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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been getting a lot of e-mail asking about this new Sony HDTV and a suggestion by MikeD prompts me to leave as complete a review about this product as I can for future searches on AVSFORUM. If you are curious about this set, then read on.


The Sony KD-34XBR2 is Sony's newest 34" HDTV. The set has a good anti-reflective coating on it's flat 16:9 picture tube.


A built in OTA digital tuner with side-by-side and index viewing (4 small pictures shown on the right hand side with a larger image on the left) is a fun feature but can only show one digital image at a time in the larger window. The small index windows only display standard OTA channels. Set-up for the analog and digital channels is a separate function on the well designed menu. The set can also display the on-air guides, but as of this writing I have not watched a regular station in this area that used this.


There are 5 inputs (not including the iLink[ieee1394/firewire] port no one has effectively used yet). Three composite inputs that are made up of both phono and S-Video connections, (one on the front) and two Component inputs. All are selectable from the remote but not directly. There is no feature allowing you to select input 5 directly from 1. You must push the input select the appropriate number of times. To mitigate this Sony's menu allows you to exclude unused inputs from the selection process. So if you have only two inputs used, the process is fairly painless. You do get used to pushing twice or three times quickly as needed in any event.


The set comes with 3:2 pulldown referred to as Cinemotion by Sony. Also Progressive input and control is provided. Neither is selectable with feeds that already have this done. If you DVD player is progressive out, the Sony does not allow you to turn it off or on, on the set. All HDTV programming for obvious reasons prevent progressive scan. (1080i)


The manual indicates that the set can accommodate all broadcast formats including 480i, 480p, 720p, and 1080i. There has been some discussion regarding the 720p functionality, but regardless of the comments, a 720p broadcast can look quite good. CSI and Leno look great!


As with some other Sony TVs they included a Color temperature feature that allows selection of presets for color mix that are labeled as Cool, Neutral, Warm. I use a modified neutral. I suppose it's personal preference, however I think its kind of a pointless feature since the presets look pretty crummy without adjustment anyway.


Also on the Menu is a feature called VM (Velocity Modulation) which adds sharpness to the edges of objects in the picture in three stages. This is in addition to the usual sharpness control.

Also kind of pointless except with some Dish Network programming it helps sharpen it up.


There are two coax inputs, one set for OTA and one set for Cable channels. This is selectable from the remote also. A nice feature if you have an antenna and cable, and possibly a Satellite box also.


Let's see, Freeze frame and jump are also on the remote. (Jump allows you to immediately return to the last channel viewed. I use this all the time.) Plus the remotes front panel lifts up to allow for control (minimal) of 4 other devices.


Wide zoom, Full zoom, zoom, and normal are available from the remote for 4:3 material and a default can be set so all 4:3 material is zoomed automatically while changing channels. This does not work on those stations that opt to show 4:3 material in it's native mode on a 16:9 broadcast. (Like the Dish 6000.)


Optical output is provided and works quite nicely to my A/V receiver for Dolby sound, and as expected (?) non-Dolby material does not come out the fiber. You will need to connect either standard phono cables or use the internal speakers.


Speaking of which, the built in speakers do provide a nice stereo stage and even presents some ambient sounds in a way that makes me look at odd places in the room wondering what the sound was. There are bass and treble controls however the speaker system to my ears are way to bassy for me. even with the bass turned way down. An effect of the large cabinet I would guess.


Minor features:

A Sony Memory Stick slot in the back. (I don't think it takes you camera stuff...)


S-control for connecting other Sony devices like a VCR.


V Chip for parents that want their kinds to watch more violence than sex.


Menu vertical and tilt correction for first time set-up.


A built in demo of features you can run for your friends.


An audio compression unit called "Steady Sound" to keep most programming at the same sound level.


200lbs plus 75 with the nice stand.


39" wide x 24" tall x 25" deep as measured by me. Stand not included.


Warranty: on-site for the first year, two years included.


I have heard of this set selling for as low as about $2800, but having been in the business and sold Sony's , I would say this is for a refurbished unit. Yes there are some. I returned two before I got a working one. Minor problems on the first and bad Component inputs on the second. Both replaced by the dealer (and delivered!) The Good Guys. The working unit was the 2000th set built as indicated by the serial number.


Did I mention the great picture? DVD's look great, 1080i looks stupendous. Directv and Dish look poor (except the HD programming), VHS looks like crap. Oh well.


I hope this answers most questions. Feel free to add your comments. I will now go back to sleep. zzzzzzzzzzzzz
 

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webmarin,


Thanks for the review. I'm getting ready to purchase fairly soon. One question that comes to mind. With the built in OTA tuner for HD, do you find that purchasing a STB for the few channels in HD (either DirecTV or Dish) is worth the added cost? (I guess that's sort of a dumb question because for myself, I HAVE to see HDNet with all the hockey games but that's another story) At first I was excited that the 34xbr2 had a built in tuner but then wished that sony left it out and reduced the cost a bit.


I guess my real question is, do you find yourself using a STB for the local stuff as well as dish/directv or using the internal tuner?


thanks again for your time.


eric
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I got a Dish 6000 (replaced my DirectTV stuff for the CBS HD feed) and did not buy the OTA tuner. From the postings I've read, the tuner in the the Sony is a lot more versatile when it comes to handling the area stations problems with sub-channel movement. Of course there is no DTV box without tuner that I am aware of so..... (I'm sure someone will say if there is.) I am kind of sorry I left Directv since HDNet went on, but I would be getting intermittent reception of CBS without the Dish box.


I guess if I had the OTA card for the Dish box I could use fewer remotes....Well maybe not....
 

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Webmarin,

Thanks for the review of the KD34XBR2. I am going to view this set myself in the am.

Did you compare this set with the new Philips 34PW9817?

It seems to me from reading reviews that these two sets are perhaps the 'state of the art' at the moment in direct-view 34" HDTV's. Unfortunately, I have not been able to see these sets together for a side by side comparison, as no one locally carries them both. Your comments on the difference between them would be greatly appreciated if you had the chance to check them both out.

thanks,

thebishman
 

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I have owned the Sony 34XBR2 for a month now and generally like it -- especially the picture quality! -- but I have several other complaints:


- the external audio connectors don't work consistently. For instance, the volume control doesn't control the digital-optical so, if you want to use it, you have to switch to Fixed Audio Level and then control the volume from surround-sound receiver. Unfortunately, if you do this, you'll quickly discover (as did the initial reviewer) that analog stations (not simply non-Dolby) aren't output on the optical output, so you then also have to switch the audio on the surround-sound receiver; mine is supposed to auto-detect which connection is "live" but it doesn't work consistently with the Sony.


- you can program the remote for other equipment manufacturers, but there's no provision for surround-sound receivers. Ideally, you could set the TV to Fixed Audio Output, disable the built-in speakers, then set the Volume controls for your receiver while still using the Channel controls for the Sony TV.


- when viewing 480p material, the Video menu continues to say "Interlaced". It's grayed-out, but it really would be less confusing if it also said "Progressive" as a confirmation.


- when you press the Guide button (for digital channels' info), it will change channels if you're not watching a digital channel rather than simply reporting "The Guide info is only available for digital broadcasts."


- the Guide button shows you *some* of the digital broadcast info but not all the details. All it reports is "HD" vs "SD", and "4:3" vs "16:9". I know this is a big improvement over previous models which didn't report ANY info but still frustrating that 480p is labeled "HD" same as 720p and 1080i.


There are some other quirks, too, but I don't have my notes in front of me...


Finally, in regards to the initial post:

- 720p input signals definitely work, I've used it from my HiPix

- the Sony Memory Stick connector is for system upgrades(?!)


Sincerely,

Tony in San Diego

 

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On the 720p issue - the potential issue wasn't that the TV wouldn't support 720 inputs (It has to, according to the ATSC spec, right?), the issue was whether or not the set displayed 720 signals as 1080i or as 480p.


Maybe if your HiPix allows you to display test patterns in both 720p and 480p modes, we could settle this issue once and for all. It doesn't make sense to me why they would down-convert to 480p for this, but someone posted that information here as coming direct from a Sony service rep on the phone and seemed very convinced of it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
thebishman:


I was in a store that had both sets (Philips/Sony) but could not get a feed to the Sony at the time. As I recollect the Philips had a decent enough picture, but comments from a few dealers and the OTA tuner pointed me at the Sony. At the time of purchase I had regular Directv and thought I could OTA HD. I did not want a new box. That has changed (I initially went looking for a cheap DVD player....) but I like the built in tuner just fine.


sdsalsero:

The audio out is an issue, but as a guess the digital outputs is basically a pass-thru for the DD stuff. To send out analog audio would require a D-A converter, which would only add to cost. I always want my receiver doing the DD stuff and leave it of for analog channels anyway. Not a problem for me.


Remote: I have a much better programmable remote with my A/V receiver so if I really felt the need I would program it. The Dish remote can't do everything for the TV nor can the TV do Dish stuff. Neither one does my AV receiver like yours.. Hence the minimal 3 remotes (bah).


And it would be nice to report what res it's doing. Took me awhile to figure out why interlace or progressive is greyed out. It displays whatever the default setting is. Mine is left in progressive.


As for 720p Innerloop, does it help if I say that an ABC 720p broadcast is full screen? Is that upconvert of something to 1080i? Hmmmm. Like I said. Still looks better than a normal 480i upconvert from a digital pic so I really don't care except philosophically I guess...
 

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If the picture on the KD-34XBR2 is poor with DirecTV, would you say that there are any HD Direct View sets in which the picture is better with DirecTV?


Also, in addition to having the firewire connector, does this set support the associated copy protection that would allow me to time shift to an HD-VCR or future HD-Tivo?


This set seems to have been distributed earlier on the West Coast. I have not been able to find it yet in stores in the Washington, DC area.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by ericlhyman:
Also, in addition to having the firewire connector, does this set support the associated copy protection that would allow me to time shift to an HD-VCR or future HD-Tivo?
Yes, as is stated in this press release. It may be the only thing that you can do with the Firewire connections--nobody's reported on whether you can play DV through them as well.


-- Mike Scott
 

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Since this set has a built in HD tuner I am assuming there is a fan(?) for the tuner. I believe the RCA has a fan which is noisy.

If the Sony does in fact have a fan, is it audible?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Regarding my comments about Directv and the Sony pic quality: I think if you read through *many* posts on this forum you will find that satellite systems broadcast compressed image. The bigger the set the worse it looks. It is not a Sony problem. Sorry for the confusion.


And no, there is no fan that I can find. The boxes that satellite systems come in are far smaller that this TV. I will only venture a guess that this is the reason they use fans. It's a question of how much air can be moved across the components.


It would be interesting to find out if the just announced Mitsubishi DVHS recorder will connect to the ilink port. That would be great. http://www.mitsubishi-tv.com/dvhs.htm Announced in Wired's October issue at $1050...


[This message has been edited by webmarin (edited 10-06-2001).]
 

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No fan in this set that I can find. In fact its surpringly quiet given its size and features. I think my Tivo makes more background noise than the XBR2.
 

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If you are frustrated with limitations of your various remote controls, you should look at the MX-500 from Universal Remote Control.


[This message has been edited by lhl12 (edited 10-06-2001).]
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The remote looks interesting. The AV receiver remote does all that. That problem is that the display does not say what the function is (if it's not the same as the labeling) until you press it. These other remotes seem to address that with the programmable displays...Ah, one more purchase to nirvana. Oops, wait, that DVHS makes two, oh wait....


Thanks



[This message has been edited by webmarin (edited 10-06-2001).]
 

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I've been using the MX-500 for several months now, and it is absolutely terrific. It does virtually everything I need and is extremely simple to program. I was a Pronto user for a while before getting the MX-500 and there is no comparison in ergonomics, usability and programmability.


URC is going to be releasing a newer version of the MX-500 (called the MX-700) in month or so. It will address most of the (relatively minor) deficiencies of the MX-500, so you might consider waiting until it is actually available.


For more details on both these remotes, see www.remotecentral.com.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by webmarin:
It would be interesting to find out if the just announced Mitsubishi DVHS recorder will connect to the ilink port. That would be great. http://www.mitsubishi-tv.com/dvhs.htm Announced in Wired's October issue at $1050...
As I've said elsewhere, these certainly ought to work together just fine. They are built to the same 1394/DTCP interface/protocol standard, and the DTLA has been offering interoperability testing for such devices for the past couple of years--I'd be surprised if these items hadn't actually been tested together. Manufacturers are usually quite good about cooperating on such ineroperability testing--when "plug-and-play" technology fails to work, everyone whose products incorporates it loses.


There have been at least one report in these forums of people using the Firewire connections on these sets to play tapes out of the discontinued Panasonic deck with no problem.


-- Mike Scott
 

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Webmarin,


Thanks for taking my suggestion. Your posts were very helpful. I just got a KD34XBR2 on 10/08.


MikeD
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hope you enjoy it! I've become a bigger couch potato since I got mine....


[This message has been edited by webmarin (edited 10-09-2001).]
 

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Thanks for great review.


The Perfect Vision November/December edition will review this set also.. Fellow AVS forum user is writing review for it...

I ordered this set directly from SONY (Sony employee discount). Cost is $2700+tax+ SONY matching stand = $3000 shipped to my door...

This will be my first decent TV (have 27 inch old RCA

now)...

Anyone knows anythign about this blockbuster $10 deal?

They offer free Professional installation, free dish and cr*ppy Hughes reciever, but there are no yearly commitments, no contracts, etc.. Should I get this for dish?

Also, I am planning to have a pole with OTA Antenna.. Can OTA antenna co-exist with DirecTV dish?

Thanks

 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Bumping to slow down the calls......
 
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