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Sony KDL-46XBR8 Review


Sony KDL-46XBR8 Review

Description: 1920 X 1080 (1080p) 46" Diagonal LED TV
Dimensions: See Specifications Here
Power Consumption: 350W
Reviewer: Robert Wiley
Date: April 2009

Test and Optimum Viewing Distance: 13

720p/1080i/1080p HD Picture Quality: One feature that we found very necessary was the Noise reduction feature. See explanation here.

Once turning on this setting option, the picture was crisp and clear with very little about which to complain. There is bright color, great contrast and black levels and most surprising to us – plasma-like viewing angles. There was some false contouring in dark on bright areas of the picture. This "mapping" of dark matter will not be noticed if one is 15 feet or more from the television. However, it is noticeable from a closer distance. Other than that, another defining plasma-like characteristic is depth perception with HD signals which is excellent.

Sony KDL-46XBR8 Review
This shot of Sam Shepard in Black Hawk Down demonstates the XBR's contrast capabilities with deep blacks and excellent light reflection.

Sony KDL-46XBR8 Review
See the crisp detail in the helicopter in this shot from the Blu Ray version of Black Hawk Down.

Up conversion from 480i and 480p: 2:35:1 DVDs should be viewed in the Zoom aspect picture mode controlled by the Wide button on the remote control. While this mode properly displays the aspect of the content, it does soften the picture giving a slightly blurred appearance. This was one of the only drawbacks from the XBR8's picture. Aside from that the Bravia Engine 2 processed signals extremely well.

Sony KDL-46XBR8 Review
A scene from 480i input from Braveheart shows off the contrast of this LED TV as daylight penetrates illuminating the veil of the princess. But notice that the image is overly soft due to using the Zoom aspect ratio to gain the correct sizing alternative.

Black Level: Our post calibration contrast measurement was a fairly impressive 1091 to 1. While this still is well short of many top tier plasma TVs, it is a good result for an LCD. I was surprised by how deep and penetrating the blacks were on this Sony Bravia LCD – perhaps the best black levels we've seen on an LCD though a couple of new Samsung LCDs may rival them.

Dark Shadow Detail: No complaints in this department aside from the occasional mapping issue. Dark areas of images were detailed and easily discernible.

Sony KDL-46XBR8 Review
This shot shows in awesome detail the sweat glistening on the drivers face in a scene from the HD version of Black Hawk Down.

Color Rendition/Color Accuracy: The XBR8 dialed in nicely to D6500 and color information appeared natural and not over baked like so many expensive LCDs. At times we found ourselves pleasantly glued to a scene just enjoying the realistic, colorful images.

Sony KDL-46XBR8 Review
Notice the variation and realism of the flesh tones in this HD image from our Dolby test disk.

Viewing Angle/Off Axis Viewing: The XBR8 has the best viewing angle capability we've seen on an LCD. We estimated that contrast does not start to degrade until about 75 degrees – a superb result – especially for an LCD TV. It's really a plasma-like result.

Motion Lag: There was some notable jerkiness when the camera panned from side to side. Sony does not give a clear option for accessing the 120Hz processing. Instead, they give a few advanced picture settings such as Motion Enhancer and Game Modes. So, it was impossible to know whether we were viewing images in 60Hz or 120Hz. We thought the XBR8 did a good job with reduction of motion lag during fast moving scenes. It would be nice to clearly be able to turn the 120hz processing off if wanted – to see the difference.

Video Features: We do not normal recommend using many of the "enhancing" features present on todays TVs which typically add video noise. However, the Noise Reduction option on the XBR8 is a favorable feature. We recommend placing it on the medium setting which greatly helps to reduce background motion artifacts without softening the picture too much.

Video Aspect Ratio Sizing: The Wide button on the remote controls aspect ratio options. There are more aspect ratio options for HDMI input content including Wide, Wide Zoom, Normal, Full, H Stretch, Zoom.

Inputs: 4 HDMI inputs round out a complete enough set of input options. Has Firewire and USB port as well as a CAT 5 input jack.

Aesthetic Considerations: While an attractive TV, there are no real design style improvements over past models. One drawback we immediately noticed in the XBR8 is the 6" depth cabinet which is no doubt caused by the new LED lighting system. Still, that is a bulky depth especially if wall mounting. The speakers now are housed on the sides of the "floating" glass.

Sony KDL-55XBR8 Review

Remote Control/Menu Funtionality: The Xross Media Bar menu system is a cool looking if not a little quirky to use at first. Once accustomed to it, it is a fun little feature scrolling through the numerous advanced settings which for the most part you will want to avoid. One that you do want to turn on is the Noise Reduction function. It's annoying to have to scroll through inputs each time one needs to change input sources (for instance from HDMI to composite). We would like to see discrete input buttons on the remote control. The remote control is 10" long, has a great backlight feature, is well designed, and has a convenient aspect ratio button.

Audio Output: We felt the sound was flat without enough definition when listening to the Ramsey Lewis Jazz ensemble in our HD test disc. There was no crispness in the high hat. Sound output was dull and the speakers did not put out sufficient volume for the size.

Features: There is a new Video Game mode as well as Bravia Sync option for communicating with other Sony equipment.

Note: At 350 watts the Bravia 46XBR8 is an energy hog in plasma like fashion – no doubt due to those new LED backlights.

Price Considerations: Priced stiffly at $3999 from almost all dealers this LCD is a pricey option. Samung, and LG have competing LED backlit models which are a bit less expensive, but not having reviewed them yet it's difficult to make a price comparison. The Samsung LN55A950 is a similar LED backlit LCD and costs about $1000 less. The playing field will narrow somewhat soon with LG entering this size LED backlit LCD market, but for now that's the whole competitive landscape if you take plasma out of the picture.

A 50" top of the line Plasma TV with similar picture quality, excellent viewing angles, and deep rich black levels will set you back half as much as the 46XBR8. The LED backlit XBR8 has the one advantage of being brighter in light scenes.

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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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