Friday, October 17, 2008

Sony Bravia KDL-55XBR8

CNET gives a score of 9 to the 55" Sony XBR8 LED-backlit LCD HTDV which is the highest ever for any LCD display. The Pioneer Elite Kuro 9G plasma still scores a higher perfect 10 as the current HD display champ. The MSRP of the 55" Sony XBR8 is $7000 which is more expensive than the MSRP of the 60" Pioneer Kuro Elite. Bigger screen, better picture quality, lower price. The Kuro plasma is still king.

Sony's Triluminos RGB LED backlight technology differs than the white LED implementation used by the Samsung LN46A950. Sony uses an array of 128 red, green, and blue LEDs that are individually controlled for regional contrast control. If uniform LED regions are used than that works out to about 16 x 8 = 128 LEDs for a 16:9 aspect ratio display. While this backlight technology offers an amazing black level and is an improvement over the CCFL backlights it still has some display issues such as off-axis viewing and region blooming.

  • excellent black levels (almost as good as the Kuro)
  • off-axis viewing has black level and picture quality degradation
  • LED array regions produce slight blooming
  • Ethernet DLNA supports only pictures (no music, no video)
  • USB memory port supports music and pictures (no video)
  • they thought the XMB (Crossbar Media Bar) interface was a bit cumbersome
  • 120 Hz refresh rate (for dejudder and 24 fps 5:5 pulldown modes)
  • advanced color temperature controls (RGB gain/bias)
  • "funky" Digital Reality Creation (DRC) video processing for Reality vs. Clarity?
  • game mode that reduces video processing lag
  • single ATSC/QAM tuner means lack of true PIP
  • TV Guide onscreen electronic programming guide (Ethernet or PSIP?)
  • Energy Star 3.0 compliance for a calibrated 140W (0.11 W/sq. inch)
  • 4 HDMI ports, 3 composite, 1 S-Video Y/C, 2 component YCbCr
  • 1920x1080 VGA, 10/100 Ethernet, USB 2.0 port, optical Toslink output,
  • plus a couple propriety Sony ports for Bravia-link and iPods
  • very close to D65 performance out of the box
  • on completely dark screen: Sony 0.001 cd/m2 vs. Pioneer 0.002 cd/m2
  • excellent color accuracy
  • LED Motion Plus dejudder
    • created slight motion artifacts
    • Clear mode: 1000 lines of motion resolution
    • Smooth / Standard mode: 600 - 700 lines of motion resolution
    • Off mode: 300 - 400 lines of motion resolution
  • matte screen, excellent ambient light and reflection performance
  • average SD performance
I feel that the the poor off-axis picture quality is an issue. The CNET reviewer said "Sony's black level performance and color saturation fell off noticeably when we moved off-angle by just one seat cushion on our test couch, while the plasmas stayed consistent." A one seat sweet spot is just not acceptable. I also feel that motion lines of resolution is a major issue. The Sony XBR8 with the LED Motion Plus at maximum has an excellent 1000 lines of motion resolution but it creates slight video artifacts. When disable LED Motion Plus the artifacts go away but the motion resolution drops to 300 lines. So it is a choice, you can't have 1000 lines of motion resolution and be artifact free at the same time. So both the off-axis PQ and motion resolution issues are deal breakers in my book.

The MSRP of the 55" Sony XBR8 is $7000 which is more expensive than the MSRP of the 60" Pioneer Kuro Elite. Bigger screen, better picture quality, lower price. The Kuro 9G plasma is still king.


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