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Sony KDL-46XBR4 

Pricing at publication
  MSRP Street Amazon.com
Sony KDL-46XBR4 $3,299.99 $2,455.00 $2,799.99

Warranty: 1 Year Parts / 1 Year Labor

Summary: A nice TV when a good quality HD signal is present, but a bit on the pricey side.

As you would imagine, being a close friend of the HT Guys comes with some benefits. We have a friend that just bought the Sony KDL-46XBR4 46 inch LCD and a Sony Blu-ray player. He asked for some help setting the TV up and of course we said yes. Well, we said yes because it provides good material for our show. Our friend uses Cox cable, OTA and Blu-ray for his HD material.

Features

  • 1080p
  • 10-bit Processing and 10-bit Display
  • Motionflow™ 120 Hz with Full HD high frame rate capability
  • Deep Color Support
  • 24p True Cinema (24p Input Capability)
  • DMeX - Ready (Digital Media Extender) - Sony's Digital Media Extender (DMeX) ready televisions offer a digital connection path for the addition of the optional modules like the new BRAVIA Internet Video Link. 6 With innovative DMeX expansion capabilities featuring the Emmy® award winning XMB user interface, these models are not merely TVs, but powerful entertainment platforms that not only meet your needs today, but extend to add new features seamlessly.

Impression

The TV looks visually appealing and has a high build quality. There is a clear plastic frame that goes around the TV. The TV weighs 84 pounds (38 Kg) with the pedestal and measures 49.7" (126 cm) wide by 31.3" (79.5 cm) high by 17.7" (32 cm) deep (4.8" (12 cm) without the pedestal). We immediately took the TV off the default setting and changed it to cinema. Cox cable looked very bad. So bad that we recommended switching to satellite. Braden has Cox as one of his sources so his impression was that Cox does not look that bad on his TVs. It could be that this TV does not do well with compressed sources. OTA HD looked much better. In general OTA digital channels looked better than the SD coming from the Cox cable box.

We then popped in a Blu-ray disc (Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer) and were quite impressed with the picture. We saw great detail in the picture and found that the skin tones looked very natural. Color representation was highly accurate. The TV has very good black levels for an LCD. We found that computer generated scenes looked fake for some reason. The skiing scene looked very good. There was a lot of contrast between the white snow and the blue sky. The TV has a Contrast Ratio of 2,000:1. We liked the off angle viewing of this TV. While not on par with Plasmas, it's much better than most LCDs we've seen.

Next we started playing around with the settings to dial the TV in. Our friend was happy with the pre-configured cinema settings and was getting antsy about us spending so much time with his TV. In the end, our quick calibration made the picture even better. Our calibration settings are included at the end of this review, but please use them as a starting point only. We ended up turning the all the special processing off, but you can play around with those to see if you like what you see. With HD film based material, we felt the Motion Enhancer took away from the viewing experience. With SD material it actually improved the picture. This is very subjective so if you plan on buying this TV or you already own one, experiment with these settings.

Once we had it dialed in, we went back and watched the Fantastic Four Blu-ray disc. It was clear to all that we had indeed improved the picture. Our friend was happy we came by. It was everything we said before about the clarity, color, and detail but improved. We also watched Standard Definition DVDs (Spider Man 3, 27 Dresses, and Enchanted) after calibration and were pleasantly surprised at how good the picture looked. The motion enhancer actually improved the picture. Our recommendation is to screen parts of the movie with the motion enhancer on and then turn it off, and see which one you prefer. You'll soon figure out what types of movies this will help and what types it won't help. Unfortunately we do not have a clear cut answer for its use.

Conclusion

Overall, the Sony makes for a nice TV when a good quality HD signal is present. If you have an overly compressed signal via OTA or Cable you won't be happy with what you see. To really show off this set, you should also consider buying a Blu-ray player. Please do not leave the set in its default settings. At a minimum switch it to Cinema mode. Better yet calibrate it with any of the calibration DVDs or have a professional do it for you. This TV will really show its stuff when set up properly. The only negatives we can find are that its optical output does not do 5.1 for anything other than its ATSC tuner (but this is the case with almost all TVs), and that it's a bit on the pricey side.

Calibration Settings (Use only as a starting point)

HDMI Settings (Blu-ray)

Picture Mode: Custom
Backlight: 3
Picture: 66
Brightness: 45
Color: 57
Hue: 0
Color Temperature: Neutral
Sharpness: 38
Noise Reduction: Off

Advanced Settings
White Balance:
R-Gain: 0
G-Gain: -5
B-Gain: -5
R-Bias: 0
G-Bias: -5
B-Bias: 0

Color Space: Standard
Detail Enhancer: off
Edge Enhancer: off
Everything else set to off
Motion Enhancer: off

Posted by The HT Guys, May 20, 2008 9:23 AM

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About The HT Guys

The HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.

Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.

ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.

Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.