Sony's TV line-up for 2020 includes new OLED and LCD TVs with 4K or 8K. The company will introduce its first 48-inch OLED TV as well as its first TVs with HDMI 2.1 ports. Dolby Atmos, Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit will be featured in more models. FlatpanelsHD brings you the overview of Sony's 2020 TV line-up
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Sony 2020 TV line-up
If you are familiar with Sony's 2019 TV line-up you will find lots of similarities in its 2020 TV line-up. The company will expand Dolby Atmos audio support, Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit to more models and continue to offer Android as well as support for Dolby Vision HDR in its TVs.
On the other hand there are new developments such as Sony's first 48-inch 4K OLED TV, a smaller 8K LCD TV, new in-frame speaker systems, a system that adjusts the picture to ambient light conditions, and Sony's first 4K TV with an HDMI 2.1 port, ALLM, and VRR.
First Sony 4K TVs with HDMI 2.1, VRR and ALLM
Let us start with HDMI 2.1. There has been a lot of confusion over HDMI 2.1, partly because TV makers are allowed to claim "HDMI 2.1" based on optional features such as eARC or ALLM. However, that does not equal HDMI 2.1 ports (bandwidth), which is an entirely different beast, and required for next-gen picture and gaming quality in consoles such as PlayStation 5.
Sony has confirmed that PlayStation 5 will support 8K and 4K120, which requires HDMI 2.1. As reported exclusively by FlatpanelsHD earlier, here are the specified HDMI 2.1 features in Sony's 2020 TVs (announced so far).
HDMI 2.1 specified features in Sony 2020 TVs
* via later update
Sony Z8H (ZH8)
Sony A8 OLED
Sony X950H (XH95)
Sony X900H (XH90)
Sony X850H (XH85)
Sony Z9G (ZG9) 2019
* (+ 8K60)
In 2020, Sony will introduce 75- and 85-inch 8K LCD TVs as part of its Z8H (ZH8 in Europe) range while last year's 98-inch Z9G (ZG9) carries over into 2020. This 8K model will include Sony's most advanced LCD technology and as you step down to 4K LCD TVs such as X950H (XH95) and X900H (XH90) you will get less advanced full array local dimming (FALD) systems.
For Sony's best 4K picture quality you should look towards 4K OLED that will for the first time be made available in 48 inches later this year (September for Europe, TBC for US). Sony will also make its 8 series OLED (A8 / A8H) more capable with features such as Dolby Atmos, Apple AirPlay 2, HomeKit, Android 9, and a more recent MediaTek SoC.
We do not know what Sony has planned for the second half of 2020 but we suspect that additional models will be announced to coincide with the launch of PlayStation 5. As you can see, only the X900H (XH90) will feature HDMI 2.1 and VRR, the two systems that enable game consoles to take the next step.
Also read: HDMI 2.1: 8K/10K, variable refresh rate, eARC, new cable
Sony 2020 TVs will come pre-installed with Android 9. In past years, Sony has provided Android updates for some of its TVs. We expect that practice to continue but at this time Sony has declined to outline its plans for Android updates to version 10 and beyond. Android 10 is required for system support for AV1 decoding (AV1 is the next video codec, to be used by Netflix, YouTube and others) and seemingly Google Stadia (plus wider support for third-party game controllers).
As part of the Android TV platform, the TVs will come with built-in Chromecast and Google Assistant support. From X950H (XH95) and up, there will be hands-free voice search in addition to the microphone button on the remote control.
Sony is highlighting two new picture systems. The first is 'Ambient Optimization', which "automatically adjust the picture brightness to the ambient light in the room, boosting the brightness in bright rooms and reducing in dark rooms for the perfect view". It seemingly achieves this through picture analysis and by utilizing the built-in light sensor. The other is 'X-Motion Clarity for OLED', which is the BFI (black frame insertion) system implemented in the 2020 OLED panel from LG Display. The BFI system can now operate at shorter duty cycles (and 120Hz) to reduce flicker and brightness loss.
The company continues to offer support for HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision while steering clear of Samsung's HDR10+, explaining that it can achieve the same effect through HDR10 processing. The high-end models are equipped with Sony's X1 Ultimate processor that takes care of everything from upscaling to picture enhancement. More affordable models use the less advanced X1 processor.
Additional models will come with Sony's X-Wide Angle this year. In the past, the X-Wide implementation has managed to widen viewing angles at the expense of contrast. We will have to wait for review samples to check how it works this year.
For its top LCD TVs, Sony has implemented na ew speaker system that uses the frame as side speakers. The goal is to make sound appear as if it comes directly from the person on-screen, the company explained. Sony is also including a new backlit remote control with some of its high-end TVs (X950H/XH95 and Z8H/ZH8).
Also read: First look: Sony 2020 TVs
Stepping down to the mid-range models such as X850H (XH85) and X800H (XH80), Sony offers 4K resolution on either edge LED or direct LED LCD panels, Android, twin tuner (in EU XH85) and various other features depending on the price class. 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.
As for AirPlay 2 and HomeKit, these features will be available in X800H (XH80) and up, bringing Apple's TV features to far more Sony TV owners this year. Sony's partnership with Apple is a peculiar match considering that Sony was a launch partner for Google's Android TV - and continues to be its most prominent partner. Similarly, Sony offers support for Amazon's Alexa in addition to Google Assistant. As for the Apple TV app (required for iTunes movies and Apple TV+), Sony has yet to announce launch timing other than saying that it will be available sometime in 2020.
Sony's 2020 models will be available in sizes up to 85 inches. For the first time, there will be no new HD models in Sony's line-up. At this point, the Western part of the market has shifted almost entirely to 4K TV and is now starting the push towards 8K (and even larger TVs).
Also read: The HDTV is officially dead
For video enthusiasts, Sony will offer auto-calibration via the CalMAN software but you will need the right equipment. The company is also highlighting 'Netflix Calibrated Mode' that Netflix's picture experts have tuned to match the mastering studio reference. This mode can be used only from within the built-in Netflix app. Sony TVs do no offer Filmmaker Mode, which will be included in some 2020 TVs from competing brands. Sony says that it believes its built-in picture modes deliver similar performance.
All of the models will still be equipped with tuners for cable, antenna, and satellite TV as well as twin tuners (XH85 and up) for recording in some regions. X900H in the US will be Sony's first TV to feature an ATSC 3.0 ('Nextgen') tuner suggesting, together with HDMI 2.1, that it is built on a newer chipset. The TVs have WiFi and Bluetooth functionality.
Below we have noted confirmed suggested retail prices and we will update the list as Sony announces additional pricing details. Once the TVs become available in stores, the model name will become an active, clickable link to price comparison or retailers. In previous years, Sony has added additional models in the second half of the year. 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 2020 TVs will start shipping in March/April. You can recognize 2020 models by the letter 'H' in the model name. A reminder: AH/XH/ZH = 2020, AG/XG/ZG = 2019, AF/XF = 2018, A/XE = 2017, XD = 2016, XC = 2015, XB = 2014, XA = 2013.
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