Sony Grand Wega KF-50XBR800 LCD HD Monitor Page 2
Out of the box, the Grand Wega's color is quite good, with a surprisingly accurate color decoder. With only slight tweaking to the color and tint in the user menu, I got it almost perfect, with no noticeable red push. This is rare for a TV, and it's quite welcome. When I used the composite input, I noticed mild dot crawl and the typical moiré pattern in fine diagonal lines. Overall, the TV's comb filter is above average. The composite and S-video inputs also have slightly less horizontal resolution than the component input. Video Essentials revealed that the component signal offers about 480 lines per picture height, while the composite and S-video signals are closer to 460 lines. If you have a progressive-scan DVD player, the KF-50XBR800 allows you to expand nonanamorphic DVDs so that they fill the screen. This is an awesome feature, and the Sony accomplishes it with very few artifacts, whether your source is 480i or 480p. The scaler also does a good job with test patterns, creating minimal artifacts with the Snell & Wilcox Zone Test Plate off of Video Essentials. Unfortunately, like almost every other TV, the KF-50XBR800 won't allow you to expand 720p or 1080i, so you'll still have to watch The West Wing in a 4:3 window on NBC's 1080i HD channel. Black bars on all four sides, eh? I'll get you, NBC.
With regular film material, the KF-50XBR800 creates an extremely bright, watchable image. This TV proves that test patterns don't tell you everything. While the black level is fairly high, the image is so bright that you really don't notice it unless you watch a 2.35:1 movie. Even then, the black bars aren't that distracting. The dark portions of the image, like those in the Bruce Willis scene from The Fifth Element that I mentioned earlier, look far better after calibration. What was a 3,500-K difference from one end of the gray scale to the other became a far-more-watchable 1,000-K difference. While this is still slightly blue compared with the rest of the gray scale, it's far less distracting. The three LCD panels' vibrant colors, along with the excellent color decoder, go a long way toward making up for the Sony's black-level problems.
With HD material, the Grand Wega has a sharp, bright, detailed image. With a 1080i feed from DirecTV's HDNet, the detail belies the panel's 768-line vertical-resolution limit. There's some slight noise from the screen material, but, at a normal viewing distance, this all but disappears.
Depending on what you're looking for in a TV, the KF-50XBR800 may be worth looking at. If a high black level drives you nuts, this isn't the set for you. If the black level doesn't bother you or you watch a lot of TV during the day or in a bright room, the KF-50XBR800 is definitely worth investigating. To get this level of brightness, you'd normally have to use a DLP RPTV, and they almost never have the splendid color that this Sony has. So, strange nomenclature aside, this Wega is quite Grand. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)
• Bright, like the sun
• Excellent color
• Attractive styling