Sony sells the Master Series Bravia A9F OLED in India in two screen sizes—55-inch and 65-inch. The former is priced at Rs429,900 while the larger of the two variants will set you back by a whopping Rs579,900. For that much money, you would expect a top-notch experience.
The Bravia A9F’s visual appeal starts at first glance. It doesn’t have the common table-top stand design you’ve probably seen on other TVs—if you want to do things differently, you will like what Sony has done with the TV getting an integrating kickstand which keeps it propped up on a table. The Bravia A9F leans back by about 5 degrees—before you worry about the impact on the viewing experience, we wish to reassure you that this is a very comfortable viewing angle. Something that you will get used to. The TV panel sits directly on the table, and that means any clutter of wires behind the TV get hidden away effortlessly. The kickstand extension is where the connectivity options are—HDMI, USB ports etc. Sony, over time, has improved this design to ensure that thicker HDMI cables or accessories don’t get in the way.
The drawback of this design, at least in our experience, is that the kickstand at the back extends at quite an angle, which means you will need to have a table deep enough for this to be placed on it safely.
But wait, hang on. Where are the speakers?
Magic is at work here. The screen is the speaker itself, called the Acoustic Surface. There are actuators placed behind the screen, which vibrate the screen based on the audio frequency input and that in turn produces sound. Sony calls this technology the Acoustic Audio Surface+. There are three audio actuators behind the display which produce the vocals and mid-range frequencies, and there are two subwoofers for handling the lower frequencies, which you may better relate to as bass.
The sound from the Acoustic Audio Surface+ setup is nothing short of excellent. The vocals are fantastically crisp and detailed even at high volumes, there is no audible distortion and the wideness of sound is well preserved (depends a lot on the content). More important however, is the fact that the Bravia A9F’s sound setup can reproduce more bass than many TVs and their integrated speakers can manage. This is the biggest value addition for movie viewing, and you might not really want to splurge on a home theater setup as well—considering you would have had to be relieved of an arm and a leg to buy the Bravia A9F.
One look at the 55-inch or 65-inch 4K OLED screen, and you know why this technology is here to stay in premium televisions. Even though LG got into the OLED game much ahead of Sony, but paired with Sony’s excellent image processing algorithms and the related hardware, the picture quality on this screen is nothing short of benchmark quality. The inky blacks are the starting point for great colour reproduction, and the accuracy as well as separation is excellent on this Triluminos display—and no colour pops out unnaturally. This is a fairly sharp panel too, so much so that you need to actually turn down the sharpness level in the picture settings for Full HD content sources such as TataSky HD and an Amazon Fire TV Stick. Fast-moving visuals are handled well for the most part, and unlike some of the previous Bravia OLED TVs which exhibited occasional ghosting of the ball as it slid across the green grass in a cricket match for instance, the Bravia A9F handles the motion processing superbly. The picture settings are very detailed, and you can fine-tune aspect such as black levels, resolution enhancement and the smoothness or clarity of fast moving visuals.
If we have one grouse, that is the fact that the Live Colour option, when enabled, tends to boost colours which makes them look inaccurate from time to time. We prefer to keep that setting turned off—the options include low, medium and high treatment, if you so wish to have colours pop out from the screen.
A lot of high-end televisions don’t always support both HDR10 and Dolby Vision High Dynamic Range (HDR) standards, but the Bravia A9F does. This means all 4K content that you might want to stream on Netflix and Amazon Video and also 4K or HDR gaming from a compatible Sony PlayStation 4 or Sony PlayStation 4 Pro is on the cards.
The Bravia A9F runs Google’s newest Android TV platform. We really appreciate Sony’s persistence with Android TV as a smart TV platform for many years now, and this remains the slickest option to have. You get all the popular streaming apps on the TV itself, the interface is uncluttered and the entire experience is quite slick to use. Incidentally, the Bravia A9F also works with smart assistants and smart speakers. If you have an Amazon Echo speaker at home, you can simply call out to the Alexa virtual assistant for tasks such as powering on or off the TV, changing channels or sources and controlling volume. If you have a Google Home smart speaker, Google Assistant can be called on by your voice to play YouTube videos on the TV, turn volume down, pause playback and more. You simply don’t have to pick up the TV remote for these tasks anymore—welcome to the futuristic home.
If you have the money in your pocket, there really isn’t much to complain about. The Sony Bravia A9F is pretty much what you need for the home theatre. It looks futuristic, connects to smart speakers and works with voice commands and the performance is close to flawless. Buy it, while the rest of us hope to be rich enough one day to perhaps own one of these.