Test Report: Sony KDL-55W900A 3D LCD HDTV Page 2

Performance

I easily confirmed the shadow detail by checking my black-level torture-test Blu-ray, Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. In an early scene where proto-humans huddle together in a cave, shadows came across as a deep shade of black, while plenty of detail could be seen in the creatures' dark fur. And in a later scene of a ship zooming toward a space station, the white pinpoints of starlight retained their punchy whiteness against the black background of deep space.

When I switched to another reference disc (set of discs, actually), Season 2 of HBO's Game of Thrones, the Sony did an excellent job fleshing out every corner of the opulent castle interiors at King's Landing. The Sony also delivered a striking range of colors, from rich crimson tapestries to the paler hues of clothing worn by denizens of the court. Skin tones looked natural, and the picture maintained a consistent level of punch as scenes shifted from the bluishgloom of the Iron Islands to the golden-hued desert city of Qarth.

To test out 3D on the 55W900A, I turned to Hong Kong director Tsui Hark's Flying Swords of Dragon Gate. Every Hark film I'd previously seen showcased his strong visual style, so I knew he'd bring something special to the 3D format. I wasn't disappointed: Most scenes in Flying Swords contained a mix of subtle and in-your-face 3D effects. For instance, in a scene where the vigilante Zhao and his gang attack the emperor's soldiers on a ship, the soldiers' drawn swords seemed to extend out from the screen, while billowing sails in the background provided a sense of spatial depth. I didn't notice any crosstalk artifacts on the Sony with this disc, though there was a degree of flicker that after a while became tiresome. (Switching the set's Motionflow mode to Standard eliminated the flicker.) When I checked out a reference Blu-ray 3D disc, Hugo, crosstalk artifacts were also fairly minimal compared with those of other 3D TVs I've tested, though I did see faint ghosting in a few shots.

Speaking of Motionflow, all the settings for that mode effectively reduced blur on motion test patterns, though the benefit usually came with a picture-artifact penalty. Smooth mode gave the picture a Jell-O-like wobble; Standard lent films the "video" look of daytime TV; Impulse made the image unacceptably dim. The Clear setting had the most negligible effect on picture quality, so that's the one I'd choose if you want to enhance the TV's motion-resolution capabilities.

Bottom Line

Sony's latest LCD may have more multimedia options than you'll need (the company bills the KDL-55W900A as an Internet TV), but in this case those features are accompanied by serious performance chops. Everything I watched on the TV, from reference Blu-rays and 3D movies to kids' cartoons, looked nothing short of stunning. Was the Triluminous backlight tech responsible? Hard to say for sure, but it certainly didn't hurt.

The main issue I have with the 55W900A is its price: Even at the lower $2,299 street price, it's hundreds of dollars more expensive than the 60-inch Panasonic ST60 Series plasma that we also recently reviewed and raved about. If you've got the cash and want a great-performing TV, this set is a slam-dunk. But don't say I didn't warn you that other excellent options exist, and in most cases they'll cost a good deal less.

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