2017 was a big year for Sony. After a long absence from the OLED market, the company returned to it with the Sony Bravia A1E, a fantastic addition to the premium TV market.
[Update: We’ve had a chance to take a look at more of Sony’s 2018 range of TVs. So far it seems a little slimmer than last year (leading us to suspect that more is on the way), but we’ve updated the piece below with our thoughts on the new models that sony has shown off]
While the return to OLED was certainly a highlight for 2017, it wouldn’t be until CES 2018 that Sony would unveil the first two models in its upcoming 2018 range of TVs – the A8F and X900F 4K LED TV. But two TVs does not a line-up make. Thankfully, Sony has recently held a preview event where it provided details on two more TVs, the X800F and X850F (XF80 and XF85 in the UK).
So what can you expect from this year’s line-up? First up is the flagship AF8 (aka the A8F in the UK). It’s an OLED that’s very similar to the A1E, but that features a more traditional stand than last year’s model. Second is the X900F (XF90 in the UK). Although the title of ‘flagship LCD’ still belongs to Sony’s 2016 ZD9, the X900F is a premium addition to the LCD lineup. Lower down the range are the XF80 and XF85, two more Android powered 4K LCD TVs.
It’s a small line-up that only consists of four series, but it wouldn’t surprise us in the least if Sony wasn’t saving a series or two for later in the year.
For now, though, read on for a full look at the individual TV models, and an overview of the technology that Sony’s using this year.
Sony 2018 TV technology
So far, it looks like 2018 isn’t a massive step forward compared to what Sony offered last year. Although it teased a glimpse of the future with its X1 Ultimate processor at CES, the TVs it’s shown off so far still use the company’s existing X1 Extreme processor.
The good news is that the X1 Extreme appears to be making its way down the lineup to more of Sony’s mid-range sets. Where you would have had to spring for the X930E to get the processor last year, this year it’s dropped down to the equivalent of the X900E, the X900F.
It’s a similar story elsewhere in the lineup. While the X900F doesn’t have the same brightness as last year’s X930E, it is 20% brighter than its own 2017 equivalent.
What we’re seeing is a trickling down of technology from the high-end sets to the mid-range. It’s not a massive step forward in the grand scheme of things, but if it continues across the rest of the range then it should mean that more of these high-end technologies make their way into the hands of ordinary consumers.
This trickle down is appreciated, but we’d be lying if we said we weren’t hoping for an announcement of HDR10+ support, which Sony seems determined to echew in favor of increased Dolby Vision support.
In terms of software, all the 4K TVs we’ve seen so far are broadly comparable. All come equipped with Android N and YouView, although outside of the X900F there won’t be any support for Dolby Vision.
Sony 2018 TV Models
Sony Bravia A8F (available in 55- and 65-inch sizes): The A8F (known as the AF8 in the UK) is Sony’s OLED TV for 2018. Unfortunately, not much has changed since last year’s A1E. (The biggest change is the stand.) The new model can be stood up without slanting, takes up 84mm less depth on a TV cabinet, and sits 31mm closer to a wall when wall mounted.
Sony Bravia X900F (available in 49-, 55-, 65-, 75- and 85-inch sizes): The X900F (known as the XF90 in the UK) is the only LCD TV of Sony’s that we’ve seen so far this year. It features a couple of enhancements over its equivalent from last year, the X900E. For one thing, it’s now packing the X1 Extreme Processor, which you previously had to jump up to the X930F to get your hands on, and which should allow for better upscaling of SDR to HDR content. Local dimming has also been improved from XDR x5 to XDR x6, resulting in around 20% more brightness over last year’s model.
Sony Bravia X850F (available in 43-, 49-, 55-, 65-, 75- and 85-inch sizes): The X850F ( XF85 in the UK) is a step down from the X900F. It features a less precise edge-lit backlight (so don’t expect the same clarity of HDR) and doesn’t have the same X1 Extreme processor. It also won’t be receiving Dolby Vision support via a software update. It does however have a 100Hz panel which will help with its reproduction of fast motion.
Sony Bravia XF80 (available in 43-, 49-, 55-inch sizes): The XF80 (again, we’ve asked for clarification on the US model number) is a further step down. The main difference between this set and the XF85 is the lack of a 100Hz panel, but in all other respects its specs seem more or less comparable. It’s still an edge-lit display, it’s packing the same Android operating system as the rest of the 4K range, and it also doesn’t have an X1 Extreme processor.
- Here’s our review of last year’s flagship, the Sony Bravia A1E, if you’d like to see the best of what’s already available