I spent quite a bit of time with this set today at Circuit City (I ultimately have decided to buy either the Hitachi 43" HDTV or Panasonic 47" HDTV, since they are cheaper and bigger).
I have a 36" Wega KV line and it has some problems, including the Uneven Brightness that is annoying as all Hell. On mine it's downright distracting. However, after playing some DVDs on the XBR450 via S-Video, I was able to determine that Sony has greatly reduced this problem. Now, instead of a dark blob on the left side of the screen and a light area on the right with the middle being in between, there is just a slight and gradual difference in brightness from left to right. You really have to look for it to see it and even then, it's so subtle, it didn't bother me.
DVD via anamorphic looks stunning. Better than 16x9 mode on my Wega KV. FACTORY SETTINGS ARE ****! You will need to adjust them as soon as you turn the set on. They are just painfully over the top. Once adjusted, picture is clear, bright and film-like.
CABLE (480i) looks pretty bad. Much worse than on my Wega, because of the upconversion. A strong signal will actually look very nice, but channels that have less signal (like TNN and TNC around here) will look pretty terrible.
If space is not a consideration, look at the 16x9 HDTV's from Toshiba, Hitachi, Panasonic and Mitsubishi that are under 50 inches. They are better, with more features, nicer cable playback AND a can be a lot cheaper. The 43" Hitachi can be had for $1900 from Sears and it is a damn fine set. The 47" Panasonic is just $2000! The Sony is $500 more for a heavier tube that cannot approach the 1080i of true HDTV's.
If space is a problem, you will not find a finer 36" tube TV. I looked at them all today and while the 36" Panasonic Tau is about 95% there (fantastic picture quality), it's lack of manual anamorphic squeeze and documented problem of failing to squeeze some anamorphic DVDs takes it right out of the running.
I have the 36XBR400 and have not complaints. Can't say I made thorough comparisions between TVs. The picture is great compared to many RPTVs particularly in a room with moderate ambient light. My factory settings were not too far off from Avia's settings. HD feeds are great from a Samsung SIR-T150. True HDTV format is the best. Looks as vivid as hi-resolution still pictures on a computer screen. Even cable is very good; I get strong signals. DSS feeds are as good if not better than cable. DVD's are great too. Glad I made the move to HD. Now let's hope the standard does not change eg. 5C, 1394, DVI, etc.
Hard to say. Bigger is always better, http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif but the hitachi looks slightly sharper to my eye. But that is because it is smaller. It's a trade off. The Panasonic looks sharper than the 65" Sony. The bigger you get, softer it looks. But would I pass up a 65" Sony if I could fit it in my domicile? I think not. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif
Of the two sets in question, I want the Panasonic. It is truly beautiful, the picture quality is outstanding, you can eliminate red push and if I can fit it through my door, it's MINE!
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