With Sony just announcing that it's willing to give you a 'scrappage' value on your old duffer of a TV if you trade it in for a new Bravia, today seems the perfect time to check out a set from the Japanese megacorp's latest TV range: the 200Hz-sporting, 46in 46Z5500.
If you're thinking that it doesn't seem all that long since Sony seriously started pushing its previous 200Hz screens, the Z4500 range, you'd be right; the brand's (in)famous Kaka/zoetrope campaign only really kicked into full swing in the first quarter of this year. But don't worry; Sony isn't rushing its second generation of 200Hz TVs out because of any major problems with the original TVs - honest!
In fact, as proof of this, the Z4500 range is continuing to run alongside the new Z5500 range, as a cheaper alternative. The idea with the 46Z5500, then, is to deliver a step-up 200Hz experience. Something that it seeks to achieve in a number of potentially significant ways.
The most instantly obvious sign of the 46Z5500's relatively high-end status can be seen in its design. For starters, its bezel is impressively thin; barely an inch across on the top, left, and right sides, and only a couple of inches along the bottom edge.
The bezels's shiny, slightly opaque finish atop a deep grey colour is also striking. Plus, of course, there's the trademark (deactivatable!) illuminated Sony logo along the bottom edge.
The 46Z5500 also improves on Z4500 models by providing four HDMIs rather than three, and by making its Ethernet port able to access Sony's (currently rather limited) AppliCast online service, as well as material stored on a DLNA PC. The Z4500's Ethernet port didn't offer any online functionality.
Fans of mother nature, meanwhile, will be pleased to hear that the Z5500 series are claimed to consume as much as 35 per cent less power than their older siblings, and even sport an energy-saving 'picture off' option if you're listening to MTV or something that doesn't really need pictures. Trees will be gratified to note, too, that the Z5500's instruction 'manual' is actually tucked away within the TV's onscreen menus, rather than being splashed across loads of tree-munching sheets of paper.
If you're more interested in picture quality than saving the planet, the 46Z5500's most important improvement over the Z4500s is its Bravia Engine 3 video processing. I've found BE3 to be a large leap forward over the Bravia Engine 2 system sported by the Z4500 models, particularly when it comes to processing speed and suppressing noise, so it will be interesting indeed to see how BE3 ties in with the 200Hz engine.