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Sony Bravia KDL-46Z5500 46in LCD TV - Sony Bravia KDL-46Z5500

John Archer

By John Archer



Our Score:


If there's a disappointment to be found in the 46Z5500's up-front 'story', it's that the 200Hz engine itself doesn't appear to be any different to that used by the Z4500s. But then this engine is a genuine 200Hz system, rather than the 'pseudo 200Hz' systems sported by most rivals (except for Samsung). What's more, it seemed to work very well on the Z4500s, so I guess the old 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' adage could well apply.

Other bits and bobs worth covering briefly here, even if they don't represent any new ground for the 46Z5500, include multi-level MPEG and standard noise reduction systems, a black level corrector, a contrast enhancer, gamma fine tuning, a white level booster, a Wide colour space option, and Sony's Live Colour system for delivering more natural and vibrant colour tones.

Even though I was quite a fan of the Z4500 range, it's obvious right away that the 46Z5500's picture performance is markedly better.

The single greatest reason for this is the image's clarity. For where I had cause to bemoan a little smearing and trailing when showing extensive amounts of motion with the 46Z4500, this seems to have been almost completely eradicated by the 46Z5500.

I can't be 100 per cent certain why this should be the case, especially as I haven't been able to find out if there's any difference in the native refresh rates of the Z4500 and Z5500 ranges. But I suspect it's down to the 46Z5500's use of Bravia Engine 3 rather than the less potent Bravia Engine 2.

Backing up the improved motion handling in producing images of truly excellent clarity is an exceptional talent with portraying every tiny detail of HD sources. Even standard definition pictures look sharp and textured thanks to Bravia Engine 3's upscaling capabilities.

The 46Z5500's black levels also seem slightly more profound than those of the 46Z4500 - no mean feat given that the 46Z4500's rendition of dark scenes was itself impressive. There seems even less greyness hanging over black elements of the picture, and the 46Z5500 is also better at producing shadow details during dark scenes - probably because it doesn't seemingly need to reduce brightness as much as the earlier model in order to produce a convincing black colour.

The Bravia Engine 3-inspired improvements continue with the 46Z5500's colours too, which combine similar levels of vibrancy and intense saturation with a seemingly slightly wider range, resulting in colour tones even more consistently natural than those of the 46Z4500.

The relative authenticity of the 46Z5500's 200Hz engine, meanwhile, means it suffers likeably little with processing side effects. I spotted none of the ghostly second and third cricket and tennis ball 'echoes' sometimes witnessed with '200Hz' TVs that use scanning backlights, and nor is there much evidence of the edge flickering/shimmering halo phenomenon seen with so many motion processing systems. So long, at least, as you leave the MotionFlow option set to its Standard and not its High preset.


August 25, 2009, 12:40 pm

What a pity; another decent sounding Sony ruined by backlight bleed.

My 3 year old 40W2000 has the same issue and it certainly is off putting, I would have thought that Sony could have sorted out their factory/QC by now, but apparently not.

Think I'll upgrade to the Panny 50V10 plasma instead; and on that note any chance of a review of the 50" TR?

Gary 11

August 25, 2009, 1:36 pm

The only thing the review lacked was with regard to input lag.

The new W5500 range have more input lag than the previous 4000+ range, can you comment if the Z5500's input lag is worse the the Z4500 ?


August 25, 2009, 2:15 pm

what a shame still got backlight bleed their tvs were always the ones other manaufacturers aspired too thought they used samsung panels and their tvs dont have this problem although i did hear Sony were looking at using LG panels maybe they are looking at using the LG led panels in future new models which I hear are in THX approved LG sets


August 25, 2009, 4:28 pm

If motion flow has to be turned off because of a cricket ball then, in my opinion, the set is not up to standard, and should not be on the market.

After paying that kind of money for a TV set I would be sick at the idea of having to turn things on and off depending on the picture content.

What about the good old days when you set your contrast and brightness when you installed the TV and just sat back and enjoyed the content thereafter.

Just how much has technology really moved on?


August 26, 2009, 1:22 am

Oh dear ... yet another instance showing up the flaws of LCD - seems no matter how much money you throw at these panels with fancy (and expensive) processing tricks (which you will no doubt start toning down/turning off) LCD still cannot come up with a TV Experience to match Plasma.


August 26, 2009, 7:52 am

I wonder whether Sony would consider moving their entire line to HCFL (other than LED based ones) as that TV didn't suffer from inconsistent backlight issues...


February 11, 2010, 1:09 am

We bought the above model recently and found it to give a decent performance. We are not noticing any problems except lack of DivX support and bluetooth. Motionflow does work reasonably well in sports programs and racing.

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