The Sony KD-55A1 is arguably the most innovative high-end TV you can buy right now. It combines a peerless OLED picture performance with eye-catching industrial design and a groundbreaking new approach to TV audio, with Acoustic Surface technology meaning the screen is also the speaker.
Being a design icon, the A1 doesn’t use anything as vulgar as a conventional pedestal stand. Instead it prefers to recline on a hinged support, which also happens to ingeniously house an integrated 8cm subwoofer and assorted connectivity.
This languid pose translates to a 6 degree recline, so make sure your AV furniture is trendy and low, so you can watch it at the right angle. Minimalism is the name of the game.
There’s a vanishingly thin bezel and no visible speakers. That’s because the panel itself creates audio, courtesy of two sonic actuators bonded onto the rear. These vibrate, creating high and mid-range stereo audio (and no, that doesn’t mean the picture vibrates as well). The total power output is a remarkably powerful 50 watts – 2x20w going to the stereo actuators, with 10W reserved for the onboard subwoofer.
The remote control, by contrast, is nothing fancy but does the requisite job.
In short, picture quality is breathtaking.
Sony’s 4K HDR X1 Extreme image engine does an outstanding job with both 4K and regular HD sources. Blacks are genuinely deep, fine detail is high and the set’s Triluminos colour gamut ravishingly wide.
The screen’s HDR performance is pronounced. HDR10, DolbyVision and HLG are all supported, while object-based HDR remastering makes a class leading fist of ‘upscaling’ regular SDR material. The latest iteration of Sony Super bit-mapping technology also removes banding from less than perfect streaming services.
All this conspires to make for a superb home cinema screen. However OLED’s ability to deliver intense black can benefit more than just movies. Playing Resident Evil Biohazard (PS4) on the A1 is far more spine-chilling than exploring it on a regular LCD TV. The impenetrable black areas outside the beam of your flashlight become absolutely terrifying.