Sony BRAVIA KDL-46HX800 3D LED television

This LED TV supports 3D viewing and has excellent integrated IPTV features

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Sony BRAVIA KDL-46HX800
  • Sony BRAVIA KDL-46HX800
  • Sony BRAVIA KDL-46HX800
  • Sony BRAVIA KDL-46HX800

Pros

  • Great black levels, good default sharpness levels, good detail, excellent BRAVIA Internet Video service

Cons

  • Expensive, 3D receiver and glasses must be purchased separately

Bottom Line

Sony's BRAVIA KDL-46HX800 is impressive. It has better black levels than last year's plasma TVs, and even its default settings deliver a great level of detail without being excessively sharp. It is expensive though, and if you want to view 3D content you’ll need to shell out even more.

Would you buy this?

The Sony BRAVIA KDL-46HX800 is a 46in 3D LED television with integrated IPTV features. Great detail levels and good picture quality round out a generally impressive package. However, the asking price is significantly higher than competing models like the Panasonic Viera TH-P50VT20A 3D plasma and the 46in Samsung’s Series 7 3D LED TV — and that’s before buying the infrared transmitter and active shutter glasses that are required for viewing 3D content.

Sony BRAVIA KDL-46HX800: Design and connectivity

Unpacking and assembling the Sony BRAVIA KDL-46HX800 is a pleasantly trouble-free experience. It might not mean much, but in a crowded Test Centre we appreciated the fact that the BRAVIA KDL-46HX800’s box is compact and slim — if you’re picking up your television from the store rather than having it delivered, this means fewer headaches trying to shoe-horn it into your car’s boot or back seat.

The Sony BRAVIA KDL-46HX800’s LCD panel has deep glossy finish and a thin, unobtrusive bezel. It’s two-tone, sure, but the brushed aluminium lower bezel and piano black pillars are worlds ahead of models we’ve seen in the (thankfully) distant past. The usual gamut of A/V and data connections can be found on the BRAVIA KDL-46HX800’s side and rear — four HDMI, three composite, two component and a single VGA port take care of current and legacy video devices, while you’ll find an Ethernet connector on the back and a USB 2.0 port positioned for quick access on the side.

The bundled remote control is stylish but not especially easy to use. If you spend a while with it you’ll learn the layout and keypresses, but we continued to struggle with the TV power button, which is strangely located on the remote control’s base.

Sony BRAVIA KDL-46HX800: 2D and 3D picture quality

The 1080p panel of the Sony BRAVIA KDL-46HX800 surprised us with its excellent black levels — edge-lit LED televisions usually sacrifice the per-LED dynamic contrast adjustment (as seen on backlit LED TVs like the Sharp LC52LE700X) for a slimmer chassis. We tested in a brightly lit room as well as a darkened one and found the television consistently performed well with its default settings.

Running through our test Blu-ray of The Dark Knight, we were impressed with the Sony BRAVIA KDL-46HX800’s black levels in the movie’s opening sequences. The white pin-pricks of light perhaps weren’t as bright as we’ve seen on recent plasmas, but the inky blackness that still retained fine image detail was noticeably superior to any other edge-lit LED television we’ve seen and easily on par or better than last year’s crop of high-end plasma TVs.

The Sony BRAVIA KDL-46HX800 exhibited excellent detail in all but the brightest on-screen areas. Watching Full HD content on this panel is an eye-opening experience; animated content and blockbuster movies alike look lifelike and almost three-dimensional. Colour accuracy and saturation is generally good as well, with no unnatural skin tones in our viewing.

3D viewing, using the optional $69 3D transmitter and $99 active shutter 3D glasses, is about on par with Samsung’s Series 7 LED set. For the most part we found the 3D mode added a small amount of immersiveness and perceived depth. A small amount of cross-talk, where images appear to have indistinct or doubled-up edges, was evident in some of the footage we watched on the 3D trial digital television channel. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs on 3D Blu-ray was an excellent example of how 3D should be done, adding depth and utilising interesting visual effects without becoming too intrusive or causing nausea or fatigue. Sony’s BRAVIA KDL-46HX800 isn’t as good as the Panasonic Viera TH-P50VT20A plasma for 3D viewing due to the glasses’ polarisation (which makes the glasses darken when you tilt your head sideways) and the slight incidence of cross-talk, but the lower price of 3D accessories compared to Samsung's and Panasonic's is a welcome advantage.

Sony BRAVIA KDL-46HX800: MotionFlow and BRAVIA Internet Video

The Sony BRAVIA KDL-46HX800 has a 200Hz motion control mode that removes judder and blurring from fast motion video such as sports. It also helps considerably with wide panning shots, such as those found in wildlife documentaries. We found the Smooth setting in the BRAVIA KDL-46HX800’s menu to be the sweet spot for watching football replays, but other options are available and it can be turned off altogether.

The BRAVIA Internet Video IPTV on the Sony BRAVIA KDL-46HX800 (and on almost all of Sony’s 2010 TV line-up) is an excellent value-add. Yahoo!7, SBS, YouTube and ABC iView are just a few of the services you can directly access once you’ve connected the BRAVIA KDL-46HX800 to your home network via an Ethernet cable or an optional Wi-Fi adapter. We think that the IPTV offering on Sony’s models is the best line-up of any television manufacturer this year. DLNA certification means you can also stream picture, music and video files to the Sony BRAVIA KDL-46HX800 across your home network from your desktop PC or laptop.

Conclusion

To be honest, we weren’t expecting the Sony BRAVIA KDL-46HX800 to be as good as it was. After seeing the Panasonic Viera TH-P50VT20A 3D plasma recently, we hadn’t expected an edge-lit LED TV to outperform it in black level detail — but the BRAVIA KDL-46HX800 does. It is an expensive TV, and the optional 3D accessories drive the price up more. But its price is at least somewhat justified by its all-round performance.

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Read more on these topics: lcd tvs, Sony Bravia, green, LED TV, sony, LCD tv, 3D TVs, led tvs

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