I have recently had the pleasure of checking
out the Sony Bravia KDL-40W2000, which is a 1,920 x 1,080 Flat Panel LCD
HDTV. In the past, I was very unimpressed with Sony's
achievements in the thin panel arena. Their plasma products, mostly using
Hitachi PDPs, were simply an amazing outer design with simply an awful PQ
In general, I'm one of those people that when
faced with either watching an LCD display or a plasma, even one with a
significantly inferior resolution, would always choose plasmas.
Full HD screens are still not that popular and I decided to give Sony a
chance to redeem itself.
The front of the display is encased in silver
with speakers on the bottom that I would only use for watching the news
(unless you are interested in putting this display in your bedroom, in which
case, it will do just fine).
This is definitely a nice looking display.
Sony brought out their big design guns for the X series, but overall there
is very little technical difference between the two models.
Still, the 40W2000 looks great, and I would
probably advise most people to get this line of products rather than shelling out
more of their hard earned money for a slightly cooler outer design.
KDL-40W2000 has every connection known to man. The European model I
tested had two SCART connections, a single component input, two HDMI inputs, VGA
input, S-Video, composite, plus a CI slot and a digital tuner. I
would personally prefer two of everything, but even one of everything is
better than most companies offer.
The sticker on the unit itself claims a
ridiculous 8000:1 contrast ratio. In reality, no LCD can come within 10
miles of that number, of course. The best panels today can claim 1500:1 and
it still wouldn't come close. Still, this Bravia model offers a realistic
value of around 3000:1 Full On/Off contrast (1000:1 with fixed backlight). This
is quite an impressive number indeed.
Sony further enhances the perception
of this value by the typical contrast stretching techniques that have become
so popular of late. They use similar technology in their front projectors
(HS60 and VW50 come to mind). Such as with their front projection screens,
the effects are quite subtle, and unless you specifically look for them, or
are subject to artifacts directly related to them (black letterbox bars and
constantly changing APL – such as strobing lights or bright to dark
ping-pong scenes), you typically just get used to it.
The blacks are deep, and in most normal content
I did not really feel a dramatic lack of it. In mixed scenes (dark and
light), plasma will likely perform much better, but how many full HD 40"
plasmas do you know of (hint - none)?
I normally find the whole LCD viewing
experience quite uncomfortable. There's a certain grain there that usually
just annoys me, people's faces look like they're made of plastic, and the
fine detail just gets lost as soon as the camera moves an inch. I found none
of those issues here with the Sony. In fact, as soon as the screen receives the typical DVE tweaking (brightess/contrast calibration, minor color correction, and
removing the horrid VIVID setting that most displays are stuck with to be
more distinctive at the store) makes the screen look great.
A typical problem with most LCDs is their lack
of full coverage of the colorspace gamut. This model covers the entire HDTV
gamut and then some. In addition, at setting of WARM2, it gets pretty close
to D65 (averaging around 7300) which is quite remarkable.
Another issue that many LCD manufacturers
induce, is a very strong sharpness filter, to emphasize that the display is
sharp even when it displays SD programming. Guys, we know your screens are
sharp, but give us a break with the sharpness filters – or at least let us
turn them off. Toshiba is renown for pushing up the sharpness so high that
most objects have a 2-3 pixel halo around them.
Sony is much more subtle with this "feature"
and lets you turn it off completely by putting sharpness at setting 0.
This full HD panel, made by Sony in a joint
venture factory with Samsung, sports an 8ms screen. It does not do away
completely with smearing, and my favorite test for this comes from the DVDO
test disk that was included with my VP50 – the Spears & Munsil (S&M) disk. The
rolling credits test is great for checking smearing, and the display does
smear a little bit, but it is rarely noticeable with real life content.
The front of the display is the typical
diffused film that makes the screen appear darker in the store than it is in
the real world. It certainly diffuses light better than the glass on the
front of most plasmas, but if you put it opposite a window, it would still
be quite difficult to watch TV with the reflection.
De-interlacing did OK and locked onto 3:2
content quite nicely, but the scaling was just plain OK-ish. Hooking up an
external processor like the VP50 really makes this display come to life.
But to do that, you really need to get the
unit to work at Native Rate. Ironically, most 1080p displays, even when they
receive 1080p signals, still employ their internal processor because they overscan. While overscanning is a necessity for some broadcasters, it can
reduce the benefit of a Blu-ray or HD DVD signal which should be shown pixel
for pixel on the display.
Luckily, Sony lets you work in what they call
"Full Pixel" mode, which is Native Rate. This works for both 60 Hz and 50 Hz
sources (and of course, 24p too!) and makes a dramatic leap when feeding the
unit honest-to-goodness 1080p sources.
The display decodes HDMI audio with perfect
clarity. For computer or DVI sources, you have to use an analog audio input, which
one of the two HDMI inputs offers. This worked great with the OPPO 971
(great match with this display, by the way).
Switching from YCBCr (4:4:4) to RGB and back,
on the OPPO 981, had no visible effect on the image – i.e., no problems with
REC601 vs. REC709.
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