This year, Sony will add an additional OLED model to its line-up that will otherwise consist mostly of LCD based TVs. Z9D once again carries over into 2018 – at least for now – and Sony has added a X900F (XF90) with full array local dimming. Google’s Android TV platform is included in most TVs and Dolby Vision support is expanding. FlatpanelsHD brings you the full overview of Sony’s 2018 TV line-up.
Updated 2.3.2018: Suggested retail prices for A8F OLED in the US added.
We think it is fair to say that the 2018 line-up is largely a continuation of last year’s program. At least the spring line-up – Sony may add additional models in autumn. Last year’s A1 OLED as well as the 2016 Z9D will carry over into 2018.
Nevertheless, Sony’s line-up looks strong as the company will be offering a range of models based on either OLED or LCD display technology. Sony will add a new A8 OLED, which will have the exact same technical specification as the A1 but come with a different design. The company will also replace last year’s X900E (XF90 in Europe) with an upgraded X900F (XF90) that features a full array local dimming (FALD) backlight and an entirely new system to improve motion reproduction called X-Motion Clarity (see link below for more details). Like last year’s model, the new 90 series could prove to be one of the best value-for-money LCD TVs out there, especially if you want HDR included in the package.
The more affordable LCD models – from X850F and down – will use edge LED backlighting. While this allows for relatively thin and elegant TVs, it cannot faithfully deliver the contrast and luminance control that it required to reproduce HDR video. Every model from Sony in 2018, including the Full HD TVs, will be “HDR compatible” but that only means that they can interpret the signal; not necessarily reproduce it as HDR. If HDR is important to you, you should aim higher.
Dolby Vision is expanding and will this year be included from X900F and up
Speaking of HDR, Sony will include support for the HDR10 and HLG formats in every TV this year. Dolby Vision is also expanding and will this year be included from X900F and up. This is good news considering that last year’s X900E lack of Dolby Vision was one of the only caveats. However, we must stress that once again that Dolby Vision will require a firmware update, which Sony expects to roll out “this summer”. As you may know, the same update was delayed several times last year so it is certainly not out of the realm of possibility that Sony will delay this one, too.
To go along with its growing range of Dolby Vision capable TVs, Sony has added its first UHD Blu-ray player with Dolby Vision to the line-up. The X700 is already available in the US and Europe but the Dolby Vision update is not rolling out until summer 2018.
You may have noticed that other brands use a ‘UHD Premium’ logo while Sony prefers to use its own yellow logo. Sony has filed for trademark on an updated ‘8K HDR’ version of the logo, which could suggest that the company is planning to launch its first 8K TV later this year. Sony has not commented publicly on its plans for 8K but it did reveal an 8K HDR TV prototype capable of 10,000 nits peak brightness at CES in January. It was driven by a next-generation ‘X1 Ultimate’ processor. You may recall that Sony did something similar before it launched the Z9D flagship LCD in 2016. Perhaps it is sign – perhaps not. We will just have to wait and see.
Sony has promised to bring Android 8.0 (Oreo) to the TVs through a software update
Sony will continue to partner with Google and all of the 4K models will be based on the ‘Android TV’ platform. Apps and games, including Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube, are available from the Google Play Store. The 4K TVs will ship with Android version 7.0 but Sony has promised to bring Android 8.0 (Oreo) to the TVs through a software update. Having Android TV in all of the 4K TVs also means that Chromecast is built-in.
In Europe, Sony will also offer twin tuner recording capabilities from the XF85 model and up. You need to buy an external USB hard drive to take advantage of these recording features. The rest of the TVs will allow you to record TV programs but not while watching another show.
3D is dead and no brands seem eager to revive it. Sony’s Z9D will be the only model in the line-up to offer 3D (active technology) but only because it was first launched in 2016.
Sony tells us that all 4K models will feature 4 HDMI ports and 3 USB ports as well as “ac” WiFi. There is also a screen mirroring feature based on the Miracast technology available but you will probably prefer Chromecast. The HD models will have 2 HDMI ports.
Sony’s 2018 TVs will start shipping in March but some models will not appear until May. We will update the table below as we receive more details. You can recognize the 2018 models by the letter “F” in the model name. XF = 2018, XE = 2017, XD = 2016, XC = 2015, XB = 2014, XA = 2013.
Sony A1 OLED
Last year, Sony introduced its first OLED TV. The A1 OLED will carry over into 2018 together with a new A8F (AF8) OLED model with the exact same technical specifications.
Sony’s new A8F (AF8 in Europe) OLED model will have the exact same technical specifications as last year’s A1 OLED, including the ‘Acoustic Surface’ speaker system. However, it will have a different design that allows you to mount it closer to the wall.
Z9D was added to the line-up in 2016 and will once again carry over into 2018 as Sony’s LCD flagship model. It is equipped with Sony’s Backlight Master Drive technology and will get a firmware update that adds Dolby Vision.
The successor to last year’s much-acclaimed X900E model. What sets it apart is a full array local dimming (FALD) backlight system that enables HDR reproduction at an attractive price point. It also features Android.
X850F (XF85 in Europe) is a mid-range LCD TV with 4K resolution and Android TV. Compared to the 90 series you lose zone dimming backlight. In Europe, Sony will also offer design variants called XF8577 and XF8599.