The Good Deep black levels for a non-LED-based LCD TV; accurate color temperature and color decoding; solid dejudder video processing; comprehensive complement of inputs including four HDMI and one PC; optional different-colored speaker grilles; smart styling.
The Bad Extremely expensive; 240Hz refresh rate offers only minor improvements to picture quality; some screen uniformity issues; dejudder processing can introduce artifacts.
The Bottom Line The 240Hz Sony KDL-52XBR7 breaks new refresh rate ground, but for most buyers the extra Hz won't be worth the high price.
Sony Bravia KDL-XBR7
Editors' note: The rating on this review has been lowered because of changes in the competitive marketplace.
Among higher-end LCD TVs, a 120Hz refresh rate is fast becoming a standard feature. Typical HDTVs refresh at 60Hz, so doubling the refresh rate allows TV makers to add dejudder video processing that smooths out the picture, reduce blurring in motion, and match the frame rate of 1080p/24 sources like Blu-ray movies. Never mind that dejudder can make film look like video and introduce artifacts, or that the benefits of reduced blurring and 1080p/24 compatibility are difficult for average viewers to spot--like most differentiating, complex-sounding features that enable manufacturers to charge more for higher-end models (1080p anyone?), 120Hz is here to stay. Or maybe it's just a stepping stone to even higher Hz.
The 52-inch Sony KDL-52XBR7 is the first to offer a 240Hz refresh rate. We're sure other manufacturers will come out with 240Hz TVs next year, but for now Sony stands alone. Aside from the higher refresh rate and much, much higher price, this set is identical to the company's KDL-52XBR6, and we even gave them both the same score. In our tests the main benefit of 240Hz turned out to be further-reduced blurring in motion, which, as we mentioned above, is difficult for just about everyone to discern. Don't get us wrong, the Sony KDL-52XBR7 is still a very capable HDTV, with solid color and black level performance and plenty of features. We simply find it hard to justify that much extra cash for such a small increase in performance, especially when better-performing LED-based LCDs and high-end plasmas are available for around the same price.