Reviewer: Anthony Fordham
Welcome to 2007, the Year of High Definition Content. Blu-ray and HD DVD are both here, television is broadcasting at increasingly higher resolution, and even our gaming consoles offer graphics that make diehard PC geeks grudgingly acknowledge their quality.
With all these devices clamouring for your cash and attention, it’s important to realise that they’re all pointless without a display that can do them justice. Fortunately, Sony offers such a display.
The X-Series is the top end of Sony’s Bravia range of TVs and offers a price-be-damned melding of technology and features that compromises on nothing. This is an expensive TV, but you can see why when you look at the spec.
The 1920 x 1080 LCD has a contrast ratio of 1500:1, which means blacks are very black. The Wide Colour Gamut CCFL circuitry means colours are both vibrant and subtle as occasion and input demands.
Speaking of inputs, Sony knows that your TV is destined, this year, to become the head of a weird digital octopus made up of half a dozen (or more!) devices. So for HD content there are two HDMI inputs and an incredible three component inputs. Still want to run your old VCR and use your old camcorder? There are three composite inputs too.
Sony includes a HD digital tuner in the TV but it plays second fiddle to the display itself, and you’ll get better results with an expensive, high-end set-top box (why not one with a hard drive built-in?).
No matter how much you admire the peripherals, your eye will be drawn back to that LCD panel. It’s truly extraordinary. And we just tested the small one (100 cm; 40 inches). For folks with lots and lots of cash there are 117 and 132 cm (46 and 52 inches) versions too, priced at $6,499 and $9,999 respectively.
Obviously when you put a state-of-the-art LCD panel in a beautifully designed chassis and fill all the remaining space with high quality circuitry to further improve the already excellent image, you end up with a TV that performs pretty much flawlessly.
Truly, this unit shows off the potential of high definition to best effect. It is the ideal companion for a new Blu-ray or HD DVD player. You will sit, fascinated by all the detail that you didn’t even realise was missing from regular TV.
The only real frustration with owning this TV is that there are so few ways to see 1080p content on it, without spending a truly epic amount of money. Blu-ray is your easiest source of true HD right now.
Of course, saying the TV has the capacity to output a better signal than any readily available device can feed it today is hardly a criticism. In fact this TV will give your existing equipment a new lease on life – progressive scan DVD on this display looks incredible.
Blu-ray looks better of course, but does Sony think we-re made of money?
The X-Series is an impressive family of displays with exemplary performance, lots of inputs (which means lots of flexibility) and beautiful industrial design to boot. We predict every new owner will peer bemusedly at the power LED to figure out how Sony gets it to light up in the middle of a transparent glass bezel (it’s all fibre optics and mirrors people!).
However, this TV and its two bigger brothers come with very, very hefty price tags. There are other, much cheaper 1080p displays on the market. Do they offer the same blend of style and performance and this one? That’s up to your personal taste.
If you’re lucky enough to enjoy $5,000 worth of financial freedom when it comes to home entertainment though, this is the TV for you.