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As Full HD technology matures at a rapid rate, televisions are getting better and better. It's hard to find fault with the Sony Bravia 46W4000 — basically because it has so few. In addition to exceptional image quality and a good range of features, the Bravia surprised us with one of the best sound systems we have seen on an LCD so far this year.
The W series isn't a massive departure from the market when it comes to aesthetics. It has the common, piano-black bezel albeit with a slight difference. The surface has a faint glitter effect that causes it to sparkle in the light, but it's not really noticeable unless you are specifically looking for it. At the bottom of the bezel are the signature Sony logo and a speaker bar covered by a silver mesh. Underneath this, the stand needs to be attached when setting up the unit, but this is a rather simple process.
The connection options on this unit are outstanding: at the rear, there are two HDMI ports, two component, one S-Video and three composite connections. The left side of the panel sports an additional HDMI and Composite connection as well as USB for viewing photos from a flash drive. There is also an analogue 15pin D-Sub port at the rear for PC connection (with 1:1 pixel mapping). We were impressed with Sony's continuing commitment to supporting non-HD sources. We were also surprised that they resisted the temptation to make their photo feature limited to the proprietary Sony Memory Stick and instead went for the more universal USB format.
If you have played a Playstation 3 or PSP then you will be familiar with the Xross Media Bar. Sony has become so enamoured by this menu system that it has now been included in the Bravia range. Pressing the "Home" key on the TV remote brings up a low resolution version of the Xross which can be used to control all the options the panel has to offer. Those that don't like the Xross need not be alarmed — the remote also has separate buttons for the individual options so you don't actually need to use it at all.
Like the W3100 series, the W4000 has a light sensor which calculates the amount of light in the room and adjusts the image accordingly. However, we found it to be a little too sensitive — causing the image to dim and brighten at odd intervals, which become distracting.
The calibration options offered by the Bravia are rather limited. It has basic contrast, brightness and colour options for tweaking images but past that, there is nothing for those wishing to fine tune for broadcast quality colour. The sound options however, are quite good and allow for the already exceptional audio to be customised to the preferences of the listener.
In addition to its 1920 x 1080 resolution, this television is able to display content authored in 1080p24. This format is designed to replicate the traditional 24 frames per second in which movies are projected. The most common place you will find 24p content is on Blu-Ray and HD-DVD discs.
To test 1080p performance we viewed the Blu-Ray film Casino Royale and found the image quality to be exceptional. The colours were accurate and the black levels were incredibly deep. While there was a small amount of motion judder, it was within acceptable levels for an LCD TV. However, there is noticeable backlight bleeding around the edges of the screen. It isn't excessive, but it is nonetheless considered a flaw. There was a small amount of over-sharpness but it was able to be easily corrected using the Sharpness control.
We tested 720p gaming performance using the Playstation 3 via HDMI, and found the image quality was on par with the 1080p performance. There was no pixilation on textures and motion was fluid without any lag. The upscaling of 576p content was also handled brilliantly. While there was an obvious lack of detail due to the DVD format, there were very little pixilation or interpolation artefacts.
While the image quality was excellent across all resolutions, we were most impressed with the sound fidelity on the W4000. Dialogue, score and effects are all separated well and the even at high volumes there was no distortion. While a home theatre system would obviously provide a better sound experience, the speakers on this unit are more than enough to achieve a great movie environment for those who can't afford a good home theatre set up.
The Sony Bravia 46W4000 is one of the best units we have reviewed so far this year. It isn't perfect but its imperfections are so minor that they don't hamper it being a worthy purchase. For a 46 inch unit, the price tag is quite reasonable and with the quality in mind, we definitely recommend it.