Sony India has announced the arrival of their flagship OLED series, the A1, in India from August 4. Sony Bravia OLED A1 comes in two sizes, 55 inches and 65 inches, although Sony had a 77-inch version of the TV on display as well, it is not being launched here for now. Regardless of what size panel you look at, the Sony Bravia A1 is a sight to behold. At the launch event, we got to spent some time with Sony’s latest 4K TV. Here are our first impressions.
Sony Bravia OLED A1 Design, Build
Regardless of the size of the panel, the A1 series offers uniform features across the board. The Bravia A1 is a 4K HDR TV. The imaging bits are powered by Sony’s home grown X1 Extreme image processor that runs the 8 million OLEDs individually. Between the X1 Extreme and the Triluminous Engine, Sony has ensured that the A1 is able to produce the most amazing colours and contrast your eyes have ever seen. The TV is as minimal as it gets, eliminating not just bezels on all sides, but also a stand or speaker array that you would typically find on a flat screen TV. The panel is incredibly thin, measuring 86mm at its thickest. Sony wanted to remove all distractions from the front of the TV, so there’s no stand under the screen. Instead, it’s moved to the back.
The back of the Sony Bravia OLED A1 has also received some seriously high-quality finish. The stand has a cloth grille that looks very nice, removing which reveals a sub-woofer on the top and a multitude of ports on the bottom. There is a total of 3 USB ports, 4 HDMI ports, 1 ethernet port and an optical out port in case you want to send the sound into your amp. In case you prefer your TV wall mounted, this back panel has a provision for wall mounting the TV as well. What was really nice was that Sony has built a cable management system just below the ports so that all you people who like their cables neatly laid out don’t get stressed. The fact that cabled plug in vertically into the TV is also a neat touch as this means the TV can sit as flush as possible with the wall.
Sony Bravia OLED A1 Audio quality
Sony Bravia A1 takes minimalism a step further by eliminating any kind of speakers on the TV. At first, the obvious question would be to wonder where the sound comes from? Sony addresses the design challenge by utilising the A1’s OLED panel, which acts as a speaker. Sony calls this an Acoustic Surface. This is achieved by attaching actuators to the back of the OLED panel, which is exactly the same as a speaker module, just without the cone. The electricity vibrates the actuators, which causes the panel to vibrate and create sound. In our brief time with the TV, given the demo footage we saw, we were hard pressed to tell that the TV didn’t have conventional speakers.
The sound was loud, clear and crisp. Of course, the demo footage was created specifically for this, and the demo itself was given in an acoustically controlled room. Will we get the same kind of loudness and clarity while watching an action movie in our homes? This is an important question which we will address later when we get to review the TV set. Typically, we’d think that if you’re going to spend so much money on a TV, you’re probably better off pushing the sound through a dedicated amp and into a home theatre system.
Sony Bravia OLED A1 Display quality
Unfortunately, all we had to see the prowess of the panel was the test footage Sony brought to the event. There were no “real world” video clips to check out, nor did the company bring OLED/QLED panels from other manufacturers for us to see just how superior the A1 is to the competition. However, here is what we do know. When watching the test footage in a pitch black room, the dark parts of the footage caused the TV to basically disappear. There was a moment when all there was on the screen was a red animated bird and everything else was black. At that point, it was impossible to tell where the TV started and ended.
The blacks on the Bravia A1 are really black and we were very impressed. We were shown a 4K HDR video of a glass smith at work and the dynamic range on the TV was phenomenal. Detail could be seen in the fiery embers of the molten glass as it was hit and even in the dark corner of the glass smith’s workshop. It all looked incredibly impressive, but we want to test the TV with our own content to see just how it works with the real world content which we are far more likely to consume than the demo content. As of now, the Sony A1 only supports HDR content, with support for Dolby Vision standard coming soon via firmware update.
Sony Bravia OLED A1 Software
When it comes to content, the Sony Bravia A1 is a smart TV which comes with Android Nougat baked in. As a result, you get access to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube and the usual suite of smart features. There is also a handy voice search feature which we were not able to test out as it was too loud at the venue.
Sony Bravia OLED A1 First Impressions
In case you are wondering, the Sony Bravia OLED A1 is priced at Rs 3,64,990 for the 55-inch panel and the 65 inch TV sports a price tag of Rs 4,64,990. The panels are priced rather competitively, cheaper than some of Sony’s own panels with very similar specifications and hardware and actively competing with LG. Samsung has its QLED panels, but since those are based on an LCD type design (they require backlighting as against OLED which are self-emitting), they tend to be thicker and the curve prevents the installation of actuators for sound production. The Bravia A1 is a stunning piece of engineering, not just from an aesthetic sense but also in terms of the content delivery. This is on TV that we cannot wait to review.