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Sony KDL-46EX500, (46EX501) Review: Bravia LCD HDTV TV Review

Model: KDL-46EX500
Description: 46" LED LCD TV
Resolution: 1920 X 1080
Reviewer: Robert Wiley
Spring/Summer 2010

Sony KDL46EX500 Review
Tom Hanks, executive producer of the HD HBO series The Pacific against a colorful backdrop showing good depth as well.

The Sony KDL-46EX500 is a lower range LCD with traditional CCFL backlighting that will yield a good stable value for most consumers who want to enjoy Sony functionality while not having to pay top dollar for early adapter features such as super thin design, LED backlighting, or 3D capability – none of which this model contains. The EX500 series lines up in the lower 20% of Sony's offerings for 2010 and can be found at most mainstream retailers.

Test and Optimum Viewing Distance: 12 feet

Calibration: As with most Sony models for 2010 the EX500 series has a governor on brightness and contrast that will not allow the user from completely destroying picture quality with these controls. This is a good thing.

Sony KDL46EX500 Review
This shot from The Pacific shows good shadow detail in the 46EX500 through the green gray filter used to produce the series.

Viewing angle remains an issue with with the 46EX500 displaying less contrast and depth of color from side angles starting at around 25 degrees off angle. From center depth improved and color information is true to life and not over-juiced with the post calibration settings we used.

The 120Hz Motionflow feature does help with motion lag, blur and judder – especially when panning side to side. However, the feature is not strong enough to eliminate these effects and they are still obvious to the trained eye. The feature can be used at all times fortunately with the need to turn it off and on depending upon the content being viewed.

There was considerable video background noise and motion artifacts with both 480i content and HD content both Blu Ray and live. This corresponds with our previous testing of the Bravia 2 engine from last years XBR9 series LCDs. HQV processor testing yields poorer results than actual video fortunately. With HD content colors were of course brilliant and popped, and with our picture settings were tamed from the tendency toward oversaturation. In fact, they remain on the subdued side of the color comparison equation.

Contrast and black levels are much improved from last years Sony models and help to add depth to colors and images. Shadow detail is also much better than previous models as blacks were not over saturated in dark scenes.

Sony KDL46EX500 Review
This HD shot from The Pacific shows good depth perception in the EX500 series through color and contrast.

The EX500 has an anti glare screen that works fairly effectively but also introduces decreased contrast at angles as with most florescent back light based LCDs.

Lastly, there was some banding and mapping visible when viewing material with patterns such as seating rows in a stadium. This issue also presents itself with some content as false contouring or grouping of color information rather than a smooth transition in gradation.

On obvious upgrade in the features area is the 120 Hz Motion flow feature which proves out to be effective, useful and recommended. It does help with reducing motion lag and blur though does not remove all of it. This feature does not work well in conjunction with the Cinemotion feature, so we recommend leaving that feature off.

Sound output from the 10W X 10W speakers were sufficient and better than half of the TVs we test. There was sometimes a slight hollow non quality. ClearVoice is a Sony Bravia feature we have recommended in the past and is included on this TV. It enhances voice sound level somewhat effectively.

There are sufficient inputs for most uses with 4 HDMI inputs, and a USB port for video, music, or picture functional input. The EX500 series does not have Internet functionality and therefore no Ethernet port.

In the aesthetics category the TV is nice looking but the gloss black bezel is a little wide for me at just over 2". I like a little thinner presentation there. The EX500 comes with a nice swivel table stand – also gloss black and is 4" in depth without the stand. There is an unusual matte gray finish bar across the bottom front of the TV that adds a nice design element and touch of class.

The main power saving feature is a light sensor designed to adjust the picture depending upon room light conditions – higher contrast for light ambient conditions and lower contrast for low light conditions. This feature can be turned off.

Sometimes with lower feature offerings comes better value. That's the strategy of the major manufacturers with so many models in their lineup. So value pricing is where the battle lies for models like the EX500. The only upgrade feature of this TV is the 120Hz Motionflow feature. That feature is likely to become standard in LCD TVs soon. At just over $1000, the 46" KDL-46EX500 series LCD offers good value without many of the newest features. Competition comes from the Samsung LN46C630 series at $1000, the LG 47LD650, the Sharp LC-46D78UN, and the Toshiba 46G300U. All of these models are 120Hz with traditional CFL back lighting. Plenty of competition means good pricing in this area. Some of these manufacturers pricing on models are not out yet but we believe the Sony EX500 will be in the middle of this value oriented pack.

Rating scale from 70 (denoting poorest quality) to 100 (signifying the very best quality). A rating in the 60s for any particular category of a product review indicates a serious defect which causes the product not to operate properly. Picture quality is double-weighted in the Overall Rating Score calculation.


Review Equipment Used: Sony Blu Ray BDP-S1 High Definition DVD player, Sony DVP-S50 DVD player, Sencore Color Pro 5000, Sencore Auto Cal Pro, Sencore signal generator.

This review format and all of the headings, sub headings and paragraph titles are part of a copyrighted process. Any unauthorized reproduction or use, either in full or in part, of this product review format is expressly prohibited.

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