Sony's XBR series TVs have a devoted following, but some of the sets in the line tend to be priced higher than models with similar features from other set-makers. So if you're an XBR fan who is in the market for an HDTV with a really big screen, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the price of Sony's new 65-inch rear-projection HDTV monitor. At $5,500, the KP-65XBR10W is priced competitively with other king-size widescreen HDTVs.
One way Sony keeps the price down is by using 7-inch cathode-ray tubes (CRTs) to beam images at its 16:9 aspect ratio screen. A few other sets this size, including models from Philips and Zenith, use 9-inch CRTs, which are capable of delivering more detailed high-definition images than 7-inch tubes. But those sets cost nearly twice as much as the Sony. In any case, to watch HDTV on the 65XBR10W, you'll have to connect an outboard HDTV tuner. (Sony offers the SAT-HD100 for $799.)
Despite its competitive price, the Sony set still has plenty of interesting features, including a sophisticated picture-in-picture (PIP) function that lets you manually scale the size of PIP windows using the remote's joystick, and Sony's Flash Focus system, which automatically converges the three CRTs (more on this later). The set displays 1080i-format HDTV and 480p standard-definition signals at their native resolution and upconverts standard (480i) NTSC signals to a 960i display format.
In the styling department, Sony has come up with a very cool look for the set. Its screen is framed by a thin, metallic border, and the sides taper inward gently. The overall effect is to make the set, which is still pretty monstrous, seem lighter and slimmer than it is. When you look at it head-on with the lights turned down, you might be fooled into thinking that it's a flat-panel plasma display.
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