Deep, natural black levels are commonly joined on TVs by a good colour response. But the 46W5500’s colours aren’t just good; they’re outstanding. Saturation levels are intense, yet never at the expense of authentic toning. The subtlety with which the TV reproduces colour blends is extreme, too, and there’s not a trace of colour noise or any sense that skin tones are having their naturalism compromised in the quest for more dramatic rich reds or blues.
In fact, the way subtle skin tones can sit right alongside extremely heavily saturated colours, such as channel logos, makes it look as if achieving such a dynamic/subtle colour combination was the easiest thing in the world. Also worth a mention is how stable and noiseless HD pictures look, and how generally intense, bright and three-dimensional pictures appear.
The 46W5500’s Bravia Engine 3 processing even makes it a reasonably loyal friend to standard definition too. Certainly standard definition images look sharper when upscaled to the screen’s large, Full HD resolution than they do on many rival Full HD TVs, and the extra detail is added without overly exaggerating any noise that might be tucked away inside the source broadcast/DVD. The Motionflow system works superbly with standard definition too, delivering arguably even more striking motion-boosting results than it does with HD.
Really the only complaint I might make about the set’s standard definition performance is that it seems a touch uncomfortable with skin tones, leaving them looking rather plasticky and low on detail compared with everything else in the picture.
As with the 40V5500, the 46W5500’s audio talents are good without being outstanding. Its strengths lie in its impressively well-rounded and clear presentation of vocals, even during action scenes, and the amount of treble detail it manages to inject into a movie mix without becoming harsh. A slight lack of bass extension stops it scoring higher than an eight for audio, but it’s still a good overall effort by flat TV standards.
Given that I loved pretty much everything about the 40V5500’s performance apart from its backlight inconsistency, you probably won’t be too surprised to hear that the big reduction in this irritation for the 46W5500, together with the addition of a fine 100Hz engine, has produced a level of picture performance that truly ranks among the elite of the LCD TV world.
So however foolhardy Sony may have been in sending out flawed pre-production TV samples that clearly suffered with a problem already reported at length with previous Sony TVs, in the end there’s no denying that Sony has managed to put things right in pretty spectacular fashion.