Sony KDL-52EX700, (KDL-52EX701) Review: Bravia LCD HDTV TV Review
Model: KDL-52EX700 & KDL-52EX701
Description: 52" LED LCD TV
Resolution: 1920 X 1080
Power Consumption: 142W
Reviewer: Robert Wiley
The Sony KDL-52EX700 has its own private display in some prominent retail stores such as Best Buy. It's got the thin good looks Sony is counting on to impress with its great brightness on the showroom floor. In this review we delve deeply into the inner beauty of the TV as well to evaluate whether the internal processing and output match the aesthetics. The EX700 series ranks right in the middle of the pack in Sony's 2010 lineup in terms of feature offerings and price.
Test and Optimum Viewing Distance: 14 feet
Calibration: The EX700 series has a strict governor on brightness. This prevents the average user from hurting their picture quality by poorly calibrating their TV. The EX700 calibrated fairly easily to D6500K. Gamma tracking was excellent and one of the best tested. See the KDL-52EX700 Calibration Page for full picture settings and test results.
HQV Processor Testing: After watching a few brief video content highlights we thought the processor was going to pass our tests without a hitch. Turns out the brightness and nice color rendition of the picture fooled us. Overall, the EX700 performed poorly in video processor testing. I guess they saved the best stuff for their higher end TVs such as the HX900. Obvious jaggies, moire', shimmy effects, judder, and dithering were apparent on many tests – all signs of a struggling processing engine. The one exceptional performance was in the video resolution loss test. Interestingly though Sony has named the video chip sets for this TV the new Bravia Engine 3, we decided that the video processor in the EX700 must at least be the same as the XBR9, since the testing was identical with weaknesses and strengths in exactly the same areas.
This shot of Uma Thurman shows off some of the realistic color rendition, excellent flesh tones, and detail in dark shadow areas from the 480i version of Kill Bill.
480i Video Content (cable, DVD): 480i content appeared a little soft but stable and color rendition was accurate and not oversaturated. The LED backlit TV seemed to overcome many of the setbacks from a weak processor when viewing video content. Black levels are strong throughout all content. One of the finest characteristics of this TV is excellent dark shadow detail popping off of strong black levels.
HD Picture Quality: Image edges from HD content were crisp, clean and detailed. The LED backlight and intense black level seem to help images in 3 dimensional effect. Shadow detail is excellent with HD content as well. Regardless what content is displayed there is quick degradation of black levels and contrast from side viewing angles starting at 15 degrees. Color information was rich but no overpowering with HD content. I enjoyed the picture very much from front and center and was unable to pick up the processing problems the TV displayed in HQV testing.
This shot from the HD Blu Ray version of S.W.A.T shows how crisp and clear edges appear on the EX700. Notice the slight light bloom in the top of the screen caused by the LED edge lighting. There is also slight vertical mapping patterns in the left side of the picture.
Black Level/Contrast/Contrast Ratio: Black levels were stout and measured .026 to .029 on the IRE scale giving the TV a high post calibration contrast ratio of 1570:1. The black levels carried through to scenes from both HD and 480i content. As mentioned below, side angle viewing will diminish contrast appearance.
Dark Shadow Detail: Fantastic shadow detail is a winning characteristic of the EX700. The TV showed tremendous definition in dark areas of suits, clothing, and in all dimly lit scenes.
Good dark shadow detail throughout the background in this shot from Super Bad.
Color Rendition/Color Accuracy: Color rendition is a strength of this Sony display. Colors pop off of deep black levels without being oversaturated.
Viewing Angle/Off Axis Viewing: We suspect Sony's new edge lit LED lighting to be the prime suspect behind the poor off axil viewing angle. Regardless what content is displayed there is quick degradation of black levels and contrast from side viewing angles starting at 15 degrees. It's not extreme but does have an impact. Contrast continues to degrade to around 30 degrees where it stabilizes all the way to 45 degrees. Viewing is possible from extreme side angles due to the high brightness and anti glare screen of the TV.
Degradation in contrast is not severe but is apparent. Here two shots from the Blu Ray version of The Departed highlight the difference at about 20 degrees off center.
LED Back Light: With a static gray screen displayed there was obvious horizontal light banding from the edge lit LED back lights. The irregularities in back lighting revealed themselves from time to time when viewing content as well.
Motion Lag: There was some jerkiness and judder effect in scenes panning side to side even with the 120Hz rate Motionflow feature on standard setting.
False Contouring/ Mapping: There was slight mapping issues noted in dark scenes, again likely from the edge lit display.
Features: As mentioned above use the Motionflow feature on Standard but do not use the Cinemotion feature in conjunction unless you want to add lots of jerkiness and a nasty background effect to the picture.
120Hz Rate Feature Evaluation: Overall this feature is viable on the EX700 series. While this feature detracts from the picture quality with most TVs in the market, it enhances PQ in the EX700. The feature does not introduce unwelcome video background noise as with most others. We recommend the Standard setting. Extra points to Sony for coming up with a Hz rate feature that actually improves the picture even during film. There was still judder occurrence, but the feature reduced it.
There is an easy shortcut to access the feature with the accompanying remote control:
Use the Options Button on the right circle
Scroll to Motionflow and click the right or left arrow key
Video Aspect Ratio Sizing: Good job sizing with the various options, Full, Zoom, Normal, Wide Zoom.
Inputs: Strong input selection. 4 HDMI inputs (2 on the sides). Ethernet Wireless Internet connection. Plenty of video inputs.
Aesthetic Considerations: The EX700 is a nice looking TV with the super thin 2.25" depth and an included side to side swivel table stand. The 2" wide gloss black bezel framing the screen could be thinner to suit my tastes. There is a classy looking charcoal gray strip on the bottom of the TV.
At just over 2" in depth the EX700 is sleek with convenient inputs on the side and back of the TV.
Remote Control/Menu Funtionality: The non-backlit remote control is rather dated looking but functional with large keys and an excellent shortcut button labeled Options that takes you to the Picture or Motionflow controls. The EX700 has a nifty internal auto sensing to determine which inputs are being used and auto syncs to the hot input. The TV uses the same Xross Media Bar menu system from past seasons. One interesting new feature is that the manual is included in the menu system should you need to access. The TV includes discrete picture settings per input.
Audio Output: Sound output from the 10W X 10W speakers was weak with many sources. The audio output often had a hollow, tinny non-quality with which we were not impressed. There was an absence of virtual surround effect. 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.
Internet Options: There are 27 different channels of various primarily proprietary Bravia Internet Video clips including highlights Netflix, Youtube, Sony Pictures, DailyMotion. The Windows Vista and WIndows 7 computers on our network picked up the EX700 immediately for file sharing without a hitch.
At $1999 this 52" LCD/LED yields a solid value. This is the middle of the road offering from Sony and some of the features this TV has such as excellent contrast and brightness, crisp images, and Bravia Internet, offset some of the weaknesses mentioned above. All in all the perks compare favorably with the lower end competition. Competition hails from the Samsung UN55C6300, the LG 55LE5500, the Sharp LC-52LE820UN, and the Toshiba 55UX600 – all of which have similar feature to price point sets. Let's not forget to throw in a couple of those Samsung and Panasonic plasma TVs in there as competition as well.
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.
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