And so to 200Hz., and the discovery that it’s good, but not the absolute picture quality tour de force we might have been praying for. In other words, while it does make motion in pictures look smoother and – usually – clearer than you’d get from even a 100Hz LCD TV, the leap forward isn’t anything like as profound as the leap from 50Hz to 100Hz.
That sounded a little harsher than I intended it to. Obviously any improvement in picture quality, no matter how minor, deserves credit. I just think it’s important to cut away a little of the hype surrounding the 200Hz feature; to say that the difference it makes is marginal rather than revolutionary.
In fact, I’d argue that Philips’ HD Natural Motion system, which has been around for the best part of a year now, actually makes motion look even smoother and clearer than Sony’s 200Hz engine.
Having said that, Sony’s new motion processing does score points of its own over the Philips engine for the way it generates practically no nasty side effects whatsoever. With the Philips HD Natural Motion TVs you’re forever tweaking various settings with different types of source material, in order to ensure you’re not left looking at too many nasty image processing artifacts. But with the 46Z4500 you can enjoy the 200Hz benefits glitch-free with pretty much anything, so long as you don’t often set the Motionflow system higher than its Standard level.
Just occasionally something particularly tricky, such as a facial close-up moving across the screen, can seem to smear a little bit, either because of problems with the speed of the Sony’s processing or because the processing can’t quite figure out the best thing to put in the three extra frames it’s calculating. But these instances are rare, and easy to live with in the context of all the good the 200Hz engine is doing.
And anyway, the 200Hz system is far from the end of the 46Z4500’s talents. Its colours, for instance, are superb, portraying with exceptional vibrancy the riot of colour on show during the Captain Jack hanging sequence towards the end of the first ”Pirates of the Caribbean” film.
Using the Wide colour mode actually makes these shots look almost scarily aggressive and eye-catching. But it seemed to me that the tonal accuracy suffered a little in this mode, so I personally preferred the Standard setting.