The 46X4500 also does its damndest to justify its price with its connections. And so a very respectable four HDMIs are accompanied by two component video inputs (one more than we usually see), a USB port for playback of multimedia files, an Ethernet port for streaming in multimedia files from a connected PC, and even a Digital Media Port through which you can play music files from portable audio players (via a suitable and not included adaptor).
The Ethernet port doesn’t support ‘Internet’ access like Sony’s new V5500 and W5500 ranges. But with Sony’s AppliCast online system still very much in its infancy, if forced to pick between a handful of online features or the picture quality boost gained from LED technology, I’d go for the X4500’s LED lighting every time.
A search for other key features of the 46X4500 in its occasionally sluggish onscreen menus uncovers 100Hz processing with Sony’s MotionFlow system for both sharpening and ‘dejuddering’ horizontal motion, Sony’s Live Colour Creation system for making colours more vibrant, Sony’s 24p True Cinema mode for enhanced 1080p/24 Blu-ray playback, Bravia Engine 2 Pro video processing, and MPEG noise reduction for cleaning up Freeview’s perennially blocky broadcasts.
Even the 46X4500’s design might fairly be considered a ‘feature’, thanks to the extravagant way it builds its snazzy silver strip speakers into transparent glass extremities sticking out beyond the inner black bezel.
Perhaps inevitably the 46X4500’s pictures aren’t quite as eye-poppingly impactful as those of its much larger 55X4500 sibling. But they’re still outstanding – and arguably even slightly easier to hang out with when it comes to standard definition. Regarding this latter point, the smaller screen simply means that you’re not quite so aware of any failings in a digital standard definition source that haven’t been ‘processed away’ by the 46X4500’s video systems.
Not being so aware of residual noise leaves you freer to appreciate the decent sharpness with which the 46X4500 presents standard def sources, and the rather good job its processing generally does of suppressing standard def noise.
Of course, though, while standard definition still accounts for a depressingly large amount of our telly viewing, a TV like the 46X4500 is really all about high definition. And with this, as with the 55X4500, it’s easily one of the very finest TVs I’ve ever had the pleasure of reviewing.
Its most compelling picture strength is the extreme depth of its black level response. There’s none of the greyness that affects all normal LCD TVs to some extent, and the deep blackness on offer is also completely stable, since there’s no need for the sort of dynamic backlight adjustments required by serious single-backlight LCD screens.
Even better, the apparent ease with which the 46X4500’s LED technology produces its deep blacks means that there’s plenty of subtle shadow detailing visible amid the blackness, ensuring that dark scenes look just as three-dimensional and solid as bright ones.
This being a Sony TV, I also can’t resist pointing out that the 46X4500’s LED system also avoids the irritating backlight inconsistencies of Sony’s normal LCD TVs.