OLED-based televisions are the cream of the high-end TV crop, and until now only LG has sold them in the United States.
In 2017, Sony enters the OLED fray. The new A1E series will ship in April and include the 55-inch XBR-55A1E for $5,000 and the 65-inch XBR-65A1E for $6,500. There will also be a 77-inch size, but pricing and availability were not disclosed.
Those prices are significantly higher than what LG is charging for its 2017 OLED TVs.
To help separate itself from the LG models, the Sony A1E boasts a new audio technology. The screen of the TV itself acts as a speaker to produce sound, so the audio emanates from the picture itself. It eliminates speakers around or behind the TV for what Sony is calling a stand-less form factor.
OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode, a display technology found in phone and laptop screens too, although only LG Display makes large screen sizes with that technology. LG's OLED TVs deliver the best picture quality we've ever tested, beating LCD sets from Samsung, Sony and others in our tests over the last few years.
I expect similar image quality from Sony's OLED TV. I got a quick demo of the TV from Sony at the show and the new sound technology worked well, but don't expect high-end audio from a TV screen. The image quality was also as good as I expected, but we'll have to wait to compare it to LG in the lab to see whose OLED is better.
The A1E has 4K resolution and a flat form factor, just like LG's 2017 OLEDs, and new for 2017 they'll work with both HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR formats (just like Sony's 2017 XBR-X930E/X940E LCD TVs). Sony also talks up its processing, which is generally very good. Game on!
Sony A1E specifications
- OLED display technology
- 55-, 65- and 77-inch sizes
- HDR compatible (Dolby Vision and HDR10)
- Acoustic Surface audio technology
- Works with Google Home
- Android TV operating system
Updated March 14 with pricing and availability information.