|01-01-2006, 02:44 PM||#1|
High Definition is the definition of life.
Join Date: Jan 2006
2 big reviews on 50 inch sxrd
Sony's SXRD™: A new picture quality benchmark?
A review of the KDS-R50XBR1 50" Grand Wega SXRD TV
by Steve Kindig
During the past two years, the price tag for Sony's acclaimed SXRD display technology has dropped from $30,000 to $13,000 to a much more wallet-friendly $4000 (with the 50" KDS-R50XBR1, shown).
For me, one of the real high points of the 2005 Consumer Electronics Show was seeing Sony's 70" Qualia™ 006 rear-projection TV in action. That $13,000 set uses a Sony-developed projection technology called SXRD — Silicon X-tal (Crystal) Reflective Display. Watching high-definition movie clips fed from a prototype Blu-ray player, I saw exceptional picture clarity and detail, with vivid colors and a seamless overall look that reminded me of the finest tube-based TVs.
Until now, the only other way to experience SXRD has been via Sony's $30,000 Qualia 004 front projector, which has established a new reference for projector picture quality. When I learned that Sony was introducing 50" and 60" Grand Wega™ SXRD TVs with full 1080p resolution priced more in the mainstream of digital big-screens (like DLPs), I wondered how much of the SXRD magic Sony could preserve in models priced much lower.
Since I recently reviewed Samsung's 50" HL-R5078W DLP TV, which is also a 1080p design, I felt I had a handle on the considerable improvements in picture quality that 1080p provides compared to the more common 720p sets. The Samsung's bright, extraordinarily sharp picture had set the bar pretty high. Would the Sony be able to meet or even exceed its performance?
How SXRD works
All of Sony's previous Grand Wega big-screen TVs have been based on LCD display technology. SXRD, on the other hand, is a refined variation of LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) technology. Both types create images by manipulating microscopic liquid crystals. But here's the key difference: LCD is a "transmissive" technology where light passes through the image chip, while SXRD is a "reflective" technology that sandwiches a layer of liquid crystal between a cover glass and a highly reflective mirror-like surface patterned with pixels. Reflective displays such as LCoS and SXRD (and DLP) use the light from the TV's projection lamp more efficiently, resulting in higher picture brightness and contrast.
The other main LCoS/SXRD advantage is having the circuitry that controls the pixels positioned behind the pixel array and out of the light path, rather than on the array as with LCD. That permits SXRD pixels and the spaces between the pixels to be much smaller, resulting in pictures that are detailed yet extremely smooth and natural looking. SXRD is a "3-chip" system — there are three SXRD image panels, one each for red, green, and blue. Each panel has 1920 x 1080 pixels, allowing 1080i HDTV signals to be displayed at full resolution.
So, SXRD has some great numbers, but how do they translate to what you see on the screen? Here's my quick take on the main factors determining image quality:
Resolution: While SXRD is not the only display technology to deliver 1920 x 1080-pixel resolution, SXRD has the highest "pixel density" and the smallest between-pixel spacing of any TV available. From a normal viewing distance, images looked remarkably smooth and seamless, and even with my face just inches from the screen, I couldn't see any sign of grid-like pixel structure (often called the "screen door effect").
Contrast: The SXRD chips in the KDS-R50XBR1 are the latest generation, and offer higher contrast than the chips in the Qualia 006 (5000:1 vs. 3000:1). Contrast is further enhanced through the use of a motor-driven "dynamic iris" (explained below). The Sony's contrast and black level performance equalled the best I've seen from a rear-projection set: Samsung's 50" HL-R5078W.
Color: Because there are separate image chips for red, green, and blue, SXRD provides continuous color. Compared to a rear-projection TV that requires a fast-spinning color wheel, SXRD puts more color information on the screen at any given instant. Colors look rich and deeply saturated. In fact, the color occasionally seemed a bit too lush, but while I wouldn't swear that it was always 100% accurate, it was always 100% eye-pleasing.
Motion: Digital displays (LCD, plasma, SXRD/LCoS, DLP) build images out of pixels, and the ability to produce smooth, clean motion depends on the display's "pixel response time" (the time it takes for one pixel to switch from fully on to fully off). Sony's current LCD-based Grand Wegas have a pixel response time of 12 milliseconds, which is generally considered excellent. SXRD image panels use a much thinner liquid crystal layer, which enables a lightning-fast response time of just 5 milliseconds. You might not think the human eye could detect a difference of a few milliseconds, but it really makes a difference in how believably a screen can display fast-motion material like sports. I never saw any trace of motion smearing even while watching college football on ESPN HD.
The motorized iris includes a circuit that samples the brightness level of the video signal and responds instantly to deliver the best possible contrast and black level.
A "dynamic iris" improves black level and contrast in the blink of an eye
Like other top-performing 1080p big-screen TVs, the KDS-R50XBR1 (and its big brother, the 60" KDS-R60XBR1) employs a "dynamic iris" feature that constantly monitors and adjusts the amount of the lamp's light that passes through to the screen. Sony's approach gives the user the ability to fine-tune iris operation, providing a more customized viewing experience. On the KDS-R50XBR1, the dynamic iris is part of Sony's Cinema Black Pro system, which works in two ways:
Iris Control: This lets you enlarge or reduce the iris' overall opening based on the amount of light in your viewing area. You can increase the overall brightness level for watching sports during the day, then reduce the brightness for a more cinematic look when viewing DVD movies at night. You can choose from 5 settings.
Advanced Iris: This feature, which is also user-adjustable, includes a circuit that samples the brightness level of the video signal and automatically adjusts the iris opening on the fly to optimize brightness, contrast, and black level on a scene-by-scene basis.
The dynamic iris is extremely effective, and most viewers will never even be aware of its operation. Blacks were very deep without sacrificing details in dark or shadowy scenes. This has been an area where CRT-based TVs have typically outperformed digital displays, but I think even the most demanding videophiles will be impressed by the way this Sony handles dark and high-contrast scenes.
Now that you have a feel for what makes the KDS-R50XBR1 tick, how does it look? Read on.
Sony's SXRD™: A new picture quality benchmark?
A review of the KDS-R50XBR1 50" Grand Wega SXRD TV
by Steve Kindig
page 2 of 2
HDTV + SXRD = WOW
During initial setup, the KDS-R50XBR1's auto-scanning feature quickly located and stored all receivable analog and digital over-the-air stations using my Terk HDTVi set-top antenna. When I reviewed the Samsung HL-R5078W DLP, I'd considered its tuner quite sensitive, but the Sony pulled in even more analog and digital stations. However, the Sony lost its lock on digital signals more often, occasionally to the point where I had to switch back to a satellite signal. I suspect that since the TV transmitter towers are located some 13 miles from my house, I may have been at the edge of the Terk's useful range here in the hills and hollows of central Virginia. (In fact, the Sony owner's manual specifically recommends against using an indoor antenna.)
I recently dumped my cable TV service in favor of DISH™ satellite service, mostly because DISH provides several channels of HDTV (though not the major networks). I watched parts of several movies on HDNet, HBO HD, and Showtime HD, plus some eye-popping travel and nature shows on Discovery HD. The picture quality of the HD channels was a major improvement over their non-HD counterparts, but still didn't match the effortless clarity and sharpness of over-the-air HD broadcasts, which are uncompressed signals, unlike satellite and cable HD signals. Over half of my high-definition viewing was NBC programming, as that's the only network offering local digital broadcasts in the Charlottesville area.
I also was able to play and record HD signals using a borrowed D-VHS VCR. The connection I used between the TV and VCR was i.LINK® (Sony's name for IEEE 1394, aka FireWire®). This single-cable digital connection is way underappreciated, in my opinion, because for now anyway it's the easiest and most versatile option for recording HD signals. After connecting the slender i.LINK cable, I hit the "i.LINK" button on the Sony remote, and the i.LINK control panel popped up on screen (the i.LINK button is a nifty shortcut, as it eliminates having to cycle through all of the TV's video inputs). The control panel showed that the TV had identified the VCR as the JVC HM-DH40000U. The on-screen panel also duplicated the JVC's transport controls (Play, Stop, Pause, etc.) so I could operate it using the TV remote (slick!). I recorded over-the-air HD broadcasts of Crossing Jordan and Law and Order, and saw absolutely no difference between the recordings and the original broadcasts. I also watched a pre-recorded "D-Theater" D-VHS movie, Behind Enemy Lines, which looked intensely real, from the spick-and-span surfaces of a U.S. aircraft carrier to the ragged grit of bombed-out Balkan towns.
The KDS-R50XBR1's picture was addictive. Detail and clarity seemed about equal to that of the Samsung 50" 1080p model, but after watching for a week or two, I felt the Sony's picture was consistently a bit smoother and more solid. Some people might consider the Sony's image slightly soft, but sometimes digital displays actually look too sharp to my eye, while the Sony appeared more natural. SXRD image quality reminded me of a Sony TV training session I attended about a year ago. They had set up a roomful of HDTVs representing all their display technologies: flat-panel LCD, plasma, rear-projection LCD, and CRT. Every screen looked bright, crisp, and detailed, but the 34" XBR tube model (KD-34XBR960) stood out from every other display due to the striking depth and dimensionality of its picture. SXRD produces a similar effect, as though it's resolving detail much deeper into the image.
DVDs get the SXRD treatment
Again, like the Samsung 1080p big-screen, the KDS-R50XBR1 has absolutely superb built-in video processing. I was able to get the best-looking DVD picture by feeding the TV an interlaced signal via component video cables and letting the set handle the processing.
As I watched a handful of favorite DVDs, I grew even more impressed by the Sony's picture quality. The experience was similar to listening to a familiar CD on a high-end audio system: you notice details you never realized were there. That happened again and again as I watched DVDs like The Bourne Identity and the Superbit version of The Fifth Element. Colors were absolutely gorgeous, and scenes had a seamless 3-D look that made them seem more filmlike.
I wanted to take color out of the equation, so I plopped in the Coen Brothers' black-and-white masterpiece, The Man Who Wasn't There. There seemed to be about a zillion shades of gradation between black and white, and I repeatedly found my attention drawn to the textures of everyday objects: the weave of a suit coat, details of '50s fabrics and furniture, and Billy Bob Thornton's craggy facial features. Black-and-white films can often seem stark, but viewed on the Sony, this one looked positively rich.
Picture controls that are a video tweaker's delight
If you're a videophile who enjoys digging into a TV's picture setting menus and fine-tuning every parameter, the KDS-R50XBR1 will keep you busy for a while. Its picture controls are the most extensive I've seen. Out of the box, the default picture preset is labeled "Vivid," and seems designed more for attracting shoppers in electronics showrooms than for producing an accurate picture. Simply switching to the "Pro" preset reduces contrast and sharpness to more reasonable levels, and disables several picture "enhancing" circuits that do more harm than good. In fact, many viewers will find that simply switching to Pro mode is all the adjustment needed for a beautifully natural-looking picture.
With SXRD, Sony has a clear winner
Before taking the KDS-R50XBR1 home I'd already seen enthusiatic comments about these SXRD TVs in Internet message boards like AVS Forum, but I was still extremely impressed by the across-the-board excellence of the SXRD picture. It manages to combine the smooth, seamless look of CRTs with the pinpoint precision and control of a digital display.
This is a terrific TV, but there are a couple of minor things that could be improved. Sony's cabinet design, with its prominent side-mounted speakers, seems to inspire love or hate and rarely anything in between. The speakers' sculpted look complements the overall design, and they actually sound very good, but they do add about 10 inches to the cabinet's overall width (and they're not removable). And while the remote control's slender aluminum case has an elegant look and feel, there are lots of small buttons crammed close together, and the buttons aren't illuminated.
Although flat-panel plasma and LCD TVs seem to be on everyone's wish list this year, the new generation of 1080p rear-projection TVs offers equal or superior picture quality to my eye. Competition among TV makers is running white-hot these days, with improvements appearing at a breakneck pace. The next display technology breakthrough may be only six months down the road, but if I were in the market for a big-screen TV today, Sony's KDS-R50XBR1 is the one I would buy.
Sony KDS-R50XBR1 50-inch SXRD HDTV
By Al Griffin
Photos by Tony Cordoza
When Sony debuted its $27,000 SXRD (Silicon X-tal Reflective Display) front projector a couple of years back, my first thought after drooling over its fine, filmlike picture was: They’ll really have something if they can get this technology into a TV that sells for a few thousand dollars. Well, that something has arrived: the 50-inch KDS-R50XBR1 is an SXRD-based rear-projection HDTV that lists for $4,000. And since good things come in pairs, it also has a big 60-inch brother, the $5,000 KDS-R60XBR1.
What We Think
Sony scores big in its effort to bring SXRD display technology to the masses. Great picture performance at a great price.
SXRD, which is Sony’s unique spin on LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon) technology, received an in-depth treatment in our May 2005 review of the company’s Qualia 006, so I won’t rehash the details. But this set uses a new SXRD chip that shrinks the size of the panel from 0.78 inch (diagonal) down to 0.61 inch. Rather than sacrificing resolution, it delivers the same progressive-scan 1,920 x 1,080-pixel (1080p) pictures as the 006, but with an even finer pixel pitch than before (7 micrometers). The benefit is a completely seamless high-def picture, with no trace of the “screen-door” pixel grid that you often see in LCD HDTVs. As in the 006 and LCD rear projectors, three chips are used to transmit red, green, and blue picture information, which avoids the single-chip DLP “rainbow effect.”
The other key refinement that Sony brings to its new SXRD models is an iris adjustment. This powerful feature, which lets you modify the light output of the TV’s lens to enhance picture contrast, has shown up on some high-end LCD and DLP front projectors in the past year or so but is only just starting to make its way into rear projectors. Aside from that, the KDS-R50XBR1 is a sleek-looking tabletop set with a glossy black border framing its 50-inch screen. Its semi-detached, nonremovable speakers add several inches to the set’s width — a point to consider if you’re installing it in a wall unit.
The Sony offers a generous range of connection options, including multiple HDMI and i.Link (FireWire) inputs as well as VGA and component-video jacks. One i.Link input is located behind a flip-up panel beneath the screen — perfect for plugging in a digital camcorder. While it doesn’t have a backlit keypad, Sony’s thin, sturdy remote control has a clean layout. You switch inputs by toggling through them with the TV/Video button. The Wide button calls up a list of four display modes, with three choices — Full, Zoom, and Wide Zoom — available for HDTV channels.
SETUP After I connected an antenna, the Sony easily captured all of my local digital broadcasts. That included the ABC affiliate’s digital channel, which I usually need to tune via an onscreen signal-strength meter — the one feature this TV lacks. The set’s Twin View mode lets you watch two different high-def channels, or any other combination of sources, side by side in their original aspect ratios.
The Sony’s vast store of picture adjustments makes setup something of an adventure. Each of the three video presets can be customized and saved for all inputs — a welcome advancement from previous Sony models I’ve tested. But basic picture settings like contrast and color are just the beginning. Besides a manual adjustment for the Iris control mentioned earlier, there’s also an Advanced Iris function that automatically adjusts the iris to optimize contrast on the fly for the image being displayed. Meanwhile, the set’s Warm color-temperature setting delivered a picture that pretty much nailed the NTSC color spec. It needed only slight tweaks to the red, green, and blue gain and bias controls — available in the Advanced Video menu — to bring it in.
Sony KDS-R50XBR1 50-inch SXRD HDTV
The Short Form
SONYSTYLE.COM / 877-865-7669 / $4,000 / 57.25 x 34 x 18.875 IN / 94.75 LBS
•Excellent HDTV picture detail.
•Rich, natural color.
•Excellent black rendition and shadow detail.
•Wide selection of effective picture adjustments.
•Custom picture memory for each input.
•No antenna signal-strength meter.
•No support for 1080p-format HDTV signals.
•1,920 x 1,080-resolution SXRD display
•Built-in HDTV tuner
•Variable Auto Iris contrast enhancement
•Inputs CableCARD slot; 2 HDMI (one with analog audio for DVI sources); 3 i.Link (FireWire); 2 component-video and 3 A/V with composite/S-video, all with analog stereo audio; 2 RF cable/antenna; VGA with minijack analog stereo audio; Memory Stick Pro slot
•Outputs optical digital and analog stereo audio
•Matching stand (shown): $500
Color-temperature measured very close to the 6,500-K standard with the Warm mode selected, and grayscale tracking was an excellent ±50 K from 30 to 100 IRE. With the Low Advanced Iris position engaged, light output was 34 ftL, which is plenty bright enough for watching in a dim or dark room. Color-decoder peformance was excellent, with no error visible on test patterns displayed via the HDMI inputs. The set was able to fully resolve all detail in a 1080i-format HDTV signal via the HDMI inputs.
Full lab results
Singling out two of the set’s many other adjustments, both the Detail Enhancer and DTE functions fleshed out detail without making pictures look artificially enhanced — even DVDs played on a progressive-scan player looked impressively HDTV-like. The Digital Reality Creation mode — a Sony feature that lets you trade off “Reality” and “Clarity” to enhance soft, noisy standard-def cable and satellite programs — couldn’t work the same magic. But it did help bring out texture in the greens on the reliably bad-looking Golf Channel.
PICTURE QUALITY The subtle colors and dark, film noirish scenes in the new Million Dollar Baby DVD made it a great choice for gauging the Sony’s video quality. In the first sequence that takes place in Frankie Dunn’s (Clint Eastwood’s) well-worn gym, the TV clearly rendered the rough textures and faded colors of the dingy walls. The skin tones of the multi-ethnic cast looked natural, with lots of subtle variation. Even so, the occasional bright swath of color, like a yellow poster or a red stripe on a boxer’s jacket, looked rich and fully saturated without coming across as lurid. I was also impressed by the Sony’s handling of a scene where Eddie “Scrap-Iron” Dupris (Morgan Freeman) turns off the gym lights only to discover Maggie (Hilary Swank) still smacking a bag. As the banks of overhead lights switched off one by one, the TV showed a natural, cascading decrease in shadow detail on the way to near-total blackness.
The Sony’s rich blacks and CRT-like levels of shadow detail were also evident in a high-def New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays game I caught on the YES-HD channel. As the sun beat down on a cloudless day in the Bronx, fine dark gradations could be seen in Blue Jays’ black uniforms, and details in the clothing of fans seated in shadowy seats under the bleachers were also visible. Most important, the set delivered a smooth ramp of gray to black shades rather than making dark parts of the picture look flat — something I’ve seen in many other DLP and LCD microdisplay HDTVs. Subtle highlights in the Yankees’ white uniforms were also revealed, with no undue compression of detail. And the Sony’s stunning picture resolution brought out the fine texture of not only the turf, but of patches of dirt on the field as well. I could even make out fine vertical stripes in the Yank players’ uniforms in wide shots of the game — a real-life test pattern if ever there was one.
BOTTOM LINE I have so many good things to say about Sony’s KDS-R50XBR1 HDTV that it’s tough to sum it all up. First, there’s the gorgeous picture, which combines natural color and deep, CRT-like blacks with fine resolution. Then there’s the extensive feature set and picture tweaks, which go well beyond many other televisions. Finally, there’s the price tag. Four grand might seem high compared with similar-size rear-projection HDTVs, but very few of these offer 1080p display.
Perhaps the only real downside here is the Sony’s inability to show true 1080p HDTV signals. It’s not alone here among 1080p displays, and it’s a minor issue — there are no easily obtainable 1080p sources right now. That could change with the pending Blu-Ray and HD-DVD high-definition disc formats. But with so many other things going for it, I’ll lay bets that Sony’s newest SXRD offerings are going to shake things up in HDTV-land.
Sony KDS-R50XBR1 50-inch SXRD HDTV
FULL LAB RESULTS
Color temperature (Warm/Custom color temperature and Studio mode before/after calibration)
Low window (30-IRE): 6,776/6,553 K
High window (100-IRE): 6,661/6,498 K
Brightness (100-IRE window before/after calibration): 36/34 ftL
The Sony KDS-R50XBR1’s Warm color-temperature mode measured very close to the 6,500-K standard right out of the box. Only minor tweaks using the red, green, and blue gain and bias controls in the set’s Advanced Video menu were needed to get it perfect — no service-menu adjustments needed. After adjustment, grayscale tracking was an excellent ±50 K from 30 to 100 IRE. The TV’s grayscale made a large, +750-K shift toward blue at 20 IRE, but the effects of this weren’t really visible when I was watching TV and movies. (Calibration needs to be performed by a qualified technician, so discuss it with your dealer before purchase, or contact the Imaging Science Foundation at imaginingscience.com or 561-997-9073.)
The set’s 34-ftL postadjustment light output proved bright enough for watching in a darkened room. It should be noted that this measurement was made with the set’s Low Advanced Iris position engaged — a setting that, according to the manual, delivered the “narrowest” overall contrast range but also rendered the deepest blacks and smoothest highlights. The TV’s overall brightness measured higher with other iris settings selected.
Overscan was about 4% for the HDMI inputs and 3 to 4% for component-video inputs — an average amount. Screen uniformity was excellent, with pictures appearing evenly bright at up to 30° off-center. The performance of the set’s color decoder was excellent, showing no deviation with high-definition sources and only a mild, +5% red push with a standard-def 480p input. The set was able to display every line in a 1080i-format multiburst pattern via its HDMI inputs, indicating full HDTV resolution for that connection. The same test pattern looked slightly softer when viewed through the set’s component-video inputs.
|01-01-2006, 02:55 PM||#2|
High Definition is the definition of life.
Join Date: Jan 2006
I cant type anymore on my last post so sorry for 2 posts in a row here.
I am thinking of buying this tv and it seems it specs/tech and reviews on it make it sound perfect and outstanding.
Call me nuts or anything you want but I am going to prolly end up buying this tv and I am going to use it only for the upcomeing PS3 console.
This tv will make PS3 games in hd perfect prolly am I right?
I really need to know bc I am looking to buy a really good tv for ps3 with no mess ups on the bigger.
Like in compareing the best way I can put it in words is this tv vs. any monitor out there and this one wins? Duh right?
So like with pc games on pc monitors top of the line graphic pc games with nivida or ati video cards looks outstanding on a great graphics game on a pc monitor.
So on this tv my PS3 and it games in hd on it will look better bc it hd + all the specs and programs/tech stuff in this tv will make it look way better right?
Now since this is a projection tv it dont have lines down and up right like on rug. small tvs? What it dose is sends the picture to the screen by 3 lights in side right to the picture.
So no lines like small tvs right? Lol. The tvs I mean with lines are called con something really long I forget that word sorry.
So would this be the best tv I can buy in this price range to make my PS3 games in hd look outstanding?
Now this tv have the blackest of black out of all tvs besides crts right? Or is it better or just as good black as crts?
Thank you who ever helps me on this bc I really need the help and need to know what tv will be best for my games in hd. "PS3 games"
I think it this one lol but type back and tell me if I am right on stuff I said etc.. thank you.
Oh hey and is it true this tv have the smallest pixels and space between them in this tv. Also what is the ms of this tv?
One said's 5ms and other said's 7ms. Oh and dose the hdmi support 720p/1080i/1080p. I know it supports the two but since this tv can do 1080p the hdmi can too right at 60fps duh?
Sorry for typeing that bc I am like 100% sure im right on that lol.
Oh I also need to know how much contast this tv gots. Thank you.
Last edited by 01_01_01_11_00; 01-01-2006 at 03:09 PM..
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