Sony’s KDL-55HX850 is unique in being the only edge-lit LCD TV that I could actually live with. Its contrast and black depth rivals that of the company’s flagship XBR HX929 series TVs, and color is very accurate straight out of the box. At $2,400, it’s far from cheap — for the same money you could buy the Panasonic VT50 plasma reviewed on page 42, which also delivers excellent contrast and achieves it without the dynamic dimming trickery required by LCD TVs. (But those banner ads!) That said, if a high-performance LCD is what you’re seeking, this Sony should be No. 1 on your list.
* Spectracal’s CalMan Professional monitor calibration software (spectracal.com) was used during the calibration and measurement process. See PDF link for a complete report with detailed pre- and post-calibration results.
The Sony KDL-55HX850’s Custom picture/Warm 2 color temperature presets delivered the most accurate grayscale performance. Before calibration, color temperature averaged around 6,297 kelvins. After calibration, it averaged 6,473 K, with a slight blue bias at the dark (20 IRE) end of the grayscale. Primary and secondary color points checked in close to the HD standard out of the box — a good thing, too, since Sony doesn’t provide color-management system adjustments to fine-tune color.
Gamma in the Custom preset’s default 0 setting measured close to the 2.2 target throughout the full brightness range with the TV’s LED Dynamic Control switched to Off. With that same setting enabled, Black level measured 0.002 footlamberts (ftL) on a full-field black pattern, and a full white window pattern measured 38.56 ftL to yield a contrast ratio of 19,280:1. With LED Dynamic Control switched to Standard, the set’s dynamic contrast ratio was 35,910:1 — almost exactly the same as I what measured on last year’s XBR-55HX929, a model with a full-array LED backlight. Off-axis picture uniformity was very good, and the Gorilla Glass screen helped to minimize reflections from lamps and open windows.
Motion-resolution tests revealed 600 lines with MotionFlow switched to Off, 1,000 lines with either the Smooth or Standard MotionFlow setting selected, and 1,200 lines with the Clear, Clear Plus, or Impulse modes selected. MotionFlow adds a smooth “video” look to 24-fps content at all settings, however, so I don’t recommend using it. The Impulse mode also adds an objectionable amount of flicker.
The set passed all high-def film and video deinterlacing tests. It also passed all standard-def tests with the exception of the Jaggies 1 test from the HQV disc. The TV’s various Noise Reduction settings proved effective at all steps, and they didn’t introduce any picture softening. The Smooth Gradation adjustment did soften pictures, however, with all but its Low setting active. — A.G.
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