Note: Sony Electronics has received reports of intermittent lapses in or no lamp operation for some Grand WEGA LCD rear-projection TV models built before January 1, 2004; the set appears to be powered on but does not produce a picture. Sony has authorized its service centers to replace the lamp and/or lamp block in affected units at no cost to the consumer. Though we didn't experience this problem with our test unit, consumers who encounter this symptom should contact Sony at 800/222-7669.
Sony's new line of LCD-based rear-projection HDTVs, dubbed Grand WEGA, represents a distinct improvement in picture performance over previous models. The line includes both XBR and standard models between 42 and 70 inches in size. The model reviewed here is the 60-inch KF-60WE610, a non-XBR set that doesn't offer certain (and arguably minor) picture-enhancement features. XBR or not, its black-level performance--namely, its ability to accurately render black and very dark areas of the picture--is a huge step up from that of previous models. In fact, the output of Sony's WE610-series LCD sets is now on a par with that of competing DLP RPTVs from Samsung and others. Listed at $3,999 but available for less online, this 60-incher costs more than its CRT-based cousins, but its slimmer, sexier design and its brighter picture make for a good alternative to much pricier plasma sets of equivalent size.
Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.
As far as rear-projection TVs go, the KF-60WE610 is one of the most attractive industrial designs we've seen from any manufacturer. It is a truly impressive-looking TV, and the matching optional SU-GW1 stand ($599) is also quite elegant. The set's silver finish is offset by black borders around the edges of the screen, which may also aid in increasing perceived contrast for a higher-impact picture.
At 21.25 inches deep, the 60WE610 is slimmer than CRT-based rear-projection sets and weighs much less: only 100 pounds. The aforementioned stand or a similar item will be required to raise the set to eye level; on its own, it stands only 42 inches tall.
We found Sony's new, slimmer remote design attractive and finger-friendly. The internal menu is the same easy-to-navigate, intuitive system we have come to like in the WEGA line.
The KF-60WE610 uses new higher-resolution LCD panels that have a native resolution of 1,386x768. That's more than enough to display every pixel of a 720p HDTV source. As with other fixed-pixel displays, all sources are scaled to fit the panel's pixels. You'll need an external HDTV tuner to watch high-def on this monitor.
This set's convenience features are simply too numerous to list. Multiple aspect ratios assure that you will be able to watch all video sources in their correct proportions. For sports fans, a dual-tuner PIP feature is onboard. Audio features include TruSurround SRS for a simulated surround-sound experience from the set's two speakers, 3D Audio system, and Steady Sound automatic volume control.