With its new Master series of which this TV is part, Sony is aiming at the image quality that up to now could only be achieved with studio monitors. The Sony KD-65ZF9 is an LCD TV, equipped with local dimming, an improved viewing angle, very good motion sharpness and excellent HDR performance.
Sony KD-65ZF9 – specifications
What: Ultra HD LCD display TV, Full Array Local Dimming (13×8 segments)
Screen size: 65 inch (139 cm), flat
Connections: 4x HDMI (1x eARC 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, WiFi (802.11ac) built in, Android TV ( 8.0 Oreo), USB/DLNA media player, DVB-T2/C/S2, CI+ lock, voice control, X1 Ultimate 4K HDR processor
Dimensions: 1,453 x 906 x 314 mm (including foot)
Weight : 29.5 kg (including foot)
Consumption: 162/0.5 watt (Energy Label 1)
List price: 3.300 euro
A complete overview of all models that Sony in 2018 on the market, you will find in the 2018 Sony TV line-up. Here you will also find the complete specifications per model.
Sony KD-65ZF9 – design
The enormous screen of the Sony KD-65ZF9 (remember, only available in 65 and 75 inch), is finished to perfection. The TV has a fine black frame with a light surface structure that is reminiscent of the grip of a camera. The same structure can be found on the back.
The device stands on two sturdy but slender feet that are provided with space at the back to get rid of your cables. The back can be fully or partly covered with panels, so you have a neatly finished whole.
In profile, the Sony KD-65ZF9 is not the slimmest, but that’s a small concession you have to do to a full array backlighting. to get. Along the side you notice that the frame consists of two parts, and that dividing line is left quite wide so as to break the impression of a thick screen.
The unit is equipped with four HDMI connections, one at the side and three at the back. They are all equipped with HDCP 2.3, and are all ready for Ultra HD HDR. If you connect an Ultra HD HDR source, activate the ‘Enhanced settings’ in the menus (settings, External inputs, HDMI signal format) for the best picture quality. The TV does support eARC extended Audio Return Channel, but that is the only feature from the HDMI2.1 set that is on board. Furthermore, these are still HDMI 2.0 connections.
You also get two USB connections on the side, and a USB 3.0 on the back. On the side there is also a headphone output and composite video input. The component video output has disappeared, but we do not make that point. At the back, the digital optical output, network connections and antenna connections complete the offer. All connections at the rear are oriented downwards, which facilitates wall mounting. If you want to use a wireless headset, you can do so thanks to Bluetooth.
Sony KD-65ZF9 – ease of use
This is the first device we have in house with Android 8.0 (Oreo). There is no real change in terms of installation. It remains smooth and simple, and you can avoid typing in a username and password by using your smartphone, and Google’s “set up my device”.
The KD-65ZF9 got the same remote as the KD-65AF8 it is a luxury version of Sony’s usual remote. Instead of the typical plastic keys on the regular remote, this version is equipped with a rubber top and keys with a very low profile. He is comfortable in the hand, and keys are easy to press, even if the keystroke was slightly lighter in our opinion. Just because the profile of all keys is so low, your finger sometimes threatens to roam the wrong key. The remote is certainly not inconvenient, but also provides no real added value by its special implementation.
The layout of the Sony remote is good, only the playback keys below might be slightly larger. There is a direct key for Netflix and Google Play, and the Apps key diagonally to the right above the d-pad brings you in this version of Android to the list of all Android apps. In previous Android versions that key did not have a useful function. The remote also has a built-in microphone.
Sony KD-65ZF9 – features
Smart TV platform
The Sony KD-65ZF9 is the first Sony TV to use a new chipset. It is the Mediatek MT5893, with a quadcore ARM Cortex-A73, Mali-G71 GPU, 4 GB of RAM and 16 GB internal storage. Benchmark tests give this platform a considerable advantage compared to the previous MT5891. That in any case provides a much smoother interface, good media player performance, and will also make many games more accessible. Although the performance of a Nvidia Shield is far away, the improvement is noticeable and extremely welcome.
The Sony KD-65ZF9 is also the first TV in our tests who uses Android 8.0 (Oreo). Android TV got a completely new interface. The home screen still fills the entire screen, but the particularly intrusive recommendations are now no longer central to your screen.
Google reworked the entire interface with a view to content channels. At the top of the screen you will find the search bar to the right, and to the left the external inputs, settings and the clock. Below that, row by row, your content channels appear. This can be Netflix, YouTube or Spotify, but also the built-in TV tuners. Theoretically, any app that offers content can appear there, but the app must of course support this. Some apps also offer multiple channels. For example, you can install the Trending and / or the Recommended channel at YouTube. Row by row you will find recommended content from that channel.
You determine the order of the channels on the screen completely (only the first row is fixed for the apps), and you can remove unwanted channels also just hide. In short, Google wanted to make content as central as possible, and through extensive customization you can really put your own favorites on the start screen. Of course you still have a built-in Chromecast function.
To our surprise, it is still impossible to watch HDR movies via YouTube, which is possible in Netflix and Amazon.
Sony still offers a separate ‘smart’ ‘menu when watching TV via the built-in TV tuners. Press the ‘TV’ button at the bottom of the d-pad, and you will see a small bar at the bottom of the screen that first shows TV functions (the TV guide, recordings, etc.), but also includes recommendations, and in which 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 find that unfortunate.
The media player is quite complete, but refused Divx files, and some of our H.264 mp4 videos. In any case, you should also install VLC, Kodi or Plex as an alternative media player. The music player knows no advice with ALAC, but with all standard music formats. And he also reads all the tags.
Sony KD-65ZF9 – Image quality
The KD-65ZF9 uses a Full Array – backlight with local dimming. But where his illustrious predecessor, the ZD9, used almost 700 zones (35 × 19), the ZF9 is much more modest: 13 x 8 in total, thus 104 zones. We are curious if Sony can match the results of the ZD9. The screen uses a VA panel for optimal contrast. But the panel also uses ‘X-Wide Angle’ technology to ensure a much better viewing angle.
The best choice starts from the Cinema Pro mode.
|General||Advanced / Brightness||colour||Sharpness / Movement|
|Image mode: User
Auto Image mode: Off
Brightness: 15-35 *
Light sensor: on *
|Brightness: 15-35 *
Black level: 50
Adjust black: from
Adv. Contrastoptimization : Off
Automatic Local dimming: Mid
X-tended Dynamic Range: Off
|Color: 50 Color
Color Temperature: Expert 1
Live Color: Off
Reality Creation: Auto *
Reduce random noise: Off Reduce
digital noise: Off
Smooth Gradation: Low Motion Fluid: Auto, or smoothness 2, brightness 1.
Movie Mode: Auto
The ‘User’ image mode provides the best calibrated start. We did notice that it is very clear (with Sony, ‘Brightness’ refers to the level of backlighting). If you look at the darkening, lower it to 15. If you stay at 35, it is best to activate the light sensor.
- Reality Creation: improves detailed display. 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.
- Activate both noise cancels in the lowest setting as your Reality Creation exceeds 20.
- Motionflow: for the purists, car for whom chooses the easiest solution. You can also tinker manually. Set flexibility to 2 and brightness to 1.
- If you look at a lot of strong daylight, try the Cinema setting.
General image processing
The KD-65ZF9 comes up with yet another new iteration of Sony’s image processor . This version received the adjective Ultimate. More computing power should ensure that the Sony delivers even better performance. The results are in any case very good. The ZF9 detects all film and video frame rates very quickly and reliably and removes as well as any risk of comb effects or stepping on lines. The noise reduction works nicely away from noise without fading detail, it can also hide compression noise (block formation), even when it comes to low resolution sources. With Reality Creation you can give the image some extra detail, but in that case leave both noise cancellations definitely on the minimum position, so you avoid that unwanted noise is emphasized. Smooth gradation ensures very beautiful, subtle color transitions without any trace of color bands. Leave that setting always activated (low or middle).
The KD-65ZF9 uses X-Motion Clarity just like the XF90. In concrete terms, this technique combines the classic black frame insertion (BFI) with the local dimming background lighting to achieve sharper movement detail without greatly dimming the brightness of the image. X-Motion Clarity analyzes the image and gives different parts a higher brightness to compensate for those black images. Now that more zones are available for dimming, this should lead to even better results. On the other hand, Sony did reduce your options. Trumotion can now only be switched off, switched to auto mode or manually adjusted. Disabling is a bad choice, and car is only good if you do not bother with an occasional picture artefact (though they are rare). The best solution seemed to be the manual setting with Suppleness on 2 or 3 (depending on your taste) and brightness on 1. With this combination you make all the detail visible, and you have smooth images, without sacrificing brightness. Excellent result, by the way.
General picture properties
But what about the contrast? In any case, the VA panel already delivers an impressive black value and its own contrast of just over 2,000: 1 with local dimming switched off. With local dimming activated, the contrast goes to 40,000: 1. That is an excellent result. But the 104 zones are of course not comparable with the 700 zones of the ZD9. Sony controls the screen perfectly, and in the vast majority of your content there is no mention of halos. In dark scenes with light accents, or subtitles, you clearly see the effect of that limitation. That is an extra reason to keep the light sensor activated, so that you do not look at an overly clear picture when darkening. After all, that strengthens the halo effect. If we want to ask Sony for a thing, then it is to somehow smarter to deal with subtitles so that they are less clear in dark scenes.
We took the same picture as on the XF90 for comparison. This concerns HDR content, and the image is overexposed to show the result. The segments are faintly visible, but much smaller than on the XF90, the result is considerably better.
Sony renamed the Cinema Pro mode to the User mode for unclear reasons. That provides the best calibration. The image is very clear, and we therefore recommend to leave the light sensor on. Only if you lower Brightness to 15 and always look at eclipse do you turn it off. The device is well calibrated, with a neutral gray scale that is slightly cool (light blue overtone). The color reproduction and the color range are excellent. The screen is a real pleasure for the film fan, who enjoys intense contrast and handsome colors. The KD-65ZF9 also excels with fantastic black detail, in dark scenes everything is visible. In ambient light you can opt for the Cinema picture set, which is the former Cinema Home preset, it gives a more intense picture.
For even better results, the ZF9 can be calibrated fully automatically with the Calman- software from Portrait Displays. And those who watch Netflix can activate a special Netflix Calibrated mode via the menu, allowing you to fully enjoy the streamed content.
This Sony supports HDR10 Dolby Vision and HLG. And you can already prepare yourself for a fantastic HDR experience. The screen achieves a peak luminance of just under 2,000 nits (1945 to be exact), which after some time drops to 1,820 nits. Even on a completely white screen we measure a large 722 nits. Those are top results with which it can even surpass the QLED TVs from Samsung. It is striking that the screen very well maintains its peak brightness over a longer period of time. The color range is in line with the previous models, and falls on 90% DCI-P3 and 66% Rec.2020, on that level it still has some competitors.
For the best results choose here also the User image mode. All white detail is visible up to approximately 2,000 nits, although we also saw white shades of up to 5,000 nits on a completely white test pattern. The calibration is in any case excellent, only the Panasonic FZ950 presented better results (in terms of color). More than with SDR content, dark scenes with extreme light accents are a big challenge for the limited number of dimming zones. Light halos can then be seen, but even then the Sony manages to reduce the negative effect.
With Xtended Dynamic Range you can give SDR images an HDR effect, but it makes images mainly clearer, and brings a little extra white detail.
Reflections and viewing angles
Sony is particularly reluctant to share technical details about X-Wide Angle, but a photo of the panel makes it clear that each subpixel in different areas. Presumably, this enables special control which, together with specific optics, provides a better viewing angle. But regardless of exactly how it works, the effect seems to be a big step forward for LCD screens.
Taking pictures of a screen, especially at an angle, is always a challenge, but the picture below gives a reasonable impression of the wide viewing angle. Compared with the photo earlier in this article, the difference is quite small and that also seemed to be the reality. In short, the ZF9 has a remarkably good viewing angle, which will probably suffice for most viewers.
The screen is fairly reflective, avoid direct incident light.
In We measure the ordinary image modes with a 105 ms lag, which is too much for decent gaming. In game mode the lag drops to 22.1 ms an excellent result.
Sony KD-65ZF9 – Audio quality
If we have to rub the ZF9 a ‘weak’ point, then it is the audio performance. His 2x 10W provide a lot of volume, and we would not be surprised if he uses the same solution as the XF90. In other words, the result is ok, but does not shave high tops if you are looking for a true home cinema experience. Dialogs sound great, but there is a lack of breathing space in the bass, and the sound is often a bit shrill and hard. If you want to combine the excellent image quality with beautiful sound, you should opt for an external audio solution.
For the lag 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-65ZF9 – Conclusion
With the Sony KD-65ZF9, Sony hopes to have a worthy successor to the ZD9. However, the smaller number of dimming zones immediately falls (104 vs the approximately 700 of the ZD9), and that is also evident in the picture, albeit especially in extreme examples. Where the ZD9 hardly or not bothered by halos is that on the ZF9 occasionally the case.
But the ZF9 remains a pleasure to watch. It delivers an extremely clear image, with excellent contrast, top black detail, very good calibration, and excellent color reproduction. For HDR, the ZF9 claims the crown of the clearest television, combined again with a near perfect calibration. Sport and action? No problem, the movement sharpness is excellent. And the new X-Wide Angle technology gives this LCD TV a very wide viewing angle. The Android Oreo user interface is smooth and makes your content a lot more accessible than the previous version. Finally, the price. This is obviously high, but compared to the introductory price of the ZD9 we are pleasantly surprised.