DIMENSIONS 61 3/8 inches wide, 62 inches high, 29 inches deep WEIGHT 327 pounds PRICE $5,500 MANUFACTURER Sony, Dept. S&V, One Sony Dr., Park Ridge, NJ 07656; phone, 800-222-7669; Web site, www.sel.sony.com
There's a generous number of inputs, including an RGB+H/V jack that doubles as a wideband component-video input - which you'll need to connect an HDTV tuner or progressive-scan DVD player - a standard (480i) component-video input, and three A/V sets with both composite- and S-video jacks, one in front and two around back. There's also one A/V output with a composite-video jack and both fixed- and variable-level audio outputs. I'm a little puzzled as to why Sony included only one wideband component input, which forces you to use an external switcher if you want to hook up an HDTV tuner and a progressive-scan DVD player.
The remote control is typical of what Sony offers with most of its TVs - a big, blocky thing with a flip-up panel that conceals buttons for controlling other components. A few of the main buttons - including those for volume and channel selection - are backlit. I particularly liked the thumb-controlled joystick for navigating menus, the picture-control button, which lets you toggle through picture presets, and the A/V input button, which can be configured to skip inactive inputs.
As usual, my first order of business was to grab Ovation Software's Avia test DVD and calibrate the Sony's picture settings. Among the numerous picture presets is one labeled Pro. It delivered a reasonably accurate picture, so I started tweaking with that mode engaged. One thing that immediately irritated me is that there is no numerical readout for the picture-control sliders, so you can't write down the changes you make. On the other hand, changes to any of the preset picture modes are stored in the set's memory, allowing you to create custom settings for each video input.
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