Review: Sony KD-55AF9

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This week we tested the Sony KD-55AF9. A 4K OLED TV fitted with Sony’s X1 Ultimate video processor designed for high quality image processing. This 55” TV runs Android TV, has a calibration mode fine-tuned for optimal compatibility with Netflix, and benefits from Sony’s Acoustic Surface technology which uses the surface of the screen to deliver sound.

Test Sony KD-55AF9
The Sony KD-55AF9 OLED TV runs Android TV Oreo, the OS’s most recent version.

Sony KD-55AF9: X1 Ultimate processor

The Sony KD-55AF9 TV is fitted with an UHD 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) OLED screen manufactured by LG Display. This OLED screen is HDR compatible and therefore ensures optimal restitution of high dynamic range images found in HDR10 and HLG content. The image processing is handled by Sony’s X1 Ultimate 4K HDR processor which enhances brightness, colors, contrast, and smoothes motion. For decades, specialists have praised Sony TVs for their excellent picture quality. This is the result of the company’s decision to apply technologies originally developed for movie production and post-production to mainstream electronics.

Sony KD-55AF9: X-Reality PRO 4K

Sony KD-55AF9
The Sony KD-55AF9’s excellent use of its OLED screen results in remarkable picture depth.

The Sony KD-55AF9 OLED TV benefits from dual database processing (Object-based Super Resolution) and X-Reality 4K PRO technologies combined with high-precision color mapping (Super Bit Mapping 4K HDR). These state-of-the-art technologies ensure a rich, subtle, and nuanced colorimetry, as well as particularly realistic textures. Sony’s video processor uses Object-based Super Resolution technology, which was designed to identify and analyze the various “objects” found in each image, then compare them to similar objects saved in its database in order to reproduce every single detail as precisely as possible.

Object-based HDR remaster technology is a contrast enhancer developed to make the best use of the Sony KD-55AF9’s OLED screen, especially when it comes to extracting details in the darker zones of the image while preserving the depth of the blacks and shadows. Blacks never look washed out or grayish thanks to Pixel Contrast Booster technology, which keeps every single pixel’s brightness perfectly under control. On-screen action is perfectly smooth thanks to Motionflow XR technology which inserts extra frames between the original ones for blur-free, extra smooth action scenes and tracking shots, for example.

Sony KD-55AF9: calibrated for Netflix

One of the brand new functions brought by the Sony KD-55AF9 is the Netflix Calibrated mode. This mode ensures optimal restitution of all films and series produced by the famous streaming service.

The Sony KD-55AF9’s remote control features shortcuts for Netflix and Google Play.

Sony KD-55AF9: Acoustic Surface technology

This OLED TV benefits from Acoustic Surface technology, which was introduced with the Sony A1 Series of OLED TVs. Instead of using dynamic drivers, Acoustic Surface technology uses the entire surface of the screen as a speaker cone to deliver sound. Pistons placed behind the screen transmit micro-vibrations, turning it into a genuine driver cone. Completely imperceptible to the naked eye, these micro-vibrations deliver a much more immersive sound than the small speakers usually integrated into flat screen TVs. This difference is particularly noticeable with voices, which are perfectly audible and sound extremely natural. The Acoustic Surface Audio+ version lets you use the Sony KD-55AF9 to deliveronly the center channel of a multichannel soundtrack by connecting the TV’s terminals to the center channel of an AV receiver.

Sony KD-55AF9
The Sony KD-55AF9’s range of connectors includes a pair of speaker terminals, which lets you connect an AV receiver so that the screen may be used as a center speaker.

Sony KD-55AF9: Android TV

One of the Sony KD-55AF9 strengths is indisputably the Android TV 8 OS. A wide range of apps may be downloaded from the Google Play Store. Netflix is preinstalled and the TV has no trouble handling Dolby Vision as well as 4K content (membership required). The Sony KD-55AF9 is extremely easy to use and reacts instantly to any command. Because the TV is Chromecast compatible, it is possible to stream video content from a smartphone and, of course, display photos. The TV’s operating system is updated regularly along with the apps, which ensures optimal performance and access to the latest services.

Test Sony KD-55AF9
The screen of the Sony KD-55AF9 is extremely thin but the entire TV is about 10 cm deep due to its shape (the stand is attached to the back of the screen and is pretty deep).

Sony KD-55AF9: picture quality

By default, the Sony KD-55AF9’s display mode is set to Vivid, which entails numerous image enhancement treatments (noise suppression, smoothness enhancement, …).  The resulting image is very vibrant and doesn’t look natural. We preferred the Cinema mode and deactivated the noise suppression as well as the smoothness enhancement functions. Consequently, the image was precise and delicate, with a plethora of details in dark zones. The Netflix calibration mode may be activated as soon as the Netflix app is launched. This mode ensures a sumptuous, nuanced picture, on par with the best movie theaters. 4K and Dolby Vision content is quite simply delightful. The use of Acoustic Surface technology results in a much better sound than with any other TV, and even the most demanding users will be delighted.

Sony KD-55AF9: conclusion

We were completely won over by the SONY KD-55AF9 OLED TV. The Android TV interface is extremely responsive, which bears testimony to the processor’s power. The sound delivered by the screen is far superior to that of any other TV and the image is absolutely stunning in Cinema and Netflix mode. This is the most immersive cinematic experience yet with an OLED TV without a hint of lag to spoil it. Android TV 8 lets you install apps such as Amazon Prime Video, Molotov, VLC, Plex and Emby, which opens up streaming possibilities unlike any other TV OS. This 55” version is appropriate if you are looking for a smaller TV, otherwise we strongly recommend the 65” version for a stunning visual experience.

What we liked:

  • The outstanding image quality
  • The Acoustic Surface sound delivery
  • The smoothness of Android TV
  • The user-friendly design

We would have liked:

  • To test the 65” version

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