Sony BRAVIA KDL46XBR45

One of the best televisions we have seen, but it has a hefty price tag.

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Sony BRAVIA KDL46XBR45
  • Sony BRAVIA KDL46XBR45
  • Sony BRAVIA KDL46XBR45
  • Sony BRAVIA KDL46XBR45
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5

Pros

  • Great contrast and black levels, LED back-lighting

Cons

  • Expensive, imperfect build quality, sharpness issues

Bottom Line

Sony’s KDL-46XBR45 produces fantastic quality images, but this excellence comes at a price.

Would you buy this?

Sony’s KDL-46XBR45 is very expensive, even when compared to its direct rivals like the Samsung Series 9 (LA46A950). It is part of Sony’s flagship series and while it is chock-full of class-leading features, it does not offer the value for money of its competitors.

The XBR45 series has a similar design to the previous XBR series (check out our review of the Bravia KDL46XBR). The "floating glass" theme is actually slightly uninspiring, with the side-mounted speakers held on by noticeably flimsy plastic.

The remote bundled with the unit does not have that special feel expected of a high-end unit, but it certainly gets the job done with both infrared and radio frequency support. This means you can control the television from any angle within a large area — so if you want to control the television from two rooms away for some unknown reason, it is possible.

The interface of the KDL-46XBR45 is spectacular. Smooth, anti-aliased fonts make every menu and piece of text easy and pleasant to read. The image adjustment menus are incredibly comprehensive, with standard controls supplemented by additional minor tweaks like Detail and Edge Enhancement — which might be that little extra adjustment you require.

The menu allows you to access integrated network streaming system, so you can view photos and play back music from your home network. While it is easy to use, this network connectivity pales in comparison to the Samsung Series 9 (LA46A950) which boasts video playback. The importance of this is questionable, however.

The speakers built in to the display are surprisingly competent. While we would never choose television speakers over a dedicated sound system, the audio setup of the KDL-46XBR45 is the best we have heard.

What sets the KDL-46XBR45 apart from the crowd is its LED backlighting system. This allows individual LED segments of the backlight to be turned off, allowing an incredibly high contrast ratio. This is the second TV we have seen that literally disappears within a dark room — with a completely black screen you cannot distinguish the TV panel from its darkened surroundings. It is not a perfect system — while it is light-years (no pun intended) ahead of CCFL panels, there are still issues with its off-axis performance. We believe that this display is ever so slightly superior to the Samsung Series 9, but it is a very close race.

Sony quotes the dynamic contrast ratio at "over 1000000:1". Samsung claims its Series 9 panels have a 2000000:1 ratio — but the difference is largely academic. Put simply, the contrast between deep blacks and bright colours is fantastic and you will not be disappointed.

High-definition content was as good as we’ve ever seen, with our Transformers HD-DVD test scenes displaying the perfect amount of grit and detail. Slightly too much default sharpness was easily remedied by altering the appropriate settings and deactivating the supplementary enhancement modes.

The MotionFlow 100Hz mode is implemented well — we actually preferred the picture when it was activated, with interpolated frames adding smoothness and fluidity. A 24p cinema mode and a host of other enhancements are included.

Standard-definition content was well handled, with the television maintaining its exceptional black levels on our Matrix test DVD. Up-scaling was handled well, with a smooth yet detailed image without any noise or artefacts.

The worst thing about this panel is its price. Coming in at $6099 (RRP), it is a full $600 more expensive than its Samsung counterpart. The Sony KDL-46XBR45 has a fantastic feature set and is one of the best televisions we have ever seen — if you can afford it and justify the price when compared to its competitors.

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