The science whiz, one of the main characters in this great-looking animated film, activates his water-to-food conversion machine that turns into a flying contraption that takes him on a destructive tear through the center of town, and is as fast-paced a scene as you can imagine. While the active shutter 3D specs provide a better sense of realism and depth than the typical passive 3D glasses handed out at your local movieplex, that better rendition of depth comes with a bit of noticeable picture flicker.
Bright, bold and vivid, the movie is a treat to watch, although at the default color saturation setting, it’s a bit too rich. Bring it down a few notches, and everything looks just fine.
Excellent deep blacks are evident even before the movie begins, as the typical commentary disclaimer screen is simply white text on a jet-black background, and this Sony’s deep black performance is exemplary, as you would expect from a backlit LED local dimming design.
In the science lab, it’s easy to pick out darker parts of the image. As it’s an animated film, there isn’t going to be much in the way of true shadow detail, but even in dimly lit scenes there’s none of the murkiness or black crush that is often found with LCD-based sets
When the set goes into 3D mode, the picture brightness actually drops and it drops by a LOT. That seems to fly in the face of wisdom, as competitive models (such as the excellent Samsungs we’ve tested earlier this year) actually raise the picture brightness automatically when in 3D mode to compensate for the light attenuating effect of the 3D shutter specs.
Broadcast HDTV Evaluation: 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards (NBC)
The appeal of local dimming backlighting is improved contrast, especially in the deep blacks. But, that improved contrast might also be accompanied by a certain amount of “halo-ing”, where there’s a soft dark gray aura around certain images that is distracting and can make the picture look a bit blurry. Here’s where this Sony excels: I looked very hard to see evidence of “halo-ing” and could find none. One of the HD commercials that aired during the broadcast was a promo for Oprah Winfrey’s upcoming final TV season. It closed with her signature logo in pale gray surrounded in black, with additional crisp white text in the scene. Everything looked great, with no local dimming-related artifacts evident.
The default Standard picture mode features extra color saturation (a common malady) that causes orange-tinged flesh tones. Switching over to the Cinema mode makes a huge improvement, but the color control still needed to be dialed back a few notches. Then, realistic flesh tones became the order of the evening.
The Sony presented the best blacks I’ve ever seen from an LCD-based flat panel. Obviously, the local dimming function (where rows of white LEDs behind the imaging panel have their output carefully modulated) is what’s driving the excellent result. Earlier generation Sony local dimming sets used triads of red, green and blue LEDs, but these latest sets feature white LEDs for the backlighting.
During the show, the Nokia Theater’s house lights alternated between dim and bright, and numerous shots of the cavernous theater from the stage with the house lights dimmed certainly put the Sony to the test, which it handled extremely well. Shadow detail with LCD-based sets is often a problem, but not with this Sony, as audience members up in the noise-bleed seats were easily discernible.
Sony offers a range of 3D models, some with LED edge lighting, and others like the 46” XBR set tested here that come with true backlighting with local dimming. The price difference is not insignificant, as a comparable 46” edge lit set (KDL-46HX600 model) carries a much lower list price and Sony is presently offering that set with a full 3D bundled kit, including a 5.1 3D Blu-ray home theater system, two pairs of 3D glasses, the 3D sync transmitter, two 3D Blu-ray movies, and a voucher for four PS3 stereoscopic games and demos. Total cost for that setup is $2,300, and should be considered if you’re value conscious.