Down the line: Sony flat-panel LCDs

We give a full rundown of Sony's 2007 flat-panel LCD offerings, breaking down each series and explaining the differences between them.

Updated 09-27-07 Sony is a leader in flat-panel LCD TVs, and in 2007 the company has four series of models that offer increasingly more features and different styling for, as usual, increasingly more money. We can't review them all, but we have reviewed two models so far: the KDL-46S3000 and the KDL-46XBR4, both 46-inch flat-panel LCDs, and we expect the reviews of those models to give a you a good idea about other screen sizes in the same series. Read on for details.

KDL-S3000 series

Sony KDL-46S3000
Sony KDL-46S3000 CNET

This is Sony's entry-level flat-panel LCD series, and the only series that is currently available. We have a full review of the 46-inch KDL-46S3000, and its performance should be a good indicator of how the other screen sizes in this series will perform. You can get the full details in the review, but bottom line is that while it performed all right for most viewers and had pretty good black levels, other image quality issues will probably deter home theater purists. You'll also note that this series only features two HDMI ports, which is one fewer than we've been seeing on new HDTVs this year. Sony touts compatability with its Bravia Internet Link module on this series and all 2007 LCDs.

Models (all prices are estimated sale prices)

Entry-level features


KDL-W3000 series

Sony KDL-46W3000
Sony KDL-46W3000 Sony

This is the step-up to the KDL-S3000 series, and you'll pay about an extra $1,000 for the upgrades. For your extra money, you'll get more resolution, as all of these panels feature a native resolution of 1,920x1,080 (aka 1080p). At these screen sizes, we're betting that the extra resolution won't matter from an average viewing distance. In other words, sure, the extra detail is there, but unless you're sitting just a few feet away from your HDTV, you won't be able to see it.

The other upgrades also seem to be more bark than bite. Sony is touting x.v.Color (also known as xvYCC) on these panels, which is a new color space that offers 80 percent more color than standard ATSC color space. However, until there are high-definition movies and players capable of handling the expanded color gamut, the only material using x.v.Color will be home recorded movies with x.v.Color-compatible camcorders. So most people probably won't see any benefit from x.v.Color.

The sets can also accept video signals at 24 frames per second, which some have claimed can reduce judder in film-based material. We haven't seen evidence of that yet, and even those who do claim there is a difference say that it only occurs when the refresh rate is an even multiple of 24--like the step-up KDL-XBR4 models with 120Hz refresh rates. So it's nice that it can accept 1080p/24 frames per second material, but don't expect to see any performance gains.

On the other hand, some of the step-ups have potential. These sets feature 10-bit video processing and are capable of displaying 10-bit color. We haven't reviewed any sets with this capability, so we don't know how it will perform--so stay tuned for our hands-on review. There's also the possibility that there are other picture quality improvements to this series over the KDL-S3000 series, so again we'll withhold judgment until we get our hands on one.

Sony still hasn't announced the exact connectivity of this set, or the other step-up series, except that this series will include HDMI, component, and PC inputs.

Models

Step-up features

  • 1,920x1,080 native resolution
  • 10-bit video processing, 10-bit panels
  • x.v.Color
  • Can accept 1080p/24 signals

KDL-XBR4 series

Sony KDL-52XBR4
Sony KDL-52XBR4 Sony

In September 2007 we reviewed the KDL-46XBR4, the 46-inch member of this series, and we really liked what we saw . The KDL-XBR4 series has a few upgrades over the KDL-W3000 series, which you'll pay about $300 extra for. First, the KDL-XBR4 series features swappable bezels, like last year's Sony KDL-XBR2 series, which means you can buy additional bezels to change the color of the frame around your TV. Another upgrade is what Sony calls "Motionflow 120Hz high frame rate technology." This refers to the fact the the KDL-XBR4 series has a 120Hz refresh rate, which means can reduce judder and produce smoother images with less motion blur. Check out the full KDL-46XBR4 review for details on this feature.

Models

Step-up features

  • Swappable bezel
  • 120Hz refresh rate

KDL-XBR5 series

Sony KDL-46XBR5
Sony KDL-46XBR5 Sony

The KDL-XBR5 series is nearly identical to the KDL-XBR4 series, except it offers a nonremovable piano-black bezel. Besides that, Sony did not announce any other differences between the KDL-XBR5 and KDL-XBR4 series.

Models

Step-up feature

  • Piano-black bezel, non-swappable

We'll update this information if and when we find out more.

Read the full CNET Review

Sony Bravia KDL-26S3000

The Bottom Line: Sony's entry-level LCD, the KDL-46S3000 offers fine picture quality for most viewers, but bargain shoppers and home theater sticklers alike may want something different. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Sony Bravia KDL-32S3000

The Bottom Line: Sony's entry-level LCD, the KDL-46S3000 offers fine picture quality for most viewers, but bargain shoppers and home theater sticklers alike may want something different. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Sony Bravia KDL-40S3000

The Bottom Line: Sony's entry-level LCD, the KDL-46S3000 offers fine picture quality for most viewers, but bargain shoppers and home theater sticklers alike may want something different. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Sony Bravia KDL-40XBR4

The Bottom Line: Although not quite as impressive as the best plasmas, the 46-inch Sony KDL-46XBR4 outperforms any flat-panel LCD we've tested so far. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Sony Bravia KDL-46XBR4

The Bottom Line: Although not quite as impressive as the best plasmas, the 46-inch Sony KDL-46XBR4 outperforms any flat-panel LCD we've tested so far. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Sony Bravia KDL-52XBR4

The Bottom Line: Although not quite as impressive as the best plasmas, the 46-inch Sony KDL-46XBR4 outperforms any flat-panel LCD we've tested so far. / Read full review

About the author

Covering home audio and video, Matthew Moskovciak helps CNET readers find the best sights and sounds for their home theaters. E-mail Matthew or follow him on Twitter @cnetmoskovciak.

 

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