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