Sony comes back and dreams about the Bravia OLED A1: the complete test

26/05/2017

Sony comes back and dreams about the Bravia OLED A1: the complete test


Technically, the new TVs of the Bravia A1 series are not Sony's first OLED. Perhaps many do not remember it, but Sony was in fact the first company to launch an OLED TV in the early 2007: it was called XEL-1, it had a diagonal of only 11 inches, a resolution of 960x540 pixels and cost as much A 65-inch high-end LCD today. It took almost ten years to follow that pioneering experiment, but today we are finally in touch with the first real big Sony OLED TV.

Panel technology is useless to hide it today, it is no longer Japanese but LG Display, the only company that could / wanted to invest huge amounts of resources in the commercial development of OLED these years, but this does not mean That Sony could not put all its experience in designing TV in these new products. From the particular design, which has led to the development of a unique audio solution, to the most advanced digital image processing techniques, the Bravia A1 series shows in every detail the unmistakable imprint of Sony DNA. Available in two cuts, 65 and 55 inches, we had the opportunity to thoroughly test the smallest model.

Full screen design

We have already had the pleasure of praising Sony's choice, which has chosen to embark on a courageous road by developing the special acoustic audio system, even to make the most of the design potential offered by OLED technology. The main feature of this TV, for those who still do not know it, is the sound that, thanks to a transducer system on the back, is not output from traditional speakers but from the screen surface itself, plus a small woofer placed on the Rear pedestal to reinforce mid / low frequencies. In this way, the classic front speakers can be cut off somewhat in the frame or base, and all the front can be dedicated exclusively to the thin, real screen, transforming the TV into an elegant and minimal black plate resting on a mobile. The end result is however the son of some compromises and a very precise design philosophy: the first OLED Bravia is a TV designed & nbsp; to be ideally placed on a flat, not wall-mounted, possibly not too high & nbsp; Aesthetical lightness of a virtually unobtrusive screen, slim and sloping, "dirty" only by an unmistakable Sony logo in the lower left corner and the nice blue LED in the center of the screen. The frame around the panel is very few millimeters thick and virtually all the front surface is represented by the OLED panel. The display is so subtle to the edges that it is almost afraid to break away from the packaging when it is removed. The rear pedestal, we have been able to highlight it in the past, is less successful: even with the typical cover of the speakers, it is not It's really nice or stylish: it's heavy to hold it all and - what we've come up with the test - is not very handy to run at installation time: the main part of the pedestal is already fixed to the top panel, but hooked up To a counterweight to be fitted and that incorporates the metal bracket that imposes the fixed inclination and can not be adjusted to the display. This operation requires a bit of attention in view of the delicate and lightweight of the OLED panel and we recommend doing it in three people to avoid the risk of damaging anything. Once installed, however, the pedestal will remain unlikely to be visible since it is ideally located Close to a wall. In addition, the connectors at the bottom make cable from the various sources too low, ensuring a very clean environment: all input and power input sockets are in a kind of cockpit that Will be covered and then hidden from the protection grid and will thus hide all the cable terminals. By attaching the counterweight to the pedestal and keeping it in the closed position, you can install the TV even on the wall, even if in this case It will be possible to have the wall panel of the wall itself.

omplete but unobtrusive connections

The pedestal therefore contains, in addition to the audio system woofer, also part of the TV electronics and especially the connections. These are in a really unobtrusive location once placed the TV on the mobile in its final position. While on the one hand the design forces you to hide the pedestal, on the other hand, because of this, it will be difficult to connect a device later without moving the TV.

This is especially true when talking about headphones or USB storage media that are not permanently attached to the TV but are actually used to play content on the fly. Fortunately, Sony TV supports various alternative ways to play media files, from DLNA to Google Cast, features that will come back to being useful. The connection park is pretty much standard: DVB-T2 and DVB-S2 tuners, LAN, optical digital audio output, analog audio / video input, 4 HDMI ports, three USB ports, headphone output and Common Interface module slots, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity are added.

Joy and Pain of Android TV

On the side of the functionality and the operating system, the OLED A1 series is all that we have just recently written about the Sony XE90: Android TV has definitely the potential, the TV control function has been well integrated by Sony, The most important apps are but Google's operating system remains very heavy and often, instead of reaching the user experience, ends up becoming the main enemy.

If it is a problem of optimizing the operating system or power of the processor used by Sony at present not known, but what in part calms us is that in the past the manufacturer has intervened with software updates that have consistently improved the performance.

At the moment we can say that with the software version installed on the sample we have noticed several times the noticeable interface slowdowns and long response time to the commands given with the remote control. This is particularly true when viewing native content in 4K, both through streaming services and external inputs. While viewing the 4K and HDR content from Amazon Prime Video, in particular, it has happened not only to see the TV interface react for up to 2 seconds after our commands, but also to hear the sound of the system being replayed with annoying shots Or go late and overlap each other.

Image Quality at the Top

2017 is definitely an important year for the assertion of OLED as a reference technology for the TV market, especially for the arrival of the first products of historic brands such as Sony. Waiting and expectations for Sony's first OLED were the stars and after having had the chance to try it with the right calm in our lab, we can say that what we saw really liked it.

From the earliest OLED TV models, one of the qualitative aspects that proved to be more critical was the rendering of darker images: perfect black is the main strength of this technology but reproducing the lighter nuances it has revealed Be at least initially more difficult than expected. The first generations of OLED TV had shown problems of uniformity and cleanliness of the darker images, defects that Sony, thanks to the advances made by the LG Display on its panels, has managed to make it a distant memory. Just cleaning the shadows is the first aspect that struck us with the Bravia 55A1: simply perfect, no noise or the tendency to overly highlight the compression artifacts.

Sony has also included in the advanced video settings menu a special control for fine level adjustment of the black, which is intended to correct any excessive shutter closures, but which also makes it useful to appreciate the accuracy of this TV's control on more tones dark. The result is that even with the darker scenes that would put the best of full LEDs with local dimming, the OLED Sony also offers high quality images.

This is also due to the remarkable progress made by this technology on the front of uniformity: the vignetting that featured the first OLED TVs here is absent, while while it is true that with a uniform screen with 5% brightness it is still possible to read Vertical streaks, these are really just perceptible and never visible when viewing normal video content. Just to be clear: The best LCD TVs on the market have far greater uniformity problems from this point of view. 

The perfect black and the high brightness of this TV mean that, depending on the room light in the room, the shadows can be perceived as a bit closed. By default, the TV follows the range curve as standard BT.1886 for HD, which is well connected with a darker environment, a little less in the presence of light; The aforementioned fine-tune black level control, however, can best adjust the image according to your needs.

More dynamic range than you need

Out of the Box, Sony TV supports HDR10 and HLG formats, while a firmware update scheduled for the summer should also add support for Dolby Vision. OLED technology is not yet able to offer the same brightness as an LCD, but this does not mean that the Sony 55A1 can not take advantage of the greater dynamic range offered by the new format.

With a 18% amplitude window, the TV can offer a peak brightness of around 640 cd / mq, a value that drops rapidly over the white pattern over 25%. This is always the case with OLED panel power management, which, in order to avoid overloads, automatically limits the maximum expressive brightness across the entire display area, a feature inherent in the DCI-P3 technology - Sony TV has almost a total coverage of space Color DCI-P3 and with good precision of primary and secondary. Only the primary of the red shows a deltaE beyond the critical threshold.

The important thing to keep in mind is that in HDR content, as a rule, there will be few details that will push the brightness (flames, sparks, reflections, sunlight, etc.) to the top, elements that will hardly occupy large Screen portions.

In order to meet the limits of the maximum brightness that can be expressed in the display (no display that can reach up to 10,000 nits), the HDR10 format predicts that the TV, as it approaches peak brightness, Of the input signal so as to preserve the details of high HDR video content lights; From this point of view, Sony TV manages to keep details of high lights up to a signal level between 1500 and 2000 nits, then cut it all over the white.

Viewing 4K content and burning in HDR offers images with great detail, extraordinary colors and a great contrast ratio; In our opinion, even if the amazing brightness levels of HDR10 and Dolby Vision promised by the nearly 650 nits of this OLED and its perfect black are not achieved, we are already ahead of a dynamic range at the limit for a comfortable viewing With HDR content in the environment even partially obscured.

Sony's upscaling technology is always a reference

The other great strength of this TV is, of course, the Sony upscaling technology, especially with Blu-ray discs, which is really close to that of native 4K content. The X-Reality PRO algorithm is very good and its intervention is still adjustable, offering the ability to calibrate balance between sharpness and possible artificialness. The system works perfectly with the 1080p content, while the contribution is far less decisive with 4K (probably the largest 65-inch screen, the intervention is most appreciated).

Where even X-Reality PRO manages to do miracles, it's with standard definition video and especially when viewing traditional TV channels. In this case, all the defects in the source material are overly highlighted for a less satisfying experience. Even with HD TV channels, compression artifacts become very noticeable and annoying, and in this case OLED Bravia shows an analytical character that does not discount the least defect in video content.

Also on this OLED, Sony has implemented its motionflow XR motion interpolation algorithm. Without any interpolation, the Sony TV offers a quantifiable moving resolution around about 350 basic TV lines. Activating the MotionFlow you get up to about 750/800 TV lines, provided you set the fluidity parameter at least 2 in the custom mode or select the fluid or standard presets. However, TrueCinema does not seem to have any effect either on image fluidity or on motion resolution.

A very interesting aspect, however, is another feature in the custom mode of the MotionFlow that takes the name of Sharpness: by setting fluidity to the minimum and sharpness to the maximum, the TV does not make any interpolation but seems to apply some kind of black frame insertion. While this mode seems to offer the most in terms of motion resolution, on the other hand, it introduces a reduction in the brightness, but above all a flickering, which with the content at 24 frames per second becomes so annoying, Which this setting did not seem usable. Besides, the numbers apart, the rendering from the point of view of the definition of this TV seemed to be great in any situation. Finally, to enable game mode, we detected a lag input of 47.3 ms, a discreet but not good value.

Good sound, but they serve lower

The particular audio system is definitely the most talked about this television after presenting at Las Vegas CES, the technology we've talked about over the last few months. After prolonged listening sessions we can mostly confirm our impressions: the acoustic surface is not just a design find but a credible alternative to the classic soundbar though with its pros and cons.

Among the positive aspects we can include the spatiality of the sound, which seems to come directly from the images, a very brilliant frequency response with a good extension to the highest part of the spectrum and a convincing dynamic range.

On the other hand, for a more careful and prolonged listening, there is a certain "void" in the middle register, which mainly affects the body of the deepest voices, while the frequency response is somewhat limited downwards and there is a strong lack of A subwoofer to give more impact to movie soundtracks.

The TV offers a variety of audio modes available, but the one that has convinced us more is the cinema setting, which offers a better balance, where with the default settings the sound is a bit more boxed and slightly metallic.

Conception Fullscreen

Nous avons déjà eu l'occasion de louer le choix de Sony, qui a choisi d'entreprendre une manière courageuse dans le développement du système audio particulier acoustiques de surface, afin de tirer profit du potentiel de conception de la technologie OLED. La principale caractéristique de ce téléviseur pour ceux qui ne connaissent pas encore, il est en effet le son qui, grâce à un système de capteurs à l'arrière, ne sont pas émis des haut-parleurs classiques, mais de la surface de l'écran lui-même, plus un petit caisson de basses placé sur béquille arrière pour les moyennes fortes / basses fréquences. De cette façon, disparaissent les enceintes avant classiques à recueillir en quelque sorte dans le cadre ou une base et l'avant ensemble, il peut être dédié exclusivement à réel écran mince et droite, en tournant le téléviseur dans une dalle noire élégante et minimaliste reposant sur un mobile. Le résultat final est toujours le fils de quelques compromis et une philosophie de conception très précise: la première OLED Bravia est une télévision pensée & nbsp; être idéalement placé sur une table mobile et non sur le mur, de préférence pas trop élevé & nbsp; afin d'améliorer la légèreté esthétique d'un écran pratiquement sans frontières, mince et tendancieuses, « salie » que par un logo invisible Sony dans le coin gauche bleu bas et agréable LED en bas au centre. Le cadre autour du panneau est vraiment quelques millimètres d'épaisseur et pratiquement toute la surface avant est représentée par le panneau OLED. L'écran est si mince sur les bords que d'être retiré de l'emballage est presque peur de romperlo.Il porche arrière, nous avons pu mettre en évidence dans le passé, est moins de succès: même avec le couvercle de protection du haut-parleur typique, il est exactement beau ou élégant: il est assez lourd pour tenir tout ensemble et - que nous avons découvert par essais - n'est pas très pratique à manipuler lors de l'installation: la partie principale du stand est déjà fixé au panneau en haut, mais est accroché un contrepoids à assembler et qui intègre le support métallique qui impose une inclinaison fixe et non réglable pour l'affichage. Cela prend un peu d'attention étant donné la délicatesse et la légèreté du panneau OLED et vous recommandons de vous inscrire à trois personnes pour éviter le risque d'endommager qualcosa.Una Une fois installé, cependant, le piédestal sera à peine visible, puisque, idéalement, vous trouverez dans contre un mur. En outre, la disposition des connecteurs sur le fond provoque également que les câbles provenant des différentes sources seront à peine visibles, assurant un placement dans un environnement très propre: tous les points de vente des entrées et l'alimentation sont en fait dans une sorte de cockpit restera couvert et donc caché par la grille de protection et qui permettent ainsi de cacher toutes les bornes contrepoids cavi.Staccando du piédestal et de garder ce dernier en position fermée, il est également possible d'installer le téléviseur mural, bien que dans ce cas, non il sera possible d'obtenir le panneau métallique du mur lui-même.