HDTV

Sony 46HX929 46" Backlit LED-Array HDTV

ARTICLE INDEX

Sony 46HX929 46" Backlit LED-Array HDTV In Use

Straight out of the box, the HX929 had a reasonably accurate image but one that could be improved upon with calibration. In a nice touch you can have shared settings on the HX929 so it was possible to calibrate a single mode and enable it for every input, including the internal tuner. Backlit LED arrays are wonderful at producing pitch black backgrounds, but often have issues with producing halos around bright objects on a black background, so watching Star Trek with its outer space scenes seemed to be a good way to test this out.

Immediately apparent was that the letterbox bars were completely black. Not the very black that my plasma or a projector usually produces, but outer space black. Not only that, but the presence of stars and spaceships seemed to be unable to produce a halo effect on screen either. If I moved off to the side by around 45 degrees, a halo became apparent as the image shifted, but from a proper viewing position halos were not apparent. Contrast ratios, incredibly accurate colors and skin tones, and an image that is possibly as good as LCD can get today were definitely apparent. The Sony was bright, detailed, and looked fantastic. Star Trek was excellent from beginning to end, looking as good as it ever has.

The Lion King has a rich, vibrant palette of colors as one of the pinnacles of Disney's hand-drawn animated classics. On the Sony the hues and tones were brilliant, full of rich colors and looking beautiful, not at all washed out or dull. Much like watching a painting, the animation looked wonderful with clear motion and no issues with blur. Cars 2 contains some very dynamic scenes, including the night race in Tokyo. Bright neon lights are set against a black sky and roads that really shows off the HD929's contrast ratio.

Watching the NBA Finals using the integrated tuner, sports were smooth and crisp, without serious motion blur like previous LCD panels. I would turn on the MotionFlow to Clear sometimes (which uses a combination of black frame insertion and interpolation for reducing blur) and found that most of the time it helped resolution while not introducing much soap-opera effect. It did produce some artifacts and looked worse with 24p film compared to 60i or 60p sports so I only used it with TV where those side effects were negligible.

One issue I noticed when watching golf on CBS, which uses a 1080i60 signal, the interlaced pull-down was seemingly not done correctly. Text and club shafts were blocky instead of smooth, as if pixels were just being repeated instead of deinterlaced correctly. On NBC and their 1080i60 feed these issues were not apparent, so it could be signal related and not the Sony, but there were slight issues noticeable while watching the Tour de France on NBC as well. All 2:2 test clips I had on Blu-ray worked perfectly, so it has to be something with CBS that doesn't work right, but I only noticed it with golf.

The integrated online services all worked well, with Netflix and Hulu Plus getting significant use in our household. The integrated WiFi manages a strong signal with my wireless router and there were no buffering or other issues to report on. Amazon On Demand looked nice in HD as did VUDU HDX trailers. Even in the streaming modes I was able to select the calibrated presets, which many displays do not allow. Otherwise it can be impossible to calibrate the Smart TV content on some displays, as Netflix and others of course do not provide the test patterns you would need.

I really struggled to find something I didn't like while using the 46HX929. The software does take a little bit to start up, but this is the case with most SmartTVs now. Off-axis viewing isn't ideal but that is an issue with all LCDs, and the Sony did relatively well in this regard. The HX929 delivers a fantastic image and looks wonderful. With poor quality sources it has adjustments to help improve them, and with reference quality images you don't lose any detail at all.