I have strong feelings about unboxing TVs. Before we even start to talk about Sony’s latest and greatest, let’s talk about unboxing. No matter who makes the TV, unboxing and setup is always a nightmare of unwieldy cardboard. Once you’re through that circle of hell, you’re faced with an ouroboros of plastic bags, nested together with all the elegance of a pile of swarming rats doing their best to form a rat king. Next up, you have to find the cables— those are often entombed inside a sarcophagus of shrieking styrofoam.
So when the Sony A8H showed up, I rolled up my sleeves, pulled out my box cutter, and enlisted a family member to help me unbox and set the thing up. I should’ve been sporting a bullwhip and a fedora (m’television). What I didn’t expect was just how quickly and painlessly we’d get it done—about 15 minutes. I was dumbstruck. Surely we were missing something. This is a trick, I thought. Sony sent me a dummy TV, and it’s going to shatter into a million snakes any minute. I waited, and waited. No snakes. It wasn’t even set up yet, and I knew this TV was something different.
The Set Up
The TV is braced by a couple of styrofoam endcaps in the box, but the packaging is otherwise minimal. Once you pull it out of its protective plastic, just choose which stand configuration you want (tall enough for a soundbar or shorter to hide cables) and pop the legs into the bottom. You’re done. There’s no need to go find a screwdriver and awkwardly lay the TV on a table while you wrestle the legs into the stand. Nope. The A8H is a very polite houseguest—it didn’t even leave too many styro-crumbs on my floor.
The onscreen setup is familiar if you’ve ever used an Android TV before. Or any other device that hails from Google, really. You sign into your Wi-Fi, then your Google account, and the TV does the rest. The menus are snappy and quick, a big improvement over the laggy A8G model. Navigating menus on that TV was an exercise in frustration. But this year’s model isn’t without faults. Android TV is often clunky; managing your apps can be a pain, and so can removing all the promoted and preset content on your TV’s home screen.
Finding the right menus for basic setup is easy enough, though, especially for setting up a soundbar. And if you’re investing in a TV like this, you really should get a soundbar. The Sony A8H boasts a set of speakers inside the display itself, and the sound is decent. It’s like listening to a movie on your Apple earbuds. It’s fine. For a cinematic experience to match the killer display (more on that in a bit), you should absolutely pair it with good speakers or a soundbar.
Even though it looms in my living room like an obsidian idol, a TV becomes a part of the decor after a while. Especially when it’s not in use. But every now and then a TV comes along and I just can’t stop gawking. I’ve had the Sony A8H in my living room for a few weeks now, and I still catch myself stealing glances over my shoulder while trying to get work done. It’s a 65-inch pane of glass as black as the night sky, and it’s thinner than my smartphone. Even when it’s turned off it cuts an impressive figure. Like a black hole, the A8H has an inescapable gravity.
I found myself rewatching movies and TV series in 4K just to see familiar characters and vistas come to life and bloom across the massive OLED display. The A8H seems to imbue everything with depth and clarity, even movies you’ve seen a thousand times—like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Blade Runner 2049, and Coco. Animated films in particular look incredible on this TV.
Sony’s onboard processing gets better every year, and those processing gains lead to a clearer, more vibrant, and lifelike picture. Even compared to last year’s model, the A8G, the picture quality is much better. This is a TV that handles color, contrast, and brightness with a deft hand, no tweaking needed. I barely touched the advanced picture settings—except to turn off motion smoothing, because motion smoothing is an abomination and makes everything look like a mid-’90s soap opera. Suffice it to say, the factory calibration here is top notch.
It’s not all rosy though. As much as I love the picture quality on the A8H, it struggles with dark scenes in moderately well lit rooms. Despite drawing all the shades and cranking the brightness all the way up, nighttime scenes in movies, shows, and games are very difficult to discern. This issue goes away as the sun goes down, but if it’s a bright day out and there’s a window near the A8H, draw the curtains and try not to watch anything visually dark like The Dark Knight. This is a common issue for OLED TVs.
I normally recommend people buy last year’s TV to save money. Most of the time, TVs don’t change much year-over-year. But every now and then we get a TV that beats its predecessor by a mile. That’s the Sony A8H. It’s an incredible TV, and it’s absolutely worth considering if you’re in the market for something in this size.
It’s not cheap, coming in at $2,300. These days you can pick up a reasonably good 65-inch 4K TV for a quarter of that price. Some of our favorites are even priced well below the A8H. As always, shop around. There might very well be a TV that fits your needs better than this one.
But if your heart’s set on OLED, and if you want a picture so lifelike and vibrant it looks like you’re peering through a window into another world, you’ll be hard pressed to do better than the Sony A8H.