Sony is not one of those brands that likes to pursue endorsements from the likes of THX or the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF). But the 46HX923 still has plenty of calibration tools for those who like a good tinker. Options vary from being able to adjust the strength of or deactivate entirely almost all aspects of the TV’s video processing, to a colour management system, gamma correction, and white balance adjustment.
As usual we’d urge caution with the processing elements, especially the noise reduction and Detail/Edge enhancement tools. The MotionFlow system is worth trying with fast-moving footage though, at least on its Clear or Clear Plus settings.
One final thing to rattle through before finding out how the 46HX923 performs is its connectivity. Highlights are four HDMIs for 3D and HD duties, two USBs, a D-Sub PC port and built-in Wi-Fi. The USBs can be used for recording from the built-in Freeview HD tuner, or for playing video, photo and music files from USB storage devices. And the Wi-fi can be used for streaming files from networked PCs as well as accessing BIV.
In assessing the 46HX923’s pictures, we unfortunately have to kick off with a weird glitch: the appearance of a shadowy line down each of the picture’s edges, about 6mm across and about 1cm from the picture’s edge. We really couldn’t hazard a guess as to where this line comes from, though it’s not the first time we’ve seen it on a 2011 Sony TV.
It should be stated strongly that you can’t always see the lines, and that even when you do they tend to be faint. Also, of course, more often than not your attention will be focussed on the centre of the image rather than its extreme edges. But the lines are there, you can sometimes see them, and if you’re got an even slightly obsessive nature, you might find yourself starting to look for them.
Another more understandable issue that may trouble some is the appearance of faint ‘clouding’ around very bright objects when they appear against dark backdrops. This is a simple result of the number of controllable LED clusters behind the screen not matching (even closely) the number of pixels in the image.
The obviousness and the extent of the haloing is less overt than it is on LG’s recently reviewed, also direct LED 55LW980T, but it is still sometimes visible. Especially when viewing from a side angle.
One final negative comment would be that despite the TV providing ‘off’ and ‘low’ settings for the set’s LED Dynamic Control system, using it on anything other than its Standard setting causes both a substantial drop off in contrast and the appearance of unexpected areas of backlight inconsistency. But this isn’t actually a massive deal given that we didn’t really see any great disadvantages to using the Standard dynamic control setting.
From here on in the news is almost exclusively excellent. For a start, while the 46HX923’s black level depth and consistency might not match that of a class-leading plasma TV, dark scenes are generally very convincing thanks to the way they combine a really good black colour with enough retained brightness to deliver lots of shadow detail in dark corners.
The local illumination potential of the Intelligent PRO LED system further ensures that dark scenes look every bit as punchy and dynamic as bright ones, as there’s no need to dim brightness levels across the whole screen to get a good black colour as you have to with edge LED and CCFL LCD technologies.
In fact, it’s in this extreme contrast and dynamic range that the 46HX923’s single biggest attraction lies, as it delivers even more punch than a top-quality plasma TV thanks to the terrific brightness the set can achieve when driving some of its LEDs at peak power at the same time it’s driving neighbouring LED clusters at very low power to deliver good black levels.