|Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70-inch SXRD HDTV|
|Home Theater Rear-Projection HDTVs SXRD Rear-Projection HDTVs|
|Written by Mike Levy|
|Tuesday, 01 May 2007|
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Movies And Television
First things first. I got a set of component cables and an HDMI cable and hooked the set up to an HD cable box. The component input looked great with only a few digital artifacts, yet the HDMI cable was even better. It looked much smoother and more detailed, specifically with sports feeds like NBA basketball. “Incredible” fails to describe how smooth and detailed the picture looked. The contrast and brightness were lively and the image was saturated with color, giving images a more three-dimensional effect than those of lesser HDTVs. The image was so good it made me think of what Paul Simon was describing in his song, “Kodachrome”: “It makes all the world a sunny day.”
A look into the menu found the video set at “Vivid,” which it was. The image was very different after I put it in the custom mode with the color temperature at warm2. It became very filmlike on HD movie transfers and had that open window look on live feeds in HD. I could see where someone might prefer the Vivid setting for a well-lit room or just to create an impressive image, but the custom setting in warm2 is far more accurate and realistic. Since all the inputs come set at Vivid from the factory, I would suggest changing the video setting when setting up each of your sources.
My first viewings using standard DVDs were on the component input. The internal scaling chips did a reasonably good job with few artifacts and a slight knurled glass look that could only be seen when standing very close to the set. At viewing distance, these artifacts disappeared and the look was quite close to film on the better transfers. One note on viewing DVDs: be sure to turn the sharpness setting to zero, as the edge enhancement it employs may make the image seem too harsh. There is no loss of detail when the sharpness is set to zero.
With my trusty meter in hand and the Digital Video Essentials for reference, I calibrated the set to 6,500K. It tracked fairly well, holding to plus or minus 250K through the gray scale. Otherwise, only the picture (contrast) control and brightness control had to be lowered slightly, to 85 for the former and to 40 for the latter. After calibrating the set, I viewed several movies on DVD, including The Departed (Warner Home Video), The Fifth Element (Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment) and Star Trek: Insurrection (Paramount Home Entertainment). All were impressively presented. The dark scenes in space at the beginning of The Fifth Element and in the caves in Star Trek: Insurrection were the most impressive. The dynamic iris in the Sony KDS-R70XBR2 preserved the contrast ratio in these dim scenes, creating an impressive rendering of the black of space and the dim light of the caves. There are several settings for the dynamic iris. They range from low and min(imum) to high and max(imum) in reference to the brightness of the image. There also are two automatic settings. I found auto2 worked well on most program material.
Connecting a BDP-S1 Sony Blu-ray player with an HDMI cable provided an impressive upgrade to the image I could produce. Now the source bypasses all scaling and powers the SXRD panels in 1080p 24-frame format directly. I can only say “wow” to the difference this makes. The lack of digital artifacts and the smooth detail is nothing short of jaw-dropping. This HD disc format came so close to film in its visual qualities that what became apparent were the limitations of film rather than any flaws in the HDTV, which is tremendously impressive. The residual chemical noise and losses in transfer became more obvious, but who cares? The overall result was purer and more exciting than anything I have seen on DVD. Hollywood will ultimately have to take note as they look to new ways to make films for an increasingly digital world in both the cinema and home theater environments.
The CGI-oriented film The Fifth Element looked more intimate and smoother in its detail on Blu-ray. Colors seemed better defined and small details were obviously clearer. Hardcore video fans say The Fifth Element isn’t the best example of what can be done on Blu-ray, a point one could argue after this review. The Departed also exhibited similar significant improvement over versions I have seen on DVD. The Adam Sandler film Click is also an impressive demo, considering it was shot on Sony Panavision cameras directly in digital video, as opposed to on film. On Blu-ray disc, you can see more of that live sports HD feel in a movie at home. People who say, “DVD is good enough for me” need to up their standards. Simply put, watching movies in Blu-ray on this 70-inch Sony SXRD rear projection set is better than anything DVD has ever dreamed of offering.