equipment reviews
This Month's Featured Equipment Reviews
ZenWave Cables and SurgeX ZenWave Edition Review
REDGUM BLACK RGi35ENR Integrated Amplifier Review
Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL 2.0 Headphone Amp & Preamp Review
iFi Micro iUSB 3.0 & Gemini USB Cable Reviews
Marantz M-CR611 Network CD Receiver Review
Latest AV News
Flat Panel HDTV Forum Topics:
Classic Flat Panel HDTV Reviews
Past Flat Panel HDTV News
Sony KW-34HD1 34-inch HDTV Print E-mail
Thursday, 01 March 2001
Article Index
Sony KW-34HD1 34-inch HDTV
Page 2
ImageHDTV (High Definition Television) first went public about three years ago. There were very few TVs available then that were compatible with High Def, and even fewer programs that one could watch in HD. Has anything changed? When the electronics companies such as Mitsubishi, Philips, Hitachi and Toshiba announced their first HDTV products, they were all of the rear-projection big-screen variety, between 50 and 70 inches. Sony, always happy to buck any trend, introduced the KW-34HD1. At the time, the Sony was the only direct view HD set available.

The Sony KW-34HD1 sells for $6,999 (it was $8,999 when it was introduced). It utilizes Sony’s now famous WEGA flat screen picture tube. The image size is 34-inch diagonal, and the aspect ratio is the HD standard 16:9. The KW-34HD1 is a true HDTV set, as opposed to "HD compatible," which does not include an HD tuner. The Sony comes with an external HD tuner receiver that connects to the TV via a four-foot umbilical cord (also included). Sony now offers several "HD Compatible" TVs, but they are all in the older conventional 4:3 aspect ratio.

Let me state right off the bat that this is one seriously heavy TV. Don’t even attempt to move it without the assistance of at least two able-bodied friends. The TV includes an attractive stand with storage space for the HD tuner, as well as a TiVo, DSS or DVD player. Once I had it up on the stand, installation was pretty simple. The HD tuner connects to the TV via a four-foot umbilical that is included – the connector is not standard, and is not something I’ve ever seen before. This is actually an engineering flaw in my opinion, as it requires the HD tuner to be installed within four feet of the TV. If your electronics are in a rack across the room from your TV (like mine are), don’t think you can easily extend this cable. As far as I could tell, Sony does not offer a longer one, either. The back of the HD tuner has the umbilical cord connector, a Toslink digital output (more on this later) and terrestrial antenna input. "A what?!?" you ask. If you’re not up to speed on all the happenings in HD world, you may not realize that most HD broadcasts come over the airwaves on the old UHF frequencies. Therefore, you’ll need a UHF antenna if you hope to actually see most of the HD programming on the air. Depending on how far you live from the broadcast towers and how much interference there is in your area, you will most likely need an outdoor antenna. Remember the old (and gigantic) rooftop Winegard and Radio Shack antennas? They have found new life. Terk has recently introduced an excellent and decent-looking HD antenna called the HDTV60, which sells for $400. I tried this antenna for portions of my review. I also tried a Terk TV20 powered indoor antenna, as well as a Radio Shack powered indoor antenna.

The KW-34HD1 has a standard set of inputs as well, including three normal inputs with left and right audio, a composite video, and an S-Video input. One of these is found on the front of the set. There is a fourth input for DVD, with component video and left and right audio inputs. The fifth input is also a component video input, labeled "1080I Input." This input is designed for use with external HD sources, such as HD satellite or DVD (FYI – there is currently no such thing as HD DVD, except in prototype form).

Once I got everything running, operation of the unit was straightforward. The remote control unit offers an "input" button that scrolls through the five video inputs (Video 1, Video 2, Video 3, DVD and HD). Another button, labeled "ANT," toggles between the standard internal tuner and the HD internal tuner. In the setup menu, there is a setup page for the tuners. Once I had the TV running, I went into the setup menu and did a "DTV Quick Add," which causes the tuner to search for all of the digital television channels available to me. I was rather surprised to find that there were quite a few of them – about 14, actually. I also discovered that several channels had multiple locations. For example, in Los Angeles, CBS is broadcast on UHF Channel 60 (this actually appears on the set as Channel 60.1). Interestingly enough, the CBS DTV channel also came in on Channel 2 (actually, Channel 2.1) on the DTV tuner. ABC, NBC, and FOX, and KTLA also have multiple locations on the tuner.

Using the Terk HDTV60 outdoor antenna, I was able to receive all of the HD channels available in Los Angeles with relative ease. I also tried the two indoor antennas mentioned earlier with less success. They both performed poorly. I was able to get one or two stations at a time. Changing the channel required adjusting or reaming of the antenna, which wasn’t that easy. There were also many more "dropouts" with the indoor antennas. Because of the digital nature of these broadcasts, they don’t behave the same as standard television does. In the old days, a weak signal meant a snowy or ghosting picture. Now, a weak signal means no picture. It’s all or nothing with an HD signal. At times, when the signal weakens, there will be heavy pixelization for a moment.

The Picture
HDTV video on this set looks absolutely remarkable. I don’t think any words can fully describe how vivid, colorful and lifelike the images look on your screen. A PBS station in the Los Angeles area has been broadcasting a 24-hour HD demo feed on Channel 80. There is a piece about a lighthouse on the East Coast, footage from a college football game, some nature videos, and a story about Philadelphia. The demo reel really shows off everything that HD can offer. Every second, the video was captivating, simply because the picture quality was so amazing. I watched the season premiere of CBS’s hit comedy "Everybody Loves Raymond," a one-hour special filmed in Italy. There was a lot of footage of the Barone family running through the streets of the town. These outdoor shots are where HD really stands out. The resolution is disgustingly good, while motion artifacts are nearly gone, unlike NTSC transmissions. My next HD experience was the 2001 Super Bowl. I had a group of friends over to see the game, and the entire group was floored with how good the picture looked, even with a boring game. If you haven’t seen HD, especially on a tube television, you owe yourself the experience. The only way you can understand how dramatic the picture is to see it yourself.

HDTV Guide Advert

Sponsored AD

Check out the best flat panel TV deal and a large collection of plasma tvs before actually buying one.

  home theater news  |  equipment reviews 
  blu-ray reviews  |  dvd  |  theatrical reviews  
  music download reviews  |  music disc reviews
  contact  |  about-us  |  careers   |  brands 
  RSS   |  AVRev Forums
  front page  |  virtual tours  |  dealer locator
  how to features  |   lifestyle & design articles
  Want Your Home Theater Featured on MHT?
   CE Partners: HDD  |  HDF  |  VGT  |  SD  |  DVD
  Advertise with Us | Specs | Disclaimer | Sponsors
  privacy policy | cookie policy | terms of use
  909 N. Sepulveda Blvd. El Segundo, CA 90245
  Ads: 310.280.4476 | Contact Us
  Content: 310.280.4575 | Mike Flacy