There seems very little point in beating around the bush here, so let’s get to it right away: As far as picture quality goes, this is the best little OLED TV you can buy. Granted, there isn’t much to choose from, but “the best” is always “the best”, right? And furthermore, the KD-48A9 is more than capable of giving some larger, more expensive alternatives a run for their money.
There just doesn’t seem to be any flaws in its game. Viewing a Netflix stream of the extravagant Dolby Vision / Dolby Atmos Drive to Survive (this isn’t the first time a dull and deadly sport has been turned into a compelling docu-drama, and almost certainly not the last), the Sony is laid back, effortlessly impressive. It has those infinitely deep black tones that are the hallmark of OLED, but carries them with loads of detail. Its ability to provide clean whites, especially brilliant whites, brings out the contrasts on the screen. The color palette from which it draws inspiration is extraordinarily wide and varied, with punch, subtlety and detail available in all shades. When it comes to this aspect of imaging, the Sony is second to none.
And in so many other ways, too, it’s great. A racing program is, inevitably, quite heavy on on-screen movement – and the KD-48A9 has no problem controlling it, describing it, and making it as natural and compelling as possible. There is no shimmering of the edges, no hesitation, no doubling of images – just a movement that is rigorously organized and described with confidence.
These levels of image control, sharpness and detail, the subtlety of colors, the breadth of contrast, and the totally naturalistic ability with skin tones almost completely take the Sony out of the equation. When it is operating at its peak, it is almost like looking out a window.
Even Netflix’s ‘calibrated’ mode can’t get in the way of the A9. Yes, the images do get a bit coarser, a bit darker, and a bit less exciting – but unlike some rivals who seem to be under the sway of the streaming service’s authority, the Sony does display a light and skillful touch. .
The drawbacks are almost comical. Have the Sony scale properly vintage content, and inevitably its images will soften and sag somewhat – but given half-decent standard-definition elements to work with, the KD-48A9 is a great one. composed and informative watch.