Home ยป Review: Sony KD-85ZG9 (ZG9 series) Ultra HD 8K LED LCD TV
Reviews

Review: Sony KD-85ZG9 (ZG9 series) Ultra HD 8K LED LCD TV

Rate this post

Sony will also be launching in 2019 with 8K Ultra HD . The KD-85ZG9 is equipped with a Backlight Master Drive, the Sony X1 Ultimate processor, Acoustic Multi-Audio sound and an impressive 85 inch format. In short, all the top technology from Sony, we are curious what the result will be.

Sony KD-85ZG9 – specifications

  • What: Ultra HD 8K LCD TV, Full Array Local Dimming (35 x 19 segments)
  • Screen size: 85 inch (215 cm), flat
  • Connections: 4x HDMI (40Gbps, 8K, 4K / 2K HFR, eARC), 1x composite video, 1x stereo minijack, 1x optical digital out, 3x USB (1x 3.0), 1x headphones, 3x antenna, Bluetooth 4.2
  • Extras: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision, WiFi (802.11ac) built-in, Android TV (8.0 Oreo), Chromecast, USB / DLNA media player, dual DVB-T2 / C / S2 , CI + slot, voice control, X1 Ultimate 4K HDR processor
  • Dimensions: 1,913 x 1226 x 432 mm (incl. Base)
  • Weight: 74.5 kg (incl. Base)
  • Consumption: 636/0 , 5 watts (Energy rating D)
  • Recommended retail price: 17,000 euros

A complete overview of all models that Sony brought to market in 2019 can be found here: top models high end [19659016] middle class . Here you will also find the complete specifications per model.

Sony KD-85ZG9 – design

Very impressive, those are the first words that come to mind when we look at the ZG9 up close. That may seem logical, an 85 inch model is a colossal TV, no matter how you turn it or turn it. You cannot expect a super slim device, the Backlight Master Drive simply takes place.

Design can be quite important in such a colossus, and the ZG9 does not disappoint. The frame seems to be made up of different layers, a striking choice that gives the device a distinctive appearance. These slats cause a shadow drop in the frame, which therefore appears even darker. They also serve as cooling fins, the ZG9 produces a lot of heat. The same goes for the feet, which clearly radiate and provide the necessary stability.

The back is executed in different segments of horizontal and vertical stripe motifs. This concept camouflages the various panels behind which the connections are hidden. According to Sony, it also dampens any vibrations. Sony also provides the necessary cable management. You can neatly route all cables along large recesses in the feet.

Connections

The device has four HDMI connections, one on the side and three on the back. Only HDMI 4 is a HDMI 2.1 connection with 40 Gbps bandwidth that supports 8K and 4K / 2K HFR. No ALLM or VRR, properties that we find on many competitors. For people looking forward to the freshly announced Sony PS5, that would undoubtedly have been an added value. eARC is found on HDMI 3. With 40Gbps bandwidth, Sony also does not deliver the theoretical maximum of 48Gbps, but this is sufficient for 8K 24fps in 4: 4: 4 chroma subsampling and 8K 60fps in 4: 2: 0 chroma subsampling.

Those who want the best quality for their external HDR sources, choose the 'Improved setting' in the settings (Settings / Watching TV / External Inputs / HDMI Signal format).

Aan de there are two USB connections on the side and a USB connection at the back. On the side there is also a headphone output and a composite video input. The digital optical output, network connections, center speaker connection and rear antenna connections are all facing downwards / downwards. This is useful for wall mounting. Bear in mind that you are hanging 74 kg on the wall and provide a solid anchor. Bluetooth is also provided if you prefer to use wireless headphones.

Sony KD-85ZG9 – ease of use

The ZG9 works with Android 8 (Oreo). The installation is smooth and easy, and you can avoid having to type in a username and password by using your smartphone and Google's 'set up my device'.

Remote control

The 2019 line-up was given a new remote control and we find it unchanged at the ZG9. At first glance, the changes appear to be primarily cosmetic. The design is somewhat slimmer, the top is finished in faux brushed metal, the bottom in black plastic with a rough texture. The remote uses traditional keys, no more rubber on top that also covers all keys. It is comfortable to hold and the keys are easy to press.

Upon closer inspection there are also changes to the layout. The circle with keys around the d-pad disappeared. They have been replaced by regular keys, and other functions have also been chosen at those locations. For example, the inputs, microphone, and settings are now at the top, and the back button, TV, and Home at the bottom. That choice is a lot more convenient in daily use, especially since the microphone and inputs are accessible without having to move your hand. There are still direct buttons for Netflix and Google Play. Only the playback keys below are still a bit too small.

Finally, the remote works with IR, but also via Bluetooth (you have to activate that in the menus), so you don't have to aim. Only the power key always works via IR. In short, not a revolutionary new remote, but a good set of improvements.

Sony KD-85ZG9 – features

Smart TV platform

The ZG9 uses the same chipset and configuration as the one in the XG95 (MediaTek MT5893). The quad-core ARM Cortex-A73 only received 2.5 GB RAM instead of the 4 GB RAM found on the ZF9. However, the other specs (Mali-G71 GPU and 16GB internal storage) remain identical. The chipset works a lot smoother than the previous one, and the choice for less RAM does not seem to have any serious disadvantages.

Smart functions

Those looking for a handy overview of the possibilities of Android 8 (Oreo) can turn to us [19659041] Android TV review article .

Even in this new user interface, Android TV lags behind in terms of ease of use on the systems of LG, Samsung and Panasonic. However, Sony has solved this nicely by giving its own menus an extensive redesign.

Whoever presses the “input” key sees all the entries appear in a clear ribbon at the bottom of the screen. You can also adjust that ribbon extensively. Inputs that you do not use can be hidden or automatically displayed when they are connected. You can also add apps to this ribbon, making it an alternative and fast method to find your favorite sources.

The settings menu has been improved in a similar way. This also now appears in a ribbon at the bottom, and you can also adjust this so that you have functions you regularly use quickly. The complete menu can be reached by selecting 'settings' in the ribbon.

The TV is equipped with a double TV tuner for digital TV (DVB-T2 / C / S2) but only has one CI + slot. Watching and simultaneously recording another channel is only possible with channels that are not encrypted. The media player is fairly complete, but refused our old Divx files. You cannot play 8K this way either. Install VLC, Kodi or Plex as an alternative media player. The music player does not know what to do with ALAC, but with all standard music formats and tags.

Sony KD-85ZG9 (ZG9 series) – Image quality

Our test of the ZG9 took place over a fairly short period of time (half a day, usually we spend considerably more time on such devices), on the spot in Amsterdam.

Like the famous ZD9, the ZG9 is equipped with the Backlight Master Drive. This Full Array Local Dimming background lighting uses specially designed LEDs with a “Calibrated Beam” to avoid stray light in neighboring areas. Unlike the ZD9, not every LED is controlled separately, but they are grouped in modules. The number of zones remains quite large. We counted (with great difficulty) about 35 x 19 zones (coincidentally or not, the same number as on the ZD9), but it could have been 36 x 20. The Sony therefore supplies around 700 zones.

The panel is of the VA type and is equipped with the X-Wide Angle film that improves the viewing angle. We could not take a clear picture, possibly due to the X-Wide Angle film, the small pixels, a bit of a hurry when shooting or a combination of everything.

Main settings

In our article about the professional calibration of a TV you can read all about the possibilities with a professional to come to the best image settings. If you want to get started yourself, go through 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:

General Advanced / Brightness Color Sharpness / Movement
Image mode: User
Auto Image mode: Off
Brightness : 15-35 *
Color: 50
Light sensor: on *
Brightness: 15-35 *
Contrast: 90
Gamma: -2
Black level: 50
Black change: from
Geav. Contrast optimization: Off
Automatic Local dimming: Middle
X-tended Dynamic Range: Off *
Color: 50
Color tone: 0
Color Temperature: Expert 1
Live Color: Off [19659063] Image sharpness: 50
Reality Creation: HAnd *
Random noise reduction: Low *
Digital noise reduction: Low *
Smooth Gradation: LowMotionFlow: Auto, or flexibility 2, brightness 1.
Film Mode: Auto

Explanation of main settings;

  • 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 the backlight). If you look at darkening, lower it earlier to 15. If you stay at 35, it is best to activate the light sensor.
  • Reality Creation: improves detail rendering. The Auto mode is a bit too aggressive. Anyone who prefers the pure approach turns it off. For more detail you can go up to Manual 20 or for a good source up to 40, but avoid higher settings.
  • Activate both noise suppressions in the lowest position, especially if you set Reality Creation higher than 20. In that case we would even recommend “Middle”.
  • Motionflow: out for the purists, car for those who opt for the easiest solution. Manual tinkering is also possible. Set flexibility to 2 and brightness to 1.
  • If you watch a lot in strong daylight, then also try the Cinema setting, or activate X-tended Dynamic Range for a pseudo-HDR effect.

General image processing

The ZG9 is equipped with Sony's top processor, the X1 Ultimate. This is the same processor that we find in the XG95, but with the addition of X-Reality Pro 8K, which means that the database for functions such as Object-based Super Resolution and Dual Database Processing has been adapted with 8K data. We see very similar results as on the XG95.

With upscaling 4K content, the upscaling is excellent, but how does this processor perform when it has to upscale Full HD (or worse, SD) to 8K? No matter how powerful the processor is, this clearly remains a challenge. Especially when noise is visible in the image. The right combination of sharpness, Reality Creation and noise reduction (see our settings above) provides a good image, but you don't expect 8K sharpness. That is clearly not feasible. The balance is also delicate: too much noise suppression costs your detail (and can cause “trails” with moving objects), while too high Reality Creation sometimes highlights residual noise clearly. It is even more important to see such errors on an 85 inch image format.

We also noticed that the processor apparently has Chroma Upsampling Error (both in 1080i and 1080p images). This can be recognized by the serrated or comb edge in red objects, as visible in the photo below. That is unfortunate, and we hope that Sony can still correct that error.

Despite those errors, the result remains good (remember that a Full HD image must be enlarged 16X, an SD image even 80x). But keep in mind that, more than on a 4K device, you get better results if you start with quality content.

The ZG9 uses X-Motion Clarity. He thereby combines the local dimming options of the background lighting with “black frame insertion” (BFI) to achieve sharper motion detail without greatly dimming the brightness of the image. By the way, you should leave Motionflow on, in the “auto” mode if you simply want the smoothest result with the best detail. An artifact here or there remains possible. Alternatively, choose 'Manual' and set Suppleness to 2 or 3 (depending on your taste) and Brightness to 1, with these settings the Sony brings out all the details and hardly loses its brightness.

General image properties [19659023] The VA panel of the ZG9 delivers an ANSI contrast of approximately 1,600: 1. Just like with the ZF9, that is relatively low, and probably due to the X-Wide Angle film. It is striking that the XG95 had no problems with this. With the local dimming function activated, in the User image mode, the contrast rises to a respectable 3,700: 1. That is good, but somewhat disappointing for a model with such an advanced background lighting. However, we lacked the time to investigate whether this was due to our choice of test patterns.

Where the ZG9 excels is the use of its dimming zones. Hardly, if ever, clear segments are visible. Even from a relatively sharp viewing angle (as above, moreover overexposed to make the effect visible), the halos are not sharply defined but rather a soft glow. The TV also shows excellent black detail and, where necessary, deep black. Even extreme scenes such as in Gravity are beautifully captured. Only subtitles remain a problem. They didn't light up an unnecessary part of the image, but the subtitles themselves are so intense and the Sony is so bright that they are really too strong in dark scenes. We again ask Sony to come up with a solution for this.

The “User” mode provides the best calibration. The image is very clear (more than 500 nits), and we therefore recommend leaving the light sensor on. If you look a lot at darkening, you can alternatively lower the “Brightness” to 15 and switch off the light sensor. The gray scale shows that the ZG9 displays the shadow details between 5 and 20% stimulus a bit too dark, but we nevertheless notice that it shows excellent black detail. Color rendering, including skin colors are excellent. In short, an image that you enjoy, especially in 4K or better, but the Sony has another asset.

HDR

A maximum peak brightness of 3,600 nits (in a well-calibrated image mode, moreover) ), that is an impressive picture. Bright enough to create a flashy effect even in a well-lit living room (such as the demo room). Witness the demo images from the racing game, or carnival in Rio.

The Sony KD-85ZG9 (ZG9 series) can also hold that maximum brightness long enough. Precise timing was difficult, but he reaches that maximum after ten seconds, and can show it for about 10 seconds, after which he drops steadily. That is in any case much better than the Samsung Q900R which shows its peak of 3,200 nits only in dynamic image mode and barely a few seconds. Even on a completely white image, this TV still achieves 790 nits.

The “User” image mode is perfectly calibrated. The brightness curve perfectly follows the prescribed course. The Sony seems to ignore all metadata and shows white detail up to 3500 nits. Everything above that is clipped, even if the metadata indicates that there is detail up to 10,000 nits. That is different from the XG95, for example, where the Sony clearly decided how fast the brightness curve should roll based on what was in the image.

This Sony supports HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG. The color range is 89% DCI-P3 and 65% Rec.2020, good enough for beautiful HDR images, but slightly below the competitors. With that fantastic clarity, HDR images are often enchanting. We also looked at some YouTube HDR content and it really jumps out of the screen.

Those who want an HDR sauce over their images can activate X-tended Dynamic Range, the effect can sometimes be very nice, but we do not recommend it

Reflections and viewing angles

Like the ZF9, the KD-85ZG9 (ZG series) uses X-Wide Angle technology, a film on the front of the screen that spreads the light. X-Wide Angle does indeed provide a better viewing angle, but that probably still remains slightly at the expense of contrast.

Reflections are spread somewhat horizontally, also presumably a consequence of the X-Wide Angle Film. So try to avoid as many reflections as possible.

Gaming

In normal image modes we measure a lag of 106 ms, which is too much for decent gaming. In game mode the lag drops to 29.2 ms, a good result but slightly less good than most 4K top TVs currently on the market.

Sony KD-85ZG9 – Audio quality

Just like the [19659037] XG95 the ZG is equipped with 'Acoustic Multi Audio', the technology with which Sony wants the sound to come out of the screen. The arrangement is different for the two devices. With the XG95 there were two extra tweeters at the back, in addition to the two speakers at the bottom (which are pointing downwards). With the ZG9, the left and right speakers are on the top and bottom, and they are all facing forward. Four extra subwoofers are in the back. With 8x 10 Watt power, it is also a lot more powerful than the ZF9 and XG95. If you want to integrate the ZG9 perfectly into your surround setup, you can use the TV as a center speaker that connects directly to your AV receiver.

The sound seems to come from the screen, but what us the most astonished: what kind of sound! He is very rich and full. The bass reproduction even manages to beautifully display our extremely difficult Metallica test fragment (The Struggle Within). Voices sound warm and clear, but the loud sounds of cymbals or screaming guitars also continue to sound good.

The ZG9 is also one of the first televisions in which we use the pseudo-surround effect of the 'cinema' sound fashion not only could hear clearly, but also really appreciated. In our Star Wars test scene we heard explosions rushing past our heads. It is also an excellent sound preset if you want to simulate a classical concert in the church.

The ZG9 supports Dolby Atmos passthrough via its HDMI eARC function.

Review equipment

We use a Leo for the lag measurement Bodnar Display was meters. 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 possible HDR problems we use a HDFury Vertex .

Sony KD-85ZG9 – Conclusion

Let's start with the price. It is very high. A 82 inch Samsung Q950R will cost you 10,000 euros, which is a lot less than the 17,000 from Sony, and the question is whether the Sony is worth the price difference. He is not for everyone, that goes without saying. We were also surprised by the Chroma Upsampling error. This can cause tricky cartel lines on this screen size (in red images). The contrast was also somewhat disappointing, presumably caused by the X-Wide Angle film. Content in 8K also remains a problem, of course, and the Sony only supports this via HDMI, not via USB, which means that you have another source less.

Opposite those limitations are a couple of enormous trump cards. The ZG9 thus combines fantastic sound with impressive images. The enormous brightness and fine colors make it effortless to do its thing in a sunny living room. The ZG9 also performs well in the event of eclipse, the Backlight Master Drive virtually eliminates all halos. HDR images have never looked so impressive. And with 4K content, the 8K screen delivers unprecedented detail.

Yet we cannot get rid of the idea that the ZG9 is a bit ahead of its time (and that it will also apply to the Samsung 8K models) . With Full HD content (still the most important part of the viewing offer for Belgium and the Netherlands), the TV cannot perform miracles, and on an 85-inch screen, every image error is magnified. But 8K content is currently non-existent, and the 4K offer may grow strongly, it still has a long way to go. We therefore see the ZG9 more as a signboard for Sony's technological skills.

Cons

  • Price
  • None 8K via USB
  • Less good contrast than expected
  • Chroma Upsampling error

Advantages [19659120] Image processing
  • Top Brightness
  • Excellent sound
  • Very good sharpness of motion
  • Homecinema Magazine
    Review
    9.0 10 Eric Beeckmans product

    Add Comment

    Click here to post a comment