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Review: Sony KD-65AF8 (AF8 series) OLED TV

Sony KD-65AF8
The Sony KD-65AF8 appears at the start with a new design, but looks little further on paper from the A1, which is otherwise available as OLED flagship.
5 - 1 vote

After the great achievements of the A1 series last year we are curious to see how Sony’s second generation OLED TV performs. The Sony KD-65AF8 appears at the start with a new design, but looks little further on paper from the A1, which is otherwise available as OLED flagship.

Sony KD-65AF8 – specifications

  • What: Ultra HD OLED TV
  • Screen size: 65 inch (139 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, HLG, Dolby Vision (after firmware update), WiFi (802.11ac) built-in, Android TV (7.0 Nougat), USB / DLNA media player, DVB-T2 / C / S2, CI + lock, voice control, X1 Extreme 4K HDR processor
  • Dimensions: 1.447 x 841 x 255 mm (including foot)
  • Weight: 28.0 kg (including foot)
  • Consumption: 186 / 0.5 watt (Energy Label B)
  • List price: 3,900 euros

A complete overview of all the models that Sony launched in 2018 can be found in the 2018 Sony TV line-up. Here you can also find the complete specifications per model.

Sony KD-65AF8 – design

After the extreme but very attractive design of the A1 series last year, Sony has given the new OLED model a slightly more conventional look . But do not worry, it’s still a premium design. The supersmalle OLED screen is finished with a fine metal edge that seamlessly merges with the back.

Instead of the huge footrest behind the device, the AF8 now stands on a very sturdy but remarkably compact foot. Because of the low profile of the foot, the screen rests almost on the TV cabinet so that, just like the A1, you have the impression that there is pure image on your furniture. That foot also requires much less space in the depth (8.5 cm less than the A1) and if you opt for wall mounting, the slim profile also provides a tighter look on the wall (3 cm less thick than the A1). The device also no longer leans back so sharply

Connections

The AF8 offers the same complement connections as the XF90. You have four HDMI connections, all equipped with HDCP 2.2. Three are on the back, one on the side. Use HDMI 2-3 for Ultra HD and HDR content, which you can use in the menus in (settings, External inputs, Format HDMI signal) in ‘Enhanced setting’ mode for the best picture quality.

You get two USB connections at the side, and a USB 3.0 at the back. On the side there is also a headphone output and composite video input. At the back, the digital optical output, network connection and antenna connections complete the offer. All connections at the rear are oriented downwards, which facilitates wall mounting. The device is equipped with Bluetooth for those who want to use a wireless headset.

There is space and the necessary clips for cable management.

Both the connections and the places where the cables run can be covered later with the supplied plates, so that the back looks perfectly finished.

Sony KD-65AF8 – ease of use

We largely resume our review of the XF90. Sony equips his televisions with Android TV, already version 7 (Nougat). There is no significant difference with the previous version, other than support for HLG within Android TV, and the possibility to log in with multiple Google accounts.

You can easily provide the TV with your Google username and password using your smartphone. This saves you a few minutes during installation, but provides no further benefits. If you want to add a second account, simply enter a username and password.

Remote control

The AF8 comes with a ‘luxury version’ of the remote. The layout is identical to that of the XF90 and XF85 but uses a rubber top and keys with a very low profile. He feels pleasant and the keys take just enough pressure. But now that we recently had the remote control of the XF90 / XF85, we think that the non-luxury version is just a bit more convenient. The profile of the keys in just very low, which makes them sometimes a bit unclear to feel.

The layout is fine, although we find the playback keys below a bit too small. The apps key to the right of the d-pad actually has no added value. The remote has separate buttons for Netflix and Google Play, and a microphone button at the top.

Sony KD-65AF8 – features

Smart TV platform

The AF8 uses the same chipset as last year’s models. The Mediatek MT5891, with a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 and Mali-T860 GPU has 2GB RAM and 16GB internal storage. It gives the smart TV platform a more pleasant and smooth experience, but in a top model like this we prefer to see something more powerful.

Smart functions

The interface of Android TV fills the entire screen, with top of the recommendations. 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.

Unfortunately, the YouTube app does not show HDR images, which did work in Netflix and Amazon.

The most important change in the interface, and the remote, is the ‘TV’ button. That key, at the bottom of the d-pad, switches directly to the built-in TV tuners. If you are already looking at built-in tuners, this key activates what used to be the ‘Discover’ menu. This is a small bar at the bottom of the screen that first shows TV functions (the TV guide, recordings, etc.), but also includes recommendations, and where you can create a list of favorite Android apps. You can not call that menu anymore if you do not watch TV (via the built-in tuners), we regret that.

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. Get VLC from the Google Play Store, who know what to do with ALAC. Kodi or any other media player is also recommended if you want to give the TV the look and feel of a media library.

Sony KD-65AF8 – image quality

The AF8 uses an LG OLED panel (2018). You can recognize that panel by the small ‘hook’ in the green subpixel. Sony, as usual, gives little ‘hard facts’ about his TVs. But according to LG itself different performance of the 2018 panel is not essential to that of the 2017 model.

Main settings

In our article on professional calibration of a TV ] you can read all about the possibilities to come up with the best picture settings with a professional. If you want to get started, please visit our home cinema information guide. Here you will find an explanation of the most important picture settings and tips for setting up your TV. With the basic settings we have come to the following settings for this TV.

The best choice starts from the Cinema Pro mode.

General Advanced / Brightness Color Sharpness / Movement
Image mode: Cinema Pro
Auto Image mode: Off
Brightness: Max
Color: 50
Light sensor: from *
Brightness: Max
Contrast: 90
Gamma: -2
Black level: 50
Black change: from
Av. Contrast optimization: Off
Peak illumination: Middle *
Color: 50
Color Tone: 0
Color Temperature: Expert 1
Live Color: From
Image Sharpness: 50
Reality Creation: Auto *
Reduce random noise: Low *
Reduce digital noise: Low *
Smooth Gradation: Layer MotionFlow: True Cinema / Standard *
Movie Mode: High

Explanation of main specifications

  • Start from the Cinema Pro mode, which gives beautiful images.
  • Find the images when darkening slightly too strong activate than the light sensor.
  • Gamma: the gamma value of -2 aims to look at verdusitation, if you want something more shadow detail, pull this then to -1.
  • Peak lighting: this setting gives a nice HDR tone 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. 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. Also activate noise reduction (both) in the lowest setting if you want to use Reality Creation.
  • Motionflow: the purists keep it on True Cinema. If you want a little more fluid image, switch to Standard.
  • If you’re looking at a lot of daylight, try the Cinema Home setting

General image and image processing

The AF8 uses Sony’s best processor just like the XF90 , the X1 Extreme. It is therefore no surprise that the results of image processing for both devices are very close to each other. That means excellent upscaling, good detail improvement without additional false detail and excellent noise reduction. We do notice that the OLED screen shows noise slightly better, so you may want to consider putting the squelch (Random and Digital) at least in the low position to avoid accentuating your noise. Leave Reality Creation out for Ultra HD sources, and let ‘smooth gradations’ always be activated. With the latter, the Sony works very well on those disturbing color bands that you sometimes see in subtle color transitions.

OLED screens have good sharpening, but the AF8 should for example, continue to let the XF90 go for that plane. 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 the ‘high’ position you get a little extra detail, but the image flickers too much.

Sony delivers an almost perfect calibration in the Cinema Pro image preset. The gray scale is a bit too cool all along the line (tends to be blurred to blue), but you will never notice anything in practice. The color reproduction is very good, with exceptionally accurate skin colors. It is therefore a pleasure to watch TV on this unit.

Sony has slightly improved the appearance of black detail. Where you last year on the A1 the ‘black level’ best still put to 51 or 52, that is actually unnecessary this year. With a gamma value of 2.45, however, the Cinema Pro mode is aimed at a dark viewing environment. If you look in a normal living room, you can set the ‘gamma’ value to -1 or even 0 if you look at reasonable lighting. That gives you much better black detail. The maximum white value is 229 nits, which is comfortable, both in obscuration and in some ambient light.

HDR

This Sony supports HDR10, and HLG. Just like the other models that use the X1 Extreme, Dolby Vision support is planned via a firmware upgrade. When it comes, it is still not clear. And we suspect that you will also need a player who supports a specific Dolby Vision profile.

The basic performance seems to have changed little. The peak luminance on a 10% window comes out at 740 nits (obviously in Cinema Pro mode), which is slightly better than last year, but otherwise perfectly in line with what we see on other OLED screens. With a completely white screen, we got about 175 nits, which is slightly better than previous performance, although after a few seconds it quickly fell back to a more typical 130 nits. We could get the device so far that we saw a peak of about 950 nits (on a 2% window), which indicates that the Sony can give beautiful light accents. The color range is unchanged: 97% DCI-P3 and about 70% Rec.2020

The calibration is excellent in HDR. The Sony follows the required brightness curve well, so that images are not too dark. The tonemapping intervenes in between 500 and 2,000 nits. The white detail is clipped above 2,000 nits. HDR is a true pleasure on this device, enjoy it. If you want to give SDR content a light HDR look, activate ‘Peak lighting’. The effect is not too strong, but it is visible and you will not suffer any disadvantage.

Reflections and viewing angles

The OLED screen has a very good viewing angle, and refutes reflections.

Gaming

In the normal image modes (dynamic, standard, natural, film) we measure a 102 ms layer, which is too much for decent gaming. In game mode the lag drops to 47 ms which is a somewhat weak result, the XF85 scored considerably better. This may be too much for critical gamers. Also in HDR mode we see these two results.

Sony KD-65AF8 – Audio quality

Just like the A1 last year, the QF8 is equipped with an “Acoustic Surface”, the screen produces not only image but also sound. It takes over, as it were, the role of the loudspeaker membrane. Actuators mounted behind the screen cause it to vibrate, producing the sound waves. Because the sound frequencies are high enough, this has no visible influence on the screen. And to create a good stereo image, Sony uses a pair of actuators on the left side of the screen and a few on the right. Low frequency reproduction is provided by a built-in woofer in the back.

Acoustic Surface

Also in this area we notice the same excellent performance as the A1. There is no negative impact on the image, which remains perfectly still, but the sound is particularly convincing. The 5x 10 Watt sound power gives nice clear dialogues and produce a lot of volume, with the necessary finesse. Music and film soundtracks come very well forward, and can make quite an impression, since there is good bass support. Our only comment is that the basses may be a bit more generous. If you really go for heavy explosions or drums and the volume is nice and open, you hear that they are just a little short. But even then we think that most people with this sound will be really satisfied.

Review equipment

For the lay-measurement we use a Leo Bodnar Display lag meter. For all other measurements we rely on a Spectracal C6 HDR2000 Colorimeter Xrite i1 Pro spectrophotometer, a VideoForge Pro pattern generator, and the Spectracal Calman for Business software. To analyze any HDR problems we use HDFury Vertex.

Sony KD-65AF8 – Conclusion

If we were enthusiastic about the A1, there is really no reason not to. are about the AF8. On paper Sony already shows that the only difference between the two is the design. That is a little less radical, and therefore something more practical, but it remains a nice premium finish. Furthermore, we can give almost the same assessment. The device is pretty expensive, and the input lag is perhaps too high for critical gamers. The peak luminance seems slightly improved, but still can not match the top LCDs.

The AF8 puts its fantastic OLED image quality in the spotlight. The screen does fine with HDR content, which puts it vividly and richly on the screen. The shadow detail view has been improved and the peak luminance is slightly higher, two small but noticeable improvements. With traditional content the A1 was already fantastic and the AF8 also does a great job. The Acoustic Surface is a very good sound solution that produces very good sound without visible speakers. We like to keep grumbling about the chaotic Android user interface, but those who watch this TV for half an hour have quickly forgotten about that.

Cons

  • Price
  • Input lag
  • Must top LCDs show in HDR clarity

Pros

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

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