This is a very long rant with some potentially useful information. Hopefully it provokes some thought without too much controversy. Some of this stuff is difficult to research and get proper information about. If I'm wrong about any of the figures or information, please explain any corrections clearly. Also, there's a lot of opinions here which should not be taken too seriously. I tend to change my mind often enough about things.
First of all, thanks go to DataDay for alerting everyone of the 240hz/120hz issue. I bought the Sony EX720 40" TV less than a month ago from Amazon and they have agreed to return it becaue of the incorrect 240hz listing on there product page when it was really 120hz all along. As of today, it still shows the EX720 is a 240hz TV in a couple places. That information is clearly wrong as a DataDay has pointed out. It is listed properly on the sonystyle.com specifications page for the EX720. Surridge is correct that I should have double checked the official specs before buying. You'd think I'd know that by now.
This information should be carefully considered when making a large purchase like this. The TV seems ok for 2D but I suspect there will be some image quality issues with 3D or at least there will be a large difference in image quality between 3D on this EX720 120hz set and 3D on a 240hz TV.
With the new Xreality engine, Sony is apparently claiming that the processing of the motionflow is at 240hz. And supposedly, the ex720 uses backlight blinking at 240hz to keep motion resolution higher. If I understand, the LED edgelit backlight blinks at 240hz but the actual panel is only refreshing at 120hz. But having backlight blinking at 240hz is very different from actual panel refresh at 240hz.
Earlier, a Cnet review was posted that claimed the difference between 120hz and 240hz was hard to distinguish for 2D content. But there is a very clear difference between 60hz and 120hz for 2D. When using 60hz to display 24p material, the TV uses 3:2 pulldown to get 60 progressive frames per second. This causes an annoying judder in the moving image which can easily be seen by looking at film credit rolls. A lot of TVs now can just display at 24 hz. But good 120hz TVs repeat each 24p frame 5 times to get to 120fps. 120hz is also good because:
movies are 24fps x 5 = 120
tv is 30fps x 4 = 120
sports is 60fps x 2 = 120
So all the major different framerate formats can be displayed correctly on a 120hz panel without judder. Also, there is Motionflow on Sony which will create in-between frames and make the motion really smooth. Some artifacts can be created and it looks rather like a soap opera if smoothed over too much. The Sony ex720 doesn't have a lot of motionflow options which is unfortunate.
But with the Sony EX720, for the first time we have 120hz with 3D. With movies, the 3D effect should be present, but since each eye is only showing at 60hz, 3:2 pulldown will need to be used and there will be judder again when watching a 3D movie. It could be possible to display 48hz per eye and not have any judder but then there will be annoying blinking to the shutter glasses. The 24p 3D movies on a 120hz panel will suffer from either judder from 3:2 pulldown or from blinking due to shutter glasses lower frame rate. The minimum for all 3D TVs should be 240hz panels to allow 120hz per eye. Of course, smooth motionflow with pure progressive frames also becomes impossible with only 60hz per eye. Sony made a bad precedent by introducing a 120hz 3D panel. And I haven't actually seen 3D with this TV yet because I was waiting for the new 2011 glasses to come out. But I only have a few days left to return it and I don't want to find out too late if the 3D really is bad.
All the specs everywhere (except Sony) said the Sony Ex720 TV was 240hz. Sony didn't make this clear enough to the retail channels that this wasn't a 240hz display especially considering they started using the "Motionflow 240" description all over the marketing for the TV. Of course the retailers got the specs wrong because of Sony's new terminology... CNET should have addressed the issue and tested the 3D with the old glasses which are still compatible! If consumers are paying a premium for 3D, then CNET and other reviewers need to incorporate 3D quality into the rating. At the very least, Cnet should change the specs for the TV which still say 240hz in the review. Again, most of the blame should be placed on Sony marketing - but then, look at the "contrast ratio" specification for the TV in the Sony Specs - "Infinite". In our corporate world, "marketing" and "deception" basically mean the same thing.
The problem for me is that I really wanted a matte or at least "semi-gloss" screen because I'm using this as a computer monitor and sit a few feet away. I don't like looking at my own reflection all day long. And this is the only set in 2011 with 3D and a non-glossy screen - except the 3D is gonna be crap. Maybe I just don't need the gimmicky 3D afterall.
As for the picture quality of the EX720:
The first set I receieved had one totally dead pixel. I already returned it for a second set which has a dead green subpixel. So the panels don't have perfect pixels.
There are some uniformity issues in the middle of the screen (couple splotches near the left-center and top right when displaying all black - the first panel was a bit better than the second for uniformity). There is flashlighting in the lower corners and a bit less but noticable flashlighting in the upper corners.
When looking at an angle or from above, the blacks turn to purple about as fast as older flat panel screens. I was hoping for better.
The brightness is good enough for 2D but I wonder if it is bright enough for 3D. The shutter glasses take away a lot of brightness. The colors can be pumped in the settings if desired. I haven't done a full calibration yet so maybe they could be improved.
When I connect the TV to my computer I always get 1080p 12 bit 16:9. I guess the 12 bit means 12 bits per color which is really 36 bits. Its a silly number because my graphics card is only really outputting 24 bit. Even if I set the graphics card color space to 16 or 8 bit, the TV always reports 12 bit. So that is strange. And I still see subtle banding when making gradients in photoshop which do not show up on my 24bit computer monitors.
It seems okay for a 2D computer monitor mostly because it is semi-gloss and not pure glossy and also Sony finally got rid of the forced dynamic contrast starting with the XBR9. But it's certainly not worth the extra money for crippled 3D without motionflow or the crippled 3D with games (read on).
Lag subjectively feels pretty good. It doesn't feel like there's much lag when I move the mouse around or play games with the Scene select as graphics/motionflow off. I'm not a pro FPS player so maybe I'm not a good judge. I do notice some annoying lag when picking other scene selects and using motionflow. Motionflow is not for games.
Lastly for this section, when using SLEEP mode on a computer, the TV doesn't work correctly. If I use a computer monitor and the computer goes to sleep, the signal turns off and the monitor sleeps a few second after the computer goes to sleep. With the Sony, the signal goes away and the screen has a message for 15 minutes (can't modify) saying there is no signal. The presence sensor can be set lower but that's not the same. The really annoying thing is that for computer monitors, when I move the mouse or touch the keyboard, the computer wakes up and all the monitors wake up properly. But if the Sony has gone to full sleep mode already, it doesn't wake up. After I move the mouse to wake the computer up, I have to turn on the TV with the remote each time I want to bring it out of sleep. Why can't it just detect the signal is coming in and wake up automatically like every computer has done for the last 10 years?
The other big problem is when using this monitor for 3D gaming with Nvidia 3DTV Play or the future Playstation 4/next xbox. I have researched this a bit and I wrote up a long rant on these forums somewhere and on the nvidia forums. On the Nvidia forums, people are upset that 3DTV Play doesn't even enable 1080p with 30fps per eye in 3D. You only can get the games to run at 24fps per eye at 1080p in 3D. Or you can get 720p at 60 frames per second per eye. 24fps is kind of bad for games especially with 720p scaling issues. The limitation is supposedly not in the hdmi 1.4a spec itself but in the transmitter chip for HDMI. I guess the 3D push (gimmick) happened so fast nobody bothered upgrading the chip everyone uses to send the signal over HDMI so there is a kind of artificial bandwidth limitation probably because of a $5 chip. It seems to me that this was clearly done as a kind of MANUFACTURED OBSOLESCENCE so that people will be forced to upgrade in the future. This will almost certainly be fixed with HDMI 1.4b or HDMI 1.5 when the Playstation 4 comes out... Time to upgrade everything again!
Here are some numbers:
1920 x 1080 x 24 = 49,766,400 x 2 (3D) = 99,532,800
1280 x 720 x 60 = 55,296,000 x 2 (3D) = 110,592,000
1920 x 1080 x 30 = 62,208,000 x 2 (3D) = 124,416,000 <--- too much bandwidth - sorry!
1920 x 1080 x 60 = 124,416,000 <-------- yet there is enough bandwidth for this from single link HDMI? Strange!
1920 x 1080 x 60 = 124,416,000 x 2 (3D) = 248,832,000 <--- definately not enough bandwidth for this with single link HDMI
The HDMI 1.4a specs didn't make the 1920x1080x30 3D mandatory. BUT, after doing even more research, it is clear that there is enough bandwidth for 1920x1080 at 60 frames per second in 2D because computers put out up to 1920x1200x60fps with either HDMI or single link DVI to the computer monitors all day long. Therefore, 1920x1080x30fps 3D is also possible and there's no question that 1080p should have 30fps enabled per eye for 3D games as the bandwidth is actually there but it is has been crippled (very likely on purpose). MANUFACTURED OBSOLESCENCE at its finest! Shame on everyone involved in this 3D rollout for making all of the current 3D equipment obsolete already! They finally do a huge 3D push with millions upon millions put into manufacturing and all the manufacturers botch it completely! Or it was botched on purpose to force future upgrades. Typical. I'm sure it would be possible to enable this with firmware upgrades but the odds of that are lower than hell. More shame for TV manufacturers. Of course, a lot of people would never notice any of these issues and often can't really tell much difference between SD and HD or just don't care. I'm basically getting to that point myself...
Displayport has enough bandwidth right now for true 1920 x 1080 x 60fps per eye in 3D but that's not proprietary like HDMI so the TV industry doesn't want to go in that direction. If displayport was used, then all these TVs should also be able to do TRUE 120hz for 2D all the time just like the Nvidia's solution. 120hz even for moving windows around is so much smoother. There's no reason not to implement true 120hz (the really real kind) except the bandwidth issue with HDMI and manufacturers refusing to implement displayport or dual-link DVI.
Nvidia 3D Vision displays use Dual Link DVI to display true 120hz at 1920x1080. There's no funny frame packing or anything needed - just pure 120 frames per second which can be made into 60 fps per eye easy enough. So with Nvidia's solution, games will be super smooth all the way up to 1920x1080. Computers usually output 60hz so when playing a bluray from a computer, there is judder. Its too bad true 120hz wasn't adopted because then computers could output films without judder. But that might upset the bluray player market or PS3 marketed as a player. Playing back 3D movies at 1920x1080 will still be a problem for Nvidia 3D Vision displays because of the 60hz per eye issue. Again the 3:2 pulldown would need to be done for each eye. It would probably be comparable to the ex720. Basically, if you want the smoothest image quality for 3D movies, a TV with 240hz and good dejudder would be best. For the smoothest 3D computer games, the Nvidia solution is the best. A TV is also fine for PS3 games because 3D PS3 games only output 720p 60fps per eye.
There's no question that no matter what one chooses right now, there are a lot of compromises.
THE BEST SOLUTION: In my opinion, for the ultimate 2D and 3D solution, Nvidia's solution is actually the best with true 120hz for 2D games. But the monitors should incorporate 240hz for 3D movies to get 5:5 pulldown at 120hz per eye. Also, the whole thing should work with displayport instead of dual link DVI and they should be available in 40 inch sizes and greater. The main problem with this solution is obviously that there's a huge momentum with Bluray, HDMI and the PS3. Like the less efficient qwerty keyboard, we will probably be dealing with HDMI workarounds (frame packing etc) for many years to come.
But don't worry, 4k x 2k TVs will be coming out in a few years to try to get everyone to upgrade again. They probably won't implement 3D correctly at that resolution though. Proper 4k x 2k 3D will happen in the next upgrade cycle!
Maybe in 20 years time, the standards will have finally settled on something which will be close enough to what the human eye can perceive and the everyone will finally be at peace.
"TV Wars: Episode 4: A New Hope" - Will OLED be be the final hope for TV image quality issues galaxywide? Or will the Blue OLED fade too quickly for lasting happiness?
It all seems so silly really. I've already spend too much time trying to figure this out.