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Similar in looks to Sony's previous flagship X2000 series of LCD TV's, the 46-X3500 retains the 'floating' clear glass frame which surrounds the whole unit. With dark grey brushed metal finish the appearance of this latest panel from Sony is a little more subdued, which takes nothing away from the 46-X3500 which has to be one of the most 'quietly' classy flat panels out there.
With Full HD resolution (1920 x 1080 pixels) and 100Hz picture processing to name but two of the KDL-46X3500's attributes, this latest flagship series from Sony is a technological tour de force.
Screen: 46in 16:9 Tuner: Digital Sound System: Nicam Resolution: 1920 x 1080 Contrast Ratio: 2,200:1 (18,000 dynamic) Brightness: 550cd/m2 Other Features: Motionflow +100Hz, BRAVIA Engine Pro, Live Colour Creation, 24p True Cinema, BRAVIA Theatre Sync. Sockets: 3 HDMI, 2 SCART, Component Video, Composite Video, PC input.
Sony's 'Motionflow +100Hz' technology doubles the number of frames shown on screen from the usual 50 to 100 by interpolating an extra frame in between each source frame. The technology has been designed to remove the stuttering effect that is visible with fast action sequences as the frame rate struggles to keep up. The feature can be turned off if desired
Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) resolution can potentially give a marked improvement in the display of sources such as Sky Tv (1080i) where the 1080 lines of resolution match the resolution of the screen negating the need for any picture scaling to fit.
The KDL-46X3500 sports the latest version of Sony's 'Bravia' picture processing engine - BRAVIA Engine Pro. With Sony's 'Digital Reality Creation technology' on board, BRAVIA Engine Pro claims to enhance a High Definition (HD) signal for greater resolution and picture performance.
The Sony KDL-46X3500 is equipped with '24p True Cinema' which enables the panel to display films at their intended 24fps (frames per second) rather than the standard (for tv) of 25fps.
With 24p True Cinema technology on board the KDL-46X3500 does not need to speed up the film to reach 25fps. Alongside 24p True Cinema is Sony's 'Theatre Mode' technology which adjusts colour, contrast and brightness settings to makes movies look as authentic as the original.
Theatre Sync, which is Sony's name for CEC (Consumer Electronic Control), is a control standard that functions over HDMI 1.3. The technology facilitates one-touch control over compatible devices and in practice means that if you fire up your compatible DVD player, the all connected devices such as your LCD TV will also spring into life.
Sonically, the KDL-46X3500 comes equipped with Sony's S-Force Front Surround which is their latest virtual surround sound technology.
Reaction to the effectiveness of 100Hz processing on LCD TV's has been mixed, but with Sony's 'Motionflow +100Hz' the implementation brings some positive results. With most input sources 'Motion Blur' has been visibly reduced, and while the effectiveness of the technology was not consistent across different sources, on the whole it worked well. Unlike some other manufacturers version of 100Hz processing, with the KDL-46X3500 there is also an option to switch on/off if the results are not to your liking.
The most impressive aspect of the KDL-46X3500's performance however, is the black levels it manages to achieve. Although still not quite on par with the best Plasma's, this screen manages to significantly close the gap between the two flat panel technologies. Shadow detailing is the best we have seen on an LCD and makes viewing 'Darker' films, for once on an LCD, a real pleasure.
As you would expect, the exceptional black level performance enhances one of the core Bravia strengths - colour reproduction. Vibrant and wholly realistic on previous Bravia LCD TV's, the depth and realism is enhanced on the KDL-X3500 through an improved level of contrast.
With High Definition (HD) sources, the KDL-46X3500 achieves an exceptional level of detail and sharpness. Quite possibly the best performance from an LCD TV in this respect to date. Colours are absolutely stunning, with a vibrancy that is simply unmatched by anything other than top notch Plasmas from pioneer and Panasonic.
The greatest disappointment with the Sony KDL-46X3500 came with its Standard Definition (SD) performance. It is difficult to remain objective with such a fantastic HD performance (when most SD pictures would look mediocre in comparison), but SD pictures certainly left room for improvement.
There were no significant problems with video noise/grain etc with the KDL-46X3500 performing well in this respect. The main problem is a noticeable 'jaggedness' to pictures, which becomes more apparent when switching from Sky SD/cable to terrestrial Freeview. While not intrusive enough to encroach into the viewing experience too much, it is there.
The Sony KDL-46X3500 is a significant step forward for LCD technology. While hardened Plasma enthusiasts may not be convinced, others who may not previously have considered LCD should think twice.