Outdoor spaces are becoming increasingly popular, especially as we approach or, perhaps by the time you read this, enjoy the summer months. With the majority of Americans spending more and more time outside as the weather warms, it makes sense that someone out there in the CE space would want to take advantage of the phenomenon. Enter SunBrite TV. SunBrite TV is the premier manufacturer of outdoor LCD HDTVs and their Model 4610HD reviewed here is among their flagship efforts. Retailing for $4,295, the Model 4610HD isn't cheap, but then again, it can withstand a lot of punishment that would make less expensive HDTVs simply crumble, as I found out.
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The Model 4610HD is a 46-inch 1080p LCD HDTV, encased in a powder-coated aluminum casing to protect it from the elements. The LCD panel itself is sourced from Samsung, although all markings indicating its origins have been removed. The hard outer shell, along with the final assembly of the display itself, is all SunBrite. SunBrite claims their TVs, including the Model 4610HD, are water-, temperature- and shock-resistant and, upon first glance at the robust case, there's little that would cause you to doubt those claims. The front of the outer shell, which is non-removable, by the way, contains a large pane of anti-reflective glass, which floats a fair distance in front of the actual panel's glass, which in this case is actually plastic. Around back, you find a pair of vents that lead to the Model 4610HD's Airflow system, which helps keep the display cool and dry in temperatures in excess of 122 degrees. Inputs are housed behind a thick metal door that is held shut by three thumbscrews and kept water-tight by a double barrier of weather stripping. The entire package measures 44.72 inches wide by 27.16 inches tall and nearly seven inches deep. The outboard weather-proof speakers that attach to the bottom of the display increase the height to 29.33 inches. The entire package with speakers weighs roughly 87 pounds and is available in your choice of black, silver or white, all of which are powder-coated aluminum underneath.
The Model 4610HD itself is a true 1080p design, sporting a reported contrast ratio of 4,000:1 with a refresh rate of 60Hz, with an eight millisecond response time. Inputs include RF, HDMI (x4), S-Video, Composite Video (with L/R audio), Component Video (x2), PC and RS-232. There are even an optical and an analog audio out.
Which brings us to the remote. The remote is a rather flat, plastic-coated affair that is both lightweight and weather-proof. Its buttons are barely raised above its smooth plastic face and, as such, can make them difficult to use. However, I have to imagine that anyone considering buying an outdoor TV, such as the Model 4610HD, is more than likely going to have a home automation-like setup. As a secondary or emergency back-up, the included remote is satisfactory.
Since the Model 4610HD is an outdoor TV, this review was bound to be a little different than other reports on HDTVs I've done in the past. For starters, you can forget about calibrating it, for the Model 4610HD has to do battle with more than just the sodium lights of a Best Buy - it has to battle the sun. Knowing this, the Model 4610HD is the first (and most likely the only) HDTV I will ever recommend leaving in vivid or "torch mode" for all but super-late-night viewing.
For viewing purposes, I set the Model 4610HD up on a collapsible folding table outside my house, high in the mountains of the Angeles National Forest. I left the TV outside for the duration of my review, meaning it was left in the sun, rain and, yes, even snow. I did not cover it, nor did I bring it inside for any reason. When the winds in my canyon began to gust in excess of 60 MPH, I simply bolted the stand to the table, using lag bolts from Lowes. When I wanted to watch it, I sat outside on a folding chair and did my viewing.
To test the Model 4610HD's toughness claims (as if I hadn't already), I and a fellow HomeTheaterEquipment.com forum member, RayJr., put it through a series of tests, which I'll talk about in the performance section of the review. One of the tests involved a bear. Yes, a real bear.
As for the rest of the system used to test the Model 4610HD's performance, it was as basic a system as I could muster, for while the TV may have been water-proof, my associated equipment was not, so I used the least expensive Blu-ray player I had in the form of my four-year-old Sony, on the off chance that it would be destroyed during testing ... it was.
Performance: General Outdoor Viewing
To kick things off, I fired up The Dark Knight on Blu-ray disc (Warner Bros.) and just let the film play on repeat. Checking in on its performance periodically throughout the day, first in the morning, next at midday, then at dusk and eventually at night, I can say that the image was at its best in the morning, late afternoon and night. In the midday sun, with zero cloud cover or shade, the image was difficult to see, leading me to believe that anyone hoping to enjoy a SunBrite TV of their own in the afternoon hours would be well-advised to install it somewhere that has cover. The built-in fan turns on almost immediately after power-up, regardless of the time of day or temperature, and is rather loud, even in an outdoor environment, if I'm honest. I could always turn the speakers up enough to counter its mechanical droning, but nevertheless, the fan noise was an issue.
Read more about the performance and durability of the Model 4601HD on Page 2.