Sony KDL46XBR

The Sony KDL46XBR is an excellent example of the LCD art, and includes up-to-date -- and working! -- features, and sumptuous styling.


8.4
CNET Rating
8.1
User Rating

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CNET Editor

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


LCD has had a tough ride this year after bearing the brunt of plasma's revival. Samsung, Panasonic and Pioneer have all released excellent plasma televisions which have put most LCD displays to shame.

Sony would need something very special, then, to usurp the technological lead that plasma has taken. And with the KDL46XBR, they may just have done that.

Design
In the States and Europe, there isn't an XBR series -- only different versions of the X. So, what's so special about our XBR's then? Essentially, the only difference between the two series' is the choice of bezel. In the XBR's case, these design touches add AU$300 to the price tag, while also looking a lot nicer than the interchangeable "cheese graters" on the X models. Both TVs should otherwise perform identically.

The Sony uses the same "floating glass" design it's used since the days of their plasma panels. The look is a matter of taste, and while the "On" light and switchable Sony logo look glamorous, the IR receiver looks like a badly-mounted resistor from most angles.

The screen itself is not as reflective as some others, such as the M8 series, so watching in a brightly-lit environment is comfortable.

Features
The Sony KDL46XBR features a 46-inch 1080p panel, and also includes a number of up-to-date imaging features. There is support for the Blu-ray (and HD DVD) 24p standard, and a 100Hz anti-judder mode. But if HD disks aren't your thing then there is an onboard HD tuner so you can receive 1080i content for free. Other features include a USB port for photo viewing, PC connectivity, and three HDMI version 1.3 ports.

Useability is good, due to the menu being straightforward and easy to navigate, though you may need to push a few buttons to get into the actual Settings menu -- the Menu button initially gives you access to Digital Station Favourites and such. Advanced options, such as PC Power Saving, are logically arranged, while the Contrast control is here entitled Picture.

Performance
We tested another Sony recently, the KDL46W3100, and while we were impressed by the blacks and colour, there were still some issues with ghosting. Happily, there were no such issues with the XBR.

All content -- from SD to HD Blu-ray -- looked good when played through this television. One small note is that the TV display does exhibit a small tendency towards green instead of than blue -- even after calibration. Apart from this, the colour was excellent, and it was also one of the brightest panels we've seen.

One of the best features of the KDL46XBR is the 100Hz Motionflow technology. Unlike other anti-judder methods we've seen, this one actually works! Play a Blu-ray and all judder is gone -- even on the infamously jerky Mission Impossible III disk. Free-to-air sports was a little more unpredictable -- with some artefacting -- but for movies, Motionflow is pretty much set and forget.

Detail is generally very good, and is the equal of the menagerie of 1080p plasma TVs we've seen. Only LCDs, such as the R8 without a high-contrast coating, are able to wring more detail from Mission Impossible III. Otherwise, for-better-or-worse, the XBR presents every flaw in Tom Cruise's skin for all to see.

Meanwhile, contrast levels are excellent, and when placed side-by-side against our reference plasma, Pioneer 5000EX, the difference in black levels was almost negligible. This is very impressive. Only the brand new Pioneer Kuro series exhibits better blacks, but that's another story. For four-and-a-half grand, there are few options that offer a superior picture to the KDL46XBR.

However, the black performance isn't perfect -- last year's X series exhibited significant "clouding" problems, and the issue is lessened on the XBR but still there. The effect is only noticeable when the screen is absolutely black and appears, in our case, as a very, very dark blue patch. However, it only covers about 5 percent of the screen.

The sound quality of the KDL46XBR is actually one of its most impressive features. Sound detail is excellent, and you'd have to pay a lot more to get a better experience. For example, the dying Kong's grunts and whimpers as he struggles to hold onto the top of the Empire State building, on the King Kong DVD, are now audible -- on other TVs you just couldn't hear them.

The Sony XBR makes a very good case for the state of LCD circa 2007. It boasts impressive image quality, luxury styling and ease of use. It's not perfect, but when compared to the plasmas of only 12 months ago you're getting comparable image quality at half the price. The future looks bright.

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sonyfixed posted a comment   
Australia

My Sony KDL46XBR was 3 and a half years old when I started getting the 4 horizontal bars and shadowing on the right hand side of the screen when I turned it on. After 30 minutes the picture would correct itself. Describing the problem to Sony over the phone, they said it was a major repair that they would cover the full cost of. The technician replaced the glass screen in my home in about 20 minutes, and I have had no problems since. It is a shame Sony waits for you to call them, rather than doing a recall on this faulty model.

sony911
9
Rating
 

sony911 posted a review   

The Good:Great Picture , nice design

The Bad:faulty model

Hi all , I am just writing to say that I bought a sony KDL46XBR that was bought when they had a 2 month manufacturing fault my picture had gone a few months ago , I have my TV for over a year and was out of warranty so I rang them after reading the forums about the fault and I told sony the fault , They replaced for free , for me this was very good service a shame that this fault has tainted a great product , over all an excellent TV , after the repair they did I will buy sony again.

 

mike posted a reply   

I have just had the same problem. Sony said they will pay all costs.

 

SONY SCAM posted a comment   

The Good:2nd panel still working

The Bad:Quantity has replased quality.Dodgy parts.Bad service.Dishonest.

My TV panel failed just after Sonys 12 months warranty ran out,
(Go figure).
It was repaired under extended warranty.Only to find the 2nd panel is faulty aswell.
Sony don't want to know about it
they said if it is still watchable then its good enough.
This seems to be the attitude with all there products these days in relation to quality control.
Sony have known about these faulty panels for a long time.
These TVs should of been recalled and replaced with a new TV.
This is a plain RIP OFF and DISHONEST.
I will never purchase another sony again

 

Bettsy posted a comment   

The Good:Great Picture

The Bad:Screen has died

18 months after purchase my screen is beginning to die. Dark and fuzzy in the middle and time delay motion on one end. Sony have warranted as it is a known fault. Great service from Sony to fix after warranty but not expected from a top end machine. If you have problems even after warranty period give them a call because they know of the problems. Technician who did the chageover said the 46 inch has given a lot of problems but should be good after the fix.

 

memarkmc posted a comment   

The Good:Excellent Picture Quality, great adjustment levels

The Bad:Had screen die after 14 months

I had the same issue with the screen dying after 14 months. Got the extended warranty so no problems getting it fixed. repairer organised pickup and drop off all in one day. He knew what the problem was with my quick description over the phone. Sony know of the issue because they had a batch of bad screens supplied to them. Even if yours is just out of warranty, get in touch with Sony Australia and they may be willing to help you out anyway. New screens dont have the same issues so no more problems should arise after repairs. Full HD Blue ray is out of this world. Take some time to set it up properly though and you will not regret it.

 

Steve posted a comment   

The Good:Overall everything is good

The Bad:Cold Start issue after 18 months

I agrre with RippedOff if its a known problem Recall the crap and fix it "If you don't look after your customer someone else will"

 

johnydep posted a comment   

The Good:Picture quality

The Bad:Screen has died, goes dark in the middle and has layers on top.

Looks great, picture quality is fantastic, especialy with Blue Ray. Not happy about the life span, only used it for about a year and now the screen is dying, I think that it may be a fan issue.

Avatar
6
Rating
 

Avatar posted a review   

The Good:Beautiful picture at least as good as Plasmas released in 2008

The Bad:No TV guide, cold start problems one year and one month after purchase.

As some others have indicated when the TV starts up from cold after running for a number of hours the previous night. It displays layers down the screen, once the TV warms up the picture is fine again (back to how it always was). But problem returns after warming up and cooling down again. To the persons question regarding how to clean the fan, I believe a vacuum cleaner is adequate for this purpose. Anyway our's packed it so maybe I was supposed to use something else...

Avatar
6
Rating
 

Avatar posted a review   

The Good:Beautiful picture at least as good as Plasmas released in 2008

The Bad:No TV guide, cold start problems one year and one month after purchase.

As some others have indicated when the TV starts up from cold after running for a number of hours the previous night. It displays layers down the screen, once the TV warms up the picture is fine again (back to how it always was). But problem returns after warming up and cooling down again. To the persons question regarding how to clean the fan, I believe a vacuum cleaner is adequate for this purpose. Anyway our's packed it so maybe I was supposed to use something else...


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User Reviews / Comments  Sony KDL46XBR

  • sonyfixed

    sonyfixed

    "My Sony KDL46XBR was 3 and a half years old when I started getting the 4 horizontal bars and shadowing on the right hand side of the screen when I turned it on. After 30 minutes the picture would c..."

  • sony911

    sony911

    Rating9

    "Hi all , I am just writing to say that I bought a sony KDL46XBR that was bought when they had a 2 month manufacturing fault my picture had gone a few months ago , I have my TV for over a year and w..."

  • SONY SCAM

    SONY SCAM

    "My TV panel failed just after Sonys 12 months warranty ran out,
    (Go figure).
    It was repaired under extended warranty.Only to find the 2nd panel is faulty aswell.
    Sony don't wan..."

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