The Big ViewI figured it would be appropriate to embrace as much of the Sony Entertainment universe as I could, so I evaluated the Qualia 006 using the Spider-Man 2 DVD from Sony-owned Columbia TriStar. This excellent DVD looked outstanding on the big screen.
One of the first things I noticed during calibration (see "In the Lab," at the end of this article, for more), and again during the movie, was the 006's vibrant colors. The set uses three SXRD chips for the red, green, and blue primary colors, thus avoiding distortions that can occur with a single-chip microdisplay that uses a color wheel to separate the primary colors. As noted earlier, selecting the Wide Color Space option b roadens the image's color gamut, especially in reds, which Sony says results in deeper colors and better overall saturation. I saw nothing in Spider-Man 2 to make me doubt that claim.
Early in the movie, there's a shot looking down on Columbia University's quad, and the green of the grass appeared lush yet perfectly natural in the sun. Tight close-ups of Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) not only accurately rendered her shock of orange hair but also revealed her delicate pinkish skin tones. While color depth was greater, the colors never seemed cartoonish - aside from Spidey's costume, of course - just more natural and lifelike.
Right after the opening credits, the camera zooms out from a white billboard. The large swath of white demonstrated the Sony's good uniformity compared with other LCD and LCoS sets, but the white tended to be a little dimmer toward the edges than in the center. The 006 had greater consistency than any LCD or LCoS display I've seen but wasn't as uniform as DLP. You'd be hard-pressed to see inconsistencies with movies or TV material, however.
Along with full HDTV resolution, Sony claims very fast screen response for moving images, and the 006 didn't miss a beat. The menacing silver hands at the ends of Doctor Octavius's shiny, segmented tentacles were rendered to the tiniest detail. I noticed no signs of image lag or slowness as the camera traced the tentacles' lightning-quick attacks. A typical LCD TV would have struggled with this scene.
Night scenes also looked very good. For example, when Peter stakes out the playhouse where Mary Jane is performing or when Spidey afterward soars through the New York streets to shake off his disappointment at seeing her with her boyfriend, the night sky and the shadows between buildings looked suitably dark. No, the Qualia 006 can't reproduce the inky black of a CRT, but its darkest areas appeared as close to black as I've seen on the best plasmas and rear-projection DLPs, and darker than on any LCD or LCoS set I've seen.
A weakness did appear when I compared the depth of black from two different shots of a night sky, one showing a brightly lit Empire State Building, and one without the skyscraper. With the building present, the sky appeared a little brighter, and the stars a little dimmer, than without it. I confirmed that this problem was in the TV and not the movie by looking at some half-white vs. fully dark test patterns. The dark areas became slightly brighter when part of the image was bright. This can obs cure some shadow detail when you're watching m ovies.
Toward the end of Spider-Man 2 , a streetlight fades smoothly into darkness as it illuminates the cop cars coming to investig ate the drowning of the fusion sun. It was o n this frame that I noticed some unusual ghosting in the picture. Running through a dark area at the bottom of the image was a faint patch of blue that exactly mirrored the size, shape, and relative position of a very bright strand of Spidey's web at the top of the frame. Test patterns confirmed that whenever a bright patch or object appeared anywhere, a faint, corresponding blue patch appeared in the opposite section of the screen.
After checking it out, Sony's engineers determined that the blue ghost was the fault of a damaged SXRD light engine. Sony shipped us another Qualia 006 that showed no evidence of this problem and noted that any customers who identify this issue within the three-year parts-and-labor warranty period can have it fixed.
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