Down the line: Sony SXRD rear-projection HDTVs

CNET previews Sony's complete line of 2007 SXRD-based rear-projection HDTVs.

Sony has a total of three series of SXRD-based rear-projection televisions for 2007, which works out to eight total models. We can't review all of those sets, but we can give you an idea of how they stack up against one another, and the differences between the baseline versus the step-up models. This info only covers the company's SXRD-based rear-projection HDTVs; Sony also produces a less-expensive line of LCD-based RPTVs, detailed here. For more info on rear-projection technologies, including how SXRD and LCD stack up against DLP, check out our guide.

Sony KDS-A2020 series

Sony KDS-A2020 series
Sony KDS-A2020 series Sony

This is Sony's entry-level SXRD series. It's actually a holdover from the company's 2006 line, with black cabinets replacing silver as the only change. Check out the KDS-60A2020 review for more information.

Models (all prices are estimated selling prices)

Entry-level features

  • 1,920x1,080 (1080p) native resolution
  • Two HDMI inputs
  • VGA-style PC input
  • Bottom-mounted speakers

Sony KDS-A3000 series

Sony KDS-A3000 series
Sony KDS-A3000 series Sony

Sony used to be satisfied with just two series of SXRD HDTVs, but this year it's added a third--the A3000 series--to fit between the entry-level A2020's and the high-end XBRs. These three rear-projection sets are priced higher than many brands' top-of-the-line models, and Sony tries to justify the cost with a few enhancements over the A2020 sets, which themselves cost about $1000 less.

That extra investment nets HDMI 1.3 connections, which in this case don't count for much. The only "extra" HDMI 1.3 provides these TVs is compatibility with a wider color space (Sony's xvYCC, or "x.v. Color"), which is said to provide a more realistic range of color that comes closer to what the human eye can perceive. That sounds great, but in practice you'll need an xvYCC source -- of which there are currently none, aside from a couple of Sony camcorders -- to take advantage of it. These sets also include Sony's Motionflow 120Hz technology, which is said to double the frame rate for smoother, more realistic motion. We're skeptical of its benefits, especially in SXRD TVs that haven't had any problems with blurring or other motion issues as far as we've seen, but we'll know more when we can test this feature. In addition, Sony claims these sets have better standard-def video processing ("Sony's BRAVIA Engine EX full digital video processing system with Digital Reality Creation-Multifunction v1.0", if you're keeping track) and the company includes an easy-access Theater mode to make optimizing the picture for nighttime viewing a one-button affair.

In case those dubious picture quality improvements don't seem worth stepping up for, Sony offers design-based incentives including slimmer cabinets -- the company claims "20% slimmer than last year's sets," which works out to depth of 14.1, 15.2, and 16.2 inches, respectively, on the 50-, 55- and 60-inch models. These models also have the unique ability to replace the black speaker grilles with grilles of a different color (red, silver, black or brown; $50 each). Sony also throws in its newly designed menu system as well as compatibility with the Bravia Internet Link.

Models

Step-up features

  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • x.v. Color
  • Theater Mode
  • Improved video processing
  • Slimmer cabinets
  • Interchangeable speaker grills
  • Bravia Internet Link compatibility

Sony KDS-Z60XBR5 series

Sony KDS-ZXBR5 series
Sony KDS-ZXBR5 series Sony

Much like last year's XBR line--more on that in our full review of the 2006 KDS-R60XBR2--Sony's 2007 XBR models don't offer massive improvements over the step-down series. In fact, aside from the glossy black, noninterchangeable styling, a pedestal stand (pictured; component shelf not included), and an extra-large screen size option, there's only one substantial difference as far as we know: a further-improved version of Sony's video processing, entitled "BRAVIA Engine Pro circuitry with Digital Reality Creation-MultiFunction v2.5." No matter how much further of an improvement it represents, we don't expect too many discerning shoppers to choose the 60-inch XBR, which will initially sell for a full $1500 over its A3000 counterpart.

Models

Step-up feature

  • Further-improved video processing

We'll update this information if and when we find out more, including when we can actually review the new models.

 

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