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The 46X4500's black levels provide HD films with a perfect cinematic springboard, but are by no means the set's only strength. Also getting your attention with HD fare is the picture's extreme sharpness, as the set's Full HD resolution enables it to effortlessly pick out such picture niceties as dust on the bonnet of the Range Rover that Bond deliberately crashes in a car park in Casino Royale. This sharpness isn't forced at all, either, meaning that there's no sign of classic problems like harsh edging and excessive grittiness.
Colours are mostly excellent on the 46X4500 too, at least using the Cinema preset, with remarkably astute skin tones enhanced by stripe-free, seemingly immaculate blends, impressively believable primary colours, and that key combination of subtlety and vibrancy that frequently eludes lesser LCD TVs.
Motion also looks very good indeed on the 46X4500, provided you leave the MotionFlow system set to its Clear mode, with remarkably little evidence of either resolution loss or judder.
If I had to pick fault with the 46X4500's pictures I might point to a very subtle green undertone to one or two extremely dark scenes, even after colour calibration. Plus some of the picture presets are really pretty dire - almost deliberately designed to make colours look strange and emphasise noise. Weird. Really, the only preset I particularly enjoyed using was the Cinema mode.
I also urge caution with a) the 46X4500's noise reduction routines, since they can make the picture look a little soft; and b) the MotionFlow system, since setting this to Standard or especially Smooth rather than Clear can result in a few distracting processing glitches.
Finally, with pictures calibrated to look their sensational best, I guess the results might be just a touch low on brightness to satisfy viewers with really bright rooms. But then for me this TV is all about recreating the magic of going to the cinema, and no cinema screen I know of is made to be watched in bright light…
Given how magically cinematic the 46X4500's pictures can look, the set's audio is perhaps a touch disappointing - though only to the extent that it sounds merely like a decent telly audio performance rather than something approaching a home cinema system. But then I guess I'm probably letting my unreasonable expectations get in the way of fairness yet again!
The 46X4500 confirms in no uncertain terms that the jaw-dropping pictorial glories of the 55X4500 were no fluke. Sony really has hit the ground not just running but sprinting with its debut LED sets, delivering HD pictures so good that they actually make their premium prices look like bargains.
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