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Sony KZ-TS1 review: Sony KZ-TS1

Sony KZ-TS1

Peter Barry
4 min read
The Sony WEGA KZ-32TS1 is a 16:9, 32-inch, flat-panel plasma display--you know, the kind of TV that hangs on the wall and makes everyone who sees it jealous. Unlike many of its brethren, this Sony packs an ensemble of TV-like features, including a tuner and speakers. With a native resolution of 1,024x852, the WEGA can handle HDTV displays but not computer graphics. This quirk and other limitations prevent the KZ-32TS1 from breaking into the plasma elite. The KZ-32TS1 looks sleek and sophisticated. It has a simple, silver finish framing the display area and just enough room below the screen to house two small speakers. The power button is the only control on the unit's front; you'll find buttons for input, volume, and channel along the set's top edge. These controls will be more difficult to access if this plasma is mounted on the wall.
A small, unobtrusive pedestal base, appropriate for resting on a tabletop or a shelf, is included with this Sony. The base is removable, and the set can be hung on the wall by purchasing the optional $269 mounting bracket, although this WEGA's 5.25-inch depth causes it to protrude farther than most other panels.
The slim-line remote is intuitively designed, and key functions glow in the dark. We also appreciate the extensive but clearly labeled menu system, which makes setup and use painless affairs.
In case you're looking for a bigger plasma pane, Sony's step-up WEGA KZ-42TS1 offers 42 inches of screen. For such a slim set, the KZ-32TS1 packs in the features. First, this plasma monitor is consumer-friendly since it incorporates two speakers and TruSurround with SRS 3D enhancement, as well as an onboard TV tuner. On the downside, this WEGA cannot display computer images.
A few features not found on normal TVs include Screen Zoom (standard, 2X, 3X, and 4X); Screen Size (horizontal and vertical adjustments for centering and setting up aspect ratios); pixel-clock adjustments for RGB signals; screensavers to prevent burn-in; auto Y/C on/off for S-Video inputs; unit status for temperature and fan; and a color system that accepts most foreign video formats such as PAL and SECAM. Particularly welcome is gamma correction (low, medium, and high), an adjustment that changes the color of gray and is usually not accessible by the user.
Among the more common adjustments are three color-temperature presets: neutral, cool, and warm. You'll also get what Sony calls "ihhhhh," a setting that provides customizable red-, green-, and blue-gain adjustments for two different users. Sony also throws in four levels of noise reduction and CineMotion 3:2 pull-down processing for optimizing film-based images. This WEGA even has an expanded list of picture modes: Vivid, Standard, Living Room, Movie, and A/V Pro. Unfortunately, the changes that you make to picture parameters such as contrast and brightness are not saved specifically for each input.
The set's back panel houses a good selection of jacks, including one composite-video input, two S-Video ports, one RF input, one HD component-video input, and one HD-component port with RGB. The successor to this plasma, Sony's KE-32TS2, adds an HDTV-compatible DVI input for use with next-generation set-top receivers. We went through the clearly labeled but extensive menu system to achieve our basic scenario for video use, settling on the A/V Pro picture mode with a neutral color temperature and gamma set at the midway point. This combination produces the best grayscale out of the box. Contrast was set fairly high, but using a test pattern, we saw that the WEGA could properly handle the entire range of output without clipping, which results in crushed whites and a loss in detail.
The color decoder is disappointing--it pushes red quite hard, and yellows appear closer to green. As a result, we had to decrease the color control to get an accurate palette. Taking measurements, we found that the set delivered appropriate light output, and grayscale was very close to the industry standard. In fact, grayscale looked very good, with neutral gray from top to bottom.
We looked at Monsters, Inc., the first Austin Powers movie, and Insomnia for some reference material. As might be expected, the animation on Monsters, Inc. looked great; it was sharp, detailed, and brightly colored, although saturation wasn't as intense as it could have been due to the reduced color control. We also didn't see any true, detailed blacks.
On Austin Powers, the colors remained in the clothes, but in the Virtucon boardroom, the black-lacquer table looked somewhat washed out. Still, that's a fairly bright scene. Plasma generally gets many picture attributes correct--grayscale, white uniformity, and clean edges--but the ability to show deep, detailed blacks is critical.
The dark interiors of Insomnia proved to be the perfect test. When Al Pacino sits down to dinner in the hotel with another detective, the jackets are a dead giveaway when there's a problem. Rather than showing the fine details of the subtly patterned wool coat, this WEGA loses certain information. Therefore, you instead see false-contouring artifacts, which appear as pixelated pools of color (it helps to stand close to the set). We had the Panasonic PT-42PD3-P on hand for comparison, and it handled deep blacks much better than this Sony.

Sony KZ-TS1

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 6
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