Sony Grand Wega 42-inch (KFE42A10) review: Sony Grand Wega 42-inch (KFE42A10)

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The Good Crisp image display. Lightweight unit. Very easy to operate.

The Bad Some poor viewing angles. No digital tuner.

The Bottom Line Sony's LCD rear projection Grand Wega TV presents good images but the price point comparative to similar technologies makes this a hard product to recommend.

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The Grand Wega KFE42A10 is a deceptive little TV unit -- although at 999mm x 722mm x 357mm, little is perhaps not the right word. As with most rear projection units, the size of the TV tells you absolutely nothing about the weight, which comes in at a svelte 27kg. The size of the KFE42A10 means you'll still need two people to lift it out of the box, but doing so is surprisingly easy. Once you've got it installed -- and its depth, while much better than that of older rear projection units, still means that this is a TV suitable for free-standing or sitting in a cabinet -- you'll find it imposing in all but the largest home living rooms. Like the older 60-inch Grand Wega KFWS60S1, the style of the KFE42A10 is largely understated, with a centralised Sony logo on the base of the bezel, which is itself encased in a silver plastic frame. As with most black-bezeled TVs, the intended effect is to maximise the perceptible screen size by focusing the eye directly at the screen. As this is a rear-projection unit, that's doubly wise -- but more on that later.

The side of the KFE42A10 houses simple AV inputs -- for home game consoles and the like -- while the rear houses a full array of connections, from composite all the way up to HDMI. The supplied remote is very large and very well laid out. You could just about lose it down the side of a sofa, but you'd have to try very hard indeed.

The KFE42A10 uses a 3-LCD Rear Projection bulb with a top projected resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. Technically, it's 3 times 1280 x 720 pixels, as the projector uses three 1280 x 720 pixel panels in red, green and blue respectively. Still, the overall resolution is one that's actually a touch lower than the older (and costlier) 60-inch Grand Wega set, which topped out at 1366 x 788 pixels. Our review of the older 60-inch model noted that sadly that model came with dual tuners, but only analog ones -- and nothing's changed in 2006, with the KFE42A10 sporting similar dual tuners. There's just nothing to make a good screen seem like a crappy one quite like looking at analog TV images on it.

Like the other Grand Wega TVs -- there's a similar 50-inch model (the KFE50A10) that will set you back an extra AU$1000 -- the KFE42A10 uses Sony's Wega image engine for improved image quality, along with what Sony calls "Cinema Black" technology. This is a contrast circuit that controls the light output of the display during dark scenes in order to deliver optimal black levels -- something that's not always easy with a projected image. The 1280 x720 is compatible with 1080i/720p/576p and 480p digital signals, although as noted above, you'll need a seperate digital TV tuner in order to take advantage of these resolutions for broadcast television.

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