Pros Color accuracy; Picture sharpness/detail at 1080p; 120hz smoothing; 24fps compatibility; Black levels for an LCD
Cons Crippled PiP Functionality; No CableCard support; Very wide profile; Lack of Local Dimming technology
Color Accuracy—After some calibration I found the color accuracy excellent. In fact it surpassed my expectations in this department so much so that I’m considering not having professional calibration done. The fact that the XBR4 didn't exhibit the fabled "green push" of the Toshibas comforted me, and the color palette on this TV was very impressive.
Sharpness/Picture Detail—Sonys are typically second-to-none in this department, and this TV did not disappoint. Having a friend who owned a Samsung 71 allowed comparisons to be made, and while the difference was slight, my XBR4 appeared to be sharper and more detailed. HDTV looks great, with ESPNs Monday Night Football or Discovery being great material to test detail and sharpness with. SDTV from Comcast Cable looks significantly better than it did on my XBR1, so the Bravia Engine Pro is doing a good job there, although it will never look HD Quality. Regular DVDs look very good, and watching the Band of Brothers DVD upconverted to 1080p by the PS3 looked nearly HD quality. Blu-ray movies are a great in the least and stunning at best. Watching the Blu-ray version of Bridge to Terabethia at 1080p24 looked incredible.
Black Levels—The Sony surprised me. I'm not a typical videophile that is obsessed with having the best blacks around, but there is no denying that deeper blacks--and better contrast in general--leads to better color saturation. The Sony, while still falling short of the Samsung 81 (which has it’s own problems) or highest end Pioneer Plasmas, has excellent black levels. The shadow details in dimly lit scenes surpassed what I was expecting despite LCD technology's typical limits in this area. And as stated before, there was no mura or clouding that affected the picture quality on very dark scenes.
120hz Motion Enhancer and Cinemotion—These are the new features which set this XBR4 apart from other Sony models. I can say that the Motion Enhancer does have a subtle smoothing effect on scrolling text like the ESPN crawl or other things of that nature. It's hard to see a noticeable effect on fast moving objects during regular viewing, but I can say that everything I've viewed on this TV has looked great in motion. Also, the “Cinemotion” feature has a very unique effect when coupled with Motion Enhancement.” When Cinemotion is set to “Auto1” and Motion Enhancement is set to “High”, motion blurring is almost completely eliminated and film-based content begins to look like it was shot on HD Video. This combination almost makes it appear that the people are 3-d and moving at 1.5x speed, which can seem unnatural. Also, during some scenes it can introduce artifacts, so my preference is to go with Cinemotion set to “Auto2” which gives more of a film-like quality but still smooths out motion and doesn’t introduce any unnecessary artifacts.
Other Strengths to Note—One reason I prefer LCDs is their matte screens which diffuse reflections of ambient lighting. This TV, while being a bit glossier than previous generations, still does a good job of that. Also, I’m impressed with the amount of calibration options this set gives you. Some users may find this intimidating, but IMO more is always better. Those who don't want all of the picture adjustment options don't have to use them, but it's nice to have them there for those that like to endlessly tweak and calibrate their picture to near-perfection. Particularly pleasing is the advanced "White Balance" menu that lets you adjust primary color settings for better color accuracy. As far as gaming is concerned, I've never had to engage the "Game Mode" of this TV. I played a lot of MLB 07, which requires timing precision while pitching, and I’ve never had a problem with lag. So while I can't speak much on what Game Mode will improve, suffice it to say that since I haven't had a problem with lag so far, the TV is doing a great job.
Lack of PiP Functionality—This year's XBR4 line has a P&P (Picture And Picture) feature that allows you to view two sources (one digital, one analog) at once, side-by-side. So you can watch one of the HDMI feeds and either a component, composite, or RF/cable feed side-by-side. The drawback of this is that obviously you can’t view two HDMI sources side-by-side, but also that you don't get a full-sized picture from either feed. You can, however, adjust the size of either picture so that it fills roughly 65-70% of the screen. The bigger you make one picture, the smaller the other one becomes.
The TV does have a PiP (Picture in Picture) feature, but it can only be used with the VGA PC connection showing full screen, and a smaller picture of the RF/Cable input. For HTPC nuts this will be very useful, but for me it will rarely come into play.
Hope this review helps,
Pros Outstand picture quality, sharp image, motion stabalizer (Motion Flow) best in it's field, easy operation.
Cons A little pricey
Summary I bought both the Sony XBR5 and the Samsung 81 Series-both 46". I wanted to be sure I was getting the right T.V. for my money, quality, value, ergonomics, performace, etc. Both T.V.s are absolutely fantastic. I returned the Samsung and I'll explain why...
The XBR5 has the sharpest image I have seen on an LCD. I had spent 2 months comparing T.V.s-LCDs, Plasmas, Rear Projections, everything that had a screen that I could hook up HD cable to. I think Sony did a great job making a T.V. that was very good looking. The glass edge is a nice tough and the non-glossy screen is perfect to keep from having reflections interupt your viewing pleasures. This was the main problem I found with the Samsung 81; high gloss screen. Sony's Motion Flow outperforms any other motion stabalizer, including Samsung's Motion Plus. 120Hz technology is the future of T.V.s so people who think it is annoying or that it actually takes away from the picture should try and get used to it, it's going to be everywhere soon, like it or not. I have gotten used to it and I think it's great, you just have to watch it and learn to appreiate it, it will get better with time!
To sum up, the XBR5 is a great T.V. the best in my opinion. The Samsung 81 is a great T.V. too though, a little cheaper as well, but Sony has locked down LCD's with the XBR5. I had both...truuust me. Hope this helped!
Pros None, just turn off the lights and watch a dark scene
Cons clouds, clouds, and clouds
Summary Do not believe any of the 10 or 9 or 8 or even 7 rated stars that people have been posting. Wait till they find out that they bought an overpriced LCD box with the mura effect. Turn off the lights and pop in a movie with dark scenes or any program with dark scenes (try the movie starwars). You see it? look again, Cloudy background all over the screen, also known as uneven backlight. Just type Sony LCD cloud on Google and witness over 1000 complaints of the poor Sony XBR LCD panels that have been reported all over the world. Sony tries to mask this problem by automatically lowering the brightness every time the TV senses a dark overall scene. Also, look at the annoying flashlights on the bottom corner of the LCD screen. What a joke. The hell with Sony, never again!!
Cnet is a joke for giving this junk a high rating. This is the second time it does this crime, last time it gave the XBR 2 a high rating only to receive thousands of email complaints from angry customers who relied on their review and went out to buy this junk TV, Cnet was later forced to tell the truth about this defected LCD. Just check out Cnets review for the Sony KDL-40XBR2 and see for yourself what you are getting into before you buy this overpriced garbage. Here is the link: http://reviews.cnet.com/flat-panel-tvs/sony-kdl-40xbr2/4505-6482_7-31901205.html?tag=prod.txt.1
Pros Beautiful sharp picture, 120hz, lots of inputs
Cons Not the best blacks out there, price, styling is very subjective.
Summary If you are a long time Sony buyer, you cant go wrong with this set. It's got a beautiful 1080p image, great blacks (though not the best) and the 120hz motion feature makes things really smoooth and lifelike. Sony has a winner here for sure.
This is, however, not the set I came home with. In the showrooom, side by side with other LCD's, I picked the one with just as good a picture, but better black levels. The Sony's screen actually looked grey next to the 71 series Samsung I wound up buying. The two sets are both top dogs in LCD's right now, but I couldn't justify the price premium for less than stellar black level performance.
My neighbor is a long time Sony buyer, and when he gets around to buying his next one, I will go to his house and watch and not be able to tell the difference from his set to mine. Side by side however, you will see black levels much darker on the Samsung.
All in all though, you wouldn't be unhappy with this set, it is a stunner for sure. LCD's have come a long way, finally!
Pros amazing picture, great design, 120hz is necessary
Cons not as deep blacks as 71f series samsung lcd, colors not as vivid as 71f series
Summary Don't get me wrong, this is an absolutely amazing tv and worth your money. However, the "king of all lcds" has not been reviewed yet. Samsung's ln-t4671f boasts much deeper blacks, a better design, brighter screen, more vivid colors, and a smaller price tag.
Lets just wait for CNET's future reviews before crowning this tv.