For connecting to the home network, the Sony features both wired and wireless connectivity, with the wireless adapter built into the set, not offered as an add-on component as some other sets require. The adapter features 802.11n compatibility for faster streaming and surfing with current “b/g/n” wireless routers (although it worked flawlessly with my router, which is in another room about twenty or so feet away from the set and which doesn’t feature 802.11n capability).
In what’s sure to be a growing trend, the Sony features universal remote capability, but it’s built into the TV, not the remote itself. At setup, the user is polled to identify any ancillary components connected to the set, such as cable box, DVD or Blu-ray player, etc. Once a brand has been selected, the set provides a power on/off test to verify the right codeset for each. The TV’s back panel sports not one but two infrared blaster outputs, and the set ships with one dual-head IR blaster, which should be enough for most users, but the second jack is there should it be needed. For my Dish Network HD DVR, no IR blaster was required, as the TV talks to the box directly via the HDMI connection.
With a total of four HDMI inputs (two on the back, two on the side), the Sony also supports both component and composite sources, but that’s a shared connection, so it’s an either/or choice. There’s a headphone jack on the side panel that can also be used to connect the set to a desktop audio system, and there’s an optical digital output for connection to an A/V receiver. The Sony also supports the relatively new HDMI Audio Return Channel, which allows a single HDMI connection to an A/V receiver that supports ARC, obviating the need for an optical digital audio cable hookup.
On the side panel, there are no less than four USB ports, which is double or quadruple what most other sets offer, so techies with lots of portable media devices, cameras and the like should be in heaven.
On Screen Display
As the Google TV interface occupies the left side of the screen, instead of using their Xross Media Bar interface as found on many other Sony TVs (as well as the PlayStation), Sony instead opted for a vertical menu column that appears on the right side of the screen. Having the cursor keypads on the remote allows for easy navigation, and I was delighted to find that when I called up the Dish Network program guide, the cursor function allowed me to scoot all around the screen instead of having to jump around in steps.
The OSD also features an extensive owner’s manual built-in, which shrinks the companion printed setup guide that comes with the TV to just a dozen pages, and each of the available setup and operational choices provided on-screen are accompanied by brief but relatively clear instructions and information. Of course, if a user has questions that can’t be answered by the OSD guide, it’s a snap to navigate to Sony’s e-support site via the Chrome browser where many dozens of FAQs await.
If you’re a smart phone or PDA owner and do a lot of texting and tweeting, then you’ll soon feel right at home with the remote control. Sized about as same as a game controller, the remote will soon have both of your thumbs fully exercised in no time. While I hardly ever text and never tweet, it didn’t take too long for a novice like me to get used to the keyboard. Oft-used buttons are on the remote’s top panel between the two cursor keypads, and provide for power, source selection, channel up/down and the like.
But, having two cursor keypads each with its own enter button might give a certain dyslexic feeling after a while, as some actions allow entering from one specific cursor button or the other (but not both). After a week or so, I was still fumbling around getting to know which of the two enter buttons was needed for this or that function.
And then there’s the dreaded Fn (function) key (actually there are two of them, located on the lower corners of the keypad). After a few days I was calling it simply the “F’n” button, as accessing some oft-used functions such as picture settings, guide page up and down and some others, is a two-fingered activity, not helped by the fact that the “F’n” buttons are as tiny as all the others on the keypad. Still, if you’re a regular smartphone texter or tweeter, you should—with time—be able to master the two finger shuffle.
• Color: 45
• Hue: 0
• Sharpness: 3
• Picture Mode: Cinema
• Backlight: 5
• Color Temp: Warm 2
• Gamma: -2 (measures 2.0)
• HD size (pixel-to-pixel): Full Pixel
• Noise Reduction: Off
• MPEG Noise Reduction: Off
• CineMotion: Auto
• Black Corrector: Off
• Advanced Contrast Enhancement: Off
• Live Color: Medium