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Sony Bravia KDL-46W5500 46in LCD TV - Sony Bravia KDL-46W5500

John Archer

By John Archer


  • Recommended by TR
Sony Bravia KDL-46W5500 46in LCD TV


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Inevitably, the 46W5500 enjoys a Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 pixel count. But rather more eye-catching is a claimed dynamic contrast ratio of 100,000:1. As ever I'm bound to point out that such figures have to be taken with a massive pinch of salt. But that doesn't alter the fact that 100,000:1 is one of the biggest figures we've seen quoted for an LCD TV using standard CCFL backlight technology, and so promises impressive black levels. Especially given the big reduction in the old backlight inconsistency problem.

What's more, the 46W5500 actually makes good on this promise, by serving up a truly excellent black level response. Dark scenes in films and games are presented, for instance, with outstandingly little trouble from the tell-tale grey clouding effect that bothers all LCD TVs to some extent.

Furthermore, the dynamic contrast engine the TV employs to optimize black levels to suit your source images works extremely well, going about its business so quickly and subtly that it hardly ever distracts you from what you're watching. Mind you, the set's native black levels are so impressive that many of you probably won't feel the need for the dynamic contrast engine anyway, and so can leave it turned off in return for even greater stability.

The most important thing of all about the 46W5500's outstanding portrayal of dark scenes, though, is the fact that it delivers them without constantly leaving us distracted by the dreaded backlight inconsistencies. Even during the opening black and white sequence of Casino Royale on Blu-ray, a scene that's totally unforgiving of any backlight pooling issues a TV might have, looks almost - though still not completely, it has to be said - even in brightness from one side to the other.

Another ace up the 46W5500's sleeve is its response time/motion control. A particularly tough test for an LCD TV is to pan around a dark environment while playing a computer game - in today's case, Dead Space on the Xbox 360. All too often this causes an LCD screen to suffer all sorts of smeary unpleasantness and judder, yet the 46W5500 kept up with the game's terrifying environment superbly well, keeping things sharp, smooth and clean. In doing so, it made the efforts of the Toshiba 52XV555DB I tested earlier this week look positively amateurish by comparison.

This clear motion reproduction joins forces with the 46W5500's truly outstanding touch with HD fine detail and textures to produce one of the most consistently sharp, crisp HD pictures yet seen from an LCD TV.

What's more, for the most part the 46W5500's smooth, clear motion is achieved without throwing up much in the way of negative processing side effects. Yes, occasionally you can see a ring of gentle distortion around some fast-moving objects, and occasionally extremely rapid motion can flicker a touch. But the positives of the system massively outweigh the low-level, sporadic negatives - provided, at least, that you never set the Motionflow system higher than its Standard level.

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jamie anderson

April 27, 2009, 2:10 pm

In light of uniformity issues in supposed pre-production samples, is it not possible that Sony hand-picked review units that they had tested for uniformity before sending them out?


April 27, 2009, 2:15 pm

I'm seriously thinking about buying the 40" version of this set. Can anyone advise if the main points of this review will apply to the smaller unit?



April 27, 2009, 2:31 pm


Maybe Sony should have hand picked the samples for the first batch! I would expect this to be standard operating procedure when submitting products to a reviews site such as this one. After all, a little bit of bad news can do a lot of damage.


April 27, 2009, 2:40 pm

Glad that you mentioned the letter.

I do think that it is very relevant.

Nice to see that Sony takes your reviews seriously.

So do I.

I rate them among the best around.

sam 1

April 27, 2009, 5:01 pm

The best / worst thing someone can do is go over to avforums to get the low down on real life feedback on AV equipment such as LCD tvs.

The best? Lots of feedback, pictures, genuine (mostly) advice, fault reporting.

The worst? You'll end up never buying a tv because you'll realise that there isn't a perfect one out there, and you'll always end up waiting for 'next years model' to see whether they (meaning the manufacturer) had solved the problem (main one being backlight bleed)...which they never usually do


April 27, 2009, 6:05 pm

@sam - You've hit the nail on the head there!!

When I bought my current, 28" JVC Widescreen telly way back in 2000 (which still works fine and is going to end up on a tip if I can't give it away) - a telly was a telly, you picked the size you wanted, and if you were feeling flush you could stump up a bit more cash for one with better sound, and maybe a slightly flatter, squarer tube (!). You judged the picture quality by looking at them all side by side in Currys, no-one gave a monkeys about movement blur, clouding, artifacts, etc and more often than not you got a stand thrown in as well. Then once you had wedged the awkwardly shaped behemoth into the corner of your lounge, rucking up all your carpet in the process, you didn't read internet forums that relentlessly pointed out all your sets failings, and then 6 months later feel envious of next years model!!!

Ok, so you couldn't as easily buy on line, meaning you had to deal face to face with the jumped up little sales Herberts, and getting anything bigger that a 28" onto it's stand would usually end up with 2 weeks in an orthopedic ward, but buying a telly was SO much simpler then ;-)

Signed, a bewildered person who's in the market for a new telleh.


April 27, 2009, 8:02 pm

@ChrisC - I was in the same boat last autumn. I spent weeks and weeks studying reviews here and everywhere else. Comments on avforums just depressed and totally confused me as every make and model seemed to have a multitude of faults and disadvantages disected ad nauseum.

In the end I decided to cut the crap and read every TV review on here for the size I was after and went for the cheapest that got 8 out of 10 overall. It was a Sharp 46" and needless to say its excellent.

I really think people spend too much time studying the picture rather than watching the TV.

sam 1

April 27, 2009, 8:18 pm

@ChrisC - haha, I wouldn't go reading the feedback from avforums on the 40W5500 then!

Judging from forum postings, its very much hit and miss whether you get a set with big backlight bleed problems or not, and according to several posts, many manufacturers won't recognise it as a 'fault' if you complain about it, making it difficult to return to the retailer.

I imagine this won't get sorted until LED backlighting reaches maturity.

Then I'm sure there will be something even more fantastic on the horizon that will supposedly solve all the problems newly associated with LED LCDs.

In an ideal world, a retailer would set up a demo in a dark room, consisting of 5-10 tvs (all the same) and then you could just choose the one with the least bleed, but I don't fancy the chances of that happening (although I'd happily pay extra for it)

Remember though, alot of the people on avforums are super sensitive to any bleed, so take what they say with a pinch of salt


prag fest

April 27, 2009, 10:57 pm

Do yourself a favour and steer clear of avforums, 99% of the chatter on there is pure garbage by self professed 'experts' with OCD.

Back to the 5500, Sony's pre-producion line sounds a little fishy to me, more like they forgot to pick out a decent one for review first time round.

That said, I have a 4500W that I adore and am seriously considering one of these too. Will hold on for the Samsung 7000 review before I make my mind up though.

Vagn Henning

April 28, 2009, 12:21 am

I hope for SONY's sake that they have sorted out the backlight issues. As a somewhat satisfied owner of a recently produced KDL-52W4500, I can assure you that the uneven blackness is not restricted to pre-production specimens. It is very real and very hard to ignore when the picture fades to black...


April 28, 2009, 1:57 am

@sam u are so right. av forums is awesome but the detail is just a bit beyond me. Ever read one of their reviews? the extent they test the thing is crazy. much prefer TR for its fantastic, informative- yet not over the top- reviews. Keep it up lads!

@Chris C

(little inside information) If u can hold out there are going to be some pretty decent deals in a very well known electrical shop by the end of the week. pretty sure there will be a 40" inch on offer from samsung.

PS I have just gone from my old samsung 40m86 to a panasonic 46pz81. Once u see the blacks of plasma there aint any going back.

sam 1

April 28, 2009, 2:28 am

@prag fest I wouldn't necessarily agree that 99% of chatter on avforums is garbage, sure there are a fair few people on there who are very sensitive to issues such as backlight bleed, and you get fanboys everywhere, but really, forums such as that do provide useful information (especially when pictures / caliberation settings are posted up), and are a good place to pose questions.

However, like I initially said, it has its downsides, one of them being that if you are in the market for an LCD (or anything AV for that matter) you can end up going round in circles at avforums. Yet, I'd rather have it than not. Manufacturers can't control the freedom of open discussion.


April 28, 2009, 3:34 am

@sam - I think the thing about AVForums, as with most forums, is that people only post when they have a problem with their TV/electrical equipment, so the faults tend to get magnified. It's good when you have one of these faults, as usually there are workarounds posted on the various threads. It's not so good, however, for when you're thinking about getting one of the sets featured in the threads.

I think you get a TV to enjoy the picture, and sometimes at AVForums, it feels like they're nitpicking for the sake of it, although it's still a very valuable resource (that's why I'm a member).

Back to the review, I nearly got the smaller cousin of this TV - the Sony 32W5500U - but couldn't justify spending nearly 𧽴 on a TV. So, I bought a cheaper Samsung and spent the savings on a Blu-ray player :)


April 29, 2009, 2:21 pm

I'm going to take the plunge and get the 40", to hell with the back lighting issues!!

I came to this conclusion whilst watching 'Ashes to Ashes' last night on the iPlayer, full screen on my 2yr old 22" HP PC monitor. That's not the greatest source quality, the screen has got a bit of 'backlight bleed' but in spite of all this it is perfectly watchable, the Sony will be immeasurably better than that in every way, so we really don't have a problem, do we?

David 27

April 29, 2009, 2:23 pm

i'm in the hunt for a new tv and this sounds ideal, the only dilema i have is am i throwing good money away on "dated" technology, should i hold off and purchase a LED tv (maybe the Samsung 7020), i wouldnt want to buy this and then several months later feel as if i there are far better (LED) tvs out there, any thoughts?


May 4, 2009, 6:39 pm

I purchased the Sony KDL40W55000 one week ago. It was intalled and set up by the supplier engineer. I have two problems. I was told that I could connect a Card Reader to the USB Port to view my photos from my SD Card. No success.

But my main problem is as follows. At initial switch on of the T.V, after the normal 9 seconds warm up delay, a loud screech sound comes from the T.V.

The company changed the T.V but the problem continues. My set up comrprises a Sky Plus Box and a Recorder/Player. The engineer has no solution. Any ideas?


May 8, 2009, 8:14 pm

I've had the 40W5500 for 3 weeks... can barely notice any bleed unless I look at the very top left in a dark room with a black picture. You wouldn't notice unless you knew what you were looking for.

What I would like to know which I've found the AVForums with all their so-called experts have been unable to furnish us amateurs with, are what settings we should go with. Anyone? I think I may have a good set up but...


October 31, 2009, 11:04 pm

I read a loads of reviews about the W5500 model and I decided to buy it. But now I'm afraid of buying it just because of that slightly noticeable blacklight problem... Should I forget that problem & buy it?

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