Sony's 2019 TV line-up comprises 4K TVs based on either OLED or LCD technology. The company is also introducing its first 8K TVs. New features include improved sound and Dolby Atmos support as well Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit. FlatpanelsHD brings you the full overview of Sony's 2019 TV line-up.
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Sony 2019 TV line-up
The new TVs were unveiled at CES in January 2019 and the full line-up will be available this spring/summer. It includes 4K OLED, 4K LCD, and 8K LCD TVs.
With the new line-up, Sony is taking its first step towards 8K but it is mostly symbolic. The Z9G / ZG9 8K range will be available only in 85 and 98-inch sizes, with price tags to match.
4K remains the foundation of the 2019 line-up and the technical building blocks for Sony's 4K TVs were laid a few years back so for some buyers the overall themes here will be familiar. Sony's OLED TVs feature the unique 'Acoustic Surface' audio technology that uses the OLED panel as a speaker membrane. This is possible by placing actuators behind the one-layer panel. The big advantage, according to Sony, is that sound comes directly at you from the screen - and the person speaking.
Most of Sony's new TVs will run on Google's Android TV platform and high-end models will continue to support Dolby Vision HDR. So let us instead turn our attention to some of the new features for 2019.
Besides 8K, three of the most important new features this year are Dolby Atmos, AirPlay 2, and HomeKit.
Dolby Atmos will be supported in AG9 / A9G, Z9G / ZG9, X950G / XG95, and X850G / XG85. Some of these TVs will have more capable speakers but none are equipped to deliver the full Atmos experience. However, Sony's implementation ensures that Dolby Atmos can also be output to an external soundbar or receiver in lossless quality via the HDMI eARC output.
Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit in Android TVs from Sony
AirPlay 2 and HomeKit are developed by Apple. It was one of the big announcements - and surprises - of the CES 2019 show. With AirPlay 2 you will be able to push video, music, and other media files from an iPhone or iPad wirelessly onto the TV, while HomeKit allows you to include Sony TVs into the connected home via Apple's protocol. HomeKit will also make it possible to control a Sony TV with an iPhone/iPad in various ways but the full scope of functionality has yet to be announced.
Sony is not alone in partnering with Apple but the company finds itself in a peculiar and interesting situation. For the first time, Google's Android TV platform and Apple's TV features will be implemented in one and the same TV.
Later this year, Apple will introduce a revamped 'TV' app that will also become the home to the company's upcoming streaming service. The app will be available in Sony TVs but details have yet to be announced.
Even though Sony has strengthened its ties with Apple, the company's TVs will still be based first and foremost on Google's Android TV operating system. The TVs come pre-installed with Android 8 Oreo, which has a refreshed home screen, designed around the concept of content rows. Some of the TVs are also equipped with a more powerful SoC.
Android TVs come with built-in Chromecast as well as apps such as Amazon, Netflix, HBO, and YouTube. Additional apps, and games, can be downloaded from the Google Play store.
Unlike TVs from some competing brands, Android TVs are getting updates to the next major software version of Android, albeit leisurely. The TVs come pre-installed with Android 8 Oreo and will later be updated to Android 9 Pie (that was released in autumn 2018) - and possibly future versions, too. Google Assistant is built-in but not yet enabled in all regions and supported languages. Amazon Alexa is supported, too.
Sony is not yet ready to fully embrace HDMI 2.1. Only the 8K Z9G will come equipped with HDMI 2.1 ports. Sony's 2019 4K models have HDMI 2.0 ports but will offer a single HDMI 2.1 feature that can be supported on HDMI 2.0. HDMI eARC (enhanced ARC) makes the TVs capable of outputting (and pass-through) Dolby Atmos in full lossless quality (Dolby TrueHD), which can be useful when connecting an UHD Blu-ray player directly to the TV. In other words, you will no longer have to loop media and disc players through a receiver or soundbar to extract the best possible audio quality.
For video enthusiasts, Sony will offer auto-calibration via the CalMAN software but you will need the right equipment. The company is also highlighting the 'Netflix Calibrated Mode' that Netflix's picture experts have tuned to match the mastering studio reference. This mode can be used only inside the built-in Netflix app.
Despite streaming gaining in popularity, all of the models will still be equipped with tuners for cable, antenna, and satellite TV as well as twin tuners for recording in some regions. Most of the TVs have WiFi and Bluetooth functionality, with some of the models (the ones on the latest SoC) advancing from Bluetooth version 4.1 to 4.2.
Sony A9G (AG9 in Europe) and A8G (AG8 in Europe) are the new OLED models. The flagship A9G has a more powerful 'X1 Ultimate' video processor and is based on a more capable hardware platform that enables support for Dolby Atmos and HDMI eARC. You can learn more about the technical differences by comparing the two OLED models with our new compare tool.
The LCD line-up is led by the 8K Z9G / ZG9 and the 4K X950G / XG95. The latter can be seen as a big brother to last year's X900F / ZF90 that will carry over into 2019. What makes X950G stand out from the rest of the 2019 4K LCD line-up is that it utilizes LED zone dimming to make HDR possible. This improves backlight control over the more conventional LCD models, although not on par with OLED's pixel-level brightness control. The larger versions of X950G have a filter designed to improve viewing angles.
Speaking of HDR (High Dynamic Range), all of Sony's 2019 TVs advertise support for HDR10 and HLG whereas only the more expensive models support the Dolby Vision HDR format. As we have pointed out many times in the past, HDR is easy to support in software but difficult to support in hardware. If you want to experience and enjoy HDR video - specifically extended dynamic range and a larger color space - you must pick an LCD TV with zone dimming or better yet an OLED TV.
In the mid-range segment, Sony is introducing the X850G / XG85, XG83, XG81, and X800G / XG80 models that will be available sometime this spring or summer. All of them come with 4K resolution and most, except XG70, come with Android. In many regions, Sony and dealers will sell various design versions, too. Once we have a better overview of these design variants, we will update the model line-up section.
Below we have noted suggested retail prices for those TV models that have yet to launch. Once the TVs become available, the model name and size will become an active and clickable link to price comparison or retailers. In previous years, Sony has added additional models in the second half of the year. If that happens again, the line-up overview will be updated accordingly (and automatically). We are phasing in a new back-end system on FlatpanelsHD, which we will formally introduce soon.
Sony's 2019 TVs started shipping in March/April, with more models becoming available in May and June. You can recognize the 2019 models by the letter 'G' in the model name. AG/XG = 2019, AF/XF = 2018, A/XE = 2017, XD = 2016, XC = 2015, XB = 2014, XA = 2013.
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