Sony Bravia KDL-46XBR45

Despite featuring some eye-popping visuals and up-to-date media features, the Sony KDL-46XBR45's high price and less-than-stellar build means that rivals present better value.


7.7
CNET Rating
6.6
User Rating

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Ty is a journalist with 15 years experience in writing for IT and entertainment publications. He is in charge of the home theatre category for CNET Australia and is also a PC enthusiast. He likes indie music and plays several instruments. Twitter: @tpendlebury


It's a tumultuous time to be buying a television, and while indications are that people are more likely to buy up big on TVs during tough economic times, there's always room for value for money. But Sony is hoping that people will pay a little extra to invest in a flagship BRAVIA with the release of their 46XBR45. At AU$7000 is it worth the money?

Design
For a flagship model we have to say we're a little disappointed by the design of the 46XBR45. Sony is still crazy about its floating glass concept, which can be seen on the previous XBR, but here it just looks a bit silly. Not only that, but the speakers hanging off the sides are flimsy and the clear plastic holding them on physically bends when prodded. You'll want to be careful moving this one around as there are no grab handles and the "floating" speakers won't take the weight of the TV if you're lifting it.

Apart from this point, however, the TV is relatively similar to last year's model, with a brushed aluminium bezel surrounding the screen and a handy swivelling base.

Interestingly, the remote control is both an infrared and RF emitter, but sadly you can't use it to control the PlayStation 3. Combined with the swivelling stand you could potentially use and watch the TV from another room — handy for open-plan living areas.

Features
The Sony KDL-46XBR45 is a 46-inch LCD, and despite some fancy features we'll get to in a moment, probably its biggest claim to fame is its LED backlighting system.

Networking is one of the newest features to come bundled on televisions, and while they add quite a bit to the learning curve (and potential for hair loss) they can also be quite useful if media streaming is important to you. While the Samsung Series 9 featured an almost over-the-top shopping list of networking features, the Sony is more modest with photos and music playback only. In combination with Sony's own XMB menu system, music servers are easy to navigate and play media from. Yet while Sony's system is easier to use, we quite liked Samsung's system whereby servers appear as inputs when you press the A/V button.

It's not only networking that makes this television more complex, but there are a panoply of options available for image tweaking purposes. For example, the Sharpness control doesn't seem to cut it anymore, and the XBR adds two more controls in Detail Enhancement and Edge Enhancement. Naturally, the picture looked better with them off, but most of the TVs preset modes activated them by default. We're not too fond of this current trend for over-sharp televisions, as they only accentuate the noise in the picture — especially when it comes to free-to-air and DVD

Performance
We're a little torn when it comes to evaluating the performance of this television, because while colour and blacks are exceptional, there were some other issues which prevented us from loving this unit wholeheartedly. But let's start with some of the TV's strengths.

By far the best performance the television put in was in its reproduction of dialogue and music. Those speakers may be flimsy, but in concert with a 12W on-board subwoofer they sound great! Bass frequencies are as fuller than could be expected from a small, thin speaker, and speech was natural and intelligible. While most TVs that can play MP3s are a bit naff, we think the Sony is probably the first one you could seriously use as a sound system.

With the XBR's LED backlight there's none of the backlight clouding issues we've seen with CCFL lighting. While it's still not perfect, and off-axis does lose some colour and contrast, it's even better than our award-winning favourite the Samsung LA46A950. Polarising rainbow effects on certain angles — such as when viewed from above — were also much reduced on the Sony, and turning down the backlight helped even further.

High-definition content was well served, and Mission Impossible III looked dynamic and gritty. Well, maybe a little too much grit, but that was fixed when the sharpness was turned down a little. Even the MotionFlow 100Hz looked good on this movie's rooftop scene with no judder and natural movement.

However, after playing with the XBR for a while we came to think that perhaps all the sharpening gizmos were needed after all — especially on free-to-air. While capable, the on-board tuner was a little soft.

The set's performance with DVD was a little bit of a mixed blessing. Firstly, the black levels meant that the images had real vibrancy and solidity, but secondly the blacks were also a little "green", even after calibration. We experimented with different settings and found tweaking the auto-iris-like LED Dynamic Control and Black Corrector settings helped bring out true blacks.

But this aside, the infamous Brontosaurus Stampede from King Kong was delivered neutrally and faithfully, with none of the day-glo afflictions that affect other TVs during this scene.

At AU$6,999 this may not be an expensive TV by last year's standards, but as its Samsung rival is appearing for under $4k after discounts, the Sony looks comparatively dear.

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john posted a comment   

The Good:contrast, local diming, sharp, big sound

The Bad:nothing

can use a single remote to control the tv and ps3 with hdmi control.
picture and sound is still better than anything new in the shops.

shakattack
5
Rating
 

shakattack posted a review   

The Good:Only the name of sony

The Bad:Fan noise/White patches on screen

I am facing a problem with the panel and when the fans turn on above normal sound making viewing experience horrifying. The panel was replaced but the white patches have not been rectified. Instead they have increased.

Unfortunately, the white patches are more wide spread and the problems has gotten worse. When watching the television straight the severity of the patches is larger and in a bigger area.

Secondly, a new problem now is that while watching the television it just switches off automatically and the red light in the front of the panel starts blinking. Then the remote does not work. I mean that the television does not switch on from the remote. This happened a couple of times which was not something I experienced before the change of panel.

I would not recommend Sony to anyone.

 

nuts70 posted a reply   

I have experienced the exact thing you speak of and more. We bought this TV not long ago and have had to have it replaced by Sony 3 TIMES!!! First it would switch off the same as yours. Then we could not receive analogue tv. Now the white lines are here and it needs a new panel. What the hell is this??? I too would not touch another Sony. Ever.

BRAVIA XBR45 46IN
9
Rating
 

BRAVIA XBR45 46IN posted a review   

The Good:NEW RRP

The Bad:Your friends will be JEALOUS

As of 23/6/09 sonys website say the RRP is:

$5000

Which means if you shop around I reckon you could get it for $4000!

NOW thats a great deal!!!

 

kungfu12 posted a comment   

The Good:best picture available

The Bad:people are horrified by the price

well lets see? its NOT a samsung panel? oh yeah!? sony ditched samsung ages ago!!?? omg! proof that none of the reviewers on here have seen the panel working correctly or sell these!.
on the other hand i do and this panel spanks the samsung and leaves it's crappy bleached/washed out picture for dead any day. why is the samsung cheaper? hmm i wonder.....

Bravia XBR45 46inch
9
Rating
 

Bravia XBR45 46inch posted a review   

The Good:XBR Series is made in Japan
Its Sony

The Bad:Retail price is dear but if you shop around you can get a bargain

I Bought the 40inch XBR for $2600 and even though it lacks the LED Backlighting it looks superb. Bing Lee quoted me $5000 for the 46inch and at that price I think its a sure winner- miles ahead of the Samsung.

 

nuts70 posted a reply   

I think you may find the xbr series WAS made in Japan but is now made in Malaysia.

matt
6
Rating
 

matt posted a review   

Erm, sorry Alistaircase, missed your second line when I posted...

matt
6
Rating
 

matt posted a review   

Snake, in answer to your previous question - as I understand it, LED backlighting is super expensive, right? The Samsung only uses single white LEDs, whereas the Sony uses R,G and B (and and extra Green for some reason) LEDS, for even better accuracy. Makes sense to me it'd be more expensive than the Sammy.

Yes it's super dear, but even in Sony Central the 55" was 8900, not 10 grand, and I saw it for a few hundred less again in Bing Lee.

alistaircase
10
Rating
 

alistaircase posted a review   

The Good:Better backlighting and blacks.

The Bad:Bit expensive, but you pay for the picture.

I owned the Samsung, but traded it for the Sony. I am so relieved. The panel is very different to the Samsung - RGB LED backlighting is present on the Sony.


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User Reviews / Comments  Sony Bravia KDL-46XBR45

  • john

    john

    "can use a single remote to control the tv and ps3 with hdmi control.
    picture and sound is still better than anything new in the shops."

  • shakattack

    shakattack

    Rating5

    "I am facing a problem with the panel and when the fans turn on above normal sound making viewing experience horrifying. The panel was replaced but the white patches have not been rectified. Instead..."

  • BRAVIA XBR45 46IN

    BRAVIA XBR45 46IN

    Rating9

    "As of 23/6/09 sonys website say the RRP is:

    $5000

    Which means if you shop around I reckon you could get it for $4000!

    NOW thats a great deal!!!"

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