reality.

Also black detail you see excellent on this oled. In the darkest regions, the Sony hides a bit of detail. You can adjust that by raising the ‘black level’ to 51 or 52. Very dark scenes then become clearly lighter, but without really negative consequences. Let your own taste decide. With a maximum white value of approximately 203 nits you can look comfortably, both with blackout and with some ambient light.

HDR

This Sony KD-65A1 supports HDR10, but like the XE93 via a firmware upgrade in the course of the year will also support and

Peak luminance is the first, albeit small, setback. On a 10% window we do not get the A1 above 690 nits (in the Cinema Pro image preset). That’s a bit less than we had hoped for (our preview of the LG W7 showed a peak of around 860 nits), but completely in line with typical OLED performance. On a completely white screen the maximum luminance falls back to 162 nits, which we can call a very good result (compared to the typical result of around 135 nits for other OLED screens). The color range decreases to 96%

Compared to the peak luminance of 1780 nits on the XE93, the difference seems to be high, but keep in mind that the perfect black display of the OLED screen creates a huge contrast in the image. There are absolutely no halos and even the most demanding images such as the fireworks clip show that: the sparks and fireworks of the fireworks slowly extinguish against a pitch black night. In short HDR images are very impressive.

With the help of Xtended Dynamic Range Pro you activate Sony’s ‘Object based HDR Remaster’. This gives you a nice, convincing HDR touch to your SDR images. It may not be for everyone, but we found the result very convincing.

Reflections and viewing angles

The viewing angle of the Sony KD-65A1 is, as we expect from an OLED, absolutely excellent. And the OLED panel also does a remarkably good job of keeping the soft reflections out of the screen. Only in the case of direct incident hard light, the screen must naturally give way. Reflections sometimes have a very weak purple-red tint.

Gaming

In the normal picture modes (dynamic, standard, cinema pro and cinema at home) we measure an input layer of 102.0 ms, which is too much for decent gaming. In game mode, the lag drops to 47.3 ms, which will be enough for many gamers, but can not be called a top result. Sony generally has a more responsive game mode. We also see these two results in HDR mode. Consolegamers can therefore choose this TV with peace of mind.

Sony KD-65A1 – Audio quality

An important part of the remarkable design of the KD-65A1 is the choice of the sound. With ‘ ‘ we see for the first time a screen that produces not only image but also sound. How does that work?

The principle is very simple: the screen takes over the role of the speaker membrane. An actuator is attached at the back of the screen, and in this way the screen is vibrated. This is only possible because an OLED screen uses such a simple construction. These vibrations have a frequency that is high enough so that you have no impact on the image. To get a good stereo image, Sony provided the A1 with two pairs of actuators, a few left and a few right on the screen. For all low-frequency sound, the A1 uses a subwoofer at the back of the foot.

The result is very good, and we immediately reassure you: the image does not move! Not only can you get a lot of volume from this television, but the sound is also very convincing. The subwoofer provides good bass support, but it should have been slightly larger and more powerful. Now he falls short in heavy basses. The screen delivers clear, clear dialogues, and pleasant music with great detail. An additional advantage of the Acoustic Surface: the sound comes perfectly from the screen, not from somewhere below the screen or far from the side. That creates a very strong sense of positioning. In short, an impressive achievement.

Review equipment

For the lag measurement we use a Leo Bodnar Display lag meter. For all other measurements we rely on a Spectracal C6 colorimeter, Xrite i1 Pro spectrophotometer, an AVFoundry HDMI Pattern Generator , an HDFury Integral for HDR patterns and the Spectracal Calman for Business software.

Sony KD-65A1 – Conclusion

We have had to wait a long time for Sony’s first OLED TV , but it has been worth it. The only drawbacks are the moderate input lag and the brightness that was slightly below the expectations, although it is still perfectly in line with typical OLED performance.

Sony has given the OLED panel a unique design and an innovative sound solution. Especially the sound was a pleasant surprise. Without visible speakers, the Acoustic Surface creates a very good sound experience. The image settles effortlessly with the best results we already saw. The image processing provides excellent work, and contrast and color range make beautiful content a fantastic experience. The Sony KD-65A1 is perfectly at ease with every cinefiel, but is absolutely not misplaced in a normal living room. The price is unfortunately pretty tough, but on the other hand it is not more expensive than the oled competitors.

Cons

  • price
  • Input lag
  • No top brightness

Pros

  • Beautiful design
  • Unique sound solution
  • Image processing
  • Black value, contrast
  • Color range

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