|Sony KV-36XBR450 Wega FD Trinitron 36-inch TV|
|Home Theater Flat Panel HDTVs CRT TVs|
|Written by Richard Elen|
|Friday, 01 February 2002|
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Installation and Setup
The KV-360XBR450 is fitted with a helpful series of inputs. These include the standard VHF/UHF antenna/cable coax input and a converter output allowing the TV to be switched between scrambled and unscrambled cable channels without a splitter (in through VHF/UHF in, out of “to converter” to the cable box, and out from the cable box to “AUX”). The auxiliary coax input could also be useful if you can’t get local channels on your satellite system and want to hook up an antenna as well.
For most people, however, it’s the A/V inputs that will be of most interest. There are six of them: 1-3 offer composite, S-Video and stereo audio inputs, with #2 being on the front panel for hooking up your camcorder. Input 4 offers composite only plus stereo audio, while 5 and 6 are component inputs (accepting 1080i/480p/480i), plus stereo audio. Useful. In addition to the inputs, there are composite plus stereo monitor out, and a fixed or variable stereo audio-only output. A pair of sockets for Control S in and out completes the picture.
That’s really about it for hookup: all you do if you have a cable system connected is to run Auto Setup to find your available channels. Once you’ve done that, you can set up a list of favorites and preview them with Twin View while continuing to watch the main selection. You can change the relative size of the pictures, using the comprehensive remote, which includes a joystick as well as the theoretical capability to control other pieces of gear you own (it wouldn’t talk to any of mine, but I have a Pronto, as regular readers will know, so never mind). Also accessible from the remote is the Freeze function, which freezes the picture so you can note down phone numbers, etc.
The onscreen menu situation is pretty comprehensive, accessed with the Menu button on the remote and then selected and configured with the joystick. Video controls picture settings, Audio is similarly obvious, Channel configures the Favorites list and auto program, Parent includes V-Chip-related parental controls, Timer lets you set the clock and program the TV for scheduled viewing, and Setup is the most fun of all. Operationally, this is one of the most intuitive menu setups I have seen, easy to navigate and operate.
In the Video section, you can do all the obvious stuff like contrast, brightness, color, hue (how primitive this seems to someone brought up on PAL, where you can’t make people’s faces go green…) and sharpness. There is even more fun to be had here, however. There are a set of viewing modes: vivid (turns everything up too much – yuck), standard – exactly what it says, and if you set it to this you would not be unhappy, movie – supposed to make the picture more “film-like” (I don’t like, personally), and pro, which for my eyes gives the best balance of all.
Then you can mess with the color temperature: cool, neutral or warm (the latter being NTSC standard, and adding a slightly red tinge). I preferred neutral. Velocity modulation sharpens the picture, evidently by amplifying the contrast on either side of a transition. You can have it set to high, medium, low or off. This is rather a matter of taste (as is a lot of this stuff), but I preferred medium. Finally, there is the Digital Reality Creation (DRC) mode setting. I kept coming back to this and trying different settings. You can choose between three: interlaced, progressive and CineMotion. The DRC system is a line doubler as mentioned above, which affects hi-res input sources such as component or S-Video inputs. Interlaced is recommended for moving pictures, Progressive for still images and text – especially good for DVD-Audio -- and CineMotion does something really arcane, applying a reverse 3/2 pulldown process, depending on recognition of film content. The result of this is to improve the appearance of moving images. Interlaced does the same thing, so you need to see which you prefer on a given source.
The Audio menus handle treble, bass, balance, MTS (mono, stereo, SAP), speaker on/off, and so on, all of which you probably aren’t using, because you are probably running the audio through your A/V receiver. There is also a surround effect option that allows you to do two-speaker surround decoding with TruSurround, simulate the effect for mono programs, or turn it off. Furthermore, you have a built-in level regulation system called Steady Sound, which keeps the volume the same between quiet programs and over-loud commercials: you can turn it on or off. Finally, you can determine whether the audio outs follow the volume control setting or not.
The Channel menu includes things like cable/antenna switching, the favorite channel system referred to earlier, auto-program and channel skip/add and labeling. In addition, there is a very useful feature called Channel Fix. This lets you limit the channels you can select to a subset if you are using external sources for everything (like me). You can lock the set to channel 3 or 4, for example, or the AUX input, or a video input. You can lock the set down to a very basic set of channels, as I did. I had three labeled inputs, Receiver (an S-video input); VHS (a composite input) and DVD (a component input), and set the system to allow only those selections. Nice and trouble-free.
On the Parent menu, you can set up a four-digit password and configure a parental lock facility for different ratings systems, depending on where you purchased the unit, while the Timer menu offers settings for two timers and clock setting (including DST on/off).
The Setup menu covers a bunch of things that haven’t been handled elsewhere, some of which are very useful. Several different sets of closed-captioning and station information can be displayed, including XDS (Extended Data Service) where available. You can correct the tilt of the picture, if there is any, and set the language for onscreen displays. You can also run a demo of the onscreen menus and set up 16:9 enhancement, which increases the resolution of the picture on widescreen sources, to be either “auto” or “on.” You can label the video inputs from a (rather restricted) list, or set them to “skip,” so that when you step through the video inputs with the remote, it skips past inputs that have nothing connected to them.
While the remote control is elegant and very effective at controlling the TV, the flip-cover that reveals an additional set of controls for handling other devices is only really useful if you have Sony gear. The list of codes for third-party devices that can be controlled from the remote is very limited and there is no IR “learn” facility, which essentially wastes an otherwise nicely-designed remote control.