Review: Sony KD-65A1

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Test Sony Bravia KD-65A1

The Sony KD-65A1 TV is a 65? model running Android TV and featuring an infinite contrast 4K HDR OLED screen. This large TV also benefits from the revolutionary Acoustic Surface audio system.

OLED display technology has been getting a lot of attention lately, to the point that even Apple uses it for the iPhone X. There is a simple explanation for this: OLED technology ensures excellent image quality with infinite contrast when the darker parts of the screen are entirely black. OLED technology does away with the dark grey patches which compromise the precision of the restitution. In order to fully understand how innovative this technology really is, it is important to know how traditional LCD display technology works. A liquid crystal film covers the entire surface of the screen and is backlit using standard white LEDs. This backlighting system never completely shuts off, with the result being a more or less bothersome halo of light which remains on the screen and affects dark images, depending on the type of LED arrangement (edge-lit LEDs or Direct LEDs). The picture of an OLED TV is created by organic light-emitting diodes without the use of a film, filter, or backlighting system.

Each OLED generates a red, green, or blue light in order to create a pixel in the picture. In the case of an Ultra HD TV, each image is composed of close to 25 million OLEDs!

Sony image processing

While Sony pioneered the production of OLED TVs for the film industry, LG is responsible for manufacturing the screen of the Sony Bravia KD-65A1 TV. Nevertheless, there is no direct competition for this TV in LG?s catalog, as the control of the OLED electronics was specifically designed by Sony, which is a game changer. With many years of experience in the film industry under its belt -Sony also manufactures 4K HDR video cameras, control monitors, and video projectors for multiplex cinemas- the Japanese manufacturer is a reference in natural image restitution and high-quality color calibration.

Test sony bravia KD-65A1
The Sony KD-65A1?s voice control button is located at the top of the remote control.

Exclusive video processor

In order to optimize the quality of OLED screens, Sony?s engineering team used a powerful X1 Extreme processor which was developed in collaboration with Sony Pictures (production company) and Sony Professional (video cameras and calibration equipment). This processor processes video in real time, improving sharpness, dynamic contrast, textures, and colors simultaneously by using Super Bit Mapping 4K HDR and Object-based HDR remaster technologies. The resulting picture is hyper-realistic, detailed, refined, and well contrasted with both native UHD 4K content and upscaled HD 1080p sources, with a very high-quality dynamic range comparable to true HDR quality. In addition to UHD 4K upscaling, powerful video processing reduces image noise. Super Bit Mapping 4K HDR technology smooths the image out, which results in a perfect gradation of lights and colors, the absence of any pseudo-solarization effect, and extremely precise, pixelation-free contours. The picture is natural and smooth and does not suffer from the ?staircase? effect which sometimes affects other TVs.

Test Sony KD-65A1
The Sony KD-65A1?s remote control.

HDR

The Sony KD-65A1 is compatible with the HDR10 standard, which has been chosen by the Ultra HD Alliance (10-bit screen) and will be compatible, following the release of an update, with the HDR Dolby Vision standard as well as with the HDR HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) norm (which will be the preferred format to broadcast TV programs in high dynamic range). It is therefore ready for the upcoming HDR standards and already allows you to enjoy UHD Blu-ray discs, as well as Netflix and Amazon Prime TV series, in the best possible conditions. In practical terms, HDR technology increases the dynamic range of images in order to extract details in especially dark and light zones while avoiding under and overexposure.

Test Sony KD-65A1
One of the Sony KD-65A1?s actuators.

Acoustic Surface

The Sony KD-65A1 is the first TV to give up traditional integrated speakers and replace them with the brand’s new Acoustic Surface technology. The sound is now delivered by? the full surface of the screen, thanks to acoustic actuators which are placed directly behind it. The micro-vibrations transmitted by these vibrating units are amplified by the screen’s large surface, which acts as a large speaker driver. These micro-vibrations are, of course , imperceptible to the eye. The resulting listening experience is a lot more immersive than with the traditional, small drivers usually used for TVs. Sony points out that voices are particularly clear and realistic and that the sound restitution is comparable to watching a movie in a theater, where loudspeakers are placed behind the screen. In addition, the Japanese manufacturer has equipped this TV with a large bass driver placed at the back of the screen, inside the TV?s support stand, to enhance sound immersion.

Test Sony KD-65A1
The Sony KD-65A1?s support stand.
Test Sony KD-65A1
The Sony KD-65A1?s bass driver is located inside the support stand.

Android TV

Another strength of the Sony KD-65A1 is its Android TV operating system. Specifically designed for Smart TVs, Google?s OS completely changes how we experience television. While it comes with a remote control, the Sony KD-65A1 also features a voice command function, which allows you to simply ask your TV to start a program, a film, or an app. Sony has already pre-installed several options, but the Google Play Store features a wide choice of apps specially designed for TVs. For example, Netflix and Amazon Prime are available in Ultra HD 4K and HDR compatible versions. Moreover, the Sony KD-65A1 is fitted with a Chromecast built-in module which allows you to stream audio and video content from many iOS and Android apps. The Sony KD-65A1 can also be easily paired with a  smart speaker, such as the Google Home Mini, for example. Simply ask the speaker to start playing a film on the TV, and that?s it.

Test sony bravia KD-65A1
The configuration of the Sony KD-65A1 can be carried out using a smartphone, a computer, or the TV?s remote control.

Configuration

The Sony KD-65A now comes with the Android 7.0 Nougat OS pre-installed, but since the TV was running Android 6.0 at the time of our test, we had to install the update. The update process is completely automatic and only takes a few minutes.

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For a more user-friendly experience, the configuration process can be carried out with a smartphone running Android by visiting the website indicated on screen. The TV can then import the settings of the Google Account linked to your smartphone or your network settings for proper operation. Adjusting the channels and the audio and video settings is a walk in the park.

Test sony bravia KD-65A1
The Android TV app for smartphone grants you access to basic functions without using the remote control.

Impressions

To assess the picture quality of the Sony KD-65A1, we installed the Plex app for Android TV so we could watch films and series stored on our private server in high definition. We also watched 4K HDR content via Amazon Prime Video. We used the Cinema Pro display profile, as it bypasses unnecessary image processing. We might as well say it right off the bat, the image quality is simply superb, and we didn’t feel the need to tinker with the advanced settings. We started our test by watching uncompressed 1080p HD content from our Plex server. The colors were completely natural, and the picture was incredibly accurate. The upscaling process is excellent, as shown by the opening scene of War for the Planet of the Apes, which offered a plethora of details despite the darkness of the forest.

Test sony bravia KD-65A1
You can control the Plex interface on the Sony KD-64A1 using the Plex app on your smartphone.

With Amazon Prime Video, the TV show American Gods (4K HDR) was a sheer delight, and the absolute black of the OLED screen works perfectly with the series? dark and highly contrasted visual identity. The contrast is especially impressive without being excessive. As for the sound, it is clearly superior to what the competition has to offer, especially regarding breadth and sound directivity, even at the lowest volume level.

Test Sony KD-65A1Conclusion

What we liked :

  • The natural look of the picture, the depth of the black
  • The smoothness of tracking shots
  • The Android TV 7.0 interface featuring Google Play Store and Chromecast built-in
  • The clear and properly balanced sound

What we would have liked:

  • Shortcuts and direction keys a little further away from the center of the remote control.

The Sony KD-65A1 is a high-performance TV whose large size ensures a truly enjoyable and immersive experience, even in a small living room. Its OLED screen is very well handled and the picture is often sumptuous, even when paired with SD or highly compressed HD sources. Android TV is the icing on the cake.

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