Android TV & smarts
The A1’s smart functionality is run from the traditional remote control. There are dedicated buttons for Netflix and Google play, while the poorly-positioned Home button (surely it should be top centre) brings up the Android TV interface.
We’re becoming increasingly enamoured of Android TV — for one thing, it provides operational familiarity across the brands that use it. Once populated and settled in, it was as intuitive as Android TV always is (it was a bit slow during its first hours), with rows of content and apps, all the usual suspects plus some Sony specials. You can rename inputs to your preference. We used Play store to download Spotify and VLC. We streamed from our 20,000 songs on Google play music, and we signed in to Stan to watch the last episodes of TwinPeaks, and how those black blacks paid dividends in the film noir sections, and the red curtains so red! We also binged through the A1’s spectacular portrayal of Game of Thrones.
Connected casting was less successful — there’s a Chromecast Ultra in there, but we had trouble addressing it from a Google Home, initially because its default cast name was “KD65A1” (we changed it to ‘Sony’), and partly because when we said, say, ‘Play Led Zeppelin on YouTube on the Sony’ the instruction was correctly interpreted by Google’s data farms in America, the TV flickered into recognition, but then “Sorry something went wrong”, said our Google Home. Given the journey, who knows what.
The remote also has Google Assistant voice control, but it lacks context. Say “Open the SBS on Demand app” and it searches Google for SBS on Demand. If you’re already in YouTube and you say “Play Led Zeppelin” it reopens YouTube and signs in again, not realising it was already open. Smart, yet dim. There’s no MHL support here, but Miracast screen mirroring is supported.