This localised approach to brightness helps the 46HX923 to be very eco-friendly too, earning it a Recommended award from the Energy Saving Trust.
The 46HX923 is also mostly brilliant when it comes to colour reproduction. For its extreme brightness potential is used to push colours off the screen in explosive fashion. Yet, just as importantly, with the exception of some slightly warm-looking blue tones the 46HX923’s colours retain real authenticity, subtlety and credibility, despite their ‘aggression’.
Colour blends appear during HD viewing without striping or blotching too, contributing to a sense of purity and HD clarity that’s built on superbly by the TV’s exceptional sharpness and fine detail reproduction. What’s more, this superb clarity remains intact even during quite frenetic action scenes, thanks to both a presumably very low response time in the panel itself and the really impressive abilities of the MotionFlow system, should you opt to use it (following the guidelines mentioned earlier).
The 46HX923 delivers its HD sharpness, too, without leaving the picture looking noisy or edges looking forced. In fact, aside from the rare occasions where you can make out the shadowy lines at the screen’s edge, its HD pictures are to be congratulated for how intensely natural they look, allowing you to form a really direct attachment to them.
Yet more good news finds the 46HX923 retaining colour and contrast from a notably wider viewing angle than most LCD TVs (though you can see the ‘haloing’ problem more from a wide viewing position), while standard definition pictures are upscaled quite nicely too, at least in terms of the way compression noise is eliminated from the image.
It must be said, though, that colours aren’t quite as natural and well balanced with standard definition sources as they are with HD footage, and the suppression of noise results in upscaled images not looking quite as sharp as we’ve seen them on other top-end TVs.
The last element of the 46HX923’s picture performance to consider is 3D. And in some ways it’s a rip-roaring success, delivering images of really impressive depth, huge amounts of full HD detail, and exceptional brightness and colour richness by active 3D standards.
However, the 46HX923’s 3D apple cart is upset by the occasionally very noticeable appearance of crosstalk. This double ghosting phenomenon is visible to some degree in almost every frame of 3D we watched on the 46HX923, though it’s subdued enough during bright scenes not to really count as a distraction. During dark scenes, however, backdrops to dark scenes can look so afflicted with crosstalk that they seem completely out of focus.
A second, much smaller niggle about the 46HX923’s 3D performance is that the picture becomes tinged with red or blue if you tip your head even slightly to the left or right.
The 46HX923’s sound is actually pretty respectable for a slim TV. It can go pretty loud without distorting or causing the cabinet to rattle, and there’s a slightly deeper sense of bass than you commonly hear, making action scenes sound more impactful. Trebles can sound a touch harsh and the upper register of the mid-range can become a bit overloaded under stress, but overall our ears felt pretty satisfied.
There are times when we loved the 46HX923, as it served up pictures of rare punch, sharpness and vibrancy. At its best the 46HX923 is comfortably Sony’s best-performing set of 2011, and so we hope Sony perseveres with direct LED technology in 2012.
We’re big fans of Sony’s BIV online system too, and the free PS3 deal in place at the time of writing is a boon.
Ultimately, though, when you’re talking about a flagship 46in TV costing more than £1600 even after the current £150 cashback offer has been taken into account, the appearance of at times quite severe crosstalk with 3D is unfortunate to say the least, and the slight cloudy haloes around bright objects and vague lines down the picture’s sides don’t help either.