Today, Sony announced the pricing and availability of its A1E OLED TV, which anyone with any interest in high-end flat panels has been eagerly awaiting since it was first unveiled at CES last January. Based on an OLED panel from LG Display, the A1E offers a number of features exclusive to Sony. First, there’s the X1 Extreme processor, a serious powerhouse with three main functions: a dual database for noise reduction and 4K upscaling, Super Bit Mapping that smooths gradations by reproducing the equivalent of 14 bits from an 8-bit source, and object-based HDR remastering that identifies individual objects in the image.
In addition, Sony eliminated speakers from the A1E altogether. Instead, a pair of actuators are mounted on the back of the screen, and the entire screen vibrates to reproduce stereo sound. Called Acoustic Surface, this is actually not a new idea—I first wrote about it 20 years ago—but it’s the first time I’ve heard of a TV screen being used as the transducer. I would think this might affect the image, but in the demo I saw at CES, there was no softening or other problems. This could be a problem at low frequencies, but a woofer in the integrated stand takes care of that.
The A1E comes with an integrated stand that includes a woofer, which reproduces low audio frequencies. The stand folds into the back of the panel and remains attached if you mount the TV on the wall.
Like the LG OLEDs, the A1E supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision high dynamic-range formats, and it will add HLG in a firmware update by the end of the year. HLG will likely be used in broadcasting, but that is still being finalized.
According to Kevin Brinkman, Director of Product Marketing, TV and Projectors, North America, “With over 10 years of OLED experience, Sony is pleased to introduce the BRAVIA OLED 4K HDR TV, its first large screen consumer OLED television. Our long experience with OLED technology, together with the new 4K HDR Processor X1 Extreme, meant that this was the right time to return to the consumer OLED market. The A1E features a powerful mix of our exclusive image processing with a striking new design concept that is sure to make an impression in anyone’s home.”
The smart-TV functionality is provided by Android TV, which provides access to many streaming providers, including Google Play, Amazon Video, YouTube, Netflix, and of course, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. In addition, PlayStation Vue lets you stream live TV without a cable or satellite subscription. Starting mid Spring—and for a limited time—anyone who buys a new Sony Premium 4K HDR Ultra HD TV will receive a Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 4K movie to watch on Google Play Movies & TV, a 3-month Google Play Music trial and EA’s NBA Jam.
Another interesting feature is Google Assistant built-in. With it, users can quickly access entertainment, get answers to questions, and control devices around their home. It’s also easy to find the latest blockbuster, check the score of the big game, or dim the lights.
Without further ado, here are the MSRPs announced today:
XBR-55A1E (55″): $5000
XBR-65A1E (65″): $6500
XBR-77A1E (77″): TBA
These prices fall between the LG E7 (55″ for $4500, 65″ for $6000) and G7 (65″ for $7000).