If you spend any time hanging out on the A/V forums, you know that Sony’s A2000 series of rear-projection TVs are among the most popular of last year’s models. For 2007, the company has updated this line of RPTVs, which now includes the KDS-55A2020. I must say it’s one of the best rear-pros I’ve ever seen and quite a bargain to boot.
Like many Sony RPTVs, the KDS-55A2020 is based on SXRD (Silicon Xtal Reflective Display) technology, Sony’s version of LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon), which allows better blacks and less space between pixels than LCD models. There are enough inputs to accommodate most A/V systems, and an onboard digital TV tuner displays over-the-air and unencrypted cable signals. What’s more, this set’s 1920x1080 resolution is perfect for HDTV programs as well as for movies on Blu-ray and HD DVD discs, all of which can be displayed pixel-for-pixel with no image-degrading overscanning.
The remote is a so-so universal type able to control up to three devices other than the TV. There are no direct-access buttons to select the desired input—only a button (mis)labeled Tv/Video, which lets you cycle through inputs. If you’re in a hurry, selecting inputs from the menu is a lot faster.
Speaking of the menu system, it’s not the most well-organized arrangement I’ve seen. For example, you have to drill down two or more levels just to get to the picture controls. At least when you do use them, the menu disappears and the selected control moves to the bottom of the screen so you can see what you’re doing.
Starting with DVD, the black of space in the opening Universal logo on Master and Commander was rich and deep, and the letterbox bars were completely unobtrusive, portending good things to come. Following the watch officer on his below-deck walk, I felt less likely to trip and fall thanks to visible details like shoes on the floor and swinging hammocks—details that many TVs obscure in solid dark areas.
Skin tones were natural, and the rich brown wood of the violin and cello matched the fine playing of Capt. Aubrey and Dr. Maturin. But strong primary colors, such as red uniforms, looked a bit overhyped. The texture of the ground on the Galapagos Islands and the brocade pattern on Dr. Maturin’s coat were as clear and clean as you can expect from DVD that has been upconverted to the TV’s high-def resolution—which is to say, not quite like being there, but close.
On The Chronicles of Riddick HD DVD, I could easily put myself in the Lord Marshall’s place as he surveyed the thousands of massed troops after the fall of Helion Prime—each one was clearly discernable. The black of space was gorgeously deep, and the texture of the rock walls within the dimly lit prison on Crematoria was much more visible—and claustrophobic—than on most other TVs. The gun-metal gray of Necromonger structures was wonderfully depressing, but strong colors, such as the orange-brown of Helion Prime, were more intense than they should be.
HDTV from Charter Cable looked fabulous. The local-news studio shots on KABC, the first station in Los Angeles to broadcast local news in HD, were bright and sharp, making the standard-def field clips look super-soft by comparison. Likewise, a KCET-HD documentary about California’s watershed looked great in high-def, with majestic green and brown panoramas of the forest and Huell Howser’s ruddy complexion and goofy grin.
I found myself being drawn more deeply into the Sony’s picture than most of the RPTVs I’ve seen lately. This is even more impressive when you consider that the Sony's list price is only $2500. Picture sharpness is excellent, especially with an HDMI connection and the amount of detail revealed in dark scenes is simply outstanding. Strong colors tend to be a bit overblown, but not in a terribly objectionable way. All in all, the Sony KDS-55A2020 paints an exceedingly pleasing picture that’s worth a long look. TPV