Well ladies and gents, the review is in:http://reviews.cnet.com/flat-panel-t...g=links;review
Some notable quotables:
The good: Excellent black-level performance for an LCD; accurate color; 120Hz processing smoothes judder in motion; fine screen uniformity and off-angle viewing for an LCD; numerous picture controls; solid connectivity with three HDMI inputs and one PC input; distinctive "floating glass" design; interchangeable bezel color option.
The bad: Expensive; benefits of 120Hz blur-reduction hard to discern; smooth motion seems unnatural for film-based material and introduces some artifacts; main menu system kludgy to operate; many picture adjustments seem unnecessary and/or harmful.
The bottom line: Although not quite as impressive as the best plasmas, the 46-inch Sony KDL-46XBR4 outperforms any flat-panel LCD we've tested so far.
Editors' Note 09-27-07: While we were certainly impressed by the picture quality of this Sony, we're holding off on awarding our Editors' Choice among flat-panel LCDs until we've had a chance to evaluate more of the competition, including the LN-T81F series of LED-powered flat-panels from Samsung
Considering the many aspects of picture quality, the Sony KDL-46XBR4 is the best-performing flat-panel LCD we've tested, outperforming the former king of the hill, Samsung's LN-T4665F, by a few thick hairs. We awarded that set an "8" in performance and the Sony gets the same score since it still falls short of the "9" we awarded to the Pioneer PDP-5080HD. Contributing to the KDL-46XBR's impressive picture quality are deep black levels, accurate color and solid video processing, although its standard-def performance could use some improvement.
Black levels and color: First up was a look at the Sony's black-level performance, and it didn't disappoint. According to our measurements the KDL-46XBR4 produces a deeper shade of black than any LCD we've tested so far, edging out the former LCD champ, Sharp's LC-52D92U, by a hair, although blacks were still lighter than the overall champ, Pioneer's PDP-5080HD plasma. In Flags the Sony's black-level superiority over the other three sets was readily apparent in dark areas, such as the letterbox bars, Ryan Phillippe's black sailor suit, and the shadows of the apartment when he takes the drunk Adam Beach indoors. Details in shadows were as good as we've seen on any LCD, although again we felt the 5080HD had a slight advantage in showing the outline of Phillippe's face in the dark, for example.
As always the deep blacks lent punch to colors, and the Sony exhibited very good color accuracy overall, from its nearly spot-on grayscale to its primary and secondary colors. Skin tones, such as the massed faces of the reporters mobbing the military men, looked accurate and realistic, although we felt the FHD1 had a slight edge. The KDL-52XBR4 tended to get slightly bluish in the midtones, which washed out some of the reporters' faces a bit, for example, but the Sony was again better overall than the other three sets (including the 5080HD).The greens of the shrubs inside the Drake hotel looked natural and lush, as did the bushes outside the apartment building.
Video processing: We spent a good deal of time looking at various scenes and how they were affected by the Sony's 120Hz processing, and in general the set did a better job smoothing things out and still keeping them looking natural than the Toshiba, and both 120Hz LCDs severely outclassed the Pioneer's Smooth mode. Notably, unlike the Toshiba, you can't get antiblur 120Hz processing in the Sony without also engaging "smooth" processing, which may disappoint people highly sensitive to blur who don't want the smoothness.
This bit is remarkably similar to what I reported earlier in this thread about the ESPN crawl:
The reduction of blur during motion is supposedly another strength of 120Hz processing, but as with the Toshiba we found it hard to find a real instance where the mode cleaned up blurring considerably compared to the 60Hz Sharp. The most obvious example we saw was during ESPNHD's ticker, where the moving white-on-black words appeared slightly less blurry when we engaged the mode. People highly sensitive to motion blur might see more obvious examples in program material, but we did not during our testing.
This is a very interesting part which I cannot duplicate in any of my testing:
We didn't notice much difference, if any, feeding the Sony the 1080p/24 signal from our Toshiba while watching Flags, and the smooth processing produced similar results in all modes regardless of which 1,080-resolution source we chose. The Sony looked very sharp on all scenes, although not noticeably more- or less-so than any of the TVs we watched alongside--including the 1,366x768 resolution PDP-5080HD, which looked every bit as sharp as the 1080p Sony. Turning to test patterns, the Sony resolved every line of the 1080i and 1080p horizontal resolution charts from the Sencore VP403. Like most HDTVs we've tested, it properly de-nterlaced 1080i video content and failed to do so with 1080i film-based content. We found it difficult to spot this failure in other program material; even the RV grille from Chapter 9 of Ghost rider, which often reveals improper deinterlacing, didn't betray any artifacts. In case you're keeping track, the set failed the 1080i film deinterlacing test regardless of whether 120Hz was engaged or not, and choosing either of the two DRC modes actually made the pattern and the pan around Raymond James stadium look worse, with more artifacts, edge enhancement and moiré.
It's also worth noting that both the 1080i deinterlacing test and the pan over Raymond James stadium from the HQV Blu-ray and HD DVD discs looked markedly worse, with more judder and artifacts, when viewed in 1080p/24 mode than in standard 1080i or 1080p/60 modes from the Toshiba and the Samsung BD-P1200. In a nutshell, then, we recommend going into the Sony via 1080p/60 or, if that's not an option, standard 1080i with DRC turned Off.
Although most cable and satellite boxes convert standard-def sources to HD resolutions (and many, when set to output HD at all, must perform this upconversion), which can make a TV's standard-def processing a moot issue, we still put the KDL-46XBR4 through our gamut of standard-def tests using the HQV disc on DVD connected via component video at 480i. It did an average job overall. In general, setting DRC to Mode 1--the only one available with 480i sources--or leaving it turned Off made little difference, although if we had to choose, we'd pick the slightly softer, more forgiving (with low-quality SD sources) look of Off. The Sony did resolve every detail of the DVD, and the shot of the stone bridge and grass looked as sharp as we'd expect. On the other hand, the set failed to remove jagged edges from the moving diagonal lines or the stripes of the waving American flag. The KDL-46XBR4's noise reduction was superb, removing progressively more moving motes and other interference from the low-quality shots of skies and sunsets as we increased the setting from Off to High. DRC did matter during the 2:3 pulldown test; the set passed when we turned DRC off but failed when we engaged it, leaving those telltale curved lines of moiré in the grandstands behind the racecar.
You HTPC guys and computer monitor guys will be happy about this:
As a PC monitor, the Sony KDL-46XBR4 performed like a champ. According to DisplayMate, it resolved every detail of 1,920x1,080 sources via both analog VGA and digital HDMI inputs, text looked crisp, and there was no overscan. The only difference we noticed between the analog and digital connections was some very faint interference in the highest-frequency areas of the horizontal resolution test pattern; we didn't notice it in any other areas or normal PC content.
Here is a link to their calibration settings for testing: http://help.cnet.com/9602-12576_39-0...sageID=2510365