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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


Our Score:


Deep, natural black levels are commonly joined on TVs by a good colour response. But the 46W5500's colours aren't just good; they're outstanding. Saturation levels are intense, yet never at the expense of authentic toning. The subtlety with which the TV reproduces colour blends is extreme, too, and there's not a trace of colour noise or any sense that skin tones are having their naturalism compromised in the quest for more dramatic rich reds or blues.

In fact, the way subtle skin tones can sit right alongside extremely heavily saturated colours, such as channel logos, makes it look as if achieving such a dynamic/subtle colour combination was the easiest thing in the world. Also worth a mention is how stable and noiseless HD pictures look, and how generally intense, bright and three-dimensional pictures appear.

The 46W5500's Bravia Engine 3 processing even makes it a reasonably loyal friend to standard definition too. Certainly standard definition images look sharper when upscaled to the screen's large, Full HD resolution than they do on many rival Full HD TVs, and the extra detail is added without overly exaggerating any noise that might be tucked away inside the source broadcast/DVD. The Motionflow system works superbly with standard definition too, delivering arguably even more striking motion-boosting results than it does with HD.

Really the only complaint I might make about the set's standard definition performance is that it seems a touch uncomfortable with skin tones, leaving them looking rather plasticky and low on detail compared with everything else in the picture.

As with the 40V5500, the 46W5500's audio talents are good without being outstanding. Its strengths lie in its impressively well-rounded and clear presentation of vocals, even during action scenes, and the amount of treble detail it manages to inject into a movie mix without becoming harsh. A slight lack of bass extension stops it scoring higher than an eight for audio, but it's still a good overall effort by flat TV standards.


Given that I loved pretty much everything about the 40V5500's performance apart from its backlight inconsistency, you probably won't be too surprised to hear that the big reduction in this irritation for the 46W5500, together with the addition of a fine 100Hz engine, has produced a level of picture performance that truly ranks among the elite of the LCD TV world.

So however foolhardy Sony may have been in sending out flawed pre-production TV samples that clearly suffered with a problem already reported at length with previous Sony TVs, in the end there's no denying that Sony has managed to put things right in pretty spectacular fashion.

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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