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Sony KDL-46Z4100 LCD HDTV  Print E-mail
Home Theater Flat Panel HDTVs LCD HDTVs
Written by Tom Volotta   
Thursday, 30 April 2009
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Sony KDL-46Z4100 LCD HDTV 
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The rather empty, on-screen interface Sony provides for making these selections leaves much to be desired in providing information about the effects of these adjustments.  Lots of dead space!  Being able to see a representation of how the different settings impact the content you’re viewing in the moment would be a much welcome feature of the interface. 

Picture Enhancer

Even Sony’s printed instructions provides little in the way of understanding just how these features should be optimized for viewing different content sources.  It would seem the designers of the 46Z4100 user manual ran out of gas when it came to illustrating these crucial visual concepts.  Instead, they allocated their graphic budget to “Exploring Fun Features” such as Favorites, the TV Guide, instead of more clearly explaining and demonstrating elements that would most effect picture quality.

Insert the added factor of the source device, e.g., Blu-ray player, having a variety of selectable, some forced, or automatic output settings for resolution and frame rate and it’s no wonder this is one of the most complex areas to understand for consumers, and is even the subject of differing views among industry professionals.

CineMotion is more of a traditional inverse pull-down processor to better display film-based content.  The attempt here is to deconstruct, then reconstruct the mix of film frames in video fields in order to eliminate the encoded overlap and image smearing.  Again, 24 fps film transferred to 30 fps (60 fields per second) video contains built-in picture and timing flaws that CineMotion attempts to correct.  In addition to turning the pull-down OFF, there are two settings, Auto 2 and Auto 1.  Auto 1 is the suggested mode for regular use, as it is supposed to apply to a wider range of content.  TV broadcast, cable and satellite in particular can be a bewildering mishmash of film and video formats, encoding schemes, etc.  It adds more processing for a smoother picture.  Auto 2 attempts to retain the characteristics of film, so is more appropriate when assigned to sources like Blu-ray and DVD.

Some people don’t care for applying all the smoothing techniques, and finding the right combination of Motionflow and CineMotion is something of a hit & miss process, with the content and its playback source important variables.  Some of the film pull-down issues are fading away as feature films distributed on Blu-ray are being encoded in their original 24 frame per second format.  A process that began years ago with DVDs, as it is more economical to store movies at 24 fps than 30, and it is truer to the filmmaker’s vision.  With displays like the KDL-46Z4100 able to show 1080p24, a more accurate final product will be seen.  Super smooth, blur-free motion isn’t always the intent.

In viewing different combinations of Motionflow and CineMotion setting with a number of real world commercial Blu-ray and DVD titles, along with the DVE HD - Basics Blu-ray disc, I didn’t see startling differences.  Keeping the Sony BDP-S350 Blu-ray player pretty much on its “Auto” modes and connecting to the 46Z4100 through HDMI, with Motionflow and CineMotion both set to “OFF” gave me great pictures.  No doubt other content like sports coming into the TV through assorted resolutions, frame rates and inferior transport codecs would benefit from customizing those inputs with these advanced motion settings, but you’ll need to experiment with what works best.

Roolar Coaster

Admittedly, I did not have access to the FPD Benchmark Software Blu-ray disc when conducting my review.  For a more comprehensive analysis of these particular features, I’d recommend reading the November 2008 review here on AVRev of the 40” version, the KDL-40Z4100, written by Adrienne Maxwell, who goes into extensive detail on both Motionflow and CineMotion.
 
When activating Motionflow and CineMotion at their highest processing modes, I did see an additional amount of smoothing on some material, such as panning or tracking shots of vertical lines.  But, it wasn’t so compelling that I felt the need to keep those settings.  Only so much can be done trying to correct these effects, and introducing too much in the way of artificial frame processing can sometimes detract from what the viewing experience like motion blur or a “picket-fence” effect which is intended.  There’s also the factor of incorrect encoding techniques such as improper cadence detection (untangling the mixing of different 2:3 frames and fields) being embedded in the content before it reaches your TV making it a lost cause from the start.
In all the combinations of settings for Motionflow and CineMotion, I simply didn’t see significant differences when watching real world, feature film content, and even on test and calibration discs.



 
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