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Sony Master Series XBR-65A9G Review & Rating

LG has stood as one of the biggest names in OLED TVs, with its OLEDC9P most recently earning our Editors’ Choice. It isn’t the only name in the game, though; Sony also produces OLED models, and they’re just as impressive. Sony’s Master Series A9G OLED TV offers similarly excellent picture quality, with the added benefits of hands-free Google Assistant control and a terrific stereo sound system. It’s also more expensive at $3,799.99 for the 65-inch XBR-65A9G we tested. If money is no object and you want an incredible picture with loads of useful features, though, the Sony A9G deserves your attention, and earns our Editors’ Choice.

Stylish and Simple

Sony has dropped the striking-but-awkward easel design that made the A9E and the A9F so distinctive. The A9G embraces the minimalist, black simplicity of the company’s Xperia phones and Walkman MP3 players. The TV is a simple, black, bezel-less OLED panel with only a 0.3-inch black strip framing the active display. An additional quarter-inch strip of dark gray runs along the bottom edge, featuring an indicator light in the center and the Sony logo on the left. The screen is ringed with a slim band of black metal along the quarter-inch-thick sides.

The TV sits completely upright on a flat, brushed gunmetal stand. The stand is shaped like a rounded rectangle, providing the only notable curves on the A9G’s design. It’s flat enough that the bottom edge of the screen sits only 0.2 inches above whatever surface you set it on.

While the screen itself is just over a quarter of an inch thick, a rectangular black plastic enclosure on the back adds another 1.8 inches to the A9G. This enclosure holds all of the TV’s electronics, along with its physical connections along the left side and bottom. An HDMI port, two USB 2.0 ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a 3.5mm composite video input, a 3.5mm infrared receiver port, and, uniquely, a set of speaker wire connectors face left on the back of the TV. Three more HDMI ports, a USB 3.0 port, an Ethernet port, an optical audio output, an RS-232C port, and an antenna/cable connector face downward.

Sony Master Series XBR-65A9G

The A9G has a conventional design compared with the company’s previous OLED models, but one helpful feature carries over: Sony’s Acoustic Surface Audio+. Instead of conventional speaker drivers hidden somewhere on the TV’s casing, the A9G uses a pair of 10-watt actuators to resonate the OLED panel itself to produce stereo sound. The actuators work in tandem with a pair of 20-watt “subwoofer” drivers to produce bass, for a 60-watt sound system that produces a larger sound field with better imaging than conventional TVs.

The remote included with the A9G is leaps and bounds ahead of Sony’s previous TV remotes, which have consistently been plain, black, rectangular wands covered in similar-feeling rectangular rubber buttons that made identifying inputs without looking very difficult. The new remote is a slim nine-inch wand with a brushed aluminum face. The bottoms are flat and mostly circular, but varied enough in shape and position that they can be easily found under the thumb. A circular navigation pad sits in the center, flanked by menu buttons. A number pad, four color buttons, and two dedicated service buttons for Google Play and Netflix sit above. Two long volume and channel rockers and a series of small playback controls sit below. A pinhole microphone rests near the top of the remote, allowing access to Google Assistant by holding down the Google Assistant Button and talking into it, though it isn’t necessary for using Google Assistant with the A9G.

Sony XBR-65A9G

Android TV and Google Assistant

Like many of Sony’s other TVs, along with several Hisense TVs, the A9G uses Android TV for its interface and smart features platform. It’s a powerful system filled with useful features and plenty of streaming services. Most major names in video are present, including Amazon Prime Video, Google Play Movies & TV, Hulu, Netflix, Sling TV, and YouTube. For music, Google Play Music, Pandora, SiriusXM, Spotify, Tidal, and a slew of internet radio apps are available. There are also plenty of other apps, services, and games, for a wide selection of things to do with the TV without plugging anything into it.

Sony XBR-65A9GAndroid TV also features Google Cast, so you can generally treat the A9G as if it has a Google Chromecast plugged into it and stream video from your phone or a Chrome tab on your computer. It isn’t quite as flexible as a Chromecast, but its limitations are very specific and not likely to be a problem for most use cases; the only omission we found was an inability to stream Oculus Quest video from a headset to the TV, when it can stream to a Chromecast.

More than apps and services, Android TV also features Google Assistant, and Sony’s integration here is one of the best we’ve seen in a TV. If you wish, you can press the Google Assistant button on the remote and speak into the microphone on it. You can also use Google Assistant completely hands-free with the A9G, because like the Z9F it has a far-field microphone array and can listen for the wake-up phrase (“Hey, Google”) to let you bring up the assistant with only your voice. This lets you control the TV and use all of Google Assistant’s various features, including smart home control, completely hands-free. It’s the Google Assistant equivalent to having an Amazon Fire TV Cube connected to your TV for hands-free Alexa.

Performance

The Sony A9G is an ultra high-definition (UHD, or 4K) TV that supports high dynamic range (HDR) video. It can display HDR10, Dolby Vision, and Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) content in HDR.

We test TVs using a Klein K-10A colorimeter, a Murideo SIX-G signal generator, and Portrait Displays’ CalMAN software with methodology based on Imaging Science Foundation’s calibration techniques. As an OLED TV, the A9G displays predictably perfect blacks, meaning black pixels emit no light regardless of what other pixels are doing and giving the TV “infinite” contrast.”

When displaying our standard 18-percent white field test pattern, the A9G shows a peak brightness of 504.27cd/m2, making it dimmer than LG’s C9P (667.89cd/m2) and E9P (633.56cd/m2) OLED TVs, but still satisfyingly bright. No OLED can reach the brightness of many LED TVs; Sony’s Master Series Z9F LED TV blasts out 1,677.49cd/m2 with an 18-percent field, and even the much less expensive Hisense H8F shows a 796.84cd/m2 peak brightness. Of course, the trade-off is that LED TVs don’t display perfect blacks levels, letting light come through black pixels on the panel.

Sony XBR-65A9G

The above chart shows color measurements taken on the A9G in Cinema picture mode and set to the DCI-P3 color space, with measured color levels as dots and DCI-P3 color levels as boxes. Out of the box, the A9G shows come impressive color performance, though not the most immediately accurate. Reds, greens, and blues all reach the DCI-P3 levels, coming close to but not quite hitting their marks. Whites are a bit cool, and secondary colors skew quite a bitcyans and magentas run cool, while yellows lean a bit red. This performance seems to be fairly typical for modern OLED TVs; LG’s C9P shows similarly cool whites and skewed secondaries.

Fortunately, the A9G has extensive calibration settings for tweaking color performance. We don’t recommend tinkering with those settings yourself, but for a high-end TV that costs nearly $4,000, we do recommend spending the extra few hundred dollars to have it professionally calibrated.

Viewing Experience

Despite the color issues, the A9G produces an excellent picture, which can be seen with BBC’s Planet Earth II. In the “Islands” episode, the greens of leaves and the blues of water look vivid and natural. Fine details like tree bark and fur are crisp both under direct sunlight and in dark shade, thanks to the TV’s excellent contrast. It’s a clean, detailed picture that faithfully shows off the content.

Sony XBR-65A9GThe OLED-powered contrast of the A9G looks impressive when viewing The Great Gatsby. The TV’s ability to display perfect blacks and bright whites in the same frame enables plenty of shadow detail to come through, preserving the texture and cut of black suits and hair. Skin tones look natural against the harsh blacks and whites of the party scenes, while letting the bright oranges of dresses and the teal of pools appear nicely saturated.

Forza Horizon 4 on the Xbox One X also looks excellent on the A9G. The Lego Speed Champions DLC combines nearly photorealistic cars and environments with Lego vehicles and obstacles, and the TV accurately reproduces both visually disparate categories of objects accurately. The muted browns and greens of dirt and trees look natural, while the much more colorful Lego foliage and roads are true to their bright, cheery toy palette.

Input Lag

Input lag is the amount of time between when a TV receives a signal and the display updates. Using an HDFury 4K Diva 18Gbps HDMI matrix to test for it, the A9G shows an input lag of 101.5ms in Cinema mode, which is unacceptably high. Switching to Game mode, however, cuts that lag down to a much better 18.9ms, which puts it below the 20ms threshold for us to consider the A9G one of the best TVs for gaming.

The Diva is a new piece of testing equipment we’re currently evaluating, so we also tested the A9G using the Leo Bodnar lag tester, which showed an input lag of 26.5ms in Game mode. We are noting both devices’ measurements as we develop our testing methodology.

A Premium Picture for a Price

The Sony Master Series A9G TV is another excellent example of the superlative contrast and sleek design OLED technology can produce. It’s strikingly slim and minimalist, without the awkward easel design of the previous A-series, and its Acoustic Surface Audio technology produces better sound than most built-in TV speakers. Adding Android Audio with hands-free Google Assistant voice commands to the mix further sweetens the deal, which needs to be quite sweet to justify the high price. While the A9G is slightly more expensive than the LG OLEDC9P line, its more powerful Android TV platform and superior sound edge it past LG as our Editors’ Choice for high-end TVs.

Ultimately, you can’t get perfect black levels and infinite contrast unless you invest in an OLED TV, and the A9G sits at the top of the list. But if you don’t want to spend nearly $4,000, you can avoid OLEDs altogether and get a solid LED model. The TCL 6-series and Hisense H8F lines offer surprisingly strong contrast and color performance for a fraction of the price, and the Hisense also features Android TV like the A9G (but without hands-free Google Assistant).



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Master Geolocation for Free with IP Geolocation API

Understanding where your users are, can mean the difference between making a sale, attracting a new member, getting a push on social media, building a solid user experience, or bombing completely.

Create your own professional website with Wix dot com.
Create your own professional website with Wix.com

Because where a person is, affects their schedule, their culture, their currency, their whole outlook on the world.

Sure, you might not be able to translate your entire site into their preferred language—who knows, maybe you can—but if they don’t speak the same language as you, you can at least acknowledge it. And okay, perhaps you can only accept payments in US dollars, but wouldn’t it be nice to let them know approximately how much you’re charging in Yen, or Dongs, or Euros. How about shipping costs, do you ship to Africa? And then there’s GDPR, wouldn’t it be great to be legally compliant in the EU without having to be compliant globally? You can even use an IP address’ longitude and latitude to identify the nearest real world store, if your company has more than one location.

You can do all of this and much much more with geolocation. Geolocation ties the web to the real world by taking an IP address, finding it in a huge database that identifies IP address locations, and then returning key details like country, currency, and continent.

The downside with geolocation is that it’s often expensive to implement, charging for the number of queries submitted to the database, making it beyond the budget of many small businesses.

The IP Geolocation API is different. Cutting down on the number of features, and the amount of data returned, means that you can get the same accurate location data, in a simple to use package, for free.

The Geolocation API returns data as a JSON object, and includes tons of information you can use to tailor your site.

 

Getting Started with IP Geolocation API

You can connect to the IP Geolocation API in any number of coding languages, the most common is JavaScript. However, because we want to customize the contents of the page, we don’t want to rely on a front-end technology. Instead we’re going to write the page before it gets to the user, with PHP.

The first thing you want to do is create a new file, name it “country.php” and save it to your dev environment, or open up your ftp client and upload it to a PHP enabled web space. Next we can edit the file’s code.

Open the PHP file:

Then we need to create a function to grab the location of the IP address we supply:

function grabIpInfo($ip)
{
}

Don’t worry if you’re not used to writing functions in PHP, all will become clear. (In simple terms, when we repeat that function’s name, passing an IP address to it, the code inside the brackets will run.)

Inside those brackets, we’re going to use PHP’s built-in cURL to get the data from the API:

This code initiates the cURL session. Next we need to set the options on the cURL session. The first is very important, it’s the URL to load, which will be https://api.ipgeolocationapi.com/geolocate/ and on the end we have to append the actual IP address we want to look up (remember we’re passing this into the function, so we just need to use the $ip parameter):

curl_setopt($curl, CURLOPT_URL, "https://api.ipgeolocationapi.com/geolocate/" . $ip);

The next option tells cURL to return the data as a string, rather than just outputting it to the page:

curl_setopt($curl, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, TRUE);

Next we execute the cURL session, saving the data to a new variable that we can return from the function:

$returnData = curl_exec($curl);

Now we close the cURL session:

Lastly we return the data from the function:

Remember all of that code was inside the curly brackets of the function. Now, we can call the function as often as we like and access the data, from outside the function:

$ipInfo = grabIpInfo("91.213.103.0");

Our $ipInfo variable now has a ton of great data returned about that IP address. If you’d like to see it, you just output the variable using PHP’s echo:

Finally, don’t forget to close the PHP:

Now you can run your file in a browser, you’ll see something like this:

{"continent":"Europe","address_format":"{{recipient}}n{{street}}n{{postalcode}} 
{{city}}n{{country}}","alpha2":"DE","alpha3":"DEU","country_code":"49","international_prefix":"00","ioc":"GER","gec":"GM","name":"Germany","national_destination_code_lengths":[2,3,4,5],"national_number_lengths":[6,7,8,9,10,11],"national_prefix":"0","number":"276","region":"Europe","subregion":"Western 
Europe","world_region":"EMEA","un_locode":"DE","nationality":"German","eu_member":true,"eea_member":true,"vat_rates":{"standard":19,"reduced":[7],"super_reduced":null,"parking":null},"postal_code":true,"unofficial_names":["Germany","Deutschland","Allemagne","Alemania","ドイツ","Duitsland"],"languages_official":["de"],"languages_spoken":["de"],"geo":{"latitude":51.165691,"latitude_dec":"51.20246505737305","longitude":10.451526,"longitude_dec":"10.382203102111816","max_latitude":55.0815,"max_longitude":15.0418962,"min_latitude":47.2701115,"min_longitude":5.8663425,"bounds":{"northeast":{"lat":55.0815,"lng":15.0418962},"southwest":{"lat":47.2701115,"lng":5.8663425}}},"currency_code":"EUR","start_of_week":"monday"}

It’s incredible that we can grab all of that data so easily, but it’s not actually all that useful. We need to be able to pick out parts of that code.

Go back and delete the line of code that begins with “echo”, and replace it with the following:

$ipJsonInfo = json_decode($ipInfo);

That line converts the JSON string into an object we can access.

Next echo the part of the data you want to. In this case, the name property gives us the country name:

Run your file again, and you’ll see the country name “Germany” in your browser.

That’s cool, but there’s one more thing we need to do before this code is really useful, and that’s find the IP address dynamically, so that we’re looking up the country name of whomever is accessing the page. IP Geolocation API will do that for you if you access it with JavaScript (you simply omit the IP address altogether). Unfortunately, we’re using PHP, but fortunately, PHP gives us a really simple way to access the current user’s IP address, $_SERVER[“REMOTE_ADDR”].

Replace the IP address in the function call with the dynamic version:

$ipInfo = grabIpInfo($_SERVER["REMOTE_ADDR"]);

When you now run the code you’ll get your own country output to the browser. (If you don’t see anything, you’re probably testing locally so you don’t have a detectable IP address, upload to your webspace to see the file working correctly.)

Here’s the full code:

<?php

function grabIpInfo($ip)
{

  $curl = curl_init();

  curl_setopt($curl, CURLOPT_URL, "https://api.ipgeolocationapi.com/geolocate/" . $ip);
  curl_setopt($curl, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, TRUE);

  $returnData = curl_exec($curl);

  curl_close($curl);

  return $returnData;

}


$ipInfo = grabIpInfo($_SERVER["REMOTE_ADDR"]);
$ipJsonInfo = json_decode($ipInfo);

echo $ipJsonInfo->name;

?>

 

Simple Geolocation

As you can see, accessing geolocation data with the IP Geolocation API is incredibly fast and simple. And being able to access this kind of data for free is an incredible resource for any developer.

IP Geolocation API’s data is all run from the MaxMind database—one of the most trusted sources—which means you’re getting reliable, and accurate data, from a premium provider, at zero cost.

IP Geolocation API is the perfect place to start experimenting with geolocation. Once you get started, it will become an essential part of every user experience you design.

 

[– Featured image via DepositPhotos –]

[– This is a sponsored post on behalf of IP Geolocation API –]



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Master Ruby Programming From Scratch With This $12 Course

If you want to make a living from code, Ruby is one of the best languages to learn. It’s relatively easy for beginners to grasp, but top developers can earn six figures. In addition, Ruby skills are always in demand. If you want to learn the language, the Complete Ruby Programmer Course can help. Through 11 hours of hands-on training, the course helps you start building Ruby applications from scratch. You can get it now for just $12 via MakeUseOf Deals.

Ruby Programming

Over the past decade, many top platforms have been built on Ruby foundations — 500px, Airbnb, Hulu, Indiegogo, and Twitch, to name but a few. If you want to become a web developer or build apps for a living, it makes sense to learn this language.

The Complete Ruby Programmer Course is the perfect introduction, with 212 hands-on tutorials. The training starts with the absolute basics, showing you how to install Ruby on any computer and write your first command-line code.

You then dive into data structures, algorithms, and implementation, along with debugging and error handling. The course helps you hone your new skills through fun projects, including fully-fledged apps.

By the end of the course, you should feel confident in building interactive apps and automating daily tasks. You also get a certificate of completion for impressing potential employers.

212 Tutorials for $12

This course is normally $200, but you can get it now for $12 with lifetime access included.



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How to Create a Slide Master in Microsoft PowerPoint

powerpoint logo

PowerPoint’s Slide Master lets you keep consistency throughout your presentation. If you want to customize a presentation’s fonts, headings, or colors in one place so that they apply to all your slides, then you’ll need to create a Slide Master.

Creating a Slide Master in PowerPoint

Open your presentation, head over to the “View” tab, and then click the “Slide Master” button.

Slide Master option in Master Views group

The Slide Master will appear in the left-hand pane. The Slide Master is the top thumbnail that appears in the pane, and each sub-thumbnail represents each slide layout available in your theme. Edits you make to the text of the Slide Master will affect the text in each slide layout. Alternatively, you can select and customize each slide layout.

Preview of Slide Master and sub slides

Edit the Slide Master Theme

If you plan to use a specific theme with your presentation, it’s best to go ahead and select it now before making any other edits, as each theme will have its own unique text and image placeholders.

To edit the theme of the Slide Master, click “Themes” on the “Slide Master” tab.

edit slide master theme

A drop-down menu will appear, showing a large library of Office themes. Select the one you want to use.

Office theme library

Your Slide Master will now take on the selected theme.

slide master theme change

Fine-Tune Your Slide Master

Now it’s time to customize the font, color, and background of the presentation. In the “Background” group of the “Slide Master” tab, you’ll have all of these options available to you. However, using the options provided here will affect all of the slide layouts in the presentation, as they are predefined schemes. You can hover your mouse over the available options for a live preview.

Slide Master GIF

If you don’t find a scheme you like, you can create your own or customize each slide the way you want by using the tools provided in the “Home” tab.

Also, note that any objects or text you place on the slide master will appear on all your slides. So, for example, it’s a great way to put a company logo or disclaimer text that you might want to appear throughout your presentation.

Create Multiple Slide Masters

You can create multiple Slide Masters in a presentation. To do this, head over to the “Slide Master” tab and click “Insert Slide Master.”

Insert Slide Master

The additional Slide Master will now appear in the left-hand pane.

additional slide master

Edit the new Slide Master. Once you’re finished, select “Close Master View” in the “Close” group.

Close Master View

In the “Slides” group of the “Home” tab, select “Layout.”

slide layout

A drop-down menu will appear. You’ll now see both themes with your customized slide layouts!

both themes available in slide layout

Save Your Customized Slide Master

You can save your customized Slide Master as a PowerPoint template for future use. To do so, head over to the “File” tab and select “Save As.”

save as

Next, click the “Browse” button in the “Other locations” section.

browse for save location

Navigate to the location of your Custom Office Templates folder, usually found here:

C:UsersuserDocumentsCustom Office Templates

Once there, select the arrow in the “Save as type” box.

save as type

In the menu that appears, select “PowerPoint Template.”

save as powerpoint template

Next, click “Save” at the bottom-right of the window.

save template

Your template with your customized Slide Master is now saved!





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Master Your Raspberry Pi and Build Alexa Apps With This $29 Training Bundle

For anyone interested in the internet of Things and smart home automation, the Raspberry Pi is a brilliant educational tool. This microcomputer makes it easy to create amazing setups using your own code and hardware. If you’re new to this game, the Complete Raspberry Pi & Alexa A-Z Bundle can help you get started. The bundle includes four courses and 10 hours of video tutorials — and it’s now just $29 at MakeUseOf Deals.

Raspberry-Flavored Alexa

Although the Raspberry Pi is a very capable Linux computer, it was actually designed to help people get started with code and electronics. This training bundle helps you unleash the full potential of your tiny machine, with hours of hands-on training.

Through concise video lessons, you discover how to connect LEDs, switches, sensors, and other components to your Pi. At the same time, you learn how to write your first lines of Python code. With the basics in place, you start work on a range of fun projects — from a simple web server to a tiny games console.

The training also looks at Alexa, and how you can use Amazon’s voice assistant in your own future projects. You actually end up building an Amazon Echo clone and coding your own Alexa skills from scratch.

10 Hours of Training for $29

Order now for just $29 to get your hands on this bundle, worth over $300.



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