With the dearth of actual 8K content material more likely to proceed for whereas but, producers have an uphill battle to persuade shoppers that an 8K TV is a wise buy within the right here and now.
With the ZH8, right here reviewed because the 75-inch KD-75ZH8 mannequin, Sony will get an enormous quantity proper. This is likely one of the punchiest TVs we’ve examined, and one of many best-sounding too. It’s additionally aggressively priced for an 8K mannequin, considerably undercutting our present Award-winner within the class.
That stated, the ZH8 additionally lags just a little behind its most important rival in a few key areas, not least of which is its lack of help for the tiny quantity of 8K footage that’s really already obtainable.
The Sony KD-75ZH8 (XBR-75Z8H within the US) was priced at £5999 ($7000) at launch, however now you can decide it up for £4999 ($4998).
Ought to you might have the area and urge for food for an excellent larger 8K set, the 85in KD-85ZH8 (XBR-85Z8H) is at present obtainable for £8499 ($9000).
A 75in TV is at all times going to be a bodily daunting proposition, however the Sony KD-75ZH8 is much more imposing than equally sized rivals because of its chunky, industrial design. In case you anticipate a high-end TV to be little greater than a super-slim display, you is likely to be upset by the ZH8’s comparatively thick bezels and eight.4cm depth – the Samsung QE75Q950TS is simply 1.5cm deep. That stated, there’s an plain stylishness to the Sony, its solidity, straight edges and pointy corners amounting to a severely premium assertion.
Sony KD-75ZH8 tech specs
Display sort LCD w/ direct LED backlight
Working system Android TV 9.0
HDR codecs HDR10, Dolby Imaginative and prescient, HLG
It’s arduous to think about a pedestal stand that wouldn’t buckle beneath the 48kg weight of the ZH8, so it’s little shock that Sony has opted for sturdy, low-profile toes as a substitute. These look greatest when positioned on the backside corners of the set, however a narrower placement can be an possibility. With this association, the large TV will stand on any furnishings that’s no less than 62cm large – assuming it’s sturdy sufficient to take the 50kg weight with toes connected.
Within the field, there are a variety of plastic panels that may be connected to the rear of the set, concealing connections and creating an interesting chequerboard sample. These connections embrace 4 HDMIs, considered one of which is HDMI 2.1 licensed. You may assume which means it has the complete suite of superior HDMI options, however that’s not the case: whereas the ZH8 helps 8K@60Hz, 4K@120Hz (also called HFR) and eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel), VRR (Variable Refresh Fee) and ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) are lacking. The absence of these final two options can be disappointing to next-gen players: the Xbox Series X makes use of each and the PS5 is due a VRR replace within the not too distant future.
As is the norm for all however probably the most budget-oriented of Sony’s TVs, the ZH8 makes use of Android TV as its operating system. Android TV will get higher with every iteration, and model 9 isn’t any totally different. As with all Android TVs, the Android portion is put in over a extra practical, core working system, and it makes for a barely extra disjointed person expertise than you get from the likes of Samsung and LG. The sensible platform feels extra like utilizing an exterior supply than it does a core part, for instance. That stated, Android TV brings bonuses comparable to Chromecast and Google Assistant (the set can be ‘Works with Alexa’ licensed).
Android TV is already fairly nicely appointed when it comes to apps, however Sony has additionally labored arduous to fill any gaps. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV, Google Play Motion pictures and Rakuten are all right here, in no less than HDR10 and most with Dolby Vision (the ZH8 doesn’t help HDR10+, as is the norm for Sony). For the UK, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5, Now TV and BT Sport are all current, too. On the music entrance, Spotify, Tidal and Deezer are built-in, and whereas Apple Music and Amazon Music aren’t, you should use Chromecast to solid music to the TV from these apps in your telephone.
By way of core expertise, the ZH8 is an LCD set with a direct LED backlight, and it makes use of the Image Processor X1 Final chip, which is Sony’s strongest processor till the 2021 Cognitive Processor XR makes its debut with the corporate’s 2021 TVs in a couple of months’ time. The headline options listed here are Object Based mostly Tremendous Decision, which is designed to intelligently analyse and improve the definition of particular person objects in a picture, and an enhanced model of Object Based mostly HDR Remaster, which applies the same strategy to distinction.
Naturally, you’ll need to watch 8K content material in your new 8K TV, however that’s even more durable to do on the ZH8 than it’s with Samsung’s 8K TVs. The one commercially obtainable 8K content material out there’s streamed by YouTube within the AV1 format, which the ZH8 doesn’t help. You could solely be lacking out on aerial footage of pretty landscapes, however the truth that the tiny quantity of 8K content material out there’s unplayable in your costly 8K TV is massively irritating. What’s extra, it raises questions concerning the extent to which the ZH8 is future-proofed: it appears more and more seemingly that the AV1 format is the one which can be utilised for 8K by different streaming companies, together with Netflix.
We’re capable of watch 8K content material on the ZH8 for this evaluation through the use of a Sony-supplied media participant containing a handful of demo clips. With these clips, the ZH8 places in a surprising efficiency that’s so crisp, dynamic and lifelike that you simply really feel you can step proper into every scene. Nevertheless, that’s not an expertise you’re going to have the ability to recreate at dwelling.
As a substitute, what actually issues is how the ZH8 performs with the content material you do have entry to proper now, with the precedence being 4K HDR. We insert Blade Runner 2049, considered one of our most demanding 4K Blu-rays, into our participant, and are instantly impressed with the outcomes. What strikes you first concerning the ZH8’s efficiency is how punchy and vibrant it’s, notably in very high-contrast eventualities. Most TVs draw back from absolutely illuminating the white textual content that seems from the black background at the start of the movie, for instance, however the ZH8 has no such reservations – this might nicely be the brightest rendition of this scene-setting copy we’ve seen.
This excessive distinction functionality interprets nicely to the movie as an entire. As Okay travels round LA on foot and by flying automobile, the neon indicators and holographic adverts bounce out of the miserable dinginess of the remainder of town.
The effectiveness of that punch is additional enhanced by the depth of the blacks. It’s not fairly OLED ranges of excellent blackness, however the ZH8 will get a lot nearer than most LCD TVs, whereas additionally proving a dab hand at digging up darkish particulars: on high of that putting distinction, you get fantastically delicate shadows, with subsequent to nothing being misplaced to the gloom.
Nevertheless, there’s an issue right here, and that’s backlight blooming. There are fairly apparent halos of sunshine round very vibrant objects on very darkish backgrounds, and lightweight steadily creeps into the black bars on the high and backside whenever you’re watching an ultra-widescreen movie. It is sufficient to be distracting at instances, which is the very last thing you need whenever you’re making an attempt to sink proper right into a film.
The ZH8 can be just a little tender and flat in its efficiency in contrast with the Samsung QE75Q950TS, which upscales 4K content material in such a manner that you can nearly be fooled into considering you have been watching 8K. The Sony isn’t able to pulling off the identical trick, and the picture doesn’t leap from the display in fairly the identical manner.
That stated, there’s a naturalism to the ZH8’s efficiency that few can match. Its edges aren’t as sharp as these of the Samsung Q950TS, however there’s a smoothness and subtlety to the presentation that’s totally convincing. It’s considerably higher with movement, too, smoothing and sharpening all the things with none shimmer or disagreeable artificiality. Its rivals are closing the hole on this regard, however Sony stays out in entrance.
Arguably the best contributor to the ZH8’s naturalism is its color replica. It’s able to gorgeous vibrancy, nevertheless it’s additionally fantastically delicate and nuanced, delivering each character’s distinctive pores and skin tone, each constructing’s inside lighting, and each neon signal with unquestionable authenticity. Others may entice the attention just a little extra successfully, however this Sony (like a lot of its siblings) delivers on the creator’s intent in a manner that few can match.
Dropping all the way down to Looper in 1080p, that total authenticity stays a energy, and it’s really sharper and extra detailed than the Samsung Q950TS. That stated, it’s a good bit noisier, too, exaggerating the intentional movie grain to a level that some will discover distracting. It may be toned down by lowering sharpness and/or rising noise discount, however doing so softens the image an excessive amount of for our tastes. The right stability feels simply out of attain, however this is a matter that you simply’ll encounter solely sometimes as few movies lately have this degree of grain.
These qualities with Full HD content material roughly translate whenever you swap to standard-definition materials. We play our trusty Soiled Harry DVD and the efficiency is sharp and detailed, which is spectacular when you think about the quantity of image data that the TV is creating itself. Once more, it’s effortlessly pure and convincing, notably when it comes to colors, though there’s nonetheless extra image noise than you’ll get from rival fashions.
Sony has been far more inventive than its rivals lately when it comes to TV sound, most notably by turning the whole panel of its OLED fashions right into a speaker. That function, known as Acoustic Floor Know-how, isn’t attainable with an LCD mannequin such because the ZH8, however Sony has sought to recreate the impact (which it calls ‘Sound from Image’) through the use of a few tweeters to vibrate the body of the TV. These work along side two forward-facing drivers mounted on the backside to make it appear as if the sound is coming straight from the display, whereas two rear-mounted woofers fill out the presentation.
All that effort has paid off handsomely. The ZH8 is evident and direct in its presentation, with the sound and film linked in a manner that’s supremely participating. That is no one-trick efficiency, although – the sound can be detailed and dynamic by the requirements of a TV sound system, making for an total supply that’s each participating and thrilling.
Dolby Atmos is supported and, along side the Acoustic Auto Calibration function, which tailors the audio efficiency to your room, provides acceptable soundtracks loads of scope and scale with out sacrificing that directness. Few if any TV-integrated sound programs can fill a room fairly as successfully, whereas additionally clearly projecting dialogue.
You possibly can even use the ZH8 because the centre speaker of a encompass sound bundle, do you have to want, utilizing the usual speaker terminals on the rear of the set. We wouldn’t advocate that, although – whereas the ZH8 sounds mighty spectacular for a TV, even one of the best AV amplifier will wrestle to tonally combine it with a set of conventional audio system.
There’s a lot that the ZH8 will get proper, most notably its supremely genuine image efficiency and really spectacular sound, however we will’t give it our wholehearted advice.
8K TVs are already a tough promote, and the truth that the ZH8 received’t play the tiny quantity of 8K content material that’s already obtainable is an actual concern, not least as a result of it raises doubts about its capacity to play different 8K content material that may seem sooner or later. What’s extra, it doesn’t make use its further pixels with 4K content material the way in which that the rival Samsung Q950TS does.
As such, the ZH8 might as nicely be a 4K TV. Even considered on these phrases it is nearly well worth the full 5 stars, however the excessive value and backlight blooming maintain it again to a 4.
- Image 4
- Sound 5
- Options 4
Learn our information to the best 8K televisions
Learn our Samsung QE75Q950TS review