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9/10

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Sony Bravia KDL-46Z4500 46in LCD TV - Sony Bravia KDL-46Z4500

As you'd expect of pretty much any large LCD TV now, the 46Z4500 sports a Full HD pixel count. But it's anything but standard on the contrast front, thanks to a claimed dynamic contrast ratio of 80,000:1, which is a good few notches higher than that of most LCD TVs. Not counting the recent ones from Philips and Samsung that use LED backlighting, of course.

The 46Z4500's connections are a slightly mixed bag. On the downside you only get three HDMIs when we're really coming to expect premium TVs like the 46Z4500 to supply four. But on the upside the TV ships with a USB port, a Digital Media Port for playing stuff (via adaptors) from various portable media devices, and a DLNA-certified Ethernet port onboard so that the TV can seamlessly network with other DLNA-certified devices. This enables the 46Z4500 to play music and picture files stored on PCs or other external devices such as Sony's Giga Juke music server.
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Sony's neat double-axis on-screen menus system contains a number of features that we'd strongly recommend you play around with if you want to get the best from the 46Z4500. Highlights include a backlight adjustment, standard and MPEG noise reduction routines, a Contrast Enhancer, plus a colour space adjustment that can expand the colours from a source to meet the colour capacity of the TV's LCD panel.

One little negative side note to all this talk of features is that I really didn't like the remote control used to access them. The problem is the ‘circle within a circle' arrangement at the remote's heart, which finds a number of key buttons appearing in a tight circle around the left, right, up, and down movement arrows used for menu navigation. I lost count, for instance, of how many times I accidentally pressed the ‘Home' button, thus making the on-screen menus disappear, when I meant to press the ‘down' navigation button.

The home for all the 46Z4500's fine-sounding technology is a very attractive one, thanks to a combination of the beautifully illuminated Sony logo set within a stunningly finished Midnight Sky bezel (dusted with sparkling powder, no less!), all wrapped up by Sony's trademark transparent strip along the TV's bottom edge.

Before I get down to the key business of finding out what if anything 200Hz brings to the 46Z4500's picture party, I really feel the need to start the testing part of this review by saying that, thankfully, the 46Z4500 does not suffer with the really distracting backlight pooling problems I witnessed with recent Sony W4500 models. There's a tiny bit of light spillage to the top left, but this is hardly ever noticeable under normal viewing conditions. Phew.

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