It’s possible to get a 65-inch TV at under Rs 75,000 today, and a lot of buyers have been opting for affordable brands simply for the benefits of a large screen. However, you often won’t find the best picture quality on these affordable TVs, and you might also find the resolution and features falling a bit short. For the best quality, you will want to turn to brands such as Sony, Samsung and LG among others, who adopt the latest technology and build arguably the best TVs you can buy.
Naturally, a flagship-grade TV will not come cheap. We reviewed the Rs 449,000 Samsung QLED TV a while ago, and came away impressed. Today, we’re looking at the most direct competitor to Samsung’s QLED lineup, the Sony KD-65A1 OLED 4K Smart TV. With the absolute best that can be offered from a TV, Sony has stepped up its game with the KD-65A1. Priced at Rs 464,900, this OLED TV from Sony promises a lot for the price. Find out if it’s worth that mammoth price tag in our review.
Unique design unlike anything you’ve seen before
TVs typically sit on stands that raise them a bit above the level of the table or platform they are on, or are wall-mounted. In the case of the Sony KD-65A1, the TV’s table-mounting stand is at the back, and the TV leans against in rather than sitting on it. As a result, the Sony doesn’t quite sit at 90-degrees to the surface it’s on, instead leaning ever-so-slightly backwards. At first I thought this would be a cause for concern during viewing, but the tilt is small enough to not cause any visible distortion or viewing discomfort.
The TV screen itself is huge at 65-inches diagonally, and has incredibly slim bezels. As a result of the lack of a visible stand under the TV, what you get is a screen that’s almost entirely screen, with very little non-screen space to get in the way. You even have to go hunting to find the Sony logo; it’s in the bottom-left corner, barely visible unless you specifically go looking for it. However, this type of design comes with some significant shortcomings than I believe aren’t made up for by the advantages.
For one, the TV and its stand require a wide enough table to sit safely on, and creates a huge footprint. If you’re wall-mounting the TV, the stand would still need to be folded in, which will create a large gap between the TV and the wall. If you’re thinking, ‘why not do away with the stand entirely?’, it’s because the TV’s ports and hardware sit on the stand. The panel is quite literally just a panel, with no hardware inside.
Depending on how and where you place the TV, the ports and controls can be rather difficult to access. I usually had to lie on the floor and stretch my hand in a precariously twisted way to be able to plug in or remove a USB drive, and that’s actually the most accessible port. If I had to get to the back of the TV for the HDMI or any other ports, it involved climbing and careful body contortion in order to avoid knocking the TV over. Needless to say, it’s best that you ensure all peripherals and cables are plugged in at the time of installation, along with extenders where necessary. There’s also a fabric cover for the back stand, but this is rather unnecessary as the back isn’t visible in most cases.
Android TV makes things easy
Of all the smart TV interfaces, I’ve always found Android TV to be the best of the lot. Although Samsung and LG are close behind in terms of quality of their interfaces, Android TV is undoubtedly the most polished, easy to use and well-designed. Sony has used Android TV for its high-end smart TVs for a while now, and the interface has also been adopted by Sharp and Philips, along with a handful of smaller manufacturers such as TCL, Vestel and Hisense.
The tiled interface is designed for comfortable use with a remote from typical television viewing distances. There’s also a Chromecast built into the TV for screen mirroring, and casting from specific apps on an Android smartphone. Android TV gives you access to a small but useful selection of curated apps for smart TVs, including streaming services, content apps, social media and more. The TVs remote has quick access buttons for Netflix and Google Play Movies, but is unfortunately an infra-red powered remote, unlike the RF and Bluetooth remotes on other top-end TVs. This means that you must point the remote at the TV to use it, which is a bit disappointing and feels very ‘low-tech’.
There are plenty of games available, and you can use a Sony Playstation 4 controller to play games on the TV as well. YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are the best apps available to use on Android TV, but keep in mind that data usage on these is high as the system automatically takes the best resolution available for streaming, which can be full-HD or 4K depending on the service you use.
Technologically advanced image and sound
As is usually the case with a high-end Sony TV, the KD-65A1 is full of the latest technology, and can be considered state-of-the-art by any standards. The TV has a 4K high dynamic range OLED screen. While OLED screens on smartphones are relatively common now, the technology is reserved for only the most premium TVs because of the higher cost of producing large OLED panels.
OLED does not use a typical backlit liquid crystal display, instead using an organic material that is illuminated when an electrical current is passed through it. Each OLED pixel therefore generates its own light, thereby allowing for better black levels due to the ability to shut off pixels entirely, as well as better colors across the spectrum. While LG has been in the business of OLED TVs for a while now, the KD-65A1 is Sony’s first effort at the new kind of display.
Another big change is the speakers, which, if you take a look around the TV, are nowhere to be seen. Yet, sound magically emanates from the TV, thanks to interesting new tech in place. Called acoustic surface, the speaker drivers are placed behind the screen, and sound actually comes out of the screen itself. The first taste of this technology was on last year’s Xiaomi Mi MIX, and the Sony KD-65A1 uses a similar implementation of the technology. The panel itself is porous enough for the sound to pass through unperturbed, and it’s as loud and clean as you’d expect from typical speakers.
Thanks to Sony’s top-end image processing and the quality of the 4K HDR OLED panel itself, picture is fantastic all around. I watched all kinds of content on the TV, including 4K-HDR, 4K, Full-HD and standard definition video, both through files as well as streamed from online services. Naturally, the best performance can be seen with 4K-HDR content, which boasts quite possibly the best colors I’ve seen on a modern television. The picture is natural, sharp, and has fluid motion. With the fight for doing HDR best heating up between Sony and Samsung, it seems that Sony has the edge this time. The KD-65A1 is in fact the best functional display of HDR you can buy today.
Even with non-HDR content, the color is about as close to real as you can expect, with Sony’s superior processing and graphics-handling engine doing a fantastic job in color and resolution upscaling. Thanks to the size of the TV itself, it’s best enjoyed with 4K content. Upscaling with full-HD content is decent as well, and naturally this TV makes sense if you watch a lot of high-resolution content, using high-resolution sources such as an HD set-top box, Blu-Ray Player, modern gaming console or a high-resolution streaming service and plan. ALSO READ: DishTV becomes the first DTH player in India to offer all users HD channels
The TV’s only significant weakness is with low-resolution content. Standard definition viewing is weak, since the nature of the OLED panel means that it’s difficult for the TV to upscale 576p content to fit on the 4K screen. I did try watching Narcos on Netflix screen-mirrored using Google Cast from my smartphone, and the experience was fairly poor. Additionally, the sheer size of the screen means that you need enough viewing distance between yourself and the TV, or you could be facing more unpleasantness in the form of headaches.
Sony, alongside Samsung and LG, today sits on top of the television game. With a firm focus on quality over economization, the Japanese brand strives first to build good TVs, and then make them affordable. It’s a reputation that the company has built and nurtured over the course of its decades in the TV industry; with a Sony TV, you’re assured of a certain level of quality.
The Sony KD-65A1 4K HDR Smart TV is cutting edge when it comes to design, picture, sound and function. While that unique design does have its drawbacks, the TV more than makes up for it in performance. Although the price is undoubtedly high at Rs 464,900, this is as good a TV as it gets. If price is no bar and performance is what you seek, the Sony KD-65A1 should be on your audition list.