Sony’s New A1E OLED 4K HDR TV Isn’t Really Revolutionary, though we love the Dolby Vision

by on January 5, 2017

Stephan Jukic – January 5, 2017

As we’d covered here just before CES 2017 rolled around, the rumors were thick that Sony would be unveiling a new OLED 4K TV line at CES 2017. Well, CES 2017 is here and sure enough, the Sony XBR-A1E 4K OLED TV lineup has arrived, heralding a major shift for Sony’s direction in display technology for the consumer home entertainment market.

Now, while the new A1E may indeed be a major change on Sony’s part as far as their usual 4K TV technology goes, we definitely don’t think that the new OLED model is a truly earth shattering development as far as the wider market goes. Why? Because fundamentally, with the new A1E, you’re still going to be getting the same OLED technology design that LG has been putting out since 2014 and even more specifically, the same display technology that we’re going to see in LG’s OLED 4K TVs whenever they come out in 2017.

This is the case because Sony’s new OLED display itself almost without a doubt comes straight from LG. It’s not a new native take on organic light emitting diode display that has been developed by Sony itself. If that were the case, then the A1E would truly be something to truly get excited about.

And since the Sony A1E’s OLED display is in essence LG technology, sold to Sony by LG itself, the claims of fresh new competition on the OLED TV market are not quite as strong as they first seem. OLED panel development still moves at LG’s pace and LG likely sets the basic price of the panels that Sony is buying. As a result, we’re not likely to see a serious price war erupt between the two companies over their respective OLED TVs any time soon in 2017, unless Sony gets exceptionally daring in some way.

Sony’s New A1E OLED 4K HDR TV Isn’t Really a Whole New Thing, though we love the Dolby Vision

That said, the A1E is still one very interesting 4K TV and while the display it sports may be a piece of LG’s superb OLED hardware, the rest of this television is pretty much pure Sony technology of the kind we’ve loved so much in the brand’s Bravia 4K LCD TVs up to now. This combination of OLED and Sony’s own excellent processing chops does indeed create the possibility of making the A1E into a better TV than its LG counterparts –since raw display technology is only a fractional part of what makes a premium 4K UHD television perform well—and in this regard, we’re really looking forward to seeing how this new line of Sony OLED TVs fares against its LG cousins in its interplay of core specs, processing power and display capability.

Now moving on to those other core specs in the Sony OLED televisions, they’re definitely nothing to scoff at. For starters, the new A1E lineup comes with the essential display performance of OLED technology, which means stunning black levels, pixel-precise local dimming that puts any LCD/LED local dimming completely to shame in its perfection and some motion control specs that are nothing short of virtually perfect. Sony has always been wonderful at delivering excellent motion handling in its LCD TVs, so doing the same but even better with an OLED display is what we’d expect of the company.

Then of course, there are the other major features that come packaged with the A1E. These include Sony’s superb new Processor X1 Extreme engine that’s also found in the company’s other premium late 2016 and 2017 LCD 4K HDR TVs and of course, as an OLED TV without the need for bulky LED backlight arrays, the A1E’s screen is one seriously thin piece of display technology, with all major hardware loaded into a leaning fold-out stand that sits behind the display itself.

Finally and most wonderfully, the A1E delivers both HDR10 and Dolby Vision high dynamic range standards support. This is also the case with the rest of Sony’s 2017 4K TVs and it’s a good thing to see finally arrive. All of Sony’s 2016 4K TVs only supported the arguably inferior HDR10 standard for content.

Sony is releasing three sizes of A1E. There will be a 55 inch model, a 65 inch model and a 77 inch monster of a TV but the company remains mute on how much any of them will cost. We are absolutely hoping to see these new TVs at least sell for prices that compete with those of LG’s own OLED TVs for 2017 but we don’t think this is going to be likely for the time being. Instead, Sony will probably focus more on competing based on specs and quality instead of price tag.

There is no formal release date for the XBR-A1E OLED TVs but they’ll almost certainly hit the shelves by March or even as early as late February, as is typical of CES-released electronics.

The bottom line here is that all you fans of OLED who happen to dislike LG in other regards can now enjoy the variety of Sony 4K TV design, with the brand’s own distinct smart features and other peripheral technologies. Even if the A1E TVs cost the same as their LG cousins and come with the same brand of display panel, this sprinkling of choice is a good thing to see.

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  • Gary
    January 6, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    No mention of the unique speakerless feature of the TV?


    • Stephen
      March 19, 2017 at 8:05 am

      Hi there Gary, we did actually cover this feature in later news pieces and posts which cover the A1E. We’ll also be looking at it in an upcoming review of this particular Sony 4K OLED TV


  • Steve smith
    January 31, 2017 at 11:50 am

    It’ll be good to see Sony’s quality TV parts at work here. I had an lg oled 55″ hooked up to my gaming GTX 1080 pc and 2 of the HDMI ports stopped working on the tv . It was Christmas time so I was able to get a full refund in January. But LG definitely need better quality control. I’ve owned many a Sony tv and have never had this kind of problems.


    • James m.
      February 6, 2017 at 4:54 am

      Im buying Sony TVs since CRT of late ’80s and never had to return one or had a major issue.
      Since 2006 I have changed every 2-3 years. Regards of it not being ‘revolutionary’….What more can they do bar arguably having the best image quality available and the new alternative of the sound coming from exactly whats going on on-screen?
      TVs in general have not been revolutionary since the Pioneer Kuro days but here with the A1 OLED Sony have a reasonable chance of perhaps the best TV on the whole, in a long time.
      Regardless of LGD supplying panels. The X1E processor is what should separate this from the rest as neither Korean brands are known for amazing processing. Panasonic will come up to or close to Sony here imo.


  • Joel Pauling
    March 22, 2017 at 12:48 am

    4k screen or monitor is what these should be called. Calling them a 4k smart TV is disingenuous, and a bald face lie whilst they still package the Mediatek mt5891 SoC platform that only does 100mbit wired or 160mbit over a resource heavy WiFi path. No VP9 decode capability and just generally ancient and buggy SoC makes them useable at 4k only if you use an external input.


  • Daniel
    September 3, 2017 at 3:16 am

    Sony TVS have never been good at handling motion especially the 2005 LCDs.


    • Stephen
      October 12, 2017 at 5:19 pm

      Since we’ve never reviewed them I can’t speak for any old pre-2013 Sony TV of any kind but for Sony’s 4K UHD TVs from 2013 onwards, and especially for their TVs from 2014 to today, they actually handle motion fantastically, better than many rival models in fact. The A1E model this article refers to generally handles motion beautifully (partly thanks to its OLED display and its extremely quick pixel response time). Our only complaint with it is in how it allows a bit of judder with 24p content from non-streaming sources (cable, OTT etc).


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