Flat Screen Review
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Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Earlier this year, Sony changed the name of its high-end LCD TVs from Wega to Bravia and launched a marketing campaign touting the line as "The world's first television designed for men and women." While it remains to be seen how the sleek, 40-inch Sony Bravia KDL-V40XBR1 scores with the ladies, it delivers a knockout in terms of LCD picture quality. No, it still can't outperform the best similarly sized plasmas on the market, and yes, like most Sonys, this 40-inch flat-panel LCD has a premium price tag and costs quite a bit more than competing plasmas. But if you have your heart set on an LCD or just really like the look of this Sony--or the name Bravia--it might be worth the price.

A native resolution of 1,366x768 gives the Sony KDL-V40XBR1 enough pixels to deliver all the detail of 720p HDTV. As usual, the panel scales all incoming signals, from VHS to HDTV, to fit the available pixels. A lone NTSC tuner serves up standard-definition TV, while a single ATSC tuner delivers over-the-air HDTV. The QAM tuner and the set's Digital Cable Ready compatibility let you watch digital and HD cable without an external cable box.

Picture-in-picture tops the list of convenience features, along with independent input memories. Options for changing aspect ratio include Normal (displays 4:3 sources properly), Full (displays 16:9 sources properly and stretches 4:3 sources evenly to fit screen width), Wide Zoom (slightly crops the top and the bottom and stretches 4:3 sources to fill screen width), and Zoom (crops the top and the bottom of 4:3 sources to fit screen width). They all work with standard- and high-def sources. The Freeze feature lets you snap a screenshot of the picture, which is useful for writing down phone numbers on American Idol so that we don't end up with another Kelly Clarkson.

You can't say the KDL-V40XBR1 lacks connectivity, but we were disappointed to see only one HDMI input--most HDTVs at this price point have two. The back panel also has two component-video, one S-Video, and two composite-video inputs, all with matching stereo audio ins. In addition, the set provides the CableCard slot, two RF inputs, and a PC-compatible RGB input (up to 1,360x768 input resolution) with an accompanying stereo minijack audio input. Outputs include one optical digital audio and one variable/fixed stereo audio RCA pair.

Located on the panel's left side for easy access is a third component-video input, a composite-video input with stereo audio, a stereo minijack headphone output, and a USB port. The USB port allows connection of a Sony camera so that you can view photos or video.

[via: cnet]

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