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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 57hw40 is settling in to its new country home, far from the rf interference and traffic noise of a city. These are some initial impressions and notes about its features et al.


I sit exactly 10' from the 57" screen. It is very bright with the Contrast and Brightrness set half way. The brightness dips opnly a bit when you slouch low, but drops off significantly if you view at too high or too far off axis. I can not see any reflections in the screen which does not have any windows across from it and is in a darkened alcove of the main room.


The set is on sturdy casters so moving it around is quite easy. The top of the screen is just 4 inches wide and then the back of it drops about an inch and the back of the cabinet slants downward for about 8 inches and then drops nearly vertically. So there is virtually no room to place any equipment or spreaker level on top. (I had been concerned that the set would cover my three wall light switches but the set drops off rapidly so it is not a problem for me. Although the top of the screen is about 54' high, the top of the very back is just 36' high.)


All of the connections are only about 6' above the bottom of the cabinet on the left side as you are facing the set.


The front av connections are Video 2. Video 1 and 2 and three have s-video inputs. Video 4 is just regular av. Video 5 and 6 are hd (or interlaced) component.


I have seen the Pioneer Elite 510 and 610 (last year's models) for comparison, as well as my dealer's 57xbr2 showing just the movie preview channel from DirctTv.


I have regular sd Dish Network, regular cable, vcr and HdNet hooked up right now. Within a week or two (whenever my long cables come), I will add the hdtv network channels of ExpressVu, as well. And by the end of the year, I will get another Dish 6000 for hd HBO and Showtime.


I took the color out to view black and white, and found that the Neutral (of the three Color Temperatures) was fairly accurate b&W, with the High being more blue, and the Warm introducing a bit of red.


I am using the Pro viewing mode. There are 4 modes with Dynamic being all out contrast et al and useless, Movie looks next best to me with a bit less punch to the picture, and Standard is somewhere between Pro and Vivid. You can easily toggle through these modes from the remote.


The remote also has a Wide mode button that toggles through the 4 choices or Normal (with gray sides), Full (for anamorphic dvd), Zoom (which cuts off top, bottom and sides to keep normal perspective, and Wide Zoom (which stretches the sides only.


The Wide Zoom mode is as good as the one in the Pioneer sets, and I thought that the Pioneer Elite stretch was the best I had seen. We Sony folks nbow have something as good (at least as good as last year's Elites.)


The HdNet picture is great and is sharper than what I had seen on the Pioneer Elites. It is not as finely detailed as my high resolution fron projector but I did not expect it to be. It is the best hd picture I have seen on a rptv, whicfh includes my visits to Sears and CC, where I saw mainly Toshibas and Panasonics. HD picture always looked soft to me on those sets, as it did on the Pioneer. But the Pioneer is very close. I wish I had the two sets side by side.


I have not yet hooked up my interlaced dvd player as I want this set mainly for daytime watching. Dvds, for now, will still be seen on my big screen.


Satellite from Dish Network is better than I thought it would be. The bettert channels like Starz look very good. The weaker channels have a softer picture. Regular cable also looks good, and when the signal is up on some channels, it looks almost as good as the datellite picture. My projector also has the Sony DRC line doubler and it works great.


There are artifacts, especially on bright backgrounds, viewing Dish Network, but not too bad. And the sharpness of the picture hardly decreases when switching from Normal 4:3 to Wide Zoom. (You can, in the set up menu, choose whichever mode you want for the default for your 4:3 pictures. I have chosen Wide Zoom for now.)


The Flash Focus button is not on the remote, It took a phone call to the dealer to help me find it behind a small cover on the front of the set below the screen.I thought that the colors were great for my first hour, and was surprised to find them so out of convergence when I pressed the button. I guess the trip down my driveway on its wheels and then the bumps over the threshhold and the swinging it into place made things unconverge. But they are back with the push of a button. Very impressive.


All in all, I think this is a great set, especially at its price point. 10% discount seems easy to get, and with a 5 year service plan, it should run around $3400 or so (mine was 3450, including tax, delivery and 5 year contract.)


When I viewed the 57xbr2 at my dealer, I was taken aback by what I considered a soft satellite picture feed, although he just had the movie preview channel going. But I remember that this particular channel was usually quite sharp. I can't imagine that the xbr2, side by side with thehw40, will show that much improvemnt, especially not with a high definition feed.


We have a winner and a keeper here.

Shelly
 

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Congrats on the new set Shelly, and thanks for the review.
 

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Hi Shelly,


I've had the Sony KP51HW40 for about a month now and agree with you 100%. It's the best Sony HDTV by far! I did I side by side comparison in the HT speciality store I use (Paradyme Audio in Sacramento) with the KP51 HW40 vs the 57" XBR model. No comparision! The KP51HW40 had a much sharper picture overall.


I guess Sony has finally got their act together and produced first rate HDTVS in the KP51 and 57HW40s for very reasonable prices. HD and DVD (using a progressive scan DVD player) playback are outstanding! Of course analog will never be great on any HD set secondary to it's poorer resolution.


My settings were close to yours with contrast at about 40% and brightness at about 50%. Fully tweaked, I liked the standard setting the best but use the movie setting for overly edge enhanced DVDs.


I'm glad you are enjoying your new Sony HDTV. I am!


Regards
 

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Thanks for the great review!


I have been actively determining which RPTV HDTV to purchase, and it has pretty much come down to the Elites, the Sony XBR2, and potentially a Mits Diamond. I am looking somewhere in the 55-58" range.


I saw a 57XBR2 and 57HW40 sitting right next to each other in my local Frys -- both showing HD context -- and in at least this case the XBR2's picture appeared to have much better "3D" depth than the W40. I also prefer the black cabinet of the XBR2, but the pricing of the W40s is very nice.


Of course, a big problem with any analysis in a store like this is knowing whether either set has been set up correctly. If the W40 has the same video innerds as the XBR2, but just not the tuner or firewire, then it would be an interesting deal. I am very concerned with all of the firewire stuff, as I will definitely be one of the first people to grab up a HD-TiVo when such a thing becomes available: I watch very few things live.


I agree that the wide zoom mode on the Sonys compares favorably to the Natural Wide setting on the Pioneers & Elites. Whether the Sonys approach to line-doubling (960i) is better or worse than the Pioneers (480p) is still a mystery to me.


Price-wise, if you forget about the tuner, the XBR2 and Elites are not priced that far off from each other. The firewire is the big concern here.


The Mits has a very-nice HDTV picture, but I am still not sure about its NTSC performance, which will be pretty important for awhile.
 

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Is the 51HW40 on wheels, too? These sets sounds like good choices for those who watch a fair amount of news, etc. SD channels that tend to be quite soft. This set (51") is about 4' wide, yes? Can you easily defeat SVM or do you need to enter the service menu to turn this off?


It's about time Sony introduced some competitively priced 16:9 RPTVs, without any glaring problems. The firewire issue still bothers me though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I suspect that the xbr2 may have better optics along with its firewire, over the air hd tuner and DD 5.1 sound system, but the $1500-$2000 difference did not work for me.


I suspect that there are different degrees or no scan velocity modulation in the various picture viewing modes.


Here are some further notes:


Although I did not notice any reflections at first when the set arrived at about 9:30 on an overcast day, by mid afternoon when the sun was out and it was much brighter, the reflections came on. Not real bad, but they were there in dark scenes, but not in bright scenes. But much less than my previous tube set. You probably would not want the set to be opposite a window, though.


And there is quite a bit of artifacts with many sd satellite channels, but not as bad as I have seen of some toshibas and Mitsubishis. I imagine that it is in the same ballpark as most of these larger sets with poor inpout signals. Some of my cable channels actually look good, so bring on Judge Judy.


I still prefer the Wide Zoom mode over the regular Zoom.


But here is something that is important to note.


I set the Picture (contrast), Brightness, Tint, Color Temperature and Focus the same in all 4 viewing modes, thinking that they would then be more similar.


I found that there were still drastic differences in the picture. Iwatched today's CBS hd football game in the Standard mode, which had way better contrast and color depth than the Movie or Pro modes. It is the first time I used this mode for any length of time.


It may be that it is the degree of Scan Velocity Modulation that makes the pictures different even though the User controls are set the same. Could there be other factors involved, things that are only in the Service Menu?


It's great being able to change things so easily from the remote.


I just hooked up ExpressVu and my HdNet, running long cables through one wall from my projector room, and was able to get the CBS game on ExpressVu. Nothing compares to HdNet, of course in terms of clarity, but the game today looked awesome.


I still have not been able to figure out how to get the scrolling channels to actually show all the channels. Since this is also a feature on the HS series, I would appreciate any help on this.


I was able to get the Twin Picture to work with one cable channel and one satellite channel by using the lower rf Input, rather than the top Aux rf Input. The manual says that Twin Picture will not work with the Aux Input, and it is correct in that. But the lower rf Input disabled the channel up/down on the remote, I can change cable channels by pressing the channel number on the remote.


When I use the top Aux rf Input, I can only see my satellite picture in the split screen but the channel up/down on the remote works normal. So I have chosen the lower rf Input to be able to keep an eye on my local news as well as a changeable satellite channel.


I'd appreciate any comments about these quirks.


Again I am very impressed with this set, especially given its price. A friend who has a Sony G90 front projector, but no hd, was over today and was also impressed, or should I say very impressed with the hd picture. He also thought that the sd satellite and regular cable were very good.


I plan to hook up an interlaced dvd player this week but usually go into my projector room for the evening dvd movie. I probably will not use the dvd too much with the hw40 but am very curious as to the picture quality.

Shelly
 

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Is it true that there is only one convergable point or touch focus? No 56 pt convergence?


Brian
 

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There's 9 points of convergence in flash focus. DVD viewing using my progressive scan Pioneer Elite DV-37 is exceptional. Very sharp picture with little to no artifacts and well balanced colors.


Shelly found out by experimentation that the standard mode seems to work best on a variety of sources. I found the movie mode a little too soft, but it does help to tame overly edge enhanced movies.


I still think the 40 series is significantly sharper the the current XBR series. That doesn't mean that the XBR doesn't have it's strong points such as a better cabinet and slightly better depth of field in HD, but, for the money, the 40 series IMHO is a great all-around HDTV. One of Sony's best to date. I happen to own the identical but smaller KP51HW40.


As for the firewire issue: who knows what really is going to happen. Everything is up in the air right now. I won't be using TIVO, and there will about 2-300,000 pissed off HDTV owners if those changes are made. And if everyone stops buying HDTVs right now, it just gives the powers that be an excuse to do whatever they want because of their misguided perception of lack of consumer appeal.


Who knows! I'm just enjoying my HD and DVDs now!
 

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Anyone with a Pioneer or Toshiba will tell you that 9pts of convergence is not enough especially the auto which can be off. Is there a service menu that can be accessed with a full convergence grid?

Brian
 

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?
 

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So do you think the picture is as good as the new XBR2?


I don't really need the firewire and tuner, but I want to get the best picture. From your description it sounds like I might want the HW40.
 

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USABrian,


As far as I know there is a service menu to get into the Sony for complete convergence. I know the service menu codes but would have no idea myself how to make the correct adjustments.

I guess I could have it ISFd one day.
 

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"The top of the screen is just 4 inches wide and then the back of it drops about an inch and the back of the cabinet slants downward for about 8 inches and then drops nearly vertically. So there is virtually no room to place any equipment or speaker level on top. .."


Whoa, Shelly!! That lack of shelf space on top of the Sony is a dealbreaker for me. I will probably keep my Pioneer Elite 610HD instead of replacing it with the Sony, because I cannot suspend my NHT VS 2.1 center speaker in mid air.


Just kidding. Actually, I am glad to hear that the Sony is not only cost effective but its performance seems to be very close to the Elite which many believe is the RPTV standard to equal or beat. The $3,450.00 is tremendous when one considers that a comparable 58" Elite would cost closer to $7,000.


I was interested to note your comment on reflectivity of the viewing surface. Does the Sony have a removeable polarizing screen that causes the reflection? The Elite does, and removing it makes an enormous difference in daytime viewing.


Well done and good luck with the Sony.


Dave
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Hi Dave,


I would have purchased the Pioneer 620 Elite if I could afford it. I also would not mind adding it to my homw in addition to the new Sony if I could afford the tens of thousands of dollars it would cost to add another room on to our home.We now have the two hdtv rooms and considering that this is just a three room home, I'm doing well.


The protective screen is probably removable but I would not chance having some nose, paw or tiny hands touching the uprotected scrfeen.


The reflections are really not noticable when I watch something, and are at their worst during the brightest past of the afternoon. My former Toshiba tube set was much worse and was unwatchable during this same bright time of the day.

Shelly
 

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Shelly, thank you for the updates. I will try to add additional feedback about our 57HW40 when it is delivered tomorrow at 4:30! Sadly I will say farewell to my 1993 Pioneer PRO96:( , but it does get handed down to my son! He has already asked me to give it the maintenance routine, hope they enjoy it. I have been shopping for a HDTV for several years and feel now is the time. 2 years ago I tried with bad results but it seems this will perform more to my expectations. We certainly did not expect to find a set this affordable. Good luck again with yours. Tom
 

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Shelly,


How are the blacks on this set? Did you have to do any major adjusting to get them to look good?

Would you say the 3-D effect is stronger on this model than the 10 series from last year?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Hi Tom, As you know, the SpotSony forum where we both post has the lastest up to date info about the 57hw40. I think it important for us few owners who Post regularly on video groups to add our impressions and viewing diecoveries as they occur. I'm having Service out this Friddasy to tweak the gray scale for me and hope they know what they are doing. I think that if you have a good service man under warranty, you could get the set very fine tunes without the expense of ISF calibration. Living in a rural area like I do adds $250 in travel time to the basic $500 ISF cost.


Out of the box your set will shine for you. I reset all of the User controls for the four viewing modes (Vivid,

Standard, Movie and Pro) all to the 50 settings with Neutral color temperature. That is a good staring point for you. I now use the Vived mode for some HD viewing, now that the Contrast (Picture) is down to 50 from the factory default of 2100. Believe it or not, I have not noticed the svm to cause any edge enhancement in theis setting in hd viewing (except on some text which is not important to me) and the auto color and picture enhancements hidden in the Service Menu for this viewing mode adds real punch for daytime viewing when ambient light in the room can wash out the picture somewhat. It is too much for night time, however.


In fact, I change many User control settings to compensate for ambient room lighting conditions as the day progresses.

And I finally figured out the Scrolling Channels which puts every cable channel on the right side of the screen in little boxes so you can monitor what's on and choose any one whenever it looks interesting--all while watching any other Video Input, including HD.Yes, this and the Twin Picture both will allow for the 1080i first channel and then any other channel from cable or satellite in the second box on the right. Great friendly features here.


b4z, The blacks are great and a lot blacker than the dark grays of my Sony front projector. I certainly don't need blacker blacks. I have not really seen any of the previous Sony models. The new xbr2 that I saw looked less sharp than this but it may have been in Movie or Pro viewing mode and I usually use Standard, which is sharper. Once you learn about how a set works and what different controls you have over the picture, it allows you to have a sharper or softer picture depending on the program matter and your preference. When you see a set in the store, unless you are aware of all of the possible viewing modes and controls, it is difficult to make a good comparison. But I doubt if you will get a better hd picture from any other set. If so, then it is just like how much salt you prefer on your food to make it taste more to your liking. I do not believe that one set is more 3d than another set until you make sure that all of the possible adjustments oare the same, which is almost impossible. It is like comparing speakers if there is more than .x volume difference and slight change in room placement. It is hard to get apples to apples.


At it's price, the 57hw40 had an awsome picture, great features, is an incredible buy and you could buy two of them for the price of one 57" Pioneer Elite or Mitsubishi Diamond et al. Or one 57hw40, and new audio components. Or one 57hw40 and a cruise. You get the picture.

Shelly
 

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Shelly,

Double WOW. Just finished a long post at The Spot so I will be brief. This 57HW40 is a great value. The price I got from Sears along with the free DVD player ( traded up to a RP-56 for $63.00) has made this a most enjoyable purchase!! I'll add to this soon. Tom
 
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