Last year, Sony unveiled its first mainstream 4K OLED, the excellent A1. Now we have word on its successor: the Sony A8F.
That’s what it’ll be called in the US, anyway. Going by previous Sony naming conventions, it’s a safe bet that it’ll be called the Sony A8 in the UK. Either way, this is welcome news, because last year my Sony A1 coverage was by far the most popular out of everything I wrote on TVs. Here’s everything I know so far from visiting the Sony stand at CES 2018.
The Sony A8F is a straight version of the slanted Sony A1
What’s new? I’m told the only real difference is the design. The Sony A8F screen is now vertical, which will please those who didn’t fancy the A1’s five-degree lean backwards. It’s still a minimalist look. There is a central pedestal type stand, but it’s so low it almost seems like the TV is sitting on its bottom edge.
Aesthetics aside, there is virtually no change. We’re looking at the same OLED panel as last year. The Acoustic Surface technology, which vibrates the screen to create sound and negates the need for speakers, remains a key feature. The Sony A8 OLED will continue to use last year’s excellent 4K HDR Processor X1 Extreme, and Android TV makes a return.
Sony is also demonstrating its prototype next-gen processor, the X1 Ultimate. This is capable of twice the real time processing power of the current generation. It can process 8K HDR in real time and handle up to 10000 nits. That’s the maximum that HDR can express.
While playing with this new processor could well be mere future-gazing, I reckon this is a sign that we will see a new superpowered premium OLED in the near future. Perhaps around September at IFA in Berlin. It would be a move consistent with the release of the Sony ZD9, which skipped the traditional Spring release window and came out at the end of the 2016.
How much will it cost?
There’s no word on price yet, but not pushing out an all-new premium OLED (like Panasonic and LG are doing) allows Sony to sell at lower prices. While there’s no official pricing, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the 55-inch A8 OLED hit stores at around £2000, which is significantly lower than the A1’s launch price of over £3000. Come Black Friday, that might even dip to around £1500.
But that’s all speculation at this point. In any case, it actually makes sense to reuse the majority of the components. The A1 remains an excellent TV and has no shortage of accolades. In fact, the Sony A1 will continue to be sold at significant discounts in 2018, alongside the new Sony A8 OLED.
When can you buy one?
The Sony A8 OLED will be released in Spring 2018
Sony X900F series – LCD LED is still getting love
On the LCD front, the top model will be the XF90, which shares the Sony A8F’s 4K HDR Processor X1 Extreme. As with last year’s XE90 series, this will be backlit. There is no word on the higher-end Sony 93 and 94 ranges from last year, nor a successor to the excellent ZD9.
It appears Sony is putting more emphasis on OLED, which is consistent with other TV makers I’ve seen so far at CES 2018. Panasonic is strongly emphasising its FZ950 and FZ800 OLEDs, and I would argue LG hasn’t taken LCD seriously in years. Only Samsung is still fighting for the LCD cause, citing concerns for OLED’s longevity.