Sony KDL-46XBR8 Review Washington DC
Sony KDL-46XBR8 Review
January 20, 2009 By Geoffrey Morrison
Using local dimming LEDs, Sony KDL-46XBR8 gives a run at the title of best flat-panel ever. But does it take the crown?
The promise of local dimming LEDs is a simple one: significantly increase the contrast ratio of LCDs.
Using said technology, this Sony KDL-46XBR8 can create a near absolute black. So dark in fact, its contrast ratio is not measurable by standard test equipment. It can be called infinite. But that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Torch Mode Be Gone
First things first. When you setup the XBR8 for the first time, it asks you if you’re using the TV in a home or in a store. You’ll see more and more TVs ask what you think in the future. It’s a great thing, dialing back the settings so that it’s not as bright (and power hungry) in your home, where you don’t need it, than it would be in the store. It forces even the most neophyte of users to put their TVs in a setting other than show floor torch mode.
Processing is kind of a mixed bag. You’ll have to dig through the menus to find the “Full Pixel” mode; otherwise you’ll be getting overscan. Once enabled, you get every pixel in 1080i/1080p content.
With video content, the XBR8 performs best with the DRC Mode off. Mode 1 is better for 1080i that was sourced from film (like watching a movie on cable/satellite), though there are still some artifacts. Mode 2 seems to get the 3:2 sequence perfect, but is made for 480i content, and can't be used with HD. The component input fares about the same with the processing tests as HDMI, but has slightly less horizontal resolution.
Scaling is good, with lots of detail pulled from 480i sources, and with no noticeable problems with 3:2 pulldown detection.
I turned off the Motion Enhancer as it interpolates frames to smooth out motion on this 120Hz display. I hate this feature on all TVs, though many others like it. So I’ll just say it's very "interpolatey" for those that like that look.
The image is a little noisy overall, but the onboard noise reduction set to Low works well without softening the image. There’s lots of detail, as you’d expect. Off axis performance isn’t great, about average for an LCD, at best.
The Real Story
Before we get buried in the details, let me first say that this is an excellent looking TV, but how good it may be needs a lot of explanation, especially when it comes to contrast ratio.
The black level, when fed a 0 IRE signal from DVD, is darker than can be measured by the standard tool of the trade, a Minolta LS-100. If you let your eyes adjust to the dark room, you can still make out that it’s on, but just barely.
So it is accurate to say that as far as the full-on/full-off contrast ratio goes, the XBR8 has an infinite contrast ratio, but this is merely a manipulation of the test.
That black level is impressive, but it is rarely, if ever, obtained while watching regular video. It’s like saying your Maserati does 185. Great, but when?
When you put ...