Turning to DVDs, the black letterbox bars on movies never quite disappeared from consciousness, and the black of space in The Fifth Element and Star Trek: Insurrection was somewhat washed out. Individuals were clearly delineated in the crowded plaza at the beginning of The Mask of Zorro, but I could see white outlines where there were sharp vertical transitions from one color to another, such as a flag pole sticking out of the side of a building.
Speaking of color, skin tones looked quite natural, and the red of the Spanish uniforms in Zorro was rich and realistic. I saw some banding in the opening blue backlight, which should be smoothly continuous, but it wasn’t too bad. Shadow detail in the below-deck walk that opens Master and Commander and the dark interior of the observation post in Star Trek: Insurrection was very good, with few if any dark blobs obscuring the low-light details.
Moving on to HD DVD, my DVD observations were confirmed in Batman Begins, which is known for its very dark scenes. When a young Bruce Wayne falls into an old well near the beginning of the movie, subtle details in the walls of the hole from which the bats emerge were clearly evident, although really dark scenes tended to look a bit washed out.
Color-wise, the green of the Wayne gardens, the blue of the Tibetan glacier, and the browns of the mountaintop temple were all beautifully rendered. Edge enhancement was not apparent as it was on DVDs.
As I mentioned earlier, the set’s processor lacks the ability to compensate for the conversion from film’s 24 frames per second to video’s 30fps. I saw no evidence of this in Batman Begins, but I did in Apollo 13—visible jittery artifacts in the fine grille structure between the hood and windshield of Mattingly’s Corvette as he watches the liftoff. Otherwise, fine details like the control labels and readouts in the Apollo capsule were clear as a bell. Color was likewise excellent, with natural skin tones.
As with most LCDs, this one does a less-than-stellar job of rendering blacks, and edge enhancement cannot be completely eliminated. But these are minor problems that won’t be an issue for many viewers. The KDL-46XBR3 is certainly worthy of serious consideration by ladies and gents alike. TPV