I sat in the lobby of one of the swankiest hotels in downtown Bukit Bintang, idly staring at passerby. Then the call came. As the concierge of the swanky hotel ushered us into the reception room, I laid gaze on Sony’s most powerful TV for 2017 – the Bravia KD-65A1 OLED TV.
Where other TVs are waifishly thin affairs, the Sony Bravia KD-65A1 OLED TV which was launched earlier this year in Malaysia is a huge monolith that’s all screen when viewed from the front. Where others mount their TV on pedestals, the Bravia KD-65A1 instead has a robust flip-up stand at the back that props the TV up like an easel.
It’s more than for mere aesthetics though as the stand is also part of an integrated speaker system that drives audio out through the very screen itself via a pair of actuators that vibrate the screen, rather than through the sides or bottom in more conventional designs while the flip-out stand itself doubles as a beefy 10W subwoofer. This is the first time that we’ve seen this done on a TV for any brand. The fact they’ve done so without affecting its design or the image quality makes it an impressive display of engineering prowess indeed.
Rather than offering a vertically flat view like other TVs, the panel is slightly off kilter by a few degrees – 3-degrees to be exact if you’re one to nitpick – on account of the nature of its design though this does not affect image quality or viewing angles in the slightest; you can alternatively fold the stand in and mount the TV in a conventional fashion on a wall via a VESA bracket.
From the sides, the panel itself is a slim affair with connectivity options in the form of a quartet of HDMI ports, a trio of USB ports and an Ethernet port clustered around the flip-out stand along with wi-fi connectivity. The TV along with its deployed stand is extremely sturdy with nary a bit of wobble and little chance of it toppling over but it also takes up quite a bit of space on your mantelpiece. However you choose to mount it, the KD-65A1 is a strikingly impressive design that will turn heads wherever you place it.
Under the hood, the 65-inch KD-65A1 runs Android TV much like its other offerings. There’s a comforting sense of familiarity especially for those who’ve played about with an Android TV with most of the menus in the same familiar places. In terms of picture modes, you’re able to select from a number of preset modes that include Vivid mode, a Game mode for games, a plethora of different modes for viewing photos, Cinema home and Cinema Pro modes for watching films and a Sports mode when you’re looking to catch the footy on TV.
Like many other tellies of its ilk, you’ll likely be getting about with the bundled remote control though this time around it’s a button-laden, chunky affair that needs quite a learning curve before you can master getting about it in the dark due to the obtuse layout and lack of tactility. It’s serviceable though there are better made remotes out there.
Powering the 65-inch OLED 4K panel, which has 3,840 x 2,160 pixel resolution is their 4K HDR Processor X1 Extreme chip and an unusual dual database processing system paired with their 4K X Reality PRO tech. According to Sony, this dual database system culls a host of images referenced over an entire generation of TV production onto a chip, with the TV using them to upscale images onscreen to near 4K quality with one database focused on cleaning up image noise while the other works on brushing up and adding detail.
Sony has also incorporated a bevy of technologies for better colour reproduction that consist of Sony’s Triluminos tech, their Super Bit Mapping 4K HDR and Precision Colour Mapping tech. Ultimately, all this tech amounts to a spiffy 4K Ultra HD flat panel with 95% of the DCI-P3 colour gamut, support High Dynamic Range enabled content via HDR10 and the ability to upscale SDR content to near HDR . There’s support later on for Hybrid Log-Gamma along with Dolby Vision via firmware updates though the latter isn’t slated anytime soon for this region as yet.
In a darkened room that was designed to mimic the average living room with a viewing distance of about three metres from the KD65A1, we put it through a variety of reference videos and movies of recent vintage on default settings at various quality settings. While a host of LCD panels festoon the market, Sony’s approach to using OLED affords the KD-65A1 pixel-level light control of the display, allowing the TV to deliver exquisitely deep blacks whilst their Triluminos colour tech serves up superb colours onscreen.
Pacific Rim’s dark and grungy industrial backgrounds as well as the luminescent and neon strewn scenery interspersed between it was streamed in HD resolution via Netflix and the KD65A1’s upscaling did an impressive job indeed on the movie, rendering the whole affair in a fashion that did it justice, giving it scads of detail and luscious hues along with exquisitely deep blacks onscreen.
The meaty audio was of note as well with the unusual speaker system managing to deliver good detail and a decent soundstage too for an integrated system short of an external dedicated audio setup.
The Dark Knight Rises on Netflix, which has challengingly dark backgrounds throughout the movie and a range of fast motion was similarly handled well with subtly nuanced colours even amidst its predominantly dark scenes along with well gradated shadows, something that OLED tech handles with a very dab hand.
As every pixel can be individually lit up and turned off in an OLED panel, you can get exceptionally deep blacks that look exquisite from almost any viewing angle. The KD65A1’s full glory is unleashed when playing 4K footage with razor sharp detail and exquisite colours in several documentaries and a snippet of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. While there’s a dearth of HDR and 4K content, the KD65A1’s impressive upscaling is able to give your current film library a run for its money.
Price and Conclusion for Sony’s Bravia KD-65A1 OLED TV
The Sony Bravia KD-65A1 is one of the priciest and most visually impressive OLED TVs that you can currently buy with exemplary performance, deep blacks and excellent colour reproduction paired with a novel yet effective sound system that adds to its aesthetic appeal. The astronomical price tag may give you pause but a smaller 55-inch version also exists at a slightly lower price tag.
Fortunately, the KD-65A1 isn’t going to end up a white elephant anytime soon as it has quite a bit of future proofing with HDR support along with slated firmware upgrades later on down the line make it a mainstay in your living room for many years to come. If you have cash to spare and a huge stocking to fill this Christmas for the cinemaphile in your life, this will do nicely.
What we liked Brilliant image quality, impressive built-in sound, superbly deep blacks and rich colours
What we didn’t Needs a large footprint for deployment, clunky remote control, pricey
We Say This luscious OLED panel from Sony serves up exquisite image quality and a novel integrated audio system that’s loud yet subtly integrated into its design, making it one of the best tellies that money can currently buy
Price RM29,999 65-inch / RM16,999 55-inch
Screen size – 65-inch OLED, 3,840 x 2,160 pixels (HDR capable)
Picture Processor 4K HDR Processor X1 Extreme
OS Android TV
Speakers 4 (10W) acoustic surface actuators + 10W subwoofer
Connectivity HDMI x 4, USB x 3, 1 Ethernet port, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Size/Weight 1451x834x86 mm/ 29.8kg (without stand)
*Review unit courtesy of Sony Malaysia