Making the set’s extraordinary HD clarity all the more irresistible is the quality of the MotionFlow 100Hz processing. For provided you stick with its ‘Low’ setting, this does a superbly judged job of smoothing and clarifying motion in the frame without throwing unwanted processing side effects into the mix. In fact, the latest incarnation of MotionFlow 100Hz takes Sony’s LCD motion handling in one fell swoop from the bleary mess found on last year’s W3000 models to some of the crispest we’ve seen.
Another box ticked in terrific style by the 52W4500 is black level response. Sony quotes a contrast ratio figure of 50,000:1 using an onboard dynamic backlight system, but for once I actually felt this figure looked pretty pessimistic. This is highlighted by how much genuine blackness (as opposed to the familiar LCD greyness) there is on show during the tense street shoot out between ”No Country For Old Men’s” psychopathic hitman and his cowboy target on a night-time street.
Even better, the depth of the 52W4500’s black levels don’t seem forced as they can on many LCD TVs. By which I mean that rather than looking like empty pits, dark picture areas contain enough visible shadow detail to appear three-dimensional and a natural part of the image as a whole.
At this point it occurs to me that by breaking down the constituent parts of the image in a rather forensic manner I’ve perhaps failed to express the ‘bigger picture’ about the 52W4500’s image quality. So let’s make this emphatically clear: at times this TV produces pictures that are sensational with a capital S; genuine contenders for the best LCD pictures ever seen.
Yet I’m sure you’ll have noticed that the 52W4500 still only gets an 8/10 for picture in our final marks. Why? Because infuriatingly for all the terrific work the TV’s picture processing does, and all the natural strengths the screen possesses, during dark scenes the thing I noticed above all else was ‘puddles’ of greyish light in the TV’s corners. Aarrgghhh!
It’s hard to pinpoint just why these gentle grey puddles should be there. At first I thought they could be caused by the screen somehow pooling the ambient reflected light in the room. But they remained even when I turned all the lights off. So my best guess is that they’ve got something to do with backlight leakage.
Whatever causes them, though, the bottom line is that while they’re certainly subtle enough to stay hidden during bright scenes, they can definitely distract you from any really dark scenes you happen to be watching. What’s more, once you’ve first noticed them, you’ll probably find yourself unable to stop yourself from looking for them again.