Following my review of Sony's new KDL-40V5500 a few weeks back, in which I pointed out a troubling inconsistent backlight issue, two things happened.
First, the step-up W5500 sample I'd been expecting to receive was mysteriously delayed. And second, just a few days ago, I received a letter from Sony that first queried whether I'd set up the V5500 correctly, and second suggested that possibly the backlight problem was the result of my being sent a pre-production sample rather than a final production line unit.
My answer to the first part of this letter was that I definitely had set the TV up correctly, using the same test signals I use for every TV I test. And I'd also tried out all the TV's various presets for good measure. But none of my efforts had been able to completely remove the backlight pooling issue.
Which leaves the assertion that possibly my pre-production test sample wasn't working correctly. As I haven't currently got another V5500 sat in front of me, I can't verify whether or not Sony's claim that the backlight pooling I saw was sample-specific, rather than generic to the V5500 range. But the letter I received also referred to a recent review of a Bravia W5500 set by a well-known print publication which docked the set an overall mark on account of - you guessed it - backlight inconsistencies. And the spectre of defective pre-production samples was raised again with regards to that sample.
So I'm pleased to say that today I can at least investigate these defective sample claims with the W5500 TV range. For the delay in my being sent a W5500 sample has turned out to be caused by Sony wanting to make sure that I got a 'real' sample, straight off the mass production line, rather than any more potentially flawed pre-production units.
Normally, of course, I don't mention 'behind the scenes' discussions with manufacturers in reviews. And I hope Sony doesn't mind me referring to its recent communication here. But now that I've just spent some quality time with the 46in KDL-46W5500, Sony's letter seems to be a pretty much essential piece of background information. For the bottom line is that as Sony predicted, the production-line 46W5500 suffers much less with the anticipated backlight inconsistency problem.
So if I hadn't referred to the Sony letter, people out there who read more than one publications' reviews of W5500 TVs might well have been confused to find some reviews saying the W5500s have a backlight problem, while others say they don't.
Still with me so far? Hopefully so. But just in case you're struggling, let's slow things down a bit before getting into the key performance area by running gently through the 46W5500's design and feature elements.