Component Reviews

Sony 60” Grand WEGA 3LCD KDS-R60XBR1 HDTV

Terrific picture utilizing the latest enhancement of LCD displays

Published on November 27, 2005

Sony 60” Grand WEGA  3LCD KDS-R60XBR1 HDTV
Sony 60” Grand WEGA  3LCD

KDS-R60XBR1 HDTV

SRP:$ 4,999.99


I had been looking for a new high definition TV for over a year now. My
five year old Mitsubishi CRT rear projection TV still had a good
picture, but was not up to the current technology. Last year I was
going to get the 56” Samsung Pedestal DLP rear projection TV. At the
2005 CES show I saw the new 1080p model and decided to wait until it
came out. It came out in late July. I saw it and thought this would be
my new display. In a combination of saving up money and waiting to see
the other manufacturers’ 1080p models, I postponed my buying. Neither
the Toshiba nor the Mitsubishi similar models came close.  [Don't
confuse this brand new model with similar but earlier lower-priced Sony
3LCD 60" displays...Ed.]

On a visit to a video store there was a new Sony XBR1 set up next to
the Samsung Pedestal. The Sony blew away the picture on the Samsung. It
wasn’t even close. I had never been impressed by LCD type projection
TVs and this really shocked me. How could the Sony have so much better
a picture than the TV that I thought had the best consumer TV picture?
The answer is that it doesn’t. I saw the comparison at another store
and it was much closer. The Samsung at the other store was very poorly
set up. The Sony was still better, but by a lesser margin. I remember
thinking that almost anyone would be happy with the picture on either
set. But the Sony had better dark detail and slightly more detail in
general. Motion images were a little better on the Sony. The Sony
became my TV to buy. A warning to the consumer is not to judge the
picture quality of a TV at a single store. Setup is all-important in
what a set’s picture looks like. Some dealers may set up sets to give
an advantage to sets that they would prefer to sell. Other stores are
just not very good at the presentation of their sets.

The set appears even larger than it really is. In the store it looked
bigger than the 62 inch Toshiba. Part of this is the semi-flying
rectangular frame that has the speakers in it and surrounds the TV
itself. The speakers are in the frame and out about 1.5 inches out from
the sides of the TV itself. This is probably a good idea to keep any
sound vibration from getting directly to the TV chassis. The TV
champaign color. I feel that it would have been better if it were also
black.

This assembly is then set on a short stand that houses the front inputs
and controls. It is the same color as the frame. The TV is 66 inches
wide counting the frame. The TV is also a little deeper, 20 1/4 inches,
than some of the projection DLP and LCD projection sets. The set weight
about 117 pounds. It needs to be put on a stand, which allows your
components and center channel speaker to be placed. The steep slope of
the back of the set doesn’t allow for anything to be put on top of the
set. Stands run between $250 to $500, and there are fancier stands for
even more. If you want to put your center channel speaker on top of the
TV, there is a special shelf available from OmniMount Systems for about
$40 that works. I needed this because my center channel speakers were
firing into the back of the subwoofers when they were on the shelf
below the TV. As you can see in the specs below the Sony has a lot of
input possibilities. The one omission is that it has no DVI input. It
has several unusual inputs, including a Sony Memory Stick Viewer for
viewing pictures and movies from Sony cameras. There are also the iLink
inputs.

Setup was very easy. Just set it on the stand, plug in the cables and
turn it on. The factory settings needed very little tweaking for a
great picture. The TV needs no convergence adjustments, which is a real
convenience. I used to have to adjust my convergence on the Mitsubishi
every couple of months to get the best picture.

The real question is How does it perform? I am thrilled by the
performance of the set. It is like looking out a window into real life
with high quality source material. The set is quick to show differences
in quality of source material. You can easily tell the difference
between 480p, 720p and 1080i sources. You can also tell the quality of
the recordings themselves. On Discovery Channel’s HD broadcast of Wild
Nights – Coral Reef the picture is the best I have ever seen on a TV or
at the movie theatre. The colors are incredible and the detail is
really there. In watching Bullitt in high definition, I couldn’t
believe how good the picture was on this old a film.

The next question is How does it do on standard analog broadcasts? The
picture can range from near high definition to good depending on the
broadcast quality. The broadcast quality depends on two factors. The
first is the quality of the original recording and the second is the
amount of compression used in the broadcast. This is true for both
standard and high definition broadcasts. Broadcasters and providers
often use compressed signals to lessen the amount of bandwidth they
need to use. The more the compression the worse the picture gets. With
a good source broadcast of standard definition TV the Sony still can
give a very satisfying picture.

As far as DVD quality the Sony gives a better picture than any other
set that I have seen to date. On the Star Gaze II  DVD you can see
a layering of the star fields that I had not seen before. The
individual stars were more defined and the contrast between the lighted
areas and the darkness of space was much better. There was much more
three dimensionality than I had seen before. This is probably due to
the auto iris of the Sony. When the picture has many areas of darkness,
the iris opens up to let more light come to the screen. One review
magazine measured the contrast at 13,300 to 1. They were really amazed
by this – the best they had ever measured. Most sets come out lower
than their published specs but the Sony often exceeded them. On the
inside bar scene in Once Upon A Time in the West the background detail
and sense of depth were better than I had ever seen it.

The real test is seeing it set up next to other new high definition TVs
with the same signal. No other TV came anywhere near the Sony XBR
except for the Samsung Pedestal, and still it is not as good as the
Sony. Remember that at stores you are usually looking at a high
definition tape source, which gives you a very good picture. If you are
seriously looking at a set, you should ask them to play standard
definition TV and some DVDs that you bring along. I saw the set fed by
a hi-def Sony Camcorder at one dealer. The picture was extremely good -
especially from a $2000 Camera. This opens the door for the consumer to
make his own high definition videos. Another bonus with the set is that
the speakers included are superior to those found in most TVs. [But no
built-in speakers can equal even modest stand-alone external
speakers...Ed.]

I highly recommend this set to anyone who enjoys a really high-quality
picture. The only real limitations I find in the set are getting good
enough video sources. I really feel that the really most important use
of high definition is not movies, but being taken to other places that
you can not see on your own. What high definition does is bring you
closer to the feeling of being someplace. With better detail and color
you are brought closer to being there. High definition shows more
detail, especially in the background. It also gives texture to things
in the picture. You can see the character better in people’s faces. You
see all the lines and blemishes that give a person’s face its special
uniqueness. You get a much better sense of depth in the picture.

– Clay Swartz


                        SPECS:

                      General Features

                     
• Channel Fix

                      
• ID1 Detection

                      
• Video Native Resolution: 1920 x 1080

                      
• Aspect Ratio: 16:9

                      
• Viewing Angle: Vertical = 60 degrees / Horizontal =
                       
130 degrees

                      
• Tuner: ATSC/8VSB

                      Video Features

                      
• WEGA Engine system: WEGA Engine HD video

                      
• DRC® MultiFunction Circuitry: DRC-MF v2

                      
• CineMotion® Reverse 3:2 Pulldown Technology

                      
• Cinema Black Pro: Iris Control and Advanced Iris

                      
• Comb Filter: 3D Digital

                      
• Game Mode

                       Convenience Features

                      
• WEGA GATE: Easy User Interface

                      
• Freeze Memo Screen Freeze: Picture and Picture (PAP)

                      
• Caption Vision: Closed Caption (Analog / Digital)

                      
• Favorite Channel

                      
• Channel Skip/Add

                      
• Speed Surf Channel Selection

                      
• Channel Jump

                      
• Info Banner

                      
• Parental Control (V-Chip)

                      
• Clock: with ON/OFF Timer

                      
• Sleep Timer: 15/30/45/60/90/OFF

                       Audio Features

                      
• Digital Amplifier: S-Master® Digital Amplifier

                      
• Dolby® Digital technology

                      
• SRS® TruSurround® audio

                      
• MTS Stereo Decoder: Auto SAP

                      
• Steady Sound® Automatic Volume Control

                      
• Dolby® Digital Output: Optical

                       Inputs and Outputs

                      
• RF Connection Input(s): 2 (2 Rear)

                      
• CableCARD Slot

                      
• Composite Video Input(s): 3 (1 Front / 2 Rear)

                      
• S-Video Input(s): 3 (1 Front / 2 Rear) Auto Detect on
                       
Video 1 only

                      
• Component Video (Y/Pb/Pr ) Input(s): 2 (2 Rear)

                      
• Audio In: 5 (1 Front / 4 Rear)- Variable/Fixed

                      
• Analog Audio Output(s): 1 (1 Rear)

                      
• PC Input(s): 1 (1 Rear)

                      
• Digital Input(s): i.LINK 3 (3 Rear)

                      
• HDMI Connection Input(s): 2 (Rear: 1 with Audio
                       
Inputs, 1 without Audio Inputs)

                      
• Memory Stick® Media Slot: 1 (1 Rear)

                      
• Control-S Input(s): 1 (1 Rear)

                      
• Control-S Output(s): 1 (1 Rear)

                      
• Weight: 112 lbs. 7 oz. (43 kg.)
                       
                      
• Dimensions (WxHxD): 66″ x 39 3/4″ x 20 1/4″ (1,674 x 1,009 x 514 mm)

                      Supplied Accessories

                      
• RM-Y914 Remote Control

                      
• Batteries (AAA x2)

                      

           

                            

                             

           




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