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Sony A9G review: Jack of all trades, master of all

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Gadgets Now
17th September, 2019 13:11 IST
December 25, 1960, Sony announced its first transistor TV which was also the world’s first direct-view TV. Dubbed as TV8-301 8-inch portable transistor TV, it was the start of Sony’s illustrious run in the TV business. It gives us an idea that in the last six decades or so not just Sony but TVs have come a long way indeed. Masaru Ibuka (Sony’s founder once said that he believed new products always involved market creation too. "I'm now firmly convinced that brand new products must always create new markets." It looks like Sony somehow managed to keep that thought or the idea alive. Look at the bigger picture -- Walkman made portable audio player segment, PlayStation created a new console gaming era, and the list goes on.

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Sony has done the same thing with its all-new Sony A9G OLED television. There are other players like LG that makes OLED televisions too, but Sony claims to offer more than what others are offering. At the price of Rs 2,99,000, Sony A9G Master series comes packed with features like HDR, hands-free assistant, upgraded image rendering engine, Dolby Vision, Dolby ATMOS and more. A question that pops into our head is why Sony is calling it a Master Series television and why not stick to its Bravia-series lineup. There must be some reason, right? To know, read our review of Sony Master Series A9G television.

Sony Master Series A9G: Design
Sony A9G follows a distraction-free design philosophy with nothing distracting at the front to make the television viewing more appealing. The TV is sleek and a well-designed piece of hardware. The front of the TV has nothing but just the OLED 4K UHD display with minimum bezels (0.31-inch) possible and a shuttle LED indicator. The stand of the television is also a result of minimalistic design and makes the TV looks like as it is flushed into the surface it is kept on. Although, it wobbles a bit when nudged, but never felt like falling or so.

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The back of the television is constructed using two materials -- metal and plastic. The metal frame supports the ultra-thin panel, which is just 1.59-inch, while the back housing is made out of plastic. There’s a small panel towards the back on the right side, which hides and guides the cable for some of the ports that are placed at the side for easy access to them. A few of them are placed at the bottom as well.


Talking about the ports, the A9G comes with a total of 4xHDMI ports (including eARC), 3 USB ports, RF port, AUX, Ethernet and Composite video input. Out of all the ports, 2xUSB, 1x HDMI along with audio ports are placed at the side for easy access. Along with this, there’s a traditional clip at the side-top allows people to attach their additional center speaker.
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The back plastic panel also has cutouts for wall mounting. Sony has cleverly made this as it does not hamper the overall seamless back design of the TV. Also, the company is kind enough to include the wall mount brackets right into the box.

Overall, Sony has done a good job in terms of design with their Master series A9G television.

Sony Master Series A9G: Picture quality

Picture quality has always been a subjective topic when it comes to televisions. All the major brands claims to be the best in terms of picture quality, details and colours and in one way or another and they are right. What Sony has done with its Master Series televisions is worth admiring. The company has thrown every piece of tech to its 4K 55-inch OLED panel such as Local Dimming, Pixel Contrast Booster, improved Triluminos display, HDR10, Dolby Vision, and tons of other software-based tweaks. With all that tech inside the panel, it is hard to go wrong at any point. As expected, Sony A9G OLED lives up to the expectation. Black levels are great and probably one of the best we have witnessed on any television. Colours are well pronounced and vivid, contrast levels are good too, thanks to the ability to turn off individual pixels.
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Another strength of the panel is its dynamic range which is backed by another tech called Backlight Master Drive, which works with the local dimming system and helps boost the dynamic range, contrast ratio, black levels and more. The panel has wide colour gamut and produces natural colours overall until switched to the Vivid mode, which is meant to enhance the saturation by a bit.

More interestingly though, there is another feature called Netflix Calibrated Mode which automatically adjust the panel settings based on the surrounding and the content of the television to provide the best possible viewing experience. We tested this feature and surprisingly, there was a noticeable difference with calibration and without it.

The television also processes HDR content well and keeps the details in check even at corners and background.

Moving to the upscaling, Sony Master Series A9G has upscaled almost all the resolutions well starting with 480p to 1080p resolution. During our test, we did not face any artificial rendering while watching low-resolution content. Though the details slightly take a hit but that’s understandable as the content was just 480p.

The only complaint here is the overall brightness of the panel, as the OLED panel from Sony is glassy and hence it is very reflective. Though the brightness is not as bad as it sounds, it is mostly suitable for average lit rooms. Though we didn’t have any complaints regarding the viewing angles of the television.

Another thing to note here is the permanent image burn-in risk which is familiar with all the OLED panels. We are glad to report that Sony has designed the panel to reduce the risk using its Ultimate X1 processor and 4K HDR Processor X1 that detects the static image on the screen and shifts the pixel automatically to avoid the risk. Also, Sony has added the Pixel Shift option and Panel refresh option in the settings. So, users can also do that manually if they want.
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Well, all the features mentioned above and technology is processed by Sony’s new X1 Ultimate chip which packs all the power and speed to manage all the tasks and processes fast enough. During our test, we did not face any stutters or lags in the image processing, even while watching 4K HDR videos.

The chip also ensures instantaneous response time and motion-free experience. Also, there is very less input lag. We played some games connecting the PS4 console. Initially, we felt a little bit of input lag, but after switching it to game mode, the input lag was bare minimum.

Sony Master Series A9G: Performance and software

Sony’s new X1 Ultimate chip on paper at least is loaded with features and it is almost perfect with the amount of processing power it has. And Sony just wanted to do it right as it comes with features like Object-based super-resolution and HDR remaster and more. Sony claims that it detects all the objects from the scene and enhance its details. Now detecting all the objects from the stage and to render it with that level of precision is quite an achievement. Corners are sharp and detailed as well, along with the rest of the images.
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Moving to audio quality, the Sony A9G television comes with Acoustic Surface Audio+, two subwoofers and spatial sound effect. The Acoustic Surface Audio+ is basically the actuators behind the TV panel which vibrates to create a sound that moves with the picture to give viewers a real sense of movement and make the watching experience more immersive.

Along with this, users can also use the television as the center speaker and connect the left and right channel to enhance the sound experience overall. However, the television speaker itself is loud and clear. It also produces deep bass without any distortion.

On the software front though, there are few things that Sony has addressed like the addition of sleep timer, hands-free assistant support, Netflix calibration and more. Apart from this, the Master Series A9G television runs on Android TV 8.0 Oreo operating system that comes with Google Play services built-in.
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Sony has also added some apps like Media Player, Browsers, etc add to the user's convenience. Although both the apps are far from perfect as Media Player takes a while to load a media from the attached hard drive and browsing experience using the remote is terrible and you might want to connect a separate keyboard and mouse which the TV supports. Such issues, however, can be fixed by downloading any media player like MX player or VLC from Google Play Store.
image We also tried to download the Sony TV skill on Amazon Echo dot and it works perfectly fine too.

Overall, Sony has done a good job with the performance and software of the television.

Sony Master Series A9G: Verdict

At the price of Rs 2,99,000, the A9G television is by no means a cheap television and Sony does not even intend to make a budget television here. So, what does the price gets you? Well, for starters, there's a beautiful design, good OLED panel, crystal clear surround sound output with a good amount of bass and top-notch performance from Sony X1 Ultimate chip. The TV also comes with some new exciting features like hands-free controls and a universal remote. In one sentence, Sony took its time to understand the audience and perfecting the television technology to set up the things for their competitors. Sony A9G is basically a master of televisions, at least for now.
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