Published On: February 27, 2009

Sony KDL-46XBR8 LCD HDTV Reviewed

Published On: February 27, 2009

Sony KDL-46XBR8 LCD HDTV Reviewed

It might be expensive, but the 46-inch KDL-46XBR8 from Sony has all the bells and whistles you'd expect from a high-end TV. A local-dimming LED backlight system, 120Hz technology, and that Sony style make for one excellent TV, if you can afford it.

Sony_KDL-46XBR8_LCD_HDTV.gifSony's XBR8 Series is its current top-shelf line and features two screen sizes: 46 and 55 inches. This is the first Sony line to utilize LED backlighting, as opposed to the traditional fluorescent backlight found in most LCDs, and it also features Sony's Motionflow 120Hz Pro technology. We have not done a hands-on review of the KDL-46XBR8, but here is an overview of the TV's features. This 46-inch, 1080p LCD employs Sony's Triluminous RGB Dynamic LED backlighting system, which uses clusters of red, green, and blue LEDs (as opposed to the basic white LEDs found in other LED-based LCDs) to render purer colors. Its local-dimming design allows the LEDs to respond dynamically to the content onscreen, turning off certain LEDs to create deeper blacks in areas of the picture that call for it. Local dimming is more successful than a standard backlight at allowing black areas to look black while still letting bright areas remain bright, which gives the picture excellent contrast. LEDs also lack the mercury found in fluorescents, which makes this a more environmentally friendly TV. Meanwhile, Sony's 120Hz implementation is one of the better examples of the technology; Motionflow 120Hz Pro technology combines a 120Hz frame rate with sequential scanning technology designed to reduce motion blur with faster-moving content. Motionflow can also minimize the appearance of judder in film sources and render super-smooth motion, for those who like that effect.

Additional Resources
• Read more LCD HDTV reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com's staff.
• Find a Blu-ray player to get the most out of the KDL-46XBR8.

Not surprisingly, since it hails from the company's highest end line, this TV has a well-endowed connection panel that includes four HDMI, two component video, one PC, and one RF input to access the internal NTSC, ATSC, and Clear-QAM tuners. The HDMI inputs accept both 1080p/60 and 1080p/24 signals, and one HDMI input is located on the side panel for easy access. The TV Guide on Screen program guide and picture-in-picture functionality are available. The KDL-46XBR8 also sports a lot of connection options for the digital media fan: A side-panel USB port supports JPEG/MP3 playback, and the back panel features a DMPort for connecting digital media devices, an Ethernet port for streaming photos (not music) from a PC or DLNA-certified server (and for easy firmware upgrades), and a DMeX port to attach one of Sony's Bravia Link devices: the Internet Video Link, Wireless Link, DVD Link, or Input Link. The TV also features an RS-232 port for easier integration into an advanced control system.

The KDL-46XBR8 boasts an excellent assortment of picture adjustments, beginning with four picture modes for video content (vivid, standard, cinema, and custom) and four modes specifically for photo viewing. You get four color temperatures (cool, neutral, warm 1, and warm 2), noise reduction, an adjustable backlight, and a light sensor that can automatically tailor the TV's light output to suit your viewing environment. The menu also includes white balance and gamma controls, as well as two color spaces. Compared with the basic Motionflow 120Hz menu that includes three setup options, Motionflow 120Hz Pro adds a fourth choice (Clear) that employs the sequential scanning of the LED backlights to reduce motion blur without adding frame interpolation. Multiple setup options give you the flexibility to tailor the 120Hz effect to your personal preference, which is a plus. The KDL-46XBR8 offers four aspect ratios for SD content and five for HD content, and you can set up the TV to display 1080i/1080p sources with no overscan.

Read about the high points and the low points of the KDL-46XBR8 on Page 2.

Sony_KDL-46XBR8_LCD_HDTV.gif

The audio setup menu includes three preset sound modes (standard, dynamic, and clear voice), S-FORCE surround processing, and treble, bass, and balance controls. Other features include Voice Zoom to adjust vocal clarity, Sound Booster to improve bass and treble response, and Steady Sound to reduce volume discrepancies.

This 46-inch LCD has a glossy black finish with glass accents and side-aligned speakers; for an additional fee, you can customize the speaker panels in your choice of ruby, sterling, platinum, or bronze.

High Points
• The local-dimming LED backlight system allows this LCD to produce better blacks and have a better overall contrast than many traditional LCD TVs. The use of red, green, and blue LEDs also leads to great color purity.
• Motionflow 120Hz Pro technology effectively reduces motion blur and offers multiple settings to tailor the motion to your liking. 
• The KDL-46XBR8's screen is not reflective, so this TV is a good fit for a well-lit room. Its good black-level performance also allows it to perform well in a completely dark room, which makes this TV a versatile performer.
• This TV has a 1080p resolution and will accept 24p sources via its HDMI inputs.
• The TV has numerous connection options and picture adjustments.

Low Points
• This is an expensive HDTV. It's much pricier than a traditional 46-inch LCD and also costs more than a comparably sized LED LCD from Samsung. 
• The viewing angle is only average.
• While other manufacturers are adding Web features to their TVs, Sony requires that you purchase a separate Bravia Link module to enjoy such functionality.

Conclusion
The KDL-46XBR8 represents the best that Sony has to offer in the LCD HDTV realm, but be prepared to pay for such cutting-edge technology.

Additional Resources
• Read more LCD HDTV reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com's staff.
• Find a Blu-ray player to get the most out of the KDL-46XBR8.

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