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Sony ZG9 review (KD-85ZG9 KD-98ZG9): This breathtaking 8K TV is now £5,000 cheaper

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £13999
inc VAT

It's one of world's best TVs – but you’ll have to remortgage to buy one


  • Superb colour accuracy
  • Class-leading upscaling and motion processing
  • 4,000-nit peak brightness delivers incredible HDR images


  • Outlandishly expensive
  • Reflective in a bright room
  • No ALLM or VRR gaming support

Price update: The Sony ZG9 now costs £5,000 less at John Lewis

Back when it was first released, the masterful Sony ZG9 8K HDR TV would have set you back a whopping £13,999 – slightly more than the cost of a new Fiat 500 hatchback. While it’s still far from what we’d term affordable, it’s still an awful lot cheaper these days. £5,000 cheaper, in fact. As it stands, the Sony ZG9 is easily the best TV you can buy for under £8,000.

John Lewis Price when reviewed: £13,999 Price now: £7,999 Buy Now

Hopefully, you like your enormous new TV to have some equally big numbers attached. An 85in TV is enormous, for sure, but the Sony KD-85ZG9 also has an 8K resolution (7680 x 4320, an enormous 33,177,600 individual pixels ) and costs £13,999 (also enormous). It’s the most expensive television Expert Reviews has ever tested.

(Of course, enormousness is all relative. If you have the necessary dosh, Sony will sell you a 98in version of the ZG9 for £84,999.)

Sony ZG9 review: What you need to know

This is Sony’s first native 7680 x 4320 8K TV. It’s also part of the company’s Masters Series, meaning its colours have been tuned to be as close as possible to those of Sony’s BMV-X300 reference mastering monitor.

Other features include the X1 Ultimate video processor (optimised for 8K) and HDR support for the broadcaster’s favourite HLG, static metadata HDR 10 and dynamic metadata Dolby Vision. The rival HDR 10+ standard doesn’t make the grade, however. There’s also Sony’s X-Motion Clarity black zonal insertion technology, eARC for lossless codec support over the HDMI audio return channel and an Android 8.0 (Oreo) smart TV interface with support for Google Assistant voice control. Sony’s Acoustic Multi-Audio speaker system and Freeview Play complete the highlights.

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Sony ZG9 review: Price and competition

Naturally, you’re not without choice where enormous, and enormously expensive TVs, are concerned.

There’s Samsung’s 82in Q950R (also an 8K display and yours for around £9,999), a QLED alternative to the LED Sony – it’s a little smaller, obviously, and (if our experience of QLED is anything to go by) it won’t be as bright as this Sony in real-world HDR conditions.

LG’s 88in Z9 OLED is on sale in the US for $29,999 and is coming to the UK soon. The price is yet to be confirmed, although we can all take a guess. It’s a bit bigger than the Sony, and has every chance of bettering the ZG9 for black depth and detail – OLED almost always does. It’s going to cost more than the Sony, though, and it’s unlikely to be as bright as the ZG9 with HDR material.

Sony ZG9 review: Design, build and features

This is a big screen, with correspondingly significant chassis and bezel – mostly due to the full-array local dimming backlighting. The need to incorporate multiple grilles to dissipate the heat generated by the huge LED backlight necessitates the bezel’s multi-step design, as does the need to mask the Acoustic Multi-Audio speakers.


The speaker array consists of four forward-firing drivers, two above and two below the screen. They’re intended to deliver optimal sound localisation across this big screen. They can also be configured to function as the centre channel in a surround-sound setup. An imminent firmware update will bring Dolby Atmos compatibility.

The feet are near each end of the panel, so those very few customers who aren’t going to wall-mount their KD-85ZG9 will need tremendously wide AV furniture. At the rear of the panel, there are four HDMI inputs, one of which supports eARC and another that’s ready for an 8K at 60Hz video signal with digital signal compression (DSC). At the front, there’s no effective anti-glare filter, which seems remiss.

If voice control isn’t your thing (or you like to delve deep into the onscreen menus), the ZG9 ships with Sony’s new-for-2019 premium remote control. It’s a joy to use and makes navigating the refined, responsive Android TV system simplicity itself.

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Sony ZG9 review: Performance

The Sony’s VA-type panel produces impressively deep blacks by LED/LCD standards. There are 720 independently dimmable zones here, the most of any 2019 LED/LCD we’ve tested so far. This, plus Sony’s class-leading local dimming algorithms, ensures blacks look suitably deep and blooming remains well controlled.

Colour accuracy is first-rate – particularly after calibration using the CalMAN for Bravia app. Sony’s promise of colours comparable to that of the acclaimed X300 mastering monitor seems entirely plausible.

READ NEXT: Sony Bravia AF9 (KD-65AF9) review

And, for such a large panel, motion performance is laudable, too. Together with exceedingly clean screen uniformity, it makes sport an utter pleasure to watch (rather than something to be avoided at all costs, which is the lot of plenty of other enormous panels).

Upscaling – and, let’s face it, the overwhelming majority of whatever gets watched on a ZG9 will be upscaled – is also outstanding. We fed a standard-definition test pattern to the Sony, which is a kind of mean-spirited thing to do, and were staggered by the detail retrieval, the lack of ringing or overshoot. There was some softening, of course, but the ZG9 is a remarkable upscaler nevertheless.

But where the Sony truly, literally shines is with HDR content. The DCI-P3 colour gamut coverage is an unremarkable 94% – but peak brightness on a 10% window clocks in at somewhere between 3,700 and 4,000 nits (after calibration). Some TV brands only boost peak brightness to levels like this during test patterns, but the ZG9 transfers this epic level of light output to actual HDR viewing, too.

Spectacular highlight elements, such as reflections and fire, sparkle with real intensity – the result is raw emotional impact that’s quite beyond the ability of any other domestic display. This is the best HDR performance we’ve seen on any consumer television and, during the test, we made sure to rewatch as many of our favourite HDR films as possible. We know we won’t see them look this good again for quite some time.

Despite the utter paucity of native 8K content, this enormous resolution makes sense on a screen of this size – it reduces pixel-to-pixel jaggedness and infuses already well-mastered material with a palpable sense of “realness”. And, of course, it allows you to sit closer to the screen for maximum immersion.

Gamers lucky enough to get anywhere near a ZG9 should know input lag measures 29ms – half a frame higher than the 21ms the Bravia XG95 (which also carries the X1 Ultimate chipset) can manage. This is likely to be down to the additional processing required to upscale to fill an 8K panel. Gamers should also note the lack of auto low-latency mode (ALLM) or variable refresh rate (VRR) support, and then, understandably, be put off.

Sony ZG9 review: Verdict

The Sony Bravia KD-85ZG9 is a stunning 8K TV. It’s a testament to the company’s determination to push the TV innovation envelope. 4,000 nits of true, sustained peak brightness, 720 independently dimmable zones and the best local dimming methodology in the business result in the most impactful and faithful HDR performance we’ve ever seen. It’s so impressive we’re entirely prepared to overlook the TV’s few, minor, flaws.

If you have the depth of pocket and the width of wall required, the Sony ZG9 will move you on an emotional level like no other TV. Simply breathtaking.

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