Updated 09-27-07 Sony is a leader in flat-panel LCD TVs, and in 2007 the company has four series of models that offer increasingly more features and different styling for, as usual, increasingly more money. We can't review them all, but we have reviewed two models so far: the KDL-46S3000 and the KDL-46XBR4, both 46-inch flat-panel LCDs, and we expect the reviews of those models to give a you a good idea about other screen sizes in the same series. Read on for details.
This is Sony's entry-level flat-panel LCD series, and the only series that is currently available. We have a full review of the 46-inch KDL-46S3000, and its performance should be a good indicator of how the other screen sizes in this series will perform. You can get the full details in the review, but bottom line is that while it performed all right for most viewers and had pretty good black levels, other image quality issues will probably deter home theater purists. You'll also note that this series only features two HDMI ports, which is one fewer than we've been seeing on new HDTVs this year. Sony touts compatability with its Bravia Internet Link module on this series and all 2007 LCDs.
Models (all prices are estimated sale prices)
- Sony KDL-46S3000 ($2,500)
- Sony KDL-40S3000 ($1,800)
- Sony KDL-32S3000 ($1,300)
- Sony KDL-26S3000 ($1,100)
- 1,366x768 native resolution
- Two HDMI inputs
- PC input
- Three component video inputs
This is the step-up to the KDL-S3000 series, and you'll pay about an extra $1,000 for the upgrades. For your extra money, you'll get more resolution, as all of these panels feature a native resolution of 1,920x1,080 (aka 1080p). At these screen sizes, we're betting that the extra resolution won't matter from an average viewing distance. In other words, sure, the extra detail is there, but unless you're sitting just a few feet away from your HDTV, you won't be able to see it.
The other upgrades also seem to be more bark than bite. Sony is touting x.v.Color (also known as xvYCC) on these panels, which is a new color space that offers 80 percent more color than standard ATSC color space. However, until there are high-definition movies and players capable of handling the expanded color gamut, the only material using x.v.Color will be home recorded movies with x.v.Color-compatible camcorders. So most people probably won't see any benefit from x.v.Color.
The sets can also accept video signals at 24 frames per second, which some have claimed can reduce judder in film-based material. We haven't seen evidence of that yet, and even those who do claim there is a difference say that it only occurs when the refresh rate is an even multiple of 24--like the step-up KDL-XBR4 models with 120Hz refresh rates. So it's nice that it can accept 1080p/24 frames per second material, but don't expect to see any performance gains.
On the other hand, some of the step-ups have potential. These sets feature 10-bit video processing and are capable of displaying 10-bit color. We haven't reviewed any sets with this capability, so we don't know how it will perform--so stay tuned for our hands-on review. There's also the possibility that there are other picture quality improvements to this series over the KDL-S3000 series, so again we'll withhold judgment until we get our hands on one.
Sony still hasn't announced the exact connectivity of this set, or the other step-up series, except that this series will include HDMI, component, and PC inputs.
- Sony KDL-52W3000 (Coming in August, $4,300)
- Sony KDL-46W3000 (Coming in July, $3,500)
- Sony KDL-40W3000 (Coming in July, $2,700)
- 1,920x1,080 native resolution
- 10-bit video processing, 10-bit panels
- Can accept 1080p/24 signals
In September 2007 we reviewed the KDL-46XBR4, the 46-inch member of this series, and we really liked what we saw . The KDL-XBR4 series has a few upgrades over the KDL-W3000 series, which you'll pay about $300 extra for. First, the KDL-XBR4 series features swappable bezels, like last year's Sony KDL-XBR2 series, which means you can buy additional bezels to change the color of the frame around your TV. Another upgrade is what Sony calls "Motionflow 120Hz high frame rate technology." This refers to the fact the the KDL-XBR4 series has a 120Hz refresh rate, which means can reduce judder and produce smoother images with less motion blur. Check out the full KDL-46XBR4 review for details on this feature.
- Swappable bezel
- 120Hz refresh rate
The KDL-XBR5 series is nearly identical to the KDL-XBR4 series, except it offers a nonremovable piano-black bezel. Besides that, Sony did not announce any other differences between the KDL-XBR5 and KDL-XBR4 series.
- Piano-black bezel, non-swappable
We'll update this information if and when we find out more.