The Good Produces the deepest black levels of any non-LED LCD TV we've tested; accurate color temperature and color decoding; solid dejudder video processing; numerous picture controls; comprehensive complement of inputs including four HDMI and one PC; optional different-colored speaker grilles; smart styling; energy efficient.
The Bad Expensive; some color accuracy issues; black levels fluctuate somewhat in dark scenes; below-average screen uniformity; dejudder modes produce artifacts.
The Bottom Line The 52-inch Sony KDL-52XBR6 LCD is a bit too expensive for the level of picture quality it delivers, but its styling and best-in-class black levels help its case.
Sony Bravia KDL - XBR6
Editors' note: The rating on this review has been lowered because of changes in the competitive marketplace.
Sony has always reserved its best features and highest performance for its "XBR"-branded HDTVs, and this year there's an unprecedented three series of Sony sets bearing the moniker. The most-expensive is the XBR8 series, with LED backlighting, followed by the XBR7 series, with different styling and supposedly improved video processing. The least expensive series, dubbed XBR6, is represented here by the 52-inch Sony KDL-52XBR6. Its three largest models feature hot-swappable speaker grilles--perfect if you want your TV to match your Stephen Hawking clock--as well as the somewhat more-important capability to produce the deepest shade of black we've ever tested on a non-LED LCD TV. That's great, but the XBR6 didn't quite live up to the competition in other areas, including color accuracy and the capability to maintain that black level regardless of program content. Don't get us wrong; the Sony KDL-52XBR6 is still a very capable performer. However, to most buyers, it's not quite worth the stiff price over other high-quality 52-inch LCDs.
Bulkier than models in the compact Z-series, the 52-inch XBR6 is still relatively sleek for such a large HDTV. The glossy black frame is the same thickness on all four sides of the screen, and below the frame hangs a thin sheet of transparent plastic that holds up a silver, horizontal speaker bar stretching the width of the television. You can peer through the plastic to check out the silver pedestal of Sony's stand, along with whatever else you've stashed behind the TV.
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