Sony Bravia KDL-40XBR2 40-inch LCD HDTV Page 2

The Short Form
Price $3,500 / / 877-865-7669
Expensive, but LCD picture quality doesn't get much better than what you'll see on this swanky Sony.
•Crisp high-def picture •Vivid, natural color •Impressive blacks and shadow detail for LCD
•Expensive compared to the competition
Key Features
•1,920 x 1,080 resolution screen •Accepts native 1080p signals via HDMI •Built-in HDTV tuner •Adjustable backlight •Optional colored bezel •Inputs: 3 HDMI, VGA, 2 component-video, 3 composite-video, and 1 S-video; 2 RF antenna; 5 analog stereo audio; analog minijack stereo audio •Outputs: Optical digital audio; analog stereo audio (fixed/variable); headphone •43.8 x 28.3 x 12.8 in; 77 lb
Test Bench

The Sony Bravia KDL-40XBR2's Warm2 color-temp preset measured closest to the 6,500° kelvin grayscale standard. After adjustments in the White Balance submenu, grayscale tracking measured around ±200°K from 40 to 100 IRE - a good level of performance. The TV displayed only minor color-decoder error on its HDMI and component-video inputs, measuring -5% red. Overscan - the amount of picture "hidden" behind the edges of the screen - measured 0% for both the HDMI and component-video inputs with the Full Pixel modes active and varied from 3% to 7% for the set's other screen options.

Both 1080i/p and 720p-format test patterns were fully resolved for all high-def inputs, though the component-video connection exhibited a fair amount of noise on the last bar of a multiburst pattern. A slight amount of edge enhancement was visible on all inputs, even with the sharpness control zeroed out and the Detail and Edge Enhancer settings off. Full Lab Results

SETUP After hitching my antenna to the TV, I let its Autoprogram feature rip. There was no signal-strength meter to help me position the rabbit ears, but the tuner grabbed all local digital stations without a fuss.

Like other Sony TVs I've recently tested, the KDL-40XBR2 comes loaded with useful picture adjustments: White Balance control with high and low red, green, and blue settings; a variable backlight to deepen black levels; a four-step Advanced Contrast Enhancer that automatically optimizes backlight and contrast settings according to the image content; a selectable Color Matrix to optimize colors for standard or high-def programs; and variable Overscan with a pixel-for-pixel option. Best of all, adjustments you make to these and any of the Sony's numerous other picture settings are stored independently for each input.

After selecting the Warm2 color-temperature preset, I made a few additional grayscale tweaks in the White Balance menu. I also chose the low Gamma and Advanced C.E. settings; normal Color Space (a setting that lets you expand the range of colors displayed on the TV); and low Noise Reduction. With a screen this small, there's no way to appreciate the full resolution of 1080-format high-def programs unless you sit 5 feet or closer to the TV (the eye can't process that level of detail from any farther away). Finding 5 feet kind of claustrophobic, I decided to forego the Sony's ultra-high-rez benefits and evaluate it from my normal 8-foot viewing span.

PICTURE QUALITY The HD DVD of Friday Night Lights looked very crisp on the Sony, with an overhead shot of the Odessa, Texas, football stadium clearly revealing the texture of the scrubby landscape surrounding the field. Fine grid lines in both the parking lot and the field looked solid, and I was impressed at how distinct the mesh texture on the polo shirt of fanatical football dad Charles Billingsley (played by country singer Tim McGraw) looked in a medium shot of him shouting from the bleachers.

Although the colors in Friday Night Lights are intentionally muted and pale, the actors' skin tones came across as completely natural. Taking another look into those bleachers, McGraw's tanned face looked clearly different from his girlfriend's pale complexion, while the mugs of the old-timers in the background showed a range of florid hues. Brightly colored images also came off well. Moving on to a scene from the Happy Gilmore HD DVD in which Adam Sandler shows off his golfing skills, the red, blue, and purple flowers in the background looked appealingly rich.