A Review of Sony’s Ultra-Premium 4K HDR OLED, The A9G (XBR-X55A9G (XBR-X65A9G) (XBR-X75A9G) (XBR-X82A9G)
Stephan Jukic – October 8, 2019
Sony’s A9G is the brand’s 2019 flagship OLED TV and the direct successor to the 2018 A9F that was released close to the beginning of 2019. What we can definitively say about this edition is that, like pretty much all 4K HDR OLED TVs, it’s an exceptional performer despite a few relatively minor issues with its capabilities and design that we’ll be covering in much more detail below. Overall, the A9G delivers incredibly vibrant and realistic picture quality across the board, and it achieves particularly powerful performance in how it delivers HDR, colors, OLED contrast and black levels. In addition to these display specs, this television is also fantastic at motion handling and comes with great connectivity and smart TV features. The A9G is not at all what you’d call a budget 4K TV but for what it costs, it definitely delivers lots of goodies.
• Extremely powerful motion handling
• Excellent color rendering for normal and HDR content
• Typically superb viewing angles due to OLED
• Perfect contrast and black levels, again because of OLED
• Great content upscaling for all resolutions
• Not nearly as bright as we’d hoped
• Serious price/quality competition from other TVs
• Risk of burn-in due to OLED display pixels
• Average native sound system
• Connectivity & Gaming Input Problems
The bottom line for Sony’s A9G is that this is one excellent TV edition in almost every way. It has its minor defects on brightness and a risk of burn-in but they’re more than overshadowed by the A9G’s generally superb picture quality and overall performance. On the other hand, where the A9G really comes close to falling short is in its pricing for the value it offers compared to the alternatives. In other words, there are several equally good or even better TVs available at better prices. One of these is even another 2019 Sony OLED edition, the A8G, which we also reviewed, and this is a big negative against the A9G. Thus, while you almost certainly won’t be disappointed in how well this particular TV performs, you can get better for cheaper unless you’re a die-hard Sony fan who absolutely wants the latest in OLED from this specific brand.
What We Liked about the A9G
The really, really is lots to love about Sony’s A9G TV in almost every aspect of its performance. Thus, because we could cover so many different details in this section and stretch it out for a bit too long, we’ll focus here on the really crucial qualities of this TV that make it stand out on quality. The following are the absolute best aspects of the A9G and some of them capture a lot of high quality related specs, but they’re not the only good things about it.
Simply put, the color rendering of the Sony A9G is nothing short of superb. This 4K HDR TV really delivers excellent vibrancy and this applies to both its rendering of HDR colors and SDR (regular TV or digital video) sources as well. We can’t stress this enough for the A9G. Sony has always been really good at pulling off great color deliver in most of its premium and even mid-range 4K TVs and when it comes to their flagship OLED models, the quality goes right into the clouds. More specifically, the A9G offers up extremely high Wide color gamut coverage for HDR color delivery, very decent color volume and its color precision is extremely high after just a modest amount of calibration. These features apply to this TV when its being used for playback of HDR video sources in any of the three formats it supports (Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG) and they also apply (to a slightly lesser extent) to normal DVD, TV broadcast and digital video/streaming content, though without the wide color gamut of course. What also makes the A9G’s color performance seem all the more powerful is the next excellent feature of this TV that we need to mention..
OLED Dimming, contrast & black rendering
High quality black levels and contrast are key components of good picture quality and their presence makes color vibrancy look better on the whole. Since the A9G is an OLED 4K TV, it delivers these exact specs pretty much perfectly and the visual spectacle of this is very much visible right off the bat. OLED display means absolutely perfect black levels, pixel-precise contrast and OLED dimming technology that can be controlled down to the level of individual pixels. No LCD TV in existence today can even hope to match an OLED like the A9G on these specs and it compensates for lots of things that LCD TVs tend to do a bit better (like delivering higher overall display brightness).
Moreover, the A9G can get fairly bright when being used to play back both HDR and SDR video sources, which only serves to make its contrast quality and OLED dimming capabilities stand out even more while you’re watching your favorite TV shows and movies. Yes, any OLED 4K HDR TV can deliver the above to the same level of performance but if what you want is Sony technology in particular, the A9G delivers just as well as any competitor OLED and better than any competitor LCD TV on these specs.
Motion handling and Gaming Excellence
Another very strong feature of OLED TVs is their capacity for handling onscreen motion extremely smoothly. They can almost always do this better than any rival LCD TV simple because the light source that illuminates the pixel colors for picture changes on the screen is located right inside the same pixels right under the display surface. In an LCD TV, the LED backlights are well behind the pixel technology on the screen and usually set apart by other light filtering layers; this contributes to slightly slower motion blur control and weaker motion interpolation. Since the A9G is an OLED TV, it doesn’t have this problem and enough said for now: the bottom line is a superbly high level of motion blur control and motion interpolation quality for any type of content at any normal frame rate.
Incredible OLED Viewing Angles
One final display-specific quality of OLED TVs is their ability to deliver nearly perfect picture fidelity even when their screens are viewed from way off dead center. Among LCD TVs, this isn’t nearly as developed and among the two main types of LCD TV display technology, one offers good viewing angles but weak black levels (IPS screens), while the other (VA screens) delivers excellent black levels but crappy viewing angles in most 4K LCD TVs. OLED televisions like the A9G offer the absolute best of both worlds, with the above-mentioned perfect black levels and excellent viewing angles that no LCD TV can quite match yet.
overall HDR delivery
As you can probably imagine, with all of the above excellent specifications for color, brightness and black levels in particular, the A9G outputs HDR content incredibly well. In this it’s nearly identical to LG’s C9 and Sony’s own 2018 A8F on performance though with some notable differences that we’ll get to shortly. The main thing is that if you want to watch HDR movies at nearly their best possible quality, this Sony OLED TV will really offer up an image quality that pops out at you. The A9G isn’t quite as bright as some other premium HDR 4K UHD TVs, so it delivers its best performance in rooms without very bright lighting but that detail aside, the HDR rendering of this TV is stull really, really impressive.
Upscaling of non-4K HDR content
So now that we’ve firmly explained just how great the Sony A9G OLED is at handling 4K and high dynamic range content, what about all the rest of the TV entertainment you’re probably going to watch on it? Since the vast majority of what’s available for TV viewing definitely isn’t 4K or much less HDR entertainment, this stuff is important and how well a TV delivers it is too. Luckily, the A9G, like most modern 4K TVs, does a damn good job of upscaling and smoothing out lower resolutions in content. Thus, unless they’re just crappily mastered, your favorite old 480p DVD movies and pretty much any non-HD TV broadcast shows will upscale really nicely on the Sony A9G. Furthermore, while this TV doesn’t offer HDR to non-HDR content but its high quality color rendering and perfect black levels will certainly do their part to make any content look impressively better.
Smart TV Platform & Functionality
What We Didn’t Like
While the Sony A9G is without a doubt one excellent 4K ultra HD TV by almost all normal measurements, it also comes with its share of flaws. Some of these are very minor, because after all ,no 4K TV is totally perfect, but a couple of them are definitely a bit more problematic if you’re thinking of buying this particular model and comparing it to other options. Let’s move on and cover exactly what we mean for all of the above.
Not nearly as bright as expected
OLED 4K TVs have come a long way in terms of their peak and overall brightness capacity from the earliest models of 2014, which could barely manage a couple hundred nits at the very most. This applies especially to the last couple years of OLED HDR 4K TV releases from LG in particular and Sony too to a slightly lesser extent. That said, the A9G, while definitely brighter than any OLED TV you’d have found on the market in maybe 2016 or 2017 falls a noticeable way short of getting as luminous as what we’ve seen from any LG OLED TV in the last couple years. It’s also notably dimmer overall than Sony’s own 2018 OLED TVs were, which is a bit disappointing. To be fair, the A9G delivers decent overall display brightness and it does this still better in HDR mode but the highlights and general luminosity aren’t going to wow anybody with experience watching much brighter LCD HDR TVs or more luminous OLEDs from the competition.
Serious price vs. quality and alternatives issues
This is the single biggest and most harmful point against the Sony A9G; it’s simply too expensive for what it offers and especially so when compared to what competing TVs from the same quality/price range can deliver. To give you a powerful example: LG’s C9 OLED from the 2019 lineup is the A9G’s most direct and similar competitor, and in that position it offers very similar (nearly identical) overall display performance, but manages to deliver notably higher brightness, better connectivity specs (more on this further down) and several key display specs that are mostly equal to or slightly better than those of the A9G. Despite this, the C9 is by far the cheaper OLED TV edition, costing OVER $1000 less than that of Sony’s shiny new 2019 OLED for the 65 inch models of both. That’s a price difference that’s really hard to swallow unless you’re one damn serious Sony fan.
The burn-in problem of OLED
Moving on to the A9G’s more minor weaknesses, we come to one that it shares with pretty much every other OLED TV we know of to-date: This is the burn-in issue that OLED TVs can suffer from. In basic terms, the Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) pixels inside these TVs start to hold onto the ghostly shadows of static pieces of content that are displayed over the same pixels for a long time without much interruption. This problem has been improved slightly in newer OLED TVs (at least according to their manufacturers) but it’s hard to tell how much it can affect any OLED TV because it can take quite a while for it to manifest itself. In any case, at least as far as we know now, the A9G, like all other OLED TVs can possibly suffer burn-in of static onscreen visuals if they run continuously (such as for constant sports ticker feeds in pub TVs, for example). If you’re using the A9G for regular home TV watching –which usually means turning the TV off pretty regularly for hours at a time—then the burn-in problem might not show up for years if at all, it’s still too early to tell, but it’s worth keeping in mind.
One further minor but noteworthy issue with the A9G is that it only offers HDMI 2.0 ports for its main connectivity array. All 4K TVs offered no better than this until late last year but now that HDMI 2.1 is very much here, it would have been nice if this TV came with at least one of the newer ports, which can handle 4K UHD video at 120Hz instead of the 60Hz of 2.0. Since no currently available 4K TV content transmits at more than 60Hz, this won’t be a big deal for almost anyone except maybe console gamers who really want their TV to keep up with the extreme limits of their GPUs during UHD gameplay, but again, HDMI 2.1 would have been nice. LG, Samsung and others tossed it in so why not Sony?
Mostly mediocre audio
Finally, barely worth mentioning but useful to know before you buy: the A9G, like most 4K UHD TVs from any brand, offers only moderately good native audio power. To be honest, nobody has a right to expect much more from any normally shaped TV but it’s worth knowing that while this TV will play normal TV, music, movie audio just fine for the not so picky, anyone who wants some serious sound power kick would do best hooking the A9G up to some external speakers or a sound bar.
Value for Price & Bottom Line
Our bottom line verdict on the Sony A9G is just a bit complicated. On the one hand, we really do love the overall quality of this 4K OLED TV and OLEDs in general are our best-rated UHD TVs pretty much across the board, but, well….. The A9G is simply too expensive to be a strong competitor to LG’s C9 or even some excellent premium LCD TVs with great full-array LED local dimming like the Samsung Q90R or even Samsung’s Q90 and Vizio’s incredibly good 2019 Quantum LCD HDR TVs. Even Sony’s own A9F from late 2018 and early 2019 is a better deal because it’s maybe even a bit better than the A9G but much cheaper right now.
Key Sony A9G OLED Specs
• Screen sizes: 55 inch XBRX55A9G, 65 inch XBRX65A9G, 75 inch XBRX77A9G (TV being reviewed is 65 inches)
• Smart TV: Android TV 2019 Oreo 8.0 Edition
• HEVC (H.265) Included: Yes
• VP9 Included. Yes
• HD to UHD to 4K upscaling: Yes
• HDCP 2.2 Compliance: Yes
• HDR Support: Yes, HDR10, Dolby Vision, Hybrid Log Gamma
• Refresh Rate: 120Hz native refresh rate
• Screen Lighting: OLED TV display
• Resolution: 3840 × 2160 pixels 4K UHD
• Wireless Connectivity: Yes, includes both built-in WiFi and Ethernet port
• Remotes: Sony smart Sony smart remote with voice control
• Connectivity: 4 HDMI ports (all of them 2.0a and with HDCP 2.2, port NONE with HDMI 2.1 enhancement), 3 USB ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 Digital Audio Out. See more on connectivity details further below in review.
• Contrast Ratio: OLED infinite (native, real contrast)
• Absolute Maximum Peak Brightness: 692 nits (cd/m2)
• 3D Technology: N/A
• Processor: Picture Processor X1
Display Performance Metrics
In the following extensive sections, we’re going to cover the specific measured details of just how well the Sony A9G delivers on the display performance metrics that are genuinely important for good performance during playback of any content and games. In other words, the sections and subsections that follow cut through all the junk, marketing babble (usually from manufacturers) technicisms and other confusing information to tell you how well this TV does at delivering the key specs you need for a great picture.
In order to effectively deliver the above, the following sections cover TV black levels, contrast, dimming capacity, brightness, color delivery, motion handling and input capabilities. We also cover inputs under the main connectivity section but here we’ll go into details about how the A9G OLED 4K HDR TV’s inputs do with rendering of motion for movie, console, and PC gaming content.
It’s also important to bear in mind that the TV metrics for this model can vary very slightly from unit to unit and from one size to the next. This isn’t quite as much the case with OLED TVs as it can be with LCD TV editions and when it comes to LCD TVs where there might be particular variation is in how well backlight specs for brightness and contrast deliver in larger vs. smaller editions of the same model. Since the A9G is an OLED TV, this is less of an issue, and in any case it applies pretty minimally, with a small enough variation that our review of one unit is a pretty excellent indicator of the A9G’s general quality.
Black Level, uniformity, Local Dimming and Contrast:
Because the Sony A9G is an OLED 4K HDR TV, what we can very simply but absolutely say about it is that you’ll get perfection from all four of the above. This isn’t just hyperbole, it’s a statement of fact. In OLED 4K TVs, each individual pixel on the screen (and in a 4K TV there are over 8.29 million of them!) can have its own internal light activated or deactivated individually or in groups as needed. And because the light source is literally inside the pixels (or close enough to it), local dimming works on a pixel-precise level. And because inactive pixels emit no light and bleed no light through neighboring pixels, contrast and black levels can be totally perfect and infinite. Obviously this also means perfect black uniformity.
These qualities of OLED TVs are their single strongest feature because they absolutely, totally outclass what even the best LCD 4K HDR TVs can do at any price. To explain a bit further though: Unlike OLEDs, LCD TVs create luminosity through a backlight system of arrayed LEDs that are behind the LCD screen and its pixels, and create dark/bright areas by a combination of the LEDs being turned off in sections and the display pixels blocking out backlight selectively as needed. The best LCD TVs come with full-array LED backlighting and multi-zone local dimming, meaning that they have hundreds of LEDs covering the entire back of their screen and dozens or hundreds of local dimming zones in which some of these LEDs shut off selectively for better black levels, but even in these cases, some light always bleeds through along the edges between bright and dark content.
The difference in effect between OLED and LCD as described above can be very small to the naked eye if you’re comparing really good LCD 4K HDR editions like the Samsung Q90R to an OLED TV but it’s still notable and compared to OLED precision, it’s enormous.
Here we cover how bright the display of the Sony A9G can get by a few key measurements. Specifically, we compare its absolute maximum peak brightness and sustained brightness in nits (cd/m2) at across different percentages of the screen (from 2% to 100%). We also measure how bright the A9G is on average throughout the viewing experience. These measurements are given for the TV when its set to view SDR (normal TV, streaming and broadcast) content and high dynamic range (HDR) content of the kind that’s now increasingly common for today’s also increasingly common HDR TVs like this model.
Where Sony’s A9G OLED falls a bit flat is when it comes to both peak and overall brightness. It’s still a wonderfully bright 4K HDR TV by most standards and compared to any older, pre-2017 OLED it kicks ass but if we measure the A9G against rival 2019 OLED TVs or even Sony’s own late-2018 A8F predecessor to this model, it’s the A9G that emerges weakest in measurements of display brightness. We’re not exactly sure why Sony screwed this up a bit but it’s visible and unfortunate considering this model’s stiffer price tag. That said, we repeat that the A9G is one very reasonably bright 4K TV. On absolute maximum peak brightness in HDR mode, this OLED edition performs decently enough at over 650 nits and when it’s being used in normal SDR content mode, maximum display brightness is still respectable at just over 350 nits. On the other hand, the overall display brightness of the A9G is only moderately good in SDR mode in particular and only slightly better in HDR content viewing mode. In other words, this particular OLED TV is decent at brightness without being great at it in any way.
In comparison, LG’s C9 2019 OLED 4K HDR TV delivers much better peak luminosity than the A9G and even on average SDR and HDR brightness is slightly better. The same goes for Sony’s own older OLED 4K HDR model the 2018 A8F from late last year. In other words, at least as far as display luminosity is concerned, the A9G delivers less than recent alternative OLED TVs you could get while costing the same or more than them (at the time of this writing). Below are the A9G’s specific measured specs across different settings:
Sony A9G SDR Brightness
- Overall SDR peak brightness for normal content: 285 nits
- Peak 2% display area display SDR brightness: 352 nits
- Peak 10% display area SDR brightness: 348 nits
- Peak 100% display area SDR brightness: 156 nits
- Sustained 10% SDR brightness: 289 nits
- Sustained 100% SDR brightness: 157 nits
Sony A9G TV HDR Brightness
- Overall HDR peak brightness for normal content: 599 nits
- Peak 2% display area display HDR brightness: 695 nits
- Peak 10% display area HDR brightness: 570 nits
- Peak 100% display area HDR brightness: 140 nits
- Sustained 10% HDR brightness: 368 nits
- Sustained 100% HDR brightness: 139 nits
Sony’s A9G delivers mostly excellent color rendering and most viewers will absolutely love it. Sony’s 4K UHD TVs have a long history of being very good color performers and the A9G is a typically excellent example of this at work. This 4K TV is stunningly vibrant while also delivering strong color accuracy and volume. It can handle both HDR SDR color delivery exceptionally well and we’d even go as far as to say that its color rendering for ordinary non-HDR movies and programming is even improved by the A9G’s superbly good color delivery technology for HDR content.
In terms of key metrics, the A9G renders very good Wide Color Gamut (WCG) that’s nearly the same as what we saw in LG’s C9 OLED. There might be a tiny difference between percentages of WCG color space covered between these two TVs but it’s so small that it might vary from unit to unit and in any case won’t easily be visible to the naked eye. The specific WCG color coverage of the A9G sits at 97.2%, and we consider this to be downright great. In addition to this, the A9G also delivers very decent color volume, with great color accuracy being maintained even during playback of dark shadowy scenes. On the other hand, where this TV ends up being a bit weak is on playback of very bright content. In this case, it’s color saturation is only moderately good. LG’s rival model the C9 and Sony’s own other major 2019 OLED the A9F both do a much better job on this last spec.
As for color accuracy out of the box and post-calibration, these are specs that we measure by the key specs of white balance delta E, color delta E and Gamma. In the A9G, they are decent bordering on a bit crappy right out of the box (or at least they were in the unit we reviewed) but after some moderate calibration, they tremendously improve to superb levels. Pre calibration settings and post calibration settings for these are as follows:
Sony A9G Pre-calibration color settings
- White balance delta E: 4.30
- Color delta E: 2.43
- Gamma: 2.14
Sony A9G post-calibration color settings
- White balance delta E: 0.41
- Color delta E: 1.08
- Gamma: 2.12
Motion Handling & Upscaling:
The motion handling of the A9G is nothing short of fantastic, maybe even remarkable and we easily consider it to be one of this particular 4K TV’s single best performing features. While it’s true that pretty much all OLED TVs today deliver generally superb motion handling and particularly incredible response time for shifting colors in their pixels, the A9G takes many of its key motion handling specs to a slightly higher level and in general terms, this makes it an incredibly good 4K TV for any fast-paced content or high-intensity games you can throw at it. In virtually all respects, motion is handled with wonderful smoothness and content played back at assorted different frame rates is delivered very little blur, flicker or distortion. This applies even to low frame-rate content played back on this TV’s native 120Hz screen.
Speaking specifically, the A9G delivers superbly good, nearly instant pixel response time that sits at just 0.2 milliseconds -this is a measurement of how quickly a TVs pixels change color or brightness in response to content changes. Furthermore, the A9G offers up nearly perfect flicker-free playback, black frame insertion and motion interpolation technologies for extremely smooth playback of content from disc media, TV broadcasts, streaming media and nearly anything via HDMI connectivity. The A9G’s judder control is also fantastic and fully robust, with extremely clean playback of 24p movie content being supported from any source at all, be it streaming media, HDMI-connected media device or even broadcast and cable TV.
On the other hand, though it doesn’t affect this TV’s motion handling capabilities, the Sony A9G lacks some of the fancier gaming/movie playback technologies that premium ultra HD TVs from rivals like Samsung come with. So in other words, sorry folks, but no AMD FreeSync or Nvidia G-SYNC for your favorite PC games.
Input Performance for Gaming and PC:
Despite its lack of input performance enhancing technologies like FreeSync and G-SYNC, the Sony A9G delivers very good input performance when connected to external consoles like the Xbox One X or the PlayStation 4 Pro. We’ve seen better performance from Samsung’s 4K TVs at any price range and from LG’s own OLEDs as well but despite this, the A9G doesn’t do too badly for intense console gaming even at high frame rates or with 4K resolution, broad color features and HDR enabled.
Here are some of the key specific specs for its gaming performance in different console setups:
- 4k @ 60Hz: 26.9 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz: 26.1 ms
- 1080p @ 120Hz: 17.3 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz outside Game Mode: 101 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz + 10 bit HDR: 25.7 ms
- 1440p @ 60Hz: 26.6 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode : 88.2 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4: 24.5 ms
- 4K @ 120Hz: N/A
- 1440p @ 120Hz: 39.9 ms
- 1080p with FreeSync: N/A
- 4K with interpolation activated: 85.7 ms
The Sony A9G offers broad and excellent support for different resolutions, frame rates and color settings when connected to a PC rig as well. The following specs show this clearly:
- 1080p @ 120Hz: Yes
- 1080p @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4: Yes
- 4k @ 60Hz + 4:4:4: Yes
- 1440p @ 60Hz: Yes
- 4k @ 120Hz : Yes
- 4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4: No
- 1440p @ 120Hz: Yes
One disappointment of the Sony A9G is that it lacks the newer HDMI 2.1 standard in its HDMI ports. Samsung, LG, Vizio and others have started to adopt this but Sony has decided to delay. This could be because HDMI 2.1 isn’t really necessary for any current 4K UHD TV or media content but it would still be nice to have as an option, especially for gamers. That said, aside from the HDMI 2.1, this TV delivers perfectly modern connectivity in the form of multiple HDMI 2.0, USB and other key ports. It’s perfectly good enough for just about any content or device you want to hook up to it.
The following are the Sony A9G’s ports and their specifications:
- HDMI : 4 (HDCP 2.2 & full HDMI 2.0a capacity)
- HDMI 2.1 : N/A
- USB : 3 (USB 2.0 x 3)
- Digital Optical Audio Out : 1
- Analog Audio Out 3.5 mm : 1
- Tuner (Cable/Ant) : 1
- Ethernet : 1
- HDR10 support: Yes
- HDR10+ support: No
- Dolby Vision HDR support: Yes
- Hybrid Log Gamma HDR support: Yes
- Dolby Vision HDR: Yes
The Sony A9G TV models also offer audio connectivity in the following types.
- 1 Passthrough ARC Dolby Digital
- 1 Passthrough Optical Dolby Digital
- 1 Passthrough eARC support
- 1 Passthrough DTS:X via DTS-HD MA via eARC
Sony has released the XBR-A9G 4K ultra HD HDR LCD Smart TV models in three different sizes. Thus, you have the choice of a 55 inch or 65 inch model, and a huge 77 inch version that would be just awesome for gamers and home theater fans who want a deeply immersive experience. All three models are basically identical in their specs and performance and between them only very minor screen performance variations such as those we described in our visual specs intro section above might be the case.
The models all sell for the following prices, found in the link below at the time of this writing. Bear in mind that these are subject to sometimes frequent downward change and it’s a good idea to click the following Amazon links for real-time pricing and all available discounts on this model.