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Sony Bravia KDL-52W4500 52in LCDTV - Sony Bravia KDL-52W4500
Having established the 52W4500 as a thoroughly dedicated follower of the latest multimedia fashion, it's time to return to the duo of image processing technologies mentioned right at the start of the review. For while the ability to provide a nice big venue for your favourite photos and tunes might be all well and good, the 52W4500 still needs to deliver the goods with its picture quality if it's truly going to impress us.
Bravia Engine 2 is, as its name suggests, a refinement - a considerable one, based on past experience - of Sony's original Bravia Engine, with its algorithms focused on improving colours, motion presentation, noise reduction, contrast and fine detailing.
As for Motionflow 100Hz, this both doubles the usual PAL frame rate to reduce LCD's problems with motion blur, and adds in completely new frames of image data designed to ‘fill in the gaps' between real frames. This should make motion look more fluid as well as crisper and clearer - provided it manages to achieve its benefits without throwing up lots of unpleasant side effects.
There are quite a few other picture features worth a quick mention too, including MPEG and standard noise reduction routines, a contrast enhancer, ‘Live' colour enhancement, and a Game/Text mode tweaks the image processing to better suit those types of source.
It's worth mentioning that all these latter features - and quite a few more besides - are uncovered via Sony's twin-axis Xrossmedia Bar onscreen menu design. This design definitely makes it possible to sort through many features at a lickety split pace. But its effectiveness is reduced by some rather unhelpful menu divisions, such as the way some useful picture adjustments are tucked not within the main Picture sub-menu, but within a separate Set-up sub-menu. Plus there's a separate ‘Features' sub-menu that again seems to simply add an extra, unnecessary layer of complication to proceedings.
Having been very impressed with the previous Sony TV to come our way, the KDL-40W4000, I had very high hopes for the 52W4500. And at first it looked as if all those hopes were going to be fulfilled. With knobs on.
The picture is spectacularly bright, for a start, blazing off the screen with an intensity that reminds us in no uncertain terms of LCD's traditional advantage over plasma in this department.
Colours are extremely vivid too, with rich saturations and bold tones. Yet a combination of fine blends and a wide colour palette ensures that for the majority of the time all this vividness does not result in unnatural, over-aggressive tones.
More good news concerns the 52W4500's fine detail presentation. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the pristine HD image of No Country For Old Men on Blu-ray has never looked sharper on a big-screen TV except, possibly, for Philips' latest Perfect Pixel sets.
Seriously, the precision with which the set portrays the very finest of details in a picture, such as stubble, facial pores, strands of hair and even the weave in clothing is nothing short of mesmerising. If for some reason you're not convinced by the whole HD thing yet, watch a good Blu-ray on the 52W4500 and you'll wonder how you ever lived without HD for so long.