First announced at CES 2017, the flagship Sony BRAVIA A1 Series OLED 4K HDR TV makes its entry into the Southeast Asian market. At a regional press event in Singapore today, Sony also revealed its new X Series 4K HDR TV line-up.
Forget 3D, forget curve TVs
As the hype surrounding curve TVs is dying down, and 3D TVs becoming almost non-existent, one new trend is emerging. You’ve heard the term HDR (High Dynamic Range) being mentioned a lot these days, a familiar term in photography.
The world of HDR has been growing with the advent of video streaming services, 4K UHD Blu-ray, and PlayStation 4 gaming. This is also aided by industry support with standards like HDR10 and Dolby Vision thrown in the loop.
The fact is, HDR will likely become ubiquitous in TVs simply because it offers a wider brightness range and higher contrast.
It’s all about the visuals
The underlying display technology is of course OLED. Each of the eight million self-illuminating pixels brings unprecedented black, accurate colour, blur-less images and wide-viewing angle.
Sony has display technologies that make ultimate 4K HDR experience possible. First up is the new 4K HDR Processor X1 Extreme. The processor incorporates three new technologies – object-based HDR remaster, Super Bit Mapping 4K HDR and Dual Database processing.
The cutting-edge 4K X-Reality PRO engine helps produce stunning detail by using Sony’s unique algorithm of reality creation database for any content. This includes TV broadcasts, DVD, Blu-ray disc, internet video and digital photos.
On top of that, true-to-life colours, depth and texture is made possible by Sony’s TRILUMINOS Display.
Of course, the flagship A1 Series BRAVIA OLED TV isn’t just about astonishing visual performance. It also breaks new ground in the audio department.
But first let’s first talk about the A1 Series design.
OLED technology makes ultra-thin form factors possible. The A1 Series is a “slate” – minimalist, frameless and ultra-thin. It’s the epitome of sophistication, with simple lines complemented by a kickstand design that makes it appear as if it’s floating. In short, it’s delicious and special.
It’s not all about the visuals
Back to audio. Now, most TVs have speakers built into the panel, either on the side, bottom or rear. With the advent of super slim panels and bezel-less designs, there’s literally no place to put speakers (hence the creation of sound bars and such). Even if there was, it usually ends up being tiny speakers shoved into the bezel.
So, here’s where Sony totally rocks the boat. The A1 doesn’t have speakers. At least not our typical idea of what a speaker is.
It has created a proprietary audio technology (patent pending) called Acoustic Surface. What Acoustic Surface does is turn the entire OLED panel into a high-frequency speaker.
You heard it right. The entire OLED panel is the speaker. Sony does this by mounting four audio actuators on the back of the panel, two on either side. The actuators deliver vibrations to the panel according to the visual action on screen, and the sound literally emanates from the display itself.
This reminds me of Xiaomi’s purchaseable concept smartphone – the Mi Mix. Due to its bezel-less design, the Mi Mix does not have a conventional speaker or earpiece hole. It uses a process that transmits an electric signal from a DAC (Digital to Analog Converter), to a piezoelectric ceramic. This technology is called “cantilever piezoelectric ceramic acoustic technology.” The electric signal is turned into mechanical energy that hits the phone’s frame. It then vibrates to produce a sound that reaches your ear.
A similar concept applies with Acoustic Surface.
For instance, if an X-Wing fighter flies from left to the right of the screen, the audio pans across as well. Sony believes this translates to better syncing of audio and visual hence a better viewing experience – unlike conventional speaker set-ups that have audio bounce of the table, or as such.
If you place your hand on the panel when audio is playing, you can feel the OLED panel vibrate.
Prepare to be blown away
I can tell you this much. It needs to be heard to be believed. It is astonishingly good. Audio quality is fantastic, and decibel levels are the best I’ve heard on any TV.
Just so you know, there’s a 60mm subwoofer embedded into the TV’s kickstand to deliver bass response.
Acoustic Surface is cutting-edge, but having said that, it won’t replace dedicated home theatre systems.
Crank up the volume for this:
But as far as stock TV audio performance goes, this is top notch.
Visual and audio specs aside, the A1 Series is powered by Android TV, with the wealth of content and apps from Google-verse. With Chromecast built-in you can basically send content from your smartphone, tablet or other devices to the TV. It’s also Netflix-certified, and has Sony’s exclusive Content Bar user interface.
The A1 Series comes in 65-inch and 55-inch models. Availability in the region is not yet known. For Malaysia, expect this stunner to make an appearance in May this year. No pricing details have been revealed.
Check out the Sony A1E OLED 4K HDR TV official product page.