Sony Bravia KDL-47W805A - Performance

John Archer

By John Archer

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

Sony KDL-47W805A - Contrast

All that’s left for us to look at now is how well Sony’s picture quality department has been able to work with its first passive 3D TV. And the answer, sadly, is not well.

The main problem is black level response. While this year’s W9 (Sony KDL-55W905A) and last year’s HX8 series (Sony KDL-55HX853) both set new standards where black levels were concerned, the Sony KDL-47W805A’s handling of dark scenes is really pretty average. Watching any very dark scene on the set in a reasonably dark room makes it immediately obvious that the inky blackness we’d hoped for has been replaced by a milky greyness that stops dark scenes from looking anywhere near as natural as bright ones.

The greyness also leads to shadow details sometimes getting lost in pictures that contain a mixture of bright and dark content.

The lack of black level response is especially painful – shocking, even, given Sony’s recent history in this area – if you turn off the TV’s Advanced Contrast Enhancer. Yet if you turn this feature on then the much-improved black level depths come at the price of some really quite aggressive brightness shifting (even using the Adv Contrast Enhancer’s lowest power setting) as the TV continually adjusts its global illumination levels in a bid to bolster blacks without compromising the dynamism of bright scenes.

There's always a degree of brightness shifting to be seen with any dynamic contrast/backlight system, of course. But it's more noticeable on the 47W805A than usual, as if Sony knows there are native contrast problems with the screen and are trying too hard to get round them.

Sony 47W805A

The Sony KDL-47W805A black level issues are particularly noticeable if you're watching films with 'Cinemascope'/2.35:1 aspect ratios, which require black bars above and below the picture. With this in mind, it would have been appreciated if Sony has followed Samsung's lead by providing a mode whereby the edge LED lights in the areas occupied by the black bars could have their light levels handled separately to those used to make up the rest of the picture.

There are a couple of unexpected (as in, they're not features we'd normally advocate that you use!) ways to greatly improve both the depth and stability of the Sony KLD-47W805A's black levels. One is to leave the set's Light Sensor feature on, so that the TV self-adjusts pictures for dark room conditions, and the other is to use the Clear Plus (or, at a push, Impulse) motion processing modes. However, there is a major downside to both these options, namely that the amount of brightness they take out of pictures is really quite excessive, leaving pictures looking much too flat and dull for most people's tastes.

The bottom line is that the Sony KDL-47W805A’s lack of native contrast leaves you with a situation where, unless you're prepared to live with fairly extreme levels of brightness loss, none of the provided contrast/backlight settings deliver the sort of black level depth and stability we’ve seen from numerous other TVs this year – including the Sony KDL-55W905A.

Sony KDL-47W805A - IPS vs. VA

Not being Sony engineers, we can’t say for certain why the Sony KDL-47W805A struggles to deliver a deep black level when Sony’s previous generation of 8 series of TVs did it so well. But our strong suspicion is that it’s a combination of the lack of local dimming and, especially, Sony’s move to one of LG’s IPS LCD panels.

We’ve long found IPS panels to deliver reduced contrast versus rival ‘VA’-type panels, but never has this been made more obvious than in the extent the Sony KDL-47W805A’s black levels fall short of those on Sony’s HX8 and W9 series.

IPS fans might point to the fact that the Sony 47W805A can be watched from a wider angle before severe picture deterioration sets in than VA-type LCD TVs. Indeed, our only serious complaint about the non-IPS Sony KDL-55W905A was that its viewing angle was extremely limited. But when it comes to watching films, we’d take a convincing black level performance over a wider viewing angle any day.

To be fair to the Sony KDL-47W805A, there are moments where the image content and dimming engine achieve some a sudden startling harmony to deliver a quite convincing black level performance. At these points, invariably featuring content that’s almost completely dark, the TV’s light balance is actually quite clever, enabling ultra-dark scenes like Chapter 12 of Harry Potter to appear with more visible details than you see on many rival screens. However, these ‘perfect’ moments tend to be fleeting, and certainly don’t make up the majority of your dark-scene experiences.

Sony KDL-47W805A - Small Concerns

Other smaller issues we have with the Sony KDL-47W805A’s pictures – again familiar from other LG passive 3D TVs we’ve tested – are a slightly plasticky look to some skin tones, and the appearance over standard definition sources of some noticeable jaggedness over curved and sharply contrasting edges.

It also seems that motion – served up by Sony’s Motionflow XR 400 Hz system – isn’t quite as crisp on the 47W805A as it has been on some other recent Sony sets, though this is a minor flaw, and Sony’s motion processing options remain among the finest around.

GordanShumway

June 8, 2013, 2:58 pm

My family and I just love this new TV; we’re a Sony family
from now on! When I hooked the Bravia it to our DISH Hopper, we were blown away! We only had three TVs at the time
the Hopper was installed, so we’d been looking for a fourth. I work at DISH and a coworker of mine
recommended looking into the brand, and we couldn’t be happier! Now we’re finally
running full HD and DVR to the four TVs the Hopper is capable of. Best of all,
there’s no more arguments over DVR timer conflicts!

Michael

September 27, 2013, 8:56 am

Visible line structure with 3D - Is usually something that is noticeable when the TV is too large in comparison to the distance you're sitting from it. In other words, if you sit too close to the TV you will be able to see line structure in 3D (as it is with all passive 3D tv's). Therefore it's important to consider the size of the TV (Bigger is not always better).

C

November 6, 2013, 9:55 am

I have the KDL-47W807 and when I play 3D films from an external hd connected to the side USB and change to a channel to watch TV e.g. channel 2, during the 3D film playing, all the graphical menus disappear from the tv, and it is impossible to use the tv. Only when I remove the power completely from the set, the menus will reappear again after restart. What is wrong?

dev

November 7, 2013, 10:15 pm

How can I connect it via Bluetooth... Help !!

dev

November 7, 2013, 10:16 pm

How can I connect my W850 via Bluetooth??

HD

November 8, 2013, 10:18 pm

Buy a Belkin Bluetooth USB Adapter.

Hollow Soldier

December 7, 2013, 5:45 pm

The 42" have a 16ms Input Lag am i right?
400hz refressrate what issnt exactly correct. At least its higher then the low 60hz.
3d passive for extra movie option
750,- this is a very good gaming HDTV am i wrong?

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