Technology

Premium Sony 8k mega-TV takes home cinema to an epic new level

Sony’s range topping ZH8 8K HDR Full Array LED TV is now available in the UK. The new model comes in huge and ultra huge screen sizes (aka 75- and 85-inches), and boasts a number of innovations to maximise sound and vision. It’s also a good deal cheaper than comparably sized 8k OLED models.

Here’s why we’re excited…

The new flagship set boasts Sony’s X1 Ultimate picture processor, and features 8k X-Reality PRO upscaling, with Object-based Super Resolution, to make the most of regular HD and 4k programme sources. Which is just as well, as there’s no source of native 8k, so everything you’ll watch will be upscaled 4k or HD, at least for the time being.

The set also has Full Array Local Dimming and Boosting technology, for precise and effective HDR. Contrast is further enhanced by 8K X-tended Dynamic Range PRO, which adjusts brightness for more dynamic HDR peaks.

Sony’s 8k X-Reality PRO upscaling makes the most of regular HD and 4k programme sources. Which is just as well…

Sony’s ZH8 is a beast of a screen

Sony has also innovated when it comes to sound. The set introduces Acoustic Multi-Audio with a Frame tweeter. This technology literally vibrates the frame of the TV, allowing the frame of the TV itself to deliver treble audio, so that sound appears to be coming directly from the screen.

It sounds nuts, but it works! The Luxe Review was invited behind the scenes at this year’s CES tech show in Las Vegas, to have an early preview of the ZH8, and we were blown away.

Image clarity is astounding. An 8k TV has four times the pixel density of 4k (that’s 33 million pixels, count ‘em), and Sony makers every one of them count.

The brand describes the image density offered by 8k as ‘realness’. The sense of texture created by the increased PPI (pixels per inch) makes for a rather different  experience than everyday 4k models.

Amazingly, that Frame Tweeter also works well. The treble sound is sharp and detailed, and works well with the set’s conventional speaker array.   A run through of The Greatest Showman confirmed the set sounds ludicrously musical for a TV.

A candid look at the Sony Frame Tweeter

Sony told TLR that it had to experiment with a variety of materials, before it found a frame material that would vibrate musically as required.

The set also boasts advanced gaming support, with support for 8K 60fps video as well as 4K 120fps high frame rate, which is expected to come with the next generation of games consoles, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.

To make the most of Netflix, there’s Netflix Calibrated Mode which presents a picture that matches a Netflix studio evaluation master. The ZH8 is also IMAX Enhanced, ready for IMAX Enhanced content, of which there is not much at all.

And if you want the screen to match Hollywood mastering monitors (an area Sony knows quite a lot about), there’s a Custom image preset which is precisely tuned to reflect the visual characteristics of its own BVM-X300 studio mastering monitor. We’ve seen them running side by side, and the similarities are astonishing – only the ZH8 is considerably bigger.

The ZH8 has a full array backlight – great for images but hardly thin

Another new feature is Ambient Optimization, which optimises picture and sound quality in any environment. This sensor-based adjustment optimises picture and sound quality to suit the viewing environment, automatically adjusting picture brightness in bright rooms and reducing it in dark rooms. It even alters audio, depending on the kind of furniture and soft furnishings you have.

The ZH8 also has Dolby Vision and supports Dolby Atmos compatible. And for the first time, the ZH8 comes with a backlit remote control, so you can see what you’re doing in the dark.

Naturally it’s smart too. The Android TV OS supports Google Assistant and has Chromecast built-in. It’ll also work with Amazon Alexa enabled gizmos. Apple users can also use AirPlay 2.

So how much will all this televisual wonderment set you back? The ZH8 75-inch sells for £5,999, while the 85-inch ZH8 sells for £8,999. Believe us, in the world of flagship superscreens, this is chump change. Get your pre-orders in today.

About Steve May

Creator of Home Cinema Choice magazine, Steve muses and reviews for Trusted Reviews, T3, TechRadar, Home Cinema Choice, Ideal Home, The Luxe Review, Channel News and the i newspaper. He’s also the editor of professional home cinema website Inside CI, and contributor to industry trade magazine ERT. He's on Twitter and Instagram as @SteveMay_UK

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