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Sony Bravia KDL-52HX903 - 3D Performance and Verdict

John Archer

By John Archer

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

Given the problems we recently had with Sony’s 60LX903 edge LED 3D set, we feared the 52HX903’s currently very sturdy house of picture quality cards would come crashing down when we switched from 2D to 3D. But while the 52HX903’s 2D to 3D conversion still feels dull and unconvincing, its playback of true 3D sources appears much more enjoyable.

The main reason for this is that there’s less crosstalk noise. Don’t get us wrong; we’re certainly not saying that the 52HX903 is immune to ghosting around some 3D objects. But for some reason, possibly the direct LED lighting, more likely the 400Hz Motion Flow processing, the crosstalk issues are neither as common nor as in your face as they were on the 60LX903.

In fact, with 3D Full HD Blu-ray feeds the 52HX903 is the best LCD performer we’ve seen to date. Though Panasonic’s plasma 3D TVs still rule the roost when it comes to suppressing crosstalk.

The 52HX903’s 3D pictures are also engagingly bright and colourful too, despite the inevitable dimming effect of the active shutter glasses you have to wear. In this particular respect, the Sony’s 3D images actually slightly better Panasonic’s.

The 400Hz system also helps motion in a 3D environment look fluid, clean and convincing.

So does the 52HX903 have any other issues aside from the (actually not nearly as bad as expected) 3D crosstalk problem? Yes - but nothing serious.

First, you do have to exercise a bit of caution with the 400Hz motion processing options. For if you try to run the system on one of its most intensive settings, it can generate distracting processing side effects like shimmering edges and haloes around moving objects.

Another issue is the occasional appearance of a slightly off-key colour tone. These really do only crop up once in a blue moon, and are generally restricted to skin tones during dark scenes. But we couldn’t help but wonder if we might have been able to correct even these rare rogue tones had Sony provided adequate colour management tools.

Finally, in keeping with every direct LED TV we’ve ever seen, you do have to try not to watch the 52HX903 from too wide an angle, for if you do the amount of haloing around bright objects increases severely.

Let’s not get too hung up on what the 52HX903 might have done better, though. For the fact remains that the balance of the set’s picture achievements is overall very, very much in favour of the good stuff.

The same can’t be said, sadly, of the 52HX903’s sound. For any sort of action sequence tends to find the set’s speakers wanting in both dynamic range and bass response. This means the soundstage is biased towards trebles, and as such can quickly leave powerful audio mixes sounding harsh and sibilant.

The best we can say about the sound is that it does at least pass muster for the normal, day-to-day fodder that will likely occupy the majority of your viewing time.

Verdict

Despite the sense of expectation created by the 52HX903’s direct LED lighting system, as we started testing it memories of the 60LX903’s 3D problems were still nigglingly fresh in our mind. Thankfully, though, for whatever reason the 52HX903’s 3D images aren’t nearly as tiring and flawed as those of its bigger, edge LED sibling.

Which means we’re freer to concentrate on the set’s excellent 2D picture quality. Sony has clearly been extremely busy refining its local dimming direct LED system, and the results are pretty spectacular. So much so that in sheer performance terms, the 52HX903 comfortably deserves an overall mark of nine, despite the bland audio that accompanies the superb pictures.

However, try as we might, we just can’t ignore the 52HX903’s price. It is nearly £1,200 dearer than Panasonic’s P50VT20B TV. And this price gap grows substantially larger if you factor in the Sony’s optional 3D transmitter and glasses.

So with Panasonic’s 3D contender also being a terrific all-round picture performer, it’s hard to see how Sony can easily justify its own set costing quite so much.

Stewart

August 24, 2010, 1:16 pm

WiFi built into their BDPS570 Blu Ray Player (£175) but not this £3,449.00 TV.


WiFi USB dongle £70 extra.


One USB port (as stated - wholly inadequate if you use the WiFi dongle).


3D transmitter and glasses optional (expensive) cost extras.


Aluminium stand another cost extra.





Reads like the extras list on a new German car.


Features 9/10....hmmm?

ChaosDefinesOrder

August 24, 2010, 1:48 pm

I'd really like some form of photographic size comparison of these size of TVs. Even if it's a crappy cameraphone picture, just a shot of someone standing next to it would be nice!

ronesh amin

August 24, 2010, 2:30 pm

@ChaosDefinesOrder - I understand why you would want a picture comparison, but there really is no need for TR to do this, when you can walk into any high street retailer and compare it yourself. How would you determine how tall the people standing next to the TV were too - it would mean placing a tape measure there too!





I for one don't understand how Sony can justify charging £3,500 for a 2DTV, and not even add all the bells and whistles to go along with it. I've said this soo many times before, but there is a Samsung Plasma 50" 3DTV for as little as £1100 niw, and can't see why this TV can't be reviewed. Surely, a TV of that size with all the features straight out of the box (unlike Sony's) would garner more hits and would be more insightful for a potential purchaser of a new TV. How many people do TR Reviewers' know that would happily spend £3500 rather than £1100??

Geoff Richards

August 24, 2010, 2:44 pm

@Chaos: the dimensions are listed in the Features Table. You can mark it out on your wall at home (or maybe tape some sheets of newspaper together). TBH a 52-inch TV is a 52-inch TV - bezel width doesn't vary THAT much...





@ronesh: I assume it's a typo when you says "how Sony can justify charging £3,500 for a 2DTV" when it's clearly a 3DTV.





As for the Samsung you mention, I gather you are refering to the PS50C7000? I'm not aware of any special reason why it *can't* be reviewed, so I'm sure John will work his way around to it. He has a lot of different models from various manufacturers in the pipeline.

Wildkard

August 24, 2010, 3:14 pm

I may just be a thicko, but what is the point in the optional stand that you can get for these "monolith" TVs? Specifically, why would anyone want to tilt their screen backwards?

TechVegan

August 24, 2010, 3:40 pm

@Wildkard:


It's mainly about the stand's minimalist visual appeal - it's a unique look and some people will pay a lot extra for that.

ronesh amin

August 24, 2010, 4:39 pm

@ Geoff Richards - I did actually mean a 2DTV, because it essentially is unless you buy the 'add-on'; therefore the TV is not 3D Ready out the box.





And yes, i did mean the PS50C7000. I can imagine he has a lot of TV's to go through, but it's just frustrating when the TV's which are reviewed are generally ones which can't be purchased by an average consumer. I can imagine though this is more to do with the manufaturers more willing to hand over their flagship models to reveiew instead.





Geoff, are you aware of any reason why Samsung are reluctant to advertise their Plasma models as much as their LED models? from what i have heard (and this would also make a good feature!!) plasma TV's produce 3D content much better than LED variants, so confused as to why Samsung don't seem to give it the marketing push the LED's get. All i can think of is that Samsung must make an amazing profit off the LED's instead!

Wildkard

August 24, 2010, 4:44 pm

I get that, but the whole tilting the screen backwards just doesn't make any sense to me.

Metalex

August 24, 2010, 7:13 pm

@ronesh - You're being a bit unfair to TR, as they have reviewed loads of TVs that are affordable to the average consumer. I just wish they'd introduce input lag figures, as quite a lot of average consumers play games. They mentioned input lag in a couple of recent reviews (without figures), but seem to have abandoned the idea. They have yet to comment on whether they intend re-introduce this in the future. TR, I bet you are so sick of me!





@Wildkard - I assume the tilting back thing is intended for low furniture. Just a guess.

GoldenGuy

August 24, 2010, 7:29 pm

Seconded Metalex. So they can be sick of me too.

cliche

August 24, 2010, 7:45 pm

@metalex - I gave up with this site for input lag figures


Bought a Sony 46 " HX503 last week strictly for TV viewing for my family, would not dare game on the thing though due to input lag (supposedly 40ms or so)

ronesh amin

August 24, 2010, 8:36 pm

@metalex - i don't feel like i am being harsh. Like i said in my previous post, it is most likely that the manufacturers are more willing to hand over their flagship models rather than the average TV's.





I imagine that TR would appreciate the feedback that people like us give (just like how u are asking for input lag comments). This is the only avenue TR have to get feedback from their readers, and my comments were not made to put down the site or the writers of the article.

HR

August 27, 2010, 1:59 am

Are you able to pass on the settings after calibration John? Unfortunately I cannot use my THX disc as I cannot get the settings on screen the same time as the test pictures. Thanks

Jan Andersen

August 28, 2010, 5:49 pm

Hi John,





Thanks for the review - you wrote:





"But for some reason, possibly the direct LED lighting, more likely the 400Hz Motion Flow processing, the crosstalk issues are neither as common nor as in your face as they were on the 60LX903."





The answer is most probably, that this model is using the new Sharp UV2A panel technology, which is faster than the old conventional LCD technology.





Further - as to the majority of the reviews today, why use so many lines on 3D when 1% of the users sees 3D 1% of the time ?

bunny-hater

September 5, 2010, 6:55 pm

will you review the Sony Bravia KDL-46HX903. thanks.

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