Sony ZG9 and AG9 Preview

Jan

12

2019

At the recent IFA in Berlin, Samsung was the first of the major television manufacturers to show a production model of an 8k television; the Q900R. The brand was not unique because Sharp and the necessary Chinese manufacturers already offered 8k models. Now that the world’s largest producer of TVs has taken the step to 8k, the other manufacturers obviously could not stay behind. And so the CES of 2019, without any decent content available, is dominated by 8k televisions.

Sony already showed a very impressive 8k prototype last year, and so it was already in line with the expectation that this year a production model would come. This CES also unveiled Sony the very first production model 8k TV: the ZG9. This TV is the LCD top model in Sony’s Master Series; the televisions that represent the state of the art of the Japanese brand. A new OLED top model was also shown in the same series; the AG9, which succeeds the AF9 last year and still has ‘just’ a 4k panel.

AG9
When designing the AG9, Sony listened carefully to the feedback it received from the earlier A1 and AF9 models. They were equipped with a standard on the back with one or more bass speakers. Also included were the connection and other electronics, so the stand could not be removed during wall mounting. He could be folded closer to the screen, but still the screen came off far from the wall and that looks less tight.

Sony AG9
65 “AG9
According to Sony, about 40 percent of the television owners hangs on the wall and of course those are customers who want to serve the manufacturer. The AG9 is therefore made much flatter and can be hung very tight on a wall with the optional bracket, which unfortunately was not shown on the Sony stand. The screen can be pulled forward a bit at the bracket and then rotated a degree or fifteen on both sides. If you push the TV backwards, the screen will hang just 5cm from the wall.

Sony AG9
The AG9 is a lot flatter than its predecessor
The AG9 is, just like its predecessor, equipped with the Acoustic Surface audio system where the sound literally comes out of the screen. For this purpose, voice coils are glued on the back of the OLED panel. With this, the image panel, just like a loudspeaker cone, is vibrated. The low tones are generated by bass loudspeakers at the rear so that the vibrations are not visible in the picture. Just like its predecessor, the TV can be used as a center channel in combination with an AV receiver in a full surround speaker setup.

Sony AG9
The edge is finished with brushed metal
With the AF9, three screen channels were used so that there was a separate center channel for better intelligible dialogues, but with the AG9 there are only two screen channels left for old-fashioned stereo sound. According to Sony, the middle channel could be canceled due to the fact that elliptical coils are now used, which we unfortunately were not allowed to photograph, so that a larger part of the screen can be vibrated per coil. It mainly came to us as a cost saving, but if that means that the AG9 will be offered at a lower price, we can easily find this decision.

Sony has designed a new remote that has a top finished with metal this time. We were not allowed to take pictures of this either, so you have to assume that he looks straight. The button with which you select an external input is now placed closer to the d-pad, making it easier to reach this commonly used key with your thumb. The AG9 will be available in sizes 55, 65 and 77 inches. We do not yet know a precise introduction date, but that will most likely be somewhere in March. Also, no prices have been announced yet.

ZG9
At a meeting for journalists, Sony told us why 8k was chosen. According to the conventional convention, you have to sit very close to an 8k television to see all the details, but Sony says that at a larger viewing distance it is useful to look at 8k because the images look more realistic. This effect would even decrease as you approach. It would also not be easy to measure according to conventional methods, but should be perfectly experienced if you experiment with an 8k TV at different viewing distances.

Sony ZF9
85 “Sony ZF9
We do not quite understand the story of Sony yet, but during the demonstrations with 8k images we had a very clear preference for a very short viewing distance. It is, of course, true that matters that detract from the feeling of realism such as noise and compression artifacts from far away are indeed clearly less visible. In the future, we will at least have enough of the picture sizes and viewing distances when it comes to the added value of 8k.

Sony ZF9
Foot of the 85 “version
An LCD panel can not be used as a loudspeaker, but Sony has wanted to make it seem as if the sound actually comes from the screen. For this, four loudspeakers, two above and two below the screen, are placed in the edges of the ZG9. During a demonstration in a closed listening room, the sound did indeed appear to come out of the screen. This makes a dialogue scene clearly more realistic. We did, however, feel the sound just a bit clearer when only two of the four loudspeakers were switched on. The difference was very small and in our opinion most people will have a clear preference for four speakers.

Sony ZF9
Speakers in the upper screen edge
The ZG9 can also be used to take care of the center channel in a surround setup. This was demonstrated in a very convincing way with a complete 7.4.2 Atmos installation that stood on very firm volume. The four loudspeakers in the TV could come along with the powerful AV receiver that controlled a couple of loud speakers, making the whole sound very homogeneous.

Sony ZF9
The 98 “version has a higher chassis
Officially, the ZG9 is not equipped with hdmi 2.1 inputs, but we were told that the hardware fully meets the requirements; only the official certification was not finished and therefore Sony can not claim hdmi 2.1 yet. During the demonstrations we certainly got to see beautiful 8k images at 60fps, so technically everything is already fine.

Sony ZF9
White halos can be seen around white text on a black background
The 8k images we viewed looked spectacular with more and more details becoming visible as we approached the screen closer. However, there were clearly halos around light objects on a dark background here and there. These can certainly be very disturbing with subtitles. Sony did not make any statements about the number of zones in the full array local dimming backlight, but if we have to look at it that way, it is definitely less than with Sony’s earlier ZD9. The ZF9 will be available sometime this year in 85 and 98 inches; in our opinion sizes where 8k is at least a bit useful. No prices are known yet, but the new top models will not be cheap.

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In: A Technology & Gadgets Asked By: [23254 Red Star Level]

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