TG Guru#260: Trends in TV Technologies, which one will you choose in 2019?

After retiring from Infosys I have decided to restart my TG Guru weekly Technology blog and make it available to public. TG Guru blogs were published for 9 years within Infosys. This will be regularity published in our external website (http://www.cumulusconsulting.in) under the heading blogs. It is a mix of technology and Gadgets not a typical Gadget reviews which are available plenty elsewhere. I will discuss more about technology trends in these blogs.

In this edition of TG Guru (#260) I like to discuss about current trends in TV technologies and help you to choose the best one which will suit you.  This article will help you in understanding the technologies and choosing the best TV if you are serious about getting the best suitable TV and ready to spend 2 to 6 Lakhs.  This is written from my experience in large screen TVs and my understanding of the technologies involved. I had invested in two large screen Sony Signature series (X) full HD TV over the last 12 years which costed me 2L and 2.5L respectively in 2007 and 2010. They are still working and in good condition. After building a video streaming server with enough 4K content over the past few years, I wanted to upgrade to a 4K TV and was looking for the right choice for the past one year.  Finally last month I bought Sony Master Series OLED TV 65A9F (https://www.sony.co.in/electronics/televisions/a9f-series) . So at the end of this article I will include my experience in choosing 65A9F. I considered the following 65” TV options

  1. Sony 65A9F OLED TV
  2.  LG C7/ C9 OLED TV
  3. Samsung Q80R/ Q90R. QLED TV
  4. Sony 95G/ 950G series LCD TV with local dimming

I will start with the technology, detailed discussion about true 4K TV features you need to look for, HDR, HDMI 2.0, HDCP2.2, eARC,  OLED, QLED  etc. are also discussed.  At end of this article I will include why I chose OLED TV and my experience with it. If you do not want to get into the theoretical background you can directly jump into my experience with Sony 65A9F OLED TV at the end of this article. Sony 65A9F is selected as the king of TV Worldwide in various shootouts among Tv professionals. Ofcourse they looked mainly at how good it is to reproduce 4K content, which is not the exact real-World scenario where most of the content is still 1080P.

Evolution of TV. 

TVs have gone through many evolutions in the last 60 years. From CRT Black and white TVs to Color TVs, then LCD HD TVs to OLED  4K and 8K TVs. TVs are meant for reproducing the picture as realistic as possible.  To simplify it there are four basic parameters we can improve to produce a better video.

  1. How many? How detailed the picture is (resolution) 576P, 720P, 1080P, 2160P etc.
  2. How Fast?  How fast the picture can be redrawn / refreshed? Refresh rate: 25Hz/ 30/50/60/100/120 Hz
  3. How Bright: How bright the brightest parts of the picture appear and how much detail you can still see in the shadows (dynamic range) 0.1nit to 10000 nit
  4. What Color: How many of the possible colors that your eyes can see can actually be reproduced (color gamut) – 709, P3., 2020

These trends in TV technologies are summarized in the following diagram

Ultra HD TV

Ultra HD TVs are not just a bump on resolution to 4K  alone. It has an evolutionary path where it will embrace other technologies in phases, HDR (High Dynamic Range – High Contrast), WCG (Wide Color Gamuts – Vivid colors), HFR  (High refresh rate 120Hz ) and NGA (Next Generation Audio). Currently we are in UHD1- phase 2  as the following diagram and chart suggests.

  

Slim: Rec709 SDR, Wide: support for WCG BT2020 and tall : Support for higher brighness upto 10000nits. ß

Recommendations 2020 and 709 are color Gamut standards. Gamut is the range of colors available in a particular device. Rec 709 is subset of Rec2020. Rec2020 is the recommendation and is the focus for DOLBY Vision and a typical non-HDR TV can support only Rec709. The details are discussed later in this article.

  1. How detailed the picture is? (Resolution)

Resolution of a TV denotes the number of individual pixels that can be controlled. For a Full HD we need 1920 (horizontal) X 1080 (Vertical) = 2.1 million pixels . 4K TV has 4 times pixels compared to 1080P TV.  P stands for progressive scanning which gives better quality picture, common across all modern TVs compared to the interlaced scanning used in CRT TVs.

As the video resolution increases, for best experienceTV size needs to increase and Optimum Viewing distance decrease.  Your ideal viewing distance should be just enough to distinguish adjacent rows of pixels by your eyes to get the best out of your TV.  If the viewing distance is more than that you are wasting your money on a high resolution TV (ex: 4K) , instead you can get 1080P TV, it won’t make much difference.

Optimum Viewing Distance

The following table gives the ideal viewing distance for a given screen size and resolution for full immersive experience.

But you may not have the luxury to change your viewing distance.Various studies pointed out that in a normal household the viewing distance is 9 feet (2.7m) which is known as “Lechner” distance as shown above. Lechner distance is widely accepted as the normal viewing distance, so one need to calculate how much the screen size should be for UHD TV at this distance.  In addition, please remember that as per ITU-R BT.709 , 3 times the TV screen height is the ideal viewing distance for an UHD TV.  As per this if you are thinking of investing a 4K TV ideally it should  be 84” for a total immersive experience,  So never buy a 4K TV which is less than 60” unless you watch more of non 4K content.

When you are buying a 4K TV you should have enough 4K content also, Netflix , Amazon Prime, Ultra HD Bluray movies, YouTube, Vimeo etc are some of the sources. If you are watching more than. 50% non-4K content you can think of investing in a 55” 4K TV . If you watch more of DTH or cable , don’t waste your money on 4K. You can delay the purchase of 4K TV till you feel you have enough 4K content, as times goes the price will come down.  I have seen that Infosys has invested in 55” Sony 4K TV in their Employ Care Centre across India but off late only SD channels are available. This reminds me of late 70 and early 80s there were households with very high TV antennas installed without a investing in a TV. It is meant  to show off to the outsiders J

  • How bright? How bright the brightest parts of the picture appear and how much detail you can still see in the shadows

This is one of the most important parameters of the TV and one should understand this in detail to have an idea of what exactly the High Dynamic Range and current 2ndwave of 4K TVs in the market. Let us start from the basics, how the real World looks like in terms of the variation in brightness and the capability of our eyes, how much variation we can really understand.

The following picture in the left gives an idea about the difference between the capabilities of Human visual System (HVS) to perceive the variations in brightness in the real World.

Following pictures shows the variation in color perception between HVS , HDR (High Dynamic Range) Video,  SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) Video and how it performs in the real World. The brightness varies from 10-8to 10nits from a pitch dark night to a very bright sunlight. One nit is defined as one candela per square meter, or one candle power per square meter cd/m2. Out of these humans can see only a brightness variation of 10-4to 10with all our cones, rods and pupil adjustments. Current SDR HD TV can show only upto 100nits.

The following diagram shows how the actual scene and its degradation over the chain of content production to reproduction at the user end.

Following figure gives an idea of variation in the nits in the real World.

Current HD TVs uses 8-bit colors and can show a brightness variation of 100 nits. But Ultra HD TV demands 10 bits to 12 bits of colors and high dynamic range of brightness minimum 1000 nits.  OLED TVs can show dark scenes better than any other TV employing LCD/LED combinations. OLED TVs can switch OFF LEDs covering the dark scenes if demands achieving a perfect black. But LCD/ LED / QLEDTVs cannot achieve this because LCD are not emitting lights and LED are used for backlit so effectively some lights will leak diluting the scenes or wiping off the shadow regions when the conventional edge lit LEDs are used.  In the other end of brightness spectrum LED lit LCDs shine since it can go very high, easily more than 1000nits whereas OLED cannot go beyond 700nits.  In short both can have very good range, but it is yet different, OLED TVs are very good when ambience light is low or night viewing where LCD / LED set shines even in bright day light. So, you choose between them depending on your viewing habits and ambience lights of the TV room.

  • What color? How many of the possible colors that your eyes can see can actually be reproduced (color gamut)

From the days of CRT tubes, we were following 8 bits of color with Rec 709 color gamut which is around 36% of colors visible to us. Refer the diagram below.   But Ultra HD demands Rec. 2020 color gamut with 12 bits of color covering almost 70% of visible colors. None of the current display technologies support this, so as an interim solution TV manufacturer agreed to support DCI P3 color gamut covering 45% of visible colors.

Refer to the following figure to understand the difference between 709, DCI-P3 and 2020 records used in color gamut applications in TV.

Visit the following video to understand more about color gamut.                                                                                10bit                                                                                                                                           12bit

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1TR4WbHN5o&ab_channel=TWiTNetcastNetwork

ACES Color Scheme

In the digital world, the ACES (Academy  Color Encoding Scheme ) all-you-can-see color space is referred to as ACES2065 (“ACES twenty-sixty-five”). It was created at the Academy, and in 2012 it was adopted as a standard by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), the industry’s standards development organization. Normally cinemas are produced using DCI-P3color scheme. DCI (Digital Cinema Initiative). Nowadays there is a constant effort to master the cinema in ACES rather than DCI-P3 so that it can be transformed in best quality to specific formats for specific displays. If you have a master with DCI-P3 you can never think of formatting it for REC2020 which many of the earlier movies suffer from.

SDR TVs will have a color depth of 8 bits and HDR TVs support 10 bit or 12bit colors.  SDR TV follows BT709 with supports 36% of the visible color spectrum. HDR10 and Dolby vision are the most prominent HDR formats.  HDR10 incorporates DCI -P3 and covers 62% of the visible color spectrum. Dolby vision aims at BT2020 standard and covers 76% of the visible Color spectrum.

Different Types of HDR Formats / Technologies

To understand the different HDR formats first one need to know the different standards defined for HDR.

  • ITU-R BT.2020
    • AKA Rec2020 defines various aspects of ultra-high-definition television (UHDTV) with standard dynamic range (SDR) and wide color, gamut (WCG), including picture resolutions, frame rates with progressive scan, bit depths, color primaries
  • ITU-R BT.2100
    • defines various aspects of high dynamic range (HDR) video such as display resolution (HDTV and UHDTV), bit depth, Bit Values (Files), frame rate, chroma subsampling, color space
  • ST 2084
    • Specifies an EOTF characterizing high-dynamic-range reference displays used primarily for mastering non-broadcast content. This standard also specifies an Inverse-EOTF derived from the EOTF

There are five major HDR formats and four are based on ‘PQ’ or the Perceptual Quantizer, developed by Dolby.

  • HDR10 – verywide support, almost all -  SDR+ HDR static metadata Overlay
    • Dolby Vision – Sony, LG, Philips, Panasonic(Dynamic metadata)
    • Philips/Technicolor HDR – Philips, LG
    • HDR10plus – Samsung, Panasonic
    • HLG - Wide Support, Sony, LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Philips etc.

§ ST2084 curve No Meta Data UHD Alliance

§ ST 2084 with Static Meta Data, Ultra HD Blu-ray HDR10

§ST 2084 with Dynamic Metadata for Color Transform DMCVT – Dolby (Parametric Tone Mapping)
– Philips (Parameter-based Color Volume Reconstruction)
– Technicolor (Reference-based Color Volume Remapping)

– Samsung (Scene-based Color Volume Mapping)

ST 2094

§HLG defines a nonlinear transfer function in which the lower half of the signal values use a gamma curve (SD & HD) and the upper half of the signal values use a logarithmic curve. HLG is backwards compatible with SDR.

HDR10 vs Dolby Vision

HDR 10 uses static metadata for color definition while Dolby Vision uses dynamic metadata to the core HDR image data. This metadata carries scene-by-scene instructions that a Dolby Vision-capable display can use to make sure it portrays the content as accurately as possible. Dolby Vision-capable TVs combine the scene-by-scene information received from the source with an awareness of their own capabilities in terms of brightness, contrast and colour performance.

With HDR10 content, your HDR TV only receives static metadata; relatively basic ‘global’ information on the content being shown that applies to the entire film or TV show. It can’t provide a display with updates on how each specific shot or scene should be shown. Nor does HDR10 carry the same facility for continually optimising the picture to the capabilities of the screen it’s showing on.

Dolby Vision is built on the same core as HDR10, which makes it relatively straightforward for content producers to create HDR10 and Dolby Vision masters together. This means that a Dolby Vision-enabledUltra HD Bluray playerscan also play back in HDR10 on TVs that only support that format. Dolby Vision allows content producers to have either one or two ‘layers’ of data; one carrying just an HDR signal, the other carrying a standard dynamic range (SDR) signal. This single HDR/SDR workflow approach makes Dolby Vision a convenient tool for content creators and broadcasters to use. Both requires compatibility from all the AV equipment in the chain.

On the content production side, Dolby Vision seems more focused on pushing HDR to its technical limits. The minimum specification for Dolby Vision mastering requires the use of reference monitors with a contrast ratio of 200,000:1, peak brightness of 1000 nits, colour range ‘approaching’ the Rec 2020 standard, and support for the SMPTE ST-2084 HDR format

In practice for the content providers HDR 10 provides no control on the display devices while Dolby Vision gives control how it should look like in the display device depending its specific capability.  Even though Dolby vision is arguably future proof the result in current TV display depends on its implementation.  Most HDR 10 picture looks more bright but the Dolby Vision pictures tends to be more accurate and do justice to the original.  Most of the online content providers support both like Netflix or Amazon Prime.

The following chart shows who all support what HDR formats, TV Brands, TV peripherals, Streaming devices and Movie studios.

LED vs QLED vs OLED TVs

If you are shopping for a 4K TV with the latest features, you will come across 3 display panel technologies and you need to choose one among them which suits your need and budget. They are LCD/LED, QLED and OLED. Among these OLED is the only new technology other two are improvements in LCD Technology, more specifically improvement in the type of backlight used.  If you need the best picture and enough money to spend OLED TV is the best bet.  Is it that simple? Unfortunately no, you need to consider many factors which influence your decision.

  1. Viewing habits (Are you an avid gamer , spending many hours per day playing games , beware of Burn in issue in OLED TVs owing to prolonged static images)
  2. Ambience light, door or window directly opposite to your TV (LED/QLED TVs are brighter, Samsung QLED TVs are  less reflective too, OLED TVs are less bright and reflective)
  3. Your idea of best picture - Do you prefer brighter image with less shadow details (QLED) or less bright but more realistic (OLED)
  4. Viewing angle (If you need a wide viewing angle without any distortion or color degradation, OLED TVs are preferred, Recent Samsung models QR80 and QR90 also provide good viewing angle)
  5. You have a dedicated home theatre room – Go for a large OLED screen or a projector, QLED can never match OLED screen in a darker room in picture quality.

From my experience I like to add that the OLED screen is not causing any reflection issues in a bright living room with no bright light bulb or Window directly opposite to it. Its performance is better than earlier top end LCD TVs in terms of reflection.

Since the concept of best image is very subjective and individualistic, in Consumer TV direct shootouts different TVs are asked to compare against a reference Monitor showing the same picture. Reference monitors are always used by film directors and cost more than $30,000 , mostly made by Sony. In recent years Sony OLED TV A9F or A9G which won most of the direct contests and the difference between Sony A9F/ A9G and LG C7/ C9 was very small in term of total points. There is a gap with the OLED leaders and Samsung QLED series.  But seeing it separately I do not think most people can’t make out the difference.

LCD panel need a backlight since it is not self emitting lights unlike LEDs. LCDs are just filters. Earlier LCD TV used fluorescent backlights behind  the LCD and light diffuser and light guides to evenly lit the panel.  Since it is thicker and consumes lots of power, Fluorescent lights were replaced with LEDs for backlight. The arrangement of LEDs vary to have edge lit and full array lit (scattered) LED TVs.  Later these full array lit LEDs were put on and off depending on the image to form a coarse image behind the LCDs. These leads to local dimming technologies. Local dimming technology lead to define TV with varying degrees of controls depending how many LED zones. Zones are defined by a group of LEDs and each zone can be controlled individually.  So we have 4 zones or 16 zones or more local dimming technologies.

OLEDs (Organic Light Emitting Diode) emit lights unlike LCDS or QLEDs. So the design is much simpler, but the process of producing large OLED panels are quite complex and the yield is so low that it is costly. Right now, LG is the only successful OLED panel maker. Samsung bowed out of OLED market a few years back and started promoting QLED technology which is again basically LCD TV with a modified backlighting . LCD and QLED panels achieve greater brightness upto 2000 nits compared to OLED panels (750 nits max.). But they cannot match the dark levels produced by OLed TVs as shown above.

My Experience with Sony A9F OLED TV   (https://www.sony.co.in/electronics/televisions/a9f-series).

I was looking for a latest 4K TV to upgrade my current setup. The criteria I was looking for are listed below.

  1. Compatible with my existing Home Theater setup consisting of Yamaha Aventage AVR, Apple TV 4K, Nvidia Shield Pro, PS4, WDTV, MAC Mini , Tata Sky, Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Synology Media servers.
  2. Support for HDMI 2.0a  with eARC or HDMI 2.1 , HDCP 2.2 or 2.3  . eARC support is important for diverting the audio to AVR instead of TV speakers for inbuilt TV apps like YouTube , Netflix, Amazon Prime etc..
  3. Should be very good at upscaling 1080P video
  4. Compatible with Logitech Harmony Elite (guaranteed for any branded TV)
  5. Support for HDR 10, and preferably Dolby Vision
  6. support for all UHD-1 Phase 2 features is desirable.
  7. Best picture quality with realistic colors and brightness
  8. Fast processor to render the screen without any compression artifacts and decode the latest video compression formats HEVC, VP9 etc.
  9. Support for external NTFS formatted HDD / SSD
  10. Support for voice control (Alexa and Google Home) and Logitech Harmony Remote
  11.  TV OS , fast, reliable and intuitive.
  12. Low standby power consumption desirable

After my initial search I zeroed on to the following and need to choose one among them.

  1. Sony 65A9F/ 64A8F OLED TV - King of TV
  2.  LG C7/ C9 OLED TV _ Vivid Colors, Dolby Vision support
  3. Samsung Q80R/ Q90R. QLED TV - Bright Picture and One connect Box
  4. Sony 95G/ 950G series LCD TV with local dimming - Bright Picture, Ultimate Processor , Dolby Vision , no burn-in

In fact one year back I almost decided on a Sony OLED TV  (uses LG OLED panels) when they released their Master Series but was little scared of the burning issues raised by some reviewers and later reading a study report submitted by rtings.com  (https://www.rtings.com/tv/learn/real-life-oled-burn-in-test) .  To my surprise my usual Sony dealer in Brigade Road discouraged me in buying Sony OLED TV, so sure about burn-in!. My living room has very high ambient light especially in afternoons direct sunlight reaches the TV area. So I need to look into brightness and reflections also where Samsung Q80R and Q90R scores.

So I thought of considering QLED and LED with local dimming technologies too.

I have found Samsung QLED series is too bright to the extent that it produces not so realistic image. It lakhs the support of Dolby Vision but support HDR 10 and 10+ . HDR 10+ does not have many supporters even though Samsung promotes it as free. Smasung TVs have good viewing angle. It has the best anti reflection coating to give best results, giving   least reflection.

LG OLED series is very popular, but I thought it produce too vivid and brighter pictures, not very realistic.  Sony LCD 95G/950G had almost everything going for it if I am convinced that OLED has a burning issue in the long run. But it is using LCD with local dimming to produce 1000+ nits with good contrast like Samsung QLED TVs. The main issue is that Sony is not marketing 65” in India instead 75” or 55” and of course it is not OLED to produce the best realistic picture even though it almost as good as Samsung QLED TVs with Dolby Vision support.

I thought it is time to have a close look at OLED burning issue which forces me to reconsider buying Sony A9F.  Sony and LG updated their OLED TVs with frequent refresh cycle to tackle this as well as Sony released a usage guidelines for OLED TVs pushing the blame on the users if burn in happens! So my research started to find out the truth behind this starting  from  https://www.rtings.com/tv/learn/real-life-oled-burn-in-test.   After spending some time these burn-in claims I concluded the following.

  1. Burn in : This can be an issue if you are an avid gamer with prolonged static images, even logos (like Star TV, BBC appear in the top right corner ) . Normal use of TV with varying content need not worry about it.
  2. Image retention:  It can be issue with bright logos and static content but will be reset with every refresh of TV which is built into the firmware updates of Sony and LG TVs.

Firmware Updates of OLED TV manufacturers like Sony and LG takes care of image retention issue by dimming the TV periodically if the content is static or too bright for prolonged time.  Rtings finding of burning issue was recreated not in a normal user TV viewing conditions, the mainly recreated conditions for retailer TV demos where it is on 24XS365 days with demo videos containing very bright and vivid images, not really mimicked a real-life scenario.

For a decent review for Sony OLED TV 65AF9 click the link https://www.tomsguide.com/us/sony-master-series-a9f-qled,review-6124.html

https://www.flatpanelshd.com/review.php?subaction=showfull&id=1541414557

Experience with 4K HDR: 

4K online content is available from YouTube, Vimeo, Netflix, and Amazon Prime etc...  For offline content the best source is UHD Blurays. I have a collection of  4K movies in my Synology Streaming server. ( https://www.synology.com/en-global/products/DS418play).  YouTube 4K videos and Vimeo 4K videos looks excellent.  Most of the Hollywood movies are mastered in 2K and then remastered in 4K for online content. These are  available with OTT (Over The Top) service providers like Netflix and Amazon Prime. They look good but not outstanding with my setup, highspeed fiber streaming pipe.  For movies UHD Bluray players are much better but still remember that majority of the movies are mastered in 2K, so you are seeing an upscaled to 4K version, the trend is changing now to true 4K. There are plenty of fake 4K movies too. (https://4kmedia.org/real-or-fake-4k/). I was using my Apple TV to see all these videos earlier.  Now with 4K TV I understood that Apple TV 4K won’t support YouTube in 4K, it does not have VP9 decoder, but relies on ITU and MPEG standard HEVC decoders. Apple TV4K supports 4K with HDR 10, ALG and Dolby vision for all other services except YouTube. So I need to use YouTube TV app which supports 4K (with VP9 codec) and use ARC (Audio return channel of HDMI3 in TV) to reroute my audio channels if I need the extra fine audio. Infact for YouTube videos you need not use AVR, Sony TV  AF9 Audio is great with 3.2 sound. It is the best TV audio available in the market, the screen vibrates to produce the sound exactly from the right spot and bass is provided by two extra subwoofers built into the slanting stand. If you are playing Netflix through TV app instead of Apple TV, or any other video streaming players , you need to use eARC (enhanced ARC) to route it to AVR to get 5.1 /7.1 or higher with Dolby Atmos or DTS :X .  Simple HDMI 2.0 port with ARC  (not eARC)  won’t support enhanced audio , DTS Master or TrueHD Dolby , Dolby Atmos or DTS:X surround. So beware of this while selecting the TV and AVR, look for eARC support in the entire Audio chain.

YouTube has many 4K HDR enabled videos for demo. (ex: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCve7_yAZHFNipzeAGBI5t9g). They all look outstanding but soon you realize that the peak brightness (500nits +) offered by these not good for prolonged watching. It will give you a headache and not good for the life of OLED, as any other light emitting devices it loses its shine over the years. Don’t panic Sony and LEDX has released updated firmware to take of this usage scenario. Netflix Dolby vision movies plays well in TV using inbuilt app and Apple TV Netflex app. Dolby Vision movies looks dull compared to the HDR demo videos but it mimics the real video, the director’s intended us to watch, it is less taxing to our eyes. Some of the movies hardly crosses 100 nits , ex: Arrival mastered at 4K but 90% of it is less than 100 nits,  It exploits more of various shades of grey with its shadow details , Director has his own explanation for it, he wanted it that way.  I think It won’t look good in LCD TVs or QLED TVs.  My earlier attempt to watch this move in my non HDR TV miserably failed due to poor shadow details.  For a sample watch this YouTube Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ebf2Oi23Pw0&t=11swhich analyzes the HDR implementation of many movies while mastering it in 4K. Sony supports HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG.

1080P/ 720P / 576P upscaling to 4K

There are still plenty of online content in 1080P as well as Bluray movies.  Most of these movies are still available in DVD quality. Again, most of the DTH channels are aired in SD quality. So, quality of upscaling these videos need to be considered seriously. Sony with its X1 Ultra HDR processor chip does an excellent job of upscaling lower resolution videos to 4K.  Good quality 1080P videos are upscaled to 4K in a way that only educated eyes can differentiate.  I watch online content a lot, especially YouTube videos, most of the 1080P videos looks excellent.  There are many DTH HD channels (70+ in Tata Sky) but all are of not of same quality.  (I hardly watch DTH channels anyway, even the news I read in online only.) Good 1080P channels looks very good after upscaling to 4K and watching it in a 65” screen. The channels where the HD quality is compromised 4K upscaling also cannot be better, still it does a decent job.  DVD quality movies upscaling is really good since there is no noise like poor DTH HD channels.  Again, Sony X1 Ultimate chip is the best in the business of upscaling,  processors from the rivals are not even close.  Sony uses X1 ultimate processor only in their flagship TVs, A9F, A9G OLED TVs and 95G/ 950G series LCD TVs.

Interfacing with external World

A9F has 4 HDMI 2.1 ports and one is eARC compatible. All the HDMI ports support HDCP 2.2. for security and prevent content copying by tapping external links.  It won’t support the upcoming HDCP 2.3 currently. It has 3 high speed USB ports to connect external storage, even NTFs formatted disk are supported. Support for Ethernet and 802.11ac or Wi-Fi 5. Ports are given to connect to Home Network / Internet.  If you want use TV speakers as center speakers for your 5.1 Audio system, provision is available.  If you do not have very high-quality center speakers, you can use this way, TV speakers are very good.

You can Alexa or built in Google home to talk to the TV to put it on or off or for searches or launching different programs. You can even change its brightness and contrast by issuing voice commands. You can even turn ON/OFF lights and IoT devices through TV. You can see who is in the front door when the bell rings if you have installed compatible door bells with camera like Ring (ring.com) which I use or another good option is Netgear Arlo surveillance cameras

Android OS

AF9 runs Android version 8.0 which is the main sore point. It is no way comparable with LG’s WebOS which is faster and more intuitive and convenient to use without blocking the entire screen like Android TV OS.

Cons:

Android OS, Difficult to reach HDMI ports, Standing  stand is not for everyone, Price

 Conclusion:

The idea of the best TV is very subjective and varies between individuals.  It is no doubt that Sony Master series TVs are outstanding.in picture and sound quality.  Choice of technology between OLED, QLED and LCD should be related to one’s viewing habits.  OLED’s burning issue is confined to a small group of TVs which are used for long duration of playing Games or TVs belongs to retail TV shops where demo material is continuously playing with peak brightness. It is a fact that every TV fade over a time. If your TV is placed in a room where direct window or lights opposite to are there, better to choose QLED TVs or Sony LCD TV 95G series. In all other cases OLED TV is better.  A9F uses a slanting stand which tilts the TV 5 degree which may not be suited for everybody’s taste. My second choice is Sony 95G Series which is also uses the same processor and extremely good.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this.

Please send your feedback.

Regards,

Tomy

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