Review: Sony Master Series ZG9
While other manufacturers are striving for the thinnest and lightest 8K TVs on the market, Sony is offering what may be the thickest and heaviest of the bunch. But, if you are looking for a TV with impressive performance with both native 8K and up-scaled 4K content, the new Sony ZG9 (U.K.) Z9G (U.S.) is worth a look. While LG is promoting the first 8K OLED and Samsung is betting on its QLED technology, Sony is sticking with its popular Backlight Master Drive LCD technology. Let’s take a look at this latest offering from Sony.
The ZG9 comes in two sizes, 85″ and 98″. The 98″ ZG9 walks the fine line between awe-inspiring and overwhelming. This may be as close to a true cinema experience you can have in your home if you have enough room. What is even more impressive, even at 98″ you would be hard pressed to pick out a single pixel on the screen. From the front, the Sony looks very similar to the competition with a slightly larger bezel. However, taking a look from the back or sides, the unit looks a lot more like an older LED LCD or even a Plasma screen. It is thick and reportedly quite heavy. But none of that should matter once you have it in place in your home cinema.
As with reviews of any of the new 8K offerings, we are limited in our ability to thoroughly review the 8K capabilities of the ZG9 due to the lack of native 8K content. However, from what was available, this TV is absolutely stunning. 8K on the ZG9 really begins to blur the line between TV and reality. The colours are so vibrant, the details so sharp, and the contrast so dynamic, that this is a whole new viewing experience. Sony makes this happen through its full-array local dimming LED back-lights controlled by their Backlight Master Drive technology. Their LED modules are each independently controlled to boost brightness where needed and reduce it where it is not. The contrast and dynamic range are incredible, especially considering this is a back-lit LCD unit.
Like Samsung and LG, Sony is not counting on consumers waiting for 8K content so they have made impressive improvements to their upscaling technology so consumers can enjoy an 8K like experience while they wait for content. Sony’s version of the upscaling technology is called X1 Ultimate processing. It is the same concept used in Sony 4K TVs, but according to Sony, the 8K version has a special algorithm that intelligently detects and analyses every object in the picture. While it is not true 8K, the results are impressive. Those purchasing the ZG9 will not likely be disappointed by the improvement to their 4K content.
While OLED makers are promoting the best wide angle viewing, Sony has made great strides in improving the viewing angles of their LCD sets. The new ZG9 offers the same wide viewing angle technology Sony introduced for its ZF9 Master Series TVs making this set viewable from nearly anywhere in the room.
Input and Outputs
When content and components become available, the HDMI 2.1 standard will be essential for 8K TVs. The increased bandwidth will be necessary for all the data that comes with this resolution. Sony is ready, including HDMI 2.1 inputs on the set. The TV is also ready for the next leap in sound, uncompressed digital audio. The ZG9 is eARC ready so that the uncompressed audio can be fed from your TV to your soundbar or receiver.
While we imagine most consumers shopping for an 8K TV plan to add a soundbar or connect to their existing audio system, Sony has added a unique sound setup to the ZG9. They have added an array of speakers on the front of the set. This configuration allows audio to sound as if it is coming directly from the screen instead of from a speaker below or to the side.