Sony KDL46EX720 Review – 3D TV – See Our Video Review
Description: 46" LED backlit LCD TV with 3D Capability, 240Hz, Internet Options
Power Consumption: 122W
This review also applies to models: EX723 and EX729
Dimensions: 42.5" X 26" tall, 1.68" deep
Reviewer: Robert Wiley
Picture Quality Rating (HD): 7/10
It's difficult to under perform with an HD picture signal these days. The Sony EX720 series is not exceptional in HD picture quality. The screen is hazy as there is an overlay or built in anti glare technology that seems to film over everything viewed. It hearkens back to older LCD TV screens we've seen in the past and displays many of the same weaknesses. For instance, when there is a light source from anywhere in the background, detail in dark areas of the picture are all but lost. As we commented on the excellent power consumption of the TV, we wondered if perhaps Sony would do better to ramp up light throughput more to better saturate color and improve shadow detail. Turning Brightness up to improve shadow detail only produces even more of a hazy effect on the picture. Black levels can appear inky, but they dont seem to make much difference in the contrast due to the nature of the screen filter. Though there is inherent anti glare screen technology built in, any light in the background produced a lot of glare – especially in darker scenes.
Overall, we were underwhelmed by the HD picture although it will look very nice in a darkly lit controlled light environment. That's the environment for which we recommend this TV. Otherwise, you may need to go to the Standard or Vivid picture settings and thus introduce false edges and untrue color. If you do end up using Standard or Vivid settings, be sure to turn off the Motionflow and Cinemotion features which deplete natural motion blur and give a soap opera type appearance to images. Color in HD is not oversaturated and is realistic which we like. Viewing angle contrast degradation is a left over problem from last year as noted below. The clear coat screens that are prevalently being produced for both LED and plasma technology are not only better overall, but come with less negative attributes.
This shot from the Blu Ray of Troy shows the glare from ambient light that reduces dark shadow detail. The EX720 does not fare as well in darker scenes.
Picture Quality Rating (SD): 7/10
Color rendition is realistic and this TV processes the picture well through composite video input – at least as far as color and black levels go. Viewing angle, and loss of detail in dark scenes (esp. with a background light soure) are recurrent issues with standard definition programming. It really depends upon the program. Lighter brighter movies look good in standard definition, while we struggled to see detail in darker ones.
A shot from the standard definition DVD of Risky Business. The EX720 displayed the 480i signal very well despite not doing well on processing tests with this signal.
3D TV Viewing: 8/10
As a prominent feature of this TV we feel compelled to rate this category on its own. We viewing 3D content Blu Ray 3D of Alice in Wonderland with Sony's TDG-BR100 3D Glasses. Initially there was lots of flicker from the glasses, but we later determined this was just while they were warming up. There was some occasional blurring especially near the extreme bottom corners, but overall we felt the 3D experience very good. We did not experience any of the flashing in the sides of the glasses that we disdained in some of last year's 3D TVs. Instead, the picture was very pleasurable and the movie pops and really comes to life. The presentation was overall very smooth. I would go back for more. It exceeded my expectations.
Though impossible to accurately picture the 3D image, we enjoyed the 3D performance of Alice in Wonderland.
Other Picture Considerations
Black Level/Contrast/Contrast Ratio: Black levels were stout and measured .027 to .029 on the IRE scale giving the TV a high post calibration contrast ratio of 1585:1. Beware though that a suction cup test is not the same as viewing the TV from afar. Though blacks are truly inky, the screen filter interferes with perceived black.
Dark Shadow Detail: Though shadow detail is good with much programming, it's poor when there is an ambient light source and the scene on the TV is dark.
Color Rendition/Color Accuracy: Color seems weak in today's TV world. Colors were too subdued for our taste and we would like to see more saturation and light throughput.
Viewing Angle/Off Axis Viewing: Always an important testing point with LED and LCD TVs, viewing angle contrast is a problem also for the EX720. At 15 to 20 degrees the contrast and black levels degrade significantly and colors become washed out. They continue to diminish slightly to extreme off angles.
Degradation in contrast is not severe but is apparent. This shot the Blu Ray version of The Departed highlights the slight degradation of contrast at angles of 30 degrees or more.
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 240Hz rate Motionflow feature on standard setting. There is more without it. During fast motion scenes we also noted motion lag.
False Contouring/ Mapping: There was slight mapping issues noted in dark scenes, again likely from the edge lit display.
Features Rating: 8.5/10
Features: Extra features on the EX720 include 3D compatibility, 240Hz refresh rate, full Internet suite options. There is a full Internet browser and search functionality – an unusual feature in this price category.
The Rovi Interactive Guide screen.
There is an included Rovi On Screen TV Guide, useful for those that do not have cable or satellite TV guides through those services.
The Bravia Internet Video home page.
Internet Options: Sony's Internet options are progressing, though they are not as user friendly as some we've tested. One must download the Internet content upon setup. The EX720 contains Netflix, Crackle, Qriocity, Pandora, Hulu Plus, among many others. We would rate the Internet Suite on the EX720 as average.
Inputs: The EX720 has an ample input selection. 4 HDMI inputs (1 on the side). Ethernet Wired or wireless Internet connection. One set component inputs, one set composite, 2 USB connections.
The EX720 is extremely attractive. The 3D glasses are large, comfortable and work well.
Aesthetic Considerations: I'm a big fan of the appearance of this TV. It has a piano black satin finish rather than high gloss which looks refined and expensive. The framing bezel is only an inch thick and the bottom of the panel remains minimalistic and does not have the gray strip from last year. The EX720 is only 1.68" deep and that includes a small flange that sticks out from the back bottom. 95% of the TV is only 1" in depth. The accompanying table stand is heavy, solid and well constructed and requires some light but easy assembly. This stand swivels to 20 degrees side to side and also allows for slight angle adjustment of 6 degrees. Sony gets great marks in this category.
Sony's Xross Media Bar menu system in the EX720.
Remote Control/Menu Funtionality: Though the remote control is not backlit, I like the matte finish rather than the high gloss finishes that leave many remotes marked with finger prints. There are a couple of new buttons on this years remote including Netflix and Qriocity keys for direct quick access to those Internet TV options – a nice touch. The Options button takes you to Picture, Sound and other controls and is important as scrolling through the Xross Media Bar menu system is cumbersome. The EX720 retains the hot sync sensor from last year, displaying whatever signal is streaming content. The manual is included in the menu system for convenience. Picture and sound settings are discrete for each input.
Audio Output: We were disappointed with the sound quality with the EX720. With a 46" TV you may or may not have a home theater system hooked up. Many will rely on the TVs inbuilt speakers. The 10W X 10W speakers produce a tinny, hollow, naked sound non-quality. The ClearVoice feature may be used with some programming to improve voice levels in programming that was poorly produced. The Dynamic Mode accentuated surround sound effects in a way that only exhibits how poor the sound quality is.see Value Rating and Overall Score on Page 2