Sony recently launched a host of devices that take their consumer products catalogue up several notches – the MASTER Series of 4K HDR TVs with the A9F OLED and Z9F LCD are thought to be the pinnacle of picture quality at home, the noise cancellation WH-1000XM3 headphones might just rival Bose’s till-now industry best ones and the wireless and waterproof WF-SP900 earphones are a very handy set for everyday use.
4K HDR TVs
The new A9F and Z9F series TVs are part of Sony’s MASTER Series (a name the company gives its TV models with the highest picture quality). With the aim to provide audio and video closest to the creator’s intent, both the A9F and Z9F MASTER Series models come equipped with a newly developed, next-generation Picture Processor X1 Ultimate.
What does that mean exactly?
Sony’s flagship A9F TV has a Pixel Contrast Booster – which is Sony’s original panel controller for OLED. What it does is it enhances the pictures with extra detail and texture.
Along with the picture booster, the A9F TV also has top-of-the-line sound quality with the new Acoustic Surface Audio+ technology. We tested this in an average living room size setup, and the effect is that of a kickass home entertainment system – with two subwoofers on the sides, the A9F has a ‘TV Centre Speaker Mode’ that allows the Acoustic Surface Audio+ we mentioned earlier to be used as the centre speaker of a home theatre system. So the TV becomes the centre speaker. We watched bits from last year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming with this setting, and it was like actually being in a movie theatre!
The MASTER Series Z9F (with 75” and 65” models) is a 4K HDR LCD TV with better Object-based Super Resolution, Object-based HDR remaster, Super Bit Mapping 4K HDR and Dual database processing. That may sound like a lot of 4K TV jargon – it essentially minimises the colour change when seen from the side, so that you see true shades and hues from wherever you watch the TV from. Which is a really neat feature to have in a TV – for e.g. this is really useful when you’re busy in the open plan kitchen watching the TV that’s playing in the living area. A full-array LED Backlight adds ultra-high contrast to the TV and a ‘Netflix Calibrated Mode’ ensures that what you’re viewing on your TV is closest to the way the content was originally intended to be viewed.
The A9F Master Series televisions have been available in Australia since October. The Z9F Master Series televisions will be available in early 2019.
WH-1000XM3 noise cancelling headphones
These are the newest addition to Sony’s 1000X family. Like its predecessor, these headphones drown out transport noise; they also cancel out daily background sounds – such as street noise and human voices. We tried using these headphones with simulated airplane travel noises, the buzz of an average office and a busy station – and the headphones worked great!
A very cool feature of these headphones is that you can customise your sound with the ‘Quick Attention Mode’ – which lets you hear what’s going on around you without taking your headphones off.
- Just place your right hand over the right headpiece to decrease the volume of the music instantly. This allows you to quickly respond to anyone around you. For e.g., at the cafe on your way to work, you can use this mode to place your order without having to take your headphones off while still politely talking to the barista.
There are also other ways to control the sound on these headphones – you can swipe the touchpad on the right headpiece to turn the volume up/down or change the track.
Another improvement Sony has made on these new headphones is having the ‘Customisable Automatic Power Off’ mode on the companion Headphones Connect app – which essentially means that the headphones can stay on in the Noise Cancellation mode without being connected to a device. For e.g. imagine, while flying, you want noise cancellation without listening to music. This is a feature Bose has had for a while in their noise cancelling headphones, and it’s good to see Sony get on board as well.
The WH-1000XM3 headphones offer 30 hours of battery life with noise cancelling and a Bluetooth connection. The new and improved ‘Quick Charging’ function provides five hours of wireless playback after just ten minutes of charging.
The WH-1000XM3 headphones have been available in Australia since September.
WF-SP900 truly wireless sports headphones
Wireless and smartphone-free, Sony’s new WF-SP900 “truly wireless” sports headphones are meant to be the perfect accessory to listen to your music while exercising. With a Bluetooth connection, you can enjoy listening to music with these headphones for three hours (and up to 12 hours with the charging case).
It’s become somewhat of a trend to refer to wireless headphones as “truly wireless”. Of course, the wireless-ness of these headphones, in water, means that you have to resort to accessing stored memory – in this case, you can enjoy music stored in the WF-SP900’s 4GB memory (roughly 920 songs) and six hours of battery life (this goes up to 21 hours with the charging case).
These earphones are obviously water-proof, and with a IPX5/8 rating, the earbuds allow you to swim in the pool or the sea up to 2m depth. They are also washable, so you can keep them clean after an intense and sweaty workout.
What really separates these Sony earphones from others (for e.g. JBL’s Dive earphones we reviewed a couple of months back) is not so much the wireless-ness, but the fact that these are resistant to salt water and sand/dust. Which makes them a great accessory for the beach!
The WF-SP900’s version of the ‘Quick Attention Mode’ is the ‘Ambient Sound Mode’ – with this on, you can choose from the ‘Normal’ mode (which lets you hear everyday sounds, while you’re listening to your music in the background) or from the ‘Voice’ mode (which lets you listen to your music without distraction while still catching announcements etc).
The WF-SP900 earphones are available in Australia from this month for SRP $499.95.