Sony KDL-40R380B & 40R350B 1080p LED TVs - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 10-04-2014, 06:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Sony KDL-40R380B & 40R350B 1080p LED TVs

Saw the new Sony 40R380B on sale at BB recently for a pretty good price, and I'm considering purchasing this, or something similar. Please post any add'l info/impressions you may have on this model, or the 40R350B here.

Some 40R380B highlights:
- 1920x1080p resolution
- Motionflow XR 120
- Clear resolution enhancer
- Bass reflex speakers
- 24p True Cinema
- 2 HDMI, 1 component, 1 composite and 1 USB video inputs
- Digital and analog/headphone audio outputs
- 89W power consumption
- Semi-glossy screen
- No smart features

40R380B spec sheet: https://docs.sony.com/release/specs/KDL40R380B_mksp.pdf

Manual: https://docs.sony.com/release/KDL-40R380B_40R350B_32R330B_32R300B.pdf

Stand assembly: https://docs.sony.com/release/KDL-40R380B_40R350B_32R330B_32R300B_stand.pdf
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post #2 of 6 Old 10-06-2014, 09:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Think I would probably pass on the 40R380B. I'm more of a CRT (and maybe plasma) guy, and not that up on the latest LCD/LED tech. But these panels seem pretty cheaply manufactured to me. And the angle of view on the TV is appallingly bad compared to the plasma TVs I've looked at lately (Panny S60, and Sammy F5300 & F4500). There are also noticeable uniformity issues, and no real calibration/CMS/WB features to speak of in the user menus, except for some basic gamma and temperature controls.

With a few tweaks, the color, contrast, blacks and detail don't look too bad on the display, when viewed face on. But the blacks turn an ugly blueish shade and the PQ goes to heck if you move off-axis.

I'll try to post a few tweaks to improve on the out-of box settings. But I'm sort of surprised Sony would even put their label on something like this. Maybe my expectations were too high for such a low cost panel (you get what you pay for as the saying goes), but this is definitely not the sort of product I was expecting to get when purchasing a new Sony TV.
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post #3 of 6 Old 10-13-2014, 08:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Still doin a little tweaking/fine-tuning to settings on the 40R380B. But after about a week of use, I think I'm startin to get a feel for most of the controls.

This display can produce very dark blacks btw... darker than the plasma TVs I've looked at recently. The very darkest settings involve a few of trade-offs though, which I'll try to explain in the next post below. And the angle of view issues on the TV are a bitch (esp. if you're used to TVs that don't have that problem). And there are also some minor, but noticeable uniformity issues (general blotchiness, and darkness in the corners), and some minor color decoding errors I haven't been able to completely fix with the user menus. I've also noticed some occasional motion artifacts, mostly visible with a 24p input. Not sure if that's an "LCD thing" caused by the TV, or something in my player though. (I recall reading somewhere that LCDs have some difficulty making quick transitions between certain colors though.)

After some adjustment, the TV passes full 1080p resolution tests without issue, and the PQ is not bad as long as you don't move too far off-axis. (Realistically there's about a 40 degree total angle of view where the picture looks pretty good on this TV.)

I'm not a big fan of the "LCD look", so I set up a CRT next to this display and ran the same patterns and videos into both displays to see if I could bring a little more "CRT-ness" into this display. I'm not sure if I was totally successful in that endeavor, but definitely likin the picture on this TV better after makin some adjustments in that direction.

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Last edited by ADU; 10-14-2014 at 04:43 PM.
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post #4 of 6 Old 10-13-2014, 09:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Following is an explanation of some of the settings I've been using. All adjustments were done by eye without a colorimeter, using a standard 16-235 Y'CbCr 4:4:4 1080p video input on HDMI input #2 . So some adjustment may be necessary esp. to the black and white levels (Brightness and Contrast) for other types of content/inputs.

OPTIONS MENU (on remote)

SCENE SELECT: GENERAL

There are a variety of different display or "Scene" modes that can be adjusted on the TV via the Picture menu under Settings/Preferences. Most or all of the other display/scene modes appear to use different configurations of the Picture settings available in GENERAL display mode though, which is the default. So I prefer to use this mode for making all my adjustments.

***All of the other menus/settings that follow can be accessed by pressing HOME on the remote, and selecting the Settings/Preferences option.***

SCREEN MENU

WIDE MODE: FULL

Displays HD images full-screen.

AUTO DISPLAY AREA: OFF
DISPLAY AREA: FULL PIXEL

These turn off the overscan on 1080i/p inputs, so they map to the screen without scaling, which yields the best detail/clarity. The Screen menu options are slightly different for other signals btw. There is no FULL PIXEL option for 720p, for example. So to turn off the overscan on 720p signals, you would set the Display Area to +1.

ECO MENU

POWER SAVING: LOW or HIGH

These two settings reduce the overall brightness of the TV's backlight, so the blacks/MLL (minimum light level) are closer to "CRT levels". HIGH is darkest, but it disables the Backlight control. LOW allows more fine-tuning of the display's overall brightness via the Backlight control, at the expense of slightly brighter blacks/MLL. Generally speaking, the LOW setting is probably more useful, because it allows more adjustment. The HIGH setting can work effectively in certain conditions both at night and during the day though, depending on how the room lighting and some other controls on the display are configured (esp. the LED Motion Mode, and Gamma controls). A little experimentation is required to determine when it's best to use the HIGH option though. The OFF Power Saving setting is only useful for viewing in a very bright room, during the day.

PICTURE MENU

PICTURE MODE: STANDARD

The GENERAL display/scene mode has three different Picture Modes to choose from: VIVID, STANDARD and CUSTOM. VIVID is useless. And STANDARD has a higher contrast ratio (and possibly also better color decoding) than CUSTOM. So I use the STANDARD mode.

BACKLIGHT: MIN - MAX

Adjusted to whatever brightness level is comfortable for my eyes. Although I do most of my brightness adjustment by eye, sometimes I'll also use a 15% flat field gray as an ambient reference to help get a control like this more in the ballpark. If you're coming from a CRT or plasma display, remember that LCD/LEDs like this have no ABL (auto brightness limiter), and white/high APL (high average picture level) video images can get pretty bright. So you may want to err on the dimmer side to avoid eye-strain.

15% is the approximate APL of video content over time, according to some sources. So adjusting a 15% gray on the screen to match the general brightness of the display's surroundings (ie, the walls and room around the TV) helps to reduce eye-strain, and also keeps the blacks on the TV looking "black", imho. YMMV though. (Computer content is closer to 35% APL btw, according to some sources, which is why you generally want the screen somewhat darker, or room lighting somewhat brighter for web-browsing and such.) I don't recommend using an LCD/LED (or plasma or CRT) in a competely dark room btw.

PICTURE: ~92

Adjusted as high as possible without clipping, crushing or discoloring the shades at or near video reference white (Y'=235). For standard video content, the best setting seems to be between 90-95. Some discoloration/crushing of whites starts to occur at higher settings.

BRIGHTNESS: 53

Set as low as possible without clipping shadow detail above reference black (Y'=16). In my current configuration, 52 clips the darkest details, and the display's MLL begins to increase at 54.

COLOR: 50
HUE: 0

The default Color value for Standard mode is 55. But the decoding looks a little better to me (but still slightly incorrect) with Color at 50. There doesn't appear to be a red, green or blue only mode in the user menus to assist with these adjustments btw.

SHARPNESS: (content-dependent)

Adjusted so details look crisp, clear and well-defined, but not "edgy".

COLOR TEMPERATURE: WARM

The COOL and NEUTRAL settings are both noticeably too cool/blue in color. WARM is closest to D65 (the reference white point for both Rec. 709 video content and sRGB) imo, and produces the most neutral grays and natural colors, esp. when used with the HIGH Clear White setting. (See Clear White notes below.)

NOISE REDUCTION: OFF
MPEG NOISE REDUCTION: OFF

Not a big fan of "smoothing routines", so I have both these OFF for now.

CINEMOTION: AUTO

Left at default.

ADV. CONTRAST ENHANCER: OFF

This does nasty things to the color and shading of images, so I leave it OFF.

BLACK CORRECTOR: MED
GAMMA: -1 (+/-1)
or
BLACK CORRECTOR: LOW
GAMMA: -2 (+/-1)

These are the two best configurations of the Black Corrector and Gamma controls that I could come up with. The HIGH Black Corrector setting distorts the shading too much imo, and OFF lacks the sense of depth that I'm used to on CRTs. The LOW Black Corrector setting also distorts the shading a little in the midrange, but it shouldn't be too noticeable on most content. The first configuration (MED Black Corrector, -1 Gamma) is a bit more contrasty than the second. But they both look pretty good to me.

This is primarily for video content btw. sRGB computer content may look better with the Black Corrector turned OFF (and the Backlight adjusted dimmer than for video).

The Gamma setting is also somewhat content- and room light-dependent. Higher Gamma settings will brighten the midtones, and improve the visibility of shadow details, while also reducing the apparent saturation of colors and contrast in the image. And lower Gamma settings will darken the shadow detail, and increase the contrast. For the best image quality on video content though, I suggest keeping Gamma pretty close to the ranges specified above.

CLEAR WHITE: HIGH

The Clear White and Color Temperature settings form a crude 2-point white/gray balance system. Color Temperature controls the gray balance at lower luminance levels, and Clear White adjusts the white balance at higher luminance levels. The HIGH Clear White setting "neutralizes" the somewhat orange-colored tint on highlights in the WARM Color Temperature mode, producing more neutral/uniform grays across the luminance range. Turning Clear White OFF results in a more obvious difference in color between the lower and higher luminance levels, which is not desireable.

LIVE COLOR: OFF

Recommend leaving this OFF, unless you like really green grass on golf courses and football fields (LOW setting), or are calibrating with an external color system. Shrek is one of the discs I use for display adjustment btw, and he looks plenty green in my current picture configuration, without raising Live Color above the OFF setting.

LED MOTION MODE: OFF or ON (??)

This controls the flicker frequency of the LED backlight. The OFF setting flickers at a higher frequency than the ON setting. (OFF looks like 240Hz, and ON looks like 120Hz.) The OFF setting is also brighter than the ON setting. The difference in motion quality between the two is subtle, but I think I prefer the sense of motion in the OFF/240Hz setting. I like the deeper blacks with the ON/120Hz setting though, esp. at night. So I've been using both. If there was some way to get the OFF setting darker without sacrificing contrast ratio, then I might use it for both day and night viewing. What I may do instead is try to brighten my room light at night enough so that the greater brightness of the OFF setting looks more acceptable. There is no SOE (soap opera effect) with either mode btw.

FWIW, the darkest blacks and lowest MLL are achieved by setting the Eco/Power Saving control to HIGH and LED Motion Mode to ON. The only other controls that appear to influence the MLL are the Backlight control (when Eco/Power Saving is set to LOW or OFF), and the basic Brightness/black level control, if it's raised above the MLL threshold.

The Backlight control is a tad buggy with the LED Motion Mode set to ON btw (but not so much that I wouldn't suggest trying it). When raising or lowering the Backlight control with LED Motion Mode ON, the changes in display brightness often seem to lag one "step" behind.

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Last edited by ADU; 10-18-2014 at 11:46 PM.
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post #5 of 6 Old Yesterday, 12:19 AM - Thread Starter
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As noted in my changes above, these are the two best configurations of the Black Corrector and Gamma controls, that I've been able come up with after watching some more content on the 40R380B...

BLACK CORRECTOR: MED
GAMMA: -1 (+/-1)

BLACK CORRECTOR: LOW
GAMMA: -2 (+/-1)

The MED Black Corrector setting was making the shadow detail a bit too dark on some content with the lower (darker) Gamma settings, so I brightened the Gamma up a bit to -1.

The LOW Black Corrector setting distorts the shading a bit more than MED imo. But it also looks pretty good, with Gamma set a bit lower at around -2.

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post #6 of 6 Old Yesterday, 12:24 AM - Thread Starter
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The picture does not look bad on the 40R380B with all the above settings... as long as you don't move too far off axis. As previously mentioned, it has very good detail, contrast, and blacks, as long as you're viewing it face on. And there's enough room for adjustment in the somewhat basic picture controls to also get the color lookin reasonably good. (The last movie I watched on the 40R380B was the new Blu-ray release of Lewis's original 1963 version of The Nutty Professor, and the color, contrast and detail all looked fantastic... viewed from the front).

The exceedingly poor off-angle viewing, uniformity issues, and lack of better calibration controls were enough to convince me to return it and look at some other displays though, including possibly some higher-end Sony LEDs.

I haven't written off the Samsung plasmas (which are being discontinued) yet either. They have great angle of view and calibration controls, and produce a beautiful image (esp. the 1080p 51F5300 and 768p 43F4500). But the burn-in is somewhat problematic on those TVs for the type of content that I watch, which includes alot of "scoped" ~2.35 ratio widescreen films, and also 4:3 content. So my search for the perfect HD display on a budget continues...
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