The Sony A8F vs A1E differences are mainly due to the sound quality (only in the low-frequency range), design (which has an impact on how close you can mount the A8F vs A1E to a wall, as well as whether the TV sits straight up or at an angle when mounted on a table top surface), and the timing of receiving a firmware update for Dolby Vision.
1. Sound (two 60mm woofers vs one 80mm woofer)
The Acoustic Surface technology is used in both the A8F and A1E. Each of them has a total of 4 actuators for invisibly vibrating the screen in order to produce sound. The reason there are no visible artifacts in the picture caused by the actuators is because they only produce mid-range and high-frequency sounds. The A8F and A1E have dedicated woofer(s) for the low frequency range. There is a difference in the woofer’s size which is 60mm on the A8F vs 80mm on the A1E. In order to compensate for the smaller woofer size, the A8F has two woofers vs one woofer on the A1E. It should also be mentioned that the A1E’s woofer is placed in the kickstand and sits behind a removable cover made of fabric material. Provided you don’t remove this cover, the bass on the A1E is dampen to a degree by the fabric material. The A8F’s woofers, on the other hand, are placed on the back of the TV due to the omission of the kickstand.
2. Design (Dark Silver Slate stand vs kickstand)
Owing to its more conventional dark silver slate stand, the A8F is able to maintain upright position when placed on a table top surface. The A1E, on the other hand, leans slightly backwards due to the fact that it uses a kickstand. This also means that the A1E takes more space when mounted on a table top surface in comparison to the A8F. Another effect of the kickstand is that the A1E sits a bit further from the wall than the A8F when wall mounted (the exact distance may vary depending on the wall-mount bracket used).
3. Timing of firmware updates (for Dolby Vision support in particular); Smart TV version
The A8F supports HDR10 and HLG (Hybrid-Log Gamma) out of the box. According to Sony, the firmware update that will enable Dolby Vision on the A8F is expected to be released by summer 2018. The A1E, on the other hand, only supports HDR10 out of the box but the firmware update that enables Dolby Vision and HLG on the A1E has already been released. This means that, for the time being only the A1E supports Dolby Vision via the TV’s internal streaming apps (provided you have updated the firmware). It should be mentioned, though, that Dolby Vision signal via HDMI is not supported. Your Ultra HD Blu-ray disc player (or other Dolby Vision capable devices connected via HDMI to your TV) will also require a separate firmware update in order to be compatible with the Sony’s implementation of Dolby Vision. The Smart TV system on the A8F is Android 7.0 Nougat vs Android 6.0 Marshmallow on the A1E.
The A8F and A1E utilize an OLED panel. Instead of a backlight, each pixel on the A8F and A1E is self-illuminating which means that it can be completely powered off so that no light is emitted when displaying black color. Not only that leads to an unparalleled contrast ratio (compared to LCD TVs), but also augments the Triluminos Display technology on the A8F and A1E since colors appear more vibrant against the backdrop of the two OLED TVs’ extremely deep black level. Thanks to the OLED panel, the A8F and A1E have wide viewing angles. Specifically, they are able to maintain their black level and avoid any significant reduction in brightness off-axis. Furthermore, there is no noticeable color shift up to approximately 45 degrees off-axis. Another advantage that the A8F and A1E’s OLED panel has over LCD TVs is that the pixel response time is nearly instantaneous which means there are no dark trails following moving objects (ghosting artifacts) due to pixel transition not being completed within the refresh cycle. The refresh rate is 120Hz on both the A8F and A1E.
The X1 Extreme chipset is powerful enough to allow both the A8F and A1E to support dual database processing. In addition to the upscaling database that is used by the 4K X-Reality PRO technology for the purpose of enhancing the clarity of low resolution content when viewed on the A8F or A1E’s 3840×2160 resolution screen, the two OLED TVs utilize a second database dedicated to reducing compressed image noise which is useful in case of the content you’re watching has been poorly compressed. Owing to the native 10-bit panel, the A8F and A1E are capable of displaying over a billion color shades. Furthermore, the Super Bit Mapping technology for processing 8-bit or 10-bit content with 14-bit precision is used by the A8F and A1E for the purpose of achieving smooth color gradation, without any visible banding.