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CNET First Look
Sony Bravia XBR-52HX909Although its black levels challenge the best ever, some other picture-related aspects of the Sony XBR-HX909 series don't live up to the high price.
>> Hi, I'm David Katzmaier from CNET, and this is the Sony XBR-52-HX909. It's one of two sizes in Sony's highest-end or second highest-end LCD TV for 2010. The other's a 46-incher. This review will apply to both sizes. Why Sony charges so much money for this TV has partly to do with the LED backlight. We'll get to that in a little bit, but another reason is the styling on this TV. It uses their monolith design, so if you look at it from the side, the screen kind of disappears into the frame of the TV, and even from the front, it's kind of one big black slab. We really like the look. There's a little bit of contrast provided here by the silver stand on the bottom and the silver edge, and in general it's one of the nicest-looking TVs we've seen. The HX909 also has 3D TV compatibility, meaning if you buy a set of glasses, about $150 a piece and a separate IR emitter, which is another $50, you can watch 3D content with compatible sources. This TV also includes an excellent selection of video streaming services, from Netflicks and Amazon Video on Demand to services like blip.tv and Howcast. There's also the ability to search some of the niche services all together with one search, so we really like that feature. On the flip side, this TV lacks the widgets compatability seen on some other TVs, so you can't get weather unless you turn to the Weather Channel on this set. Other features on the Sony include extensive array of picture adjustments, including color temperature adjustments, gamma control and an LED backlight control. There's also a couple of extra motion flow settings for playing around with the smooth dejutter processing on this television. Back panel includes 2 HDMI, 2 component video input, and a PC input. There's also an Ethernet port back there. There is no built-in Wi-Fi on this TV as there are in some other Sony televisions. There's also a side panel with two HDMI inputs and a video input. On the back panel there's also this RS-232 port that kind of hangs out a little bit from the back, spoiling the profile somewhat. But of course, unless you look behind the TV, you're not going to see it. In terms of picture quality, the Sony HX909 was very good, but still relatively disappointing given its very high price. It does have an LED local dimming full array backlight, which should enable excellent blacks and does, but on the flip side the black levels are spoiled a little bit by blooming. When you have a bright area that's adjacent to some dark areas, that brightness can kind of spill into the dark a little bit more than we've seen on other full-array local dimming sets. So that does kind of spoil the impact. It does also have a tendency, this television, to get a little bit blue, especially in dark areas and during the blooming, and even in very bright highlights the blue kind of creeps in. On the other hand, we did appreciate the video processing on the Sony. It does 1080p24 well, although you're not going to get full motion resolution in that mode. But again, we still prefer to keep the 1080p24 as it should look. Sony also has a relatively glossy screen, which does give you some reflections in a bright room, but on the flip side it does preserve black levels relatively well. We talked a little bit about 3D in the beginning, but the 3D on this Sony is pretty much in the middle between the Samsung and the Panasonic. There's not as much crosstalk, which can appear as slight ghosting around objects, as we saw on the Samsung. But again, there's a lot more crosstalk than we saw on the Panasonic. There was also a little bit of flicker and very bright objects that might have been the glasses themselves kind of kicking in on the Sony. We didn't see that kind of flicker on the Panasonic or the Samsung. This TV also has a simulated 3D mode that allows it to turn any 2D images, including streaming video, into 3D. Of course it doesn't work nearly as well as actual 3D content, but it might be cool for some people. That's a quick look at the Sony XPR-HX909 series, and I'm David Katzmaier.