Sony AG9 OLED initial review: Picture perfection?

As OLED TVs become more and more popular, the market has become more competitive. At CES 2019, Sony laid out its Master Series, topped by the AG9 (and updating 2018’s AF8 model). But with Panasonic showing off its GZ2000 OLED at the same tech show, does the Sony have the goods to attract the most attention?

Design

  • Slim wall-mount design: fits as close as a picture frame
  • Acoustic Surface Audio+: 2x actuators, 2x subwoofers
  • Hands-free voice search (Google Assistant at launch)
  • Dolby Atmos immersive sound capable
  • Android TV software

Available in three sizes (77, 65 and 55-inch), the first striking thing about the AG9 is how slender this panel is.

Even with its stand attached, it sits almost flush with the surface beneath, so there’s no fussy heavy chrome stand legs to worry about here. It’s a slim set, too, which is a benefit of OLED, with Sony claiming that when wall-mounted the AG9 will sit against the surface behind as closely as a picture frame. Very neat and tidy.

Trim bezels surround the main panel, while speakers are discretely distributed into the design. We’ve not heard how this set sounds just yet – and there’s certainly not the massive up-firing speaker design of the Panasonic GZ2000 – but Sony has taken sound on board, with modes that allow integration with a home cinema setup (the TV acting as the centre speaker, separates acting to boost the sound). The AG9’s remote control also features a Voice Search function, so you can use the power of Google Assistant to source content.

The Android TV interface isn’t our favourite system though. Alexa support is coming and there will be AirPlay 2 in the future, so this telly will play nice with your Apple devices eventually too.

Picture performance

  • Picture Processor X1 Ultimate with object-based algorithms
  • OLED panel means deep blacks
  • Dolby Vision HDR capable
  • Netflix Calibrated Mode

Now it’s always tricky to assess picture quality at a large show, where the images on display are tailor made for such a situation. Sure, the pinball scenes shown on the AG9 looked delightful – bright, colourful and with rich blacks – but we’ll need to dig deeper and live with this set before we can judge its overall performance.

Compared to the AF8, however, the AG9 is certainly looking to improve the one main criticism we had with the earlier set: its lack of brightness compared to the competition. The AG9 includes the Picture Processor X1 Ultimate to detect objects on screen and then enhance brightness, detail and colour based on its algorithms’ findings. In isolation all the TVs on Sony’s CES stand looked plenty bright to our eyes.

There are other modes to tailor picture quality, including a dedicated Netflix mode for the streaming service.

As per the AF8, the AG9 can also decode HDR10 and Dolby Vision content for the richest high dynamic range (HDR) experience.

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