Sony’s top-of-the-line 65-inch XBR65A9F Master Series OLED smart TV showed up at our lab just as LG’s absolutely outstanding 55-inch E8PUA was exiting. The A9F shines with clever design, excellent sound, and of course that luxurious, rich picture inherent to OLED. I immediately set to wondering: Could Sony’s set reach or exceed the lofty standards LG’s E8-series set? It needs to, considering the A9F currently sells for $1,200 more than its LG competitor.

Design and features

The A9F’s most outstanding feature is, of course, its 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) OLED panel. There’s nothing in the LED-backlit LCD universe that can match the blacks and overall rich image of OLED, though there are those who prefer the brightness that can enable a good LED TV to make high dynamic range (HDR) material really pop.
a9f thin side Sony
The integrated kickstand makes it a breeze to set up the A9F on piece of furniture, but it folds in tight for wall mounting. Despite its extremely thin profile, the A9F delivers amazing sound for a flat-panel TV.

Like its forerunners, the A1E and A8F, the A9F benefits from a clever design that includes a built-in kickstand to house all its I/O ports and electronics. A detachable counterweight is provided that can be affixed to the bottom of the kickstand (the thicker part in the image above), to keep the TV stable on a stand. Without it, the TV remains light enough for wall-mounting.  
a9f rear closeup Sony
Sony’s A9F OLED TV has all the modern connectors.

The A9F’s port selection is what you’d expect from a modern TV: four HDMI 2.0 ports, with one facing to the side for quick hook-ups. There’s also coax for antennas or set-top boxes, as well as two USB ports on the back and one on the side. A single 3.5mm jack will accept composite/stereo audio via an adapter cable (not included), and there are also IR blaster and RS-232C ports.

Audio output is via both eARC (more on that in a bit) and optical S/PDIF. There’s a 3.5mm stereo headphone output as well. The users’ guide doesn’t say whether this can double as a line-level output. If you try that, start with the volume control all the way down and increase it very slowly.

Internet connectivity is provided by way of ethernet and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. There’s also support for Bluetooth 4.2.

Interface and remote

Alas, while I rate Sony TVs as some of the best in the business, that’s because of their high-quality physical design and picture—not because of the interface and remote.

The Android TV interface is constantly improving and certainly is better than it was two years ago, but it still lags a bit in efficiency and Sony’s action menus require more clicks than I consider ideal. But Android doesn’t crash anymore, and for the very first time—the video app actually enumerated all the test files on my USB stick without an issue.