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Starting, inevitably, with HD, in the form of 1080p from a Marantz upscaling DVD deck, and 1080i from an Xbox 360 and Sky HD receiver, the 46X2000 quickly convinces us that it’s got arguably the finest picture quality yet seen from an LCD TV.
For starters, all the familiar Sony Bravia strengths are there. And so we find colours looking almost preternaturally vivid, delivering sensational impact with colour-rich Xbox 360 games like Ninety-Nine Nights, but also being subtle enough in their blends and realistic enough in their tones to look as completely credible with dark film scenes as they are solid and vibrant with bright ones.
In fact, we’d argue that its extra resolution actually improves the 46X2000’s colour performance over other Bravias, since the extra pixel density makes colour blends even more subtle.
Also continuing from Sony’s lower-end Bravias is an outstanding black level response that achieves the LCD ‘holy grail’ of rich, deep black colours combined with reams of subtle shadow detailing.
Highly detailed, motion packed scenes, meanwhile, reveal that the demands on the Bravia Engine EX processing of the TV’s extra resolution don’t seem to have caused any adverse processing side effects.
While this all proves that nothing about the step up to a 1,920 x 1,080 panel has damaged the 46X2000’s pictures though, aside from the subtler colour blends we haven’t really covered areas where the extra resolution visibly improves things. But believe us, these areas are certainly there.
Take for instance the amount of detail in the picture. With the 46X2000 there simply seems more of it, as the full HD resolution shows every pixel of our 1080-line sources on a direct one to one basis. The picture thus looks sharper, and more textured.
There’s noticeably more clarity in the picture too, which we presume must be down to some extent to the absence of any mess-inducing downscaling processing while showing 1,920 x 1,080 pictures. That final full HD benefit of smoother edges to rounded contours is also evident, leaving a picture about as near to perfect as we’ve seen.
While nearly perfect, though, it’s not completely perfect. Even HD pictures suffer a touch of smearing over very fast motion, and this increases during standard definition viewing. In fact, standard definition viewing also suffers sporadic colour tone issues and noise problems with lower quality sources. But for us, these standard definition issues are arguably not especially significant on a screen so clearly built for and stunningly well adapted to the new high definition game.
With so many picture glories on offer, we almost forgot to give the 46X2000’s audio a work out. But we’re glad we didn’t, for it blew us away with its combination of sensational volume levels, complete clarity and bags of frequency range.
The 46X2000’s prohibitive cost and occasional problems with standard definition pictures arguably don’t make it the sort of ‘all rounder’ that might suit casual TV viewers. But if you take TV and home cinema seriously and intend to embrace every facet of the current high definition revolution, it’s hard to think of a TV better equipped to make your HD dreams come true.