This is why you should buy a $4000 TV
IF YOU are still getting by with a standard flat-panel TV, you could be forgiven for wondering why on Earth you'd want to buy a new $4000 TV.
But having experienced what a high-end unit like the current Sony A8F is like, the answer is going to be dazzlingly clear - and it couldn't be more perfectly timed, too.
The A8F might sound like something out of sci-fi, but is in fact a 55-inch (or 65-inch, depending on model) 4K OLED TV.
Razor-sharp images are the order of the day, with the screen displaying extremely deep blacks along with brilliant and vibrant colours, and delivered outstanding results across a range of applications including Netflix, Blu-ray movies and consoles - and soon Foxtel.
In an Australian first, Foxtel has announced the launch of its own 4K live channel, which will deliver next-generation TV to its subscribers and redefine the "lean back" experience in homes.
Aussie cricket fans are set to be the first to benefit from the visual grunt of channel 444, with Foxtel planning to screen Australian Tests and One Day Internationals in ultra crisp 4K resolution alongside documentaries, concerts, movies and more.
In addition to the 4K resolution, the HDR (High Dynamic Range) feature adds more vibrancy and colour to images on screen, while the OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) display offers superb contrast and very deep black colours.
Being from a well-known manufacturer and with an RRP of $3999 for the 55in version, you'd hope the A8F delivered the goods in terms of a top-quality television set - and it absolutely does, in pretty much every way you're likely to want.
It's an incredibly slim set-up and the A8F's frame is minimal indeed, meaning pretty much what you see is nearly all screen, and what I particularly liked was how unobtrusive the set was overall.
You'd think a 55-inch TV would be a very obvious feature in the lounge, occupying a lot of real estate while ostentatiously declaring "BEHOLD!" to everyone who entered the room, but the A8F sat quietly and understated in the corner, only revealing its full effect when turned on.
The sound was very good as well, being clear but also having depth and bass to it - TV speakers are generally pretty unremarkable so I was pleasantly surprised by the A8F's sound. The A8F has a subwoofer built into it, and uses a proprietary 'acoustic screen' technology where the sound appears to come (at least in theory) from different parts of the screen. While I couldn't say how effective that was, I can say the sound was easily the best I've experienced from TV speakers.
The rear of the TV includes cover panels to keep unsightly cables away, but being honest - if you're looking at the back of the television for any reason beyond plugging a portable storage device or an HDMI cable into it, you're doing it wrong.
If you want to feel like a Star Trek bridge commander, the A8F has voice command as well, which enables you to use the TV's functions without a lot of button pressing on the remote control.
Being a Smart TV, the A8F features an Android operating system with apps for various streaming services including Netflix, YouTube and Google Play - you can connect the TV to the internet via wireless or an ethernet cable.
It can, of course, also display free-to-air TV, although the picture quality is dependent on the broadcaster and at the moment none of them have a 4K signal so don't be surprised when the stuff you see on free-to-air TV doesn't look as good as it does when it's being streamed or watched on Blu-ray.
Speaking of Blu-ray, the movie performance from the A8F was outstanding too, with titles ranging from Lawrence Of Arabia to Scott Pilgrim vs The World to The Adventures Of Tintin displaying beautifully as well.
There's plenty for gamers to like as well, with both PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X games looking amazing on screen too - God Of War and Forza Motorsport 7 both looked particularly impressive - and even older titles received noticeable benefits from the 4K screen.
Basically, regardless of what you're watching or playing, it will look light years better on the Sony A8F's display than a standard 1080p HD TV.
The major issues I encountered with the unit was that it could sometimes be a bit sluggish when inputting commands via the remote control, and the boot-up time when turning the TV on could be on the noticeable side too. The ultra-low stand also means the TV appears to be sitting almost flat on the surface, so there's no room for a sound bar in that space, which is something to be mindful of if that matters to you.
Broadly though, the Sony A8F is an excellent TV which I have been extremely impressed with.
If you're looking for a higher-end smart TV to provide a top-drawer viewing experience, the Sony A8F offers pretty much everything you could need in an attractive package with plenty of functionality. It is well worth looking into if you're considering a new TV and your budget can stretch to $4000.
Just keep in mind: Once you've got one, you won't want to go back to your old TV.
Royce Wilson is an experienced Brisbane-based games and technology writer. Continue the conversation on Twitter: @RoyceWilsonAu