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Sony KDL-V40XBR1 LCD HDTV Print E-mail
Tuesday, 01 August 2006
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Without a doubt, this television is capable of assuming a window-like transparency when given a steady diet of high-quality HD programming. I was repeatedly amazed by just how much light and range of color could be reproduced by this television. Because this is an LCD engine utilizing a fluorescent backlight, light output is largely a function of total bulb brightness and, in this case, the calibrated peak white output (full field or window pattern) was 134 ft/Lamberts in the custom mode with Warm 1 color temperature. This is outstanding for any television or monitor and it makes the images displayed really, really pop out at you in a very three-dimensional way. I am a great advocate of reproducing light levels of recreated images as closely as possible to reality. While this is rarely possible (because creating equally bright red, green and blue light-emitting devices or substances that track from black to full-on color evenly is a tricky art at best), realistic light levels greatly enhance the perception that one is looking through a window with something on the other side, instead of just an artificial recreation of the same. With the Bravia V40XBR1, I always felt that the images were exceptionally bright, clear and colorful – almost touchable.

This sense of palpability, that objects, people and landscapes are actually on the other side of the screen, is further augmented by an extremely wide color gamut, only exceeded by the Qualia 005.

The coordinates Sony has chosen for the red, green and blue primaries for this television, in combination with their proprietary WCG-CCFL (Wide Color Gamut – Color Corrected Fluorescent Backlight) are quite a bit more deeply saturated (farther towards the edge of the chart) than the currently accepted standard called Rec. 701 HDTV color primaries, but they are surprisingly close to the original NTSC color space established in 1953 before anyone had actually tried to build a practical color television. Prior to Joe Kane and Joel Silver’s creation of the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) in 1994, only television and video engineers used these tools to make absolutely certain that their broadcasts were accurately portrayed. But television manufacturers have cheated for years in recreating accurate color saturation and hue of the primaries in favor of better and brighter light output, correcting saturation deficiencies with a number of electronic bypasses.

This continues into today’s displays, where we now have both SDTV color standards (Rec. 601) and HDTV (Rec. 701) coinciding on the same screen all the time. These represent a noticeably different color gamut (the triangular area that defines the colors available to the broadcast system), with Rec. 701 occupying a larger area with its corners farther toward the edge of the chart. “Chihuly Over Venice” (PBS HD) offers a superb opportunity to evaluate the color and hue of any display. Dale Chihuly’s glassblowing abilities are among the finest in history and his choice of glass color, shape and texture can easily be seen to change from scene to scene as he travels the world of glassblowing in this finely produced and directed HDTV program. The Sony V40XBR1 Bravia was extremely adept at bringing out the full range of colors available from every program source, including this one, while the very awkward-to-access user menu allows for a very wide variety of adjustments that include four different color temperatures, several detail and texture enhancers, both normal Rec.601 and wide Rec.701 color gamut settings and numerous other less important but sometimes necessary visual enhancers.

The effect of all these controls and the wide color gamut is to create an extremely refined image with great color saturation and accuracy of hue, combined with a very prodigious light output for a commercial television. It is also easily possible to see a whole new range of subtle tints and hues when using the DB-15 connector on Input 7 to display still images from a laptop, camera or other image source. The sheer power of these pictures presented an extremely compelling slide show being reminiscent of a similar 35mm family event seen on a small screen. In fact, the color fidelity of the Sony 40-inch Bravia was so good that still images popped even more than most HDTV images, save HD DVD and Blu-ray, which looked simply fabulous. This hails a true revolution for flat panel image quality.

I want to mention that video and computer games, thanks to all this color fidelity, resolution and light output, were absolutely fantastic. XBOX 360 driving games such as “Burnout Revenge 360,” which is a much more compelling game with the added graphics available in the 360 version than the original, alongside such old favorites as “PacMan” and “Galaxian” from several reissues of 1980s favorites, are more enjoyable than they ever were in the arcade. The Bravia fully captures and enhances (at the user’s adjustments) every jot and tittle of detail and color ever revealed on any display device, short of the most ideal laboratory monitor I have seen thus far.

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