While the Sony BX420 doesn't do anything particularly well from a picture quality standpoint, it also, surprisingly for an entry-level LCD, doesn't do much badly. Its worst offense is color inaccuracy in dark areas and imperfect screen uniformity, but its black levels were decent and it actually handled 1080p/24 cadence--something we didn't expect from a 60Hz TV. Overall its picture deserves the same score of 6 we gave to Sony's EX720 LED-based model, which costs hundreds more. We'd give the BX420, with its more accurate color and better processing, a slight edge over the Samsung LND550 with its better black levels and uniformity, but the two are neck-and-neck overall.
We selected Cinema as the best picture setting for dark-room viewing out of the box, although it measured too red with dim light output and dark gamma. With the controls in Custom we were able to fix quite a few of those issues during calibration, although the reddish cast crept into very bright areas nonetheless, and dark areas were still quite blue. For image quality tests we checked out "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1" on Blu-ray.
|Comparison models (details)|
|Samsung LN40D550||40-inch LCD|
|LG 42LK450||42-inch LCD|
|Vizio E3D420VX||42-inch LCD|
|Samsung LN46D630||46-inch LCD|
|Sony KDL-46EX720||46-inch LED-based LCD|
|Panasonic TC-P50ST30||50-inch plasma|
Black level: The darkened hallway at the end of Chapter 9 provided some good comparison examples, from the letterbox bars to the shadows along the black walls. The BX420 landed about in middle of our pack, delivering a deeper shade of black than either the LG or the Vizio, but falling short of the Samsungs and the Panasonic. Interestingly the significantly more expensive Sony EX720 was visually indistinguishable from the BX420 in terms of the two TVs' depth of black.
Details in those shadows, for example the dark pants and shirt of Hermione and the painting on the wall, appeared relatively realistic and more natural than on the Vizio or LG, albeit not as good as the Samsungs or Panasonic.
Color accuracy: Despite its relatively poor measurements the BX420's color subjectively looked better than its direct competitors'. The skin tones of Harry and Hermione in Chapter 10, for example, both looked natural enough and well-saturated, without any of the paleness we saw on the Samsung LND550 or the bluish tint of the EX720. While the LG and Vizio were both technically more accurate, we preferred colors on the BX420 since (thanks to its better black levels) it looked punchier and more saturated. On the other hand the more expensive LND630 and Panasonic plasma looked better than the Sony.
The near-black and black shades on the BX420 were tinged with more blue than any of the other comparison TVs aside from the EX720, which was the worst in this area.
Video processing: We were surprised that the Sony, a 60Hz TV, passed our 1080p/24 test by preserving the cadence of film. We're guessing the TV isn't performing 2:3 pull-down processing when it detects a 1080p/24 source, which may lead to some artifacts, but we didn't notice any during our testing. That's why we recommend that BX420 owners use the 1080p/24 setting on their Blu-ray players.
Uniformity: The screen of the BX420 sample we reviewed was not quite as uniform as those of the other non-LED sets in our lineup. Its upper right corner showed a brighter spot and its upper left corner had another, albeit slightly dimmer; both were easily visible in the letterbox bars of "Potter."
When seen from off-angle it performed better than the Vizios at keeping its black level preserved, but not as well as the Samsungs, and we detected more reddish and bluish discoloration than on the other displays.
Bright lighting: The Sony's matte screen serves it well in bright rooms where lights, windows and bright objects cause reflections. Such objects appeared dimmer and much less distinct, and thus less distracting, then they did on the Panasonic plasma, for example, and black levels were also preserved better. The rest of the sets in the lineup also have matte screens, and in general they all performed equally well in this category.
PC: The BX420 performed worse as a big PC monitor via VGA than most LCDs we've tested. Despite handling the full resolution of 1,920x1080 pixels, it evinced softness in text and other detailed areas that no adjustment we tried could cure. PC sources via HDMI looked fine, however.
Power consumption: Although it qualifies as a "Power Saver" and uses a negligible amount of electricity, the BX420 isn't quite as efficient as the larger Samsung D630.
|Black luminance (0%)||0.0126||Average|
|Near-black x/y (5%)||0.2484/0.2447||Poor|
|Dark gray x/y (20%)||0.3127/0.3299||Good|
|Bright gray x/y (70%)||0.3124/0.328||Good|
|Before avg. color temp.||6328||Average|
|After avg. color temp.||6386||Average|
|Red lum. error (de94_L)||4.0271||Poor|
|Green lum. error (de94_L)||4.5893||Poor|
|Blue lum. error (de94_L)||4.4517||Poor|
|Cyan hue x/y||0.2212/0.3317||Good|
|Magenta hue x/y||0.3393/0.1586||Poor|
|Yellow hue x/y||0.4213/0.496||Good|
|1080p/24 Cadence (IAL)||Pass||Good|
|1080i De-interlacing (film)||Pass||Good|
|Motion resolution (max)||300||Poor|
|Motion resolution (dejudder off)||n/a||n/a|
|PC input resolution (VGA)||1920x1080||Poor|
|Sony KDL-40BX420||Picture settings|
|Picture on (watts)||117.83||77.59||54.2|
|Picture on (watts/sq. inch)||0.17||0.11||0.08|
|Cost per year||$25.92||$17.10||$11.97|
|Score (considering size)||Good|