Review Date: July 29, 2008
 Last Updated: November 2, 2013

Sony LCD HDTV Sets - 2008 Product Guide

Sony Bravia S4100 Series LCD HDTVs
40" KDL-40S4100 and 46" KDL-46S4100

The Sony BRAVIA S4100 Series represents Sony entry-level series to the new line of 1080p LCD HDTV sets for 2008.

Despite their minimalistic feature set, these TVs are turning out to be among the best sellers within their respective category. Surely, they represent a most inexpensive 1080p LCD HDTV option from a world leader in the TV industry. But there is more...

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Sony S4100 Series: Your gateway to 1080p HDTV!

Sony is a world leader in LCD HDTVs, and as you would expect from a top brand, Sony LCD TVs do normally come with a price tag that is somewhat above average, but...

This is not the case with the latest entry-level 1080p LCD HDTVs Sony has released for 2008. With a price tag that hovers between $1,100 for the 40-inch and $1,500 for the 46-inch, the S4100 series HDTVs are among the most affordable 1080p LCD TVs within their respective category. These prices are some $500 below the MSRP originally announced when these Sony LCD HDTVs were first released.

It is evident that Sony's strategy is to gain market share. Sony wants to be on top, and the latest low prices for the 40-inch 1080p KDL-40S4100 and the 46-inch KDL-46S4100 represent Sony's step in this direction. Obviously, such an aggressive marketing policy cannot but leads to more fierce competition between major brands - Sharp, Samsung, Toshiba, Philips and LG. But irrespective of what the competition may bring, these Sony LCD HDTVs represent great 1080p entry-level HDTVs from a top brand. Yet, Sony S4100 series HDTVs still come with a respectable specification set capable of delivering a great HDTV picture. And at just over $1100 for a 40-inch 1080p LCD HDTV, picture quality is a major issue one should consider. You can do away with less features but you would not be able to live with a low quality TV image.

Nevertheless, S4100 Sony LCD HDTVs are designed to deliver more than just a solid picture. These include a comprehensive set of features and connectivity options.

Admittedly, you would not find the same frills found on step-up and premium HDTVs. In other words, at these price levels, do not expect to get network connectivity with DLNA to transform your TV into a digital media player - thus simplifying multimedia sharing in the home. For this, you will have to move to Sony's flagship Z-Series models such as the KDL-46Z4100 46-inch 1080p 120Hz LCD HDTV.

Not less glorifying features such as Sony's 120Hz MotionFlow technology, or a USB port supporting music and video files as available on the popular 52-inch KDL-52W4100 1080p Sony LCD HDTV from within the latest W-Series.

But then there is a premium that you have to pay for feature-rich HDTVs, a premium that runs into at least a few extra hundred dollars!

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The S4100 Sony LCD HDTV Sets in Detail

As indicated earlier on in our introduction, the S4100 Series of Sony LCD HDTVs comprises the 40-inch 1080p KDL-40S4100 and its slightly bigger brother, the 46-inch KDL-46S4100. Both sets come with identical specs except for a different screen size. We therefore expect these Sony LCD HDTVs to perform very much the same.

Price wise, the S4100 series represents a most inexpensive option from a top brand that will enable you to jump on to the 1080p bandwagon. These Sony LCD HDTV sets are classified as full HD in that they support both a native screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, and 1080p/60Hz video inputs. Whether at this screen size you would be able to perceive the fine picture detail supported by 1080p resolution is another issue, but... if you want a 1080p LCD HDTV from a top brand at an affordable price tag, Sony have it!

You would not get the numerous picture controls found on premium line models, but you still get all the basic controls to adjust the picture to your liking. Equally important, customer reviews posted on sites like Amazon and Circuit City confirm that these Sony LCD HDTVs can deliver crisp clean images with accurate colors, deep blacks, and very good shadow detail. Also, the use of S-PVA display technology enables these Sony LCD TVs to hold their picture quality even at extreme off-angle viewing.

Main Design

The new KDL-S4100 1080p Sony LCD HDTVs come in high gloss piano black finish. Overall design is relatively compact thanks to the use of elongated bottom speakers and a slim bezel.

The Bravia logo is printed on the top left corner of the frame, while the set basic controls - volume, channel selector, power, input selector, and menu - are cleverly positioned on top of the TV completely hidden from the viewing position.

Sony Bravia S-4100 Series 1080p LCD HDTVs
Side view of the Sony S4100

Equally clever is the positioning of the front - or rather side - connectors along the left-hand side of the frame completely out of view from the normal viewing position. Three status LED indicators - power, timer, and standby indicator - are positioned on a clear plastic panel between the lower frame and the perforated speaker grill. The set infra-red receiver is positioned within the speaker grill just adjacent to the status indicators.

Without the stand, the 40-inch Sony LCD HDTV measures 39.4" x 25.8" x 4.4" (w x h x d), and weighs almost 44lb. The slightly bigger 46-inch KDL-46S4100 measures 44.5" x 29.4" x 4.7" ((w x h x d), and weighs 58.5lb. With the stand installed, the overall height increases by approximately 2" while weight increases by an extra 7lb.


Power Consumption

The rated power consumption of these Sony LCD HDTV sets under default conditions is 210W for the 40-inch KDL-40S410 and 260W for the 46-inch Sony KDL-46S4100; these ratings are typical of what you expect for similar size LCD HDTVs.

It is important to note here that the power consumption of an HDTV set is highly dependent on the set settings. It is possible to reduce the default consumption by up to 40% through proper calibration of the set brightness. In the case of these Sony LCD HDTVs, it is also possible to reduce the power even by adjusting the intensity of the backlight level to better suit your home environment.

Unfortunately, manufactures tend to set the default settings to provide a too bright an image for typical home use; they do this to attract your attention over the competition under a showroom environment.

The S4100 Series Sony LCD HDTV Sets - Main Features

1080p Resolution: We have already hinted on the Full HD 1080p capabilities of these Sony LCD HDTVs earlier on in this product guide. While it is not possible for the eye to perceive the full detail supported by 1080p resolution from normal viewing distance at the screen sizes involved here, yet having a screen with a 1080p native resolution still carries its advantage. With a 1080p HDTV, there is no need to downconvert content when viewing 1080i or 1080p material. This helps avoid possible image errors resulting from downconversion while enabling you to take full advantage of high definition players like Blu-ray Disc players and 'PlayStation 3'.

BRAVIA Video Processor Engine: Despite being entry-level TVs, these Sony LCD HDTV sets come with the latest version of Sony's renowned BRAVIA Engine fully digital 10-bit video processor. 10-bit processing yields 64 times more levels of color - or shades of gray - than typical 8-bit based LCD TVs. This translates into smoother transitions from color to color, thus making it possible for the display to produce subtle color changes that look even more natural.

Update Jan 7, 2009: Interesting is that while published specs for the S4100 do not mention anything about the use of a 10-bit display panel - necessary to enjoy the full benefit of the BRAVIA 10-bit video processing, yet Sony Tech Support confirmed that the S4100 come with both 10-bit video processing and 10-bit display.

1080p/24p True Cinema: Directly coupled with the BRAVIA Engine is these Sony LCD HDTVs capability to directly process 24 frames per second content. Movies and most prime-time TV programs are captured in 24 frames instead of the standard 30 frames per second used for video-based material.

Note that the frames per second of a video signal are different from the TV refresh rate. The video signal frame rate refers to the number of frames per second with unique content. The TV refresh rate refers to the number of times frames are repeated on a TV screen - typically 60 times for a 60Hz TV. Most Blu-ray players can output HD at 24p - thus allowing compatible 1080p HDTV sets to display 24p content the way seen at the cinema.

A 1080p/60Hz-only TV are not be able to handle 24P content. Without this 24p option, there is the need for additional frames to be inserted between the original content to convert 24p film-based images to video reproduction. This is the so-called 3:2 pulldown (or 2:3). These inserted frames lead to lack of smoothness - referred to as judder; judder becomes evident especially when handling pans and other camera movement.

Contrast Rating: The KDL-40S4100 and the KDL-46S4100 Sony LCD HDTV sets have a rated 'on-screen' or static contrast ratio of 2500:1. This refers to the luminosity ratio of the brightest whites and the darkest blacks that can be displayed simultaneously on the screen. This is one of the highest; it is even higher than that of the Sony XBR4 2007 premium line series. But as with most manufactures, there is no reference to ANSI or some other standard; therefore, one cannot really compare with other brands.

When it comes to contrast, most manufactures would normally specify the dynamic contrast rating as this results in more impressive numbers! Dynamic contrast refers to the use of real-time image processing to adjust the contrast by boosting the bright parts of an image while optimizing the backlight brightness especially during predominantly dark scenes. It represents the highest contrast as seen over a period of time rather than simultaneously. When done properly, dynamic contrast control can help give the impression of an effective higher contrast, but done poorly, it can crush detail in the dark parts of an image.

Sony is one of the few TV makers that would normally specify both, but in the case of the S4100 series, the dynamic contrast rating is not available. The next step-up V-series in the 2008 line of Sony LCD HDTVs has a dynamic contrast rating of 25,000:1. We expect therefore S4100 Sony LCD HDTVs to have a rating that is somewhere close.

From a picture performance perspective, dynamic contrast is not as important as the static contrast rating, and while high dynamic contrast ratio levels are truly achievable with today's display technologies, yet do not let these large numbers impress you! Contrast alone does not make the picture - even more so dynamic contrast levels. We are not saying that an improved contrast ratio performance does not contribute to a better picture, but the difference in picture performance is not as much as manufactures try to imply through their impressive big numbers.

There is also the issue here - of which few are aware of - that one cannot compare contrast ratings between different TV manufactures due to lack of standards; therefore, contrast ratio ratings are valid only within a brand, and to a certain extend, within the same year.

For more information on contrast ratio ratings, please refer to our article: 'The Contrast Ratio Game - Playing with Numbers!

Picture Controls: If you are accustomed to the never-ending list of picture controls found on most of today's premium line HDTVs, then you will be disappointed with the S4100 series. These Sony LCD HDTVs take a rather minimalist approach to picture user controls in that what you get are the standard picture adjustments.

These include adjustments for contrast, brightness, color saturation, a hue setting to increase or decrease the green tones, and a sharpness control. You will also get three presets for color temperature (cool, neutral, and warm) settings, a noise reduction mode (with a high, medium, low and off setting), and three picture modes - vivid, standard, and custom. The latter would allow you to adjust the different picture settings to your liking and store these as a 'custom' picture mode.

In the other hand, the set of available picture zoom settings is quite comprehensive; you can even select the display area when viewing a 1080i or 1080p source in its full original size - pixel for pixel - without any image cut-off.

Audio support on the Sony S4100 series is typical of what you expect to find on similar LCD 1080p TVs. These Sony LCD HDTV sets can deliver up to 10W per channel. Again, being entry-level sets, you would not find the latest Sony S-Force Front surround - which is Sony's version of simulated surround over the set two stereo speakers. Instead, you will get the basic sound controls - treble, bass, balance, MTS, 'Alternate Audio' selection, and a sound mode with three settings: dynamic, standard, and clear voice.

Convenience Features

Without doubt, a most important convenience feature one would be looking at on an HDTV is picture-in-picture, something which comes extremely handy especially with today's multiple-input HDTVs. These Sony LCD HDTVs do include PIP mode but it comes with a rather limited functionality. Picture-in-picture is only available when you are in PC mode via the HD15 input; use one of the HDMI ports for your PC connection, and PIP is gone.

Sony S4100 TV RemoteOther convenience featuresinclude a power save mode which reduces the power consumption of these Sony LCD HDTVs by adjusting the backlight brightness, favorite channel, input skip which skips an input if nothing is connected to it, channel label, parental control with channel block, on-screen display for external inputs, sleep timer, ID-1 detection on S-Video input (this enables your TV to switch automatically between 4:3 and widescreen mode depending on the input signal aspect ratio format), and multiple language display.

The supplied TV remote control is again very basic and unlike most HDTV remotes available today, the TV remote that comes with the S4100 Sony LCD HDTV sets cannot serve as a universal remote to control other gear.

Controls on the remote include all the basic buttons plus a few extra like zoom setting, channel jump, favorites, and sleep. Most of the settings are menu-driven. Some may find this approach rather awkward, however overall menu is relatively easy to navigate.

One interesting convenience with the supplied TV remote is a 'tool' button that displays the available options associated with the current input. This includes the PIP when in PC input mode.


For entry-level sets, these Sony LCD HDTVs come with more than adequate connectivity options. These include three HDMI inputs with one of these positioned on the side for ease of access from the front, and a dedicated PC input.

A summary of the connections available on the S4100 series Sony LCD HDTVs is shown in the table below:


Inputs and Outputs





HDMI (19-pin Type A)



One of the HDMI on the rear comes with external R-Audio-L inputs for use with a DVI source.

Composite (A/V) - RCA Phono



Connects composite video and audio

S-Video (4-pin mini-DIN)



Connects S-video with audio sharing the same audio inputs used for composite video.

Antenna In



Connects to your cable STB or VHF/UHF antenna

Component (Y/Pb/Pr)



Includes audio

PC Input



HD15 + 3.5mm audio input for PC sound.




A service port is available on the side connection panel for firmware upgrades.

Analog Audio Out



Left/right channels only

Digital Audio Out (optical) - TOS



PCM/Dolby Digital compatible

Headphone Jack





As highlighted in our introduction, both the 40-inch KDL-40S4100 and its slightly bigger brother, the 46-inch KDL-46S4100 Sony LCD HDTVs share the same specs set. It is therefore not surprising that customer reviews at major stores like Amazon and Circuit City yielded the same performance ratings for each of these sets, scoring anything between 4.4 and 5 out of 5 stars, based on a total of 69 customer reviews.

In general, customers all agree that these Sony S4100 LCD HDTVs are capable of spectacular picture - something complemented by Sony build quality and a more than affordable price tag. Customer complaints relate only to the rather basic feature set and minimalist convenience options approach adopted by Sony. For example, though these HDTVs come with a PIP feature, yet it is extremely limited for sets with such an extensive connectivity base, nor it is possible to adjust the position or size of the PIP preview. Similarly, it should not have taken much for Sony to include a remote with these 1080p LCD HDTVs than can control other gear connected to your TV.

But then, it is not the convenience features that make the picture. As we often say, major brands do not compromise on quality when it comes to a low price tag. Instead they do away with features to be able to come up with a competitive low price offer. This explains why the S4100 Sony LCD HDTVs come with a rather scant feature set.


We say... If you are on a limited budget but still want an HDTV with top-quality picture performance, then these S4100 Sony LCD HDTVs have all that is necessary to make the grade. These HDTVs are more than suitable as a general family HDTV for use in the kitchen, living room, or in that case, anywhere in your house where a good picture is worth enjoying.

If instead, you can afford to stretch a little bit your budget, and Sony is your brand, then your next-best bet would be the BRAVIA V4100 Series. The V series covers screen sizes from 40-inch up to 52-inch as follows: 40" KDL-40V4100, the 42" KDL-42V4100, the 46" KDL-46V4100, and the 52" KDL-52V4100.

These 1080p Sony LCD HDTVs represent Sony's step-up models and come with various enhancements over the S4100 series. These include a fourth HDMI port, an Advanced Contrast Enhancer (ACE) feature, a more functional Picture-and-Picture in addition to the rather limited PIP mode found on both the S and V series, the addition of Sony's DMeX for internet connection via a broadband link without the need for a PC when used with the optional Sony Bravia Internet Video Link, S-Force Surround Sound, and  Sony XrossMediaBar or XMB graphics user interface.

Admittedly, there is a price to pay for this enhanced functionality. Expect to pay around $300 more than corresponding sets in the S4100 series - but if you have the budget and want the added feature set, Sony can deliver!

As to the S4100 Sony LCD HDTVs, despite their minimalistic feature set, these still represent a great 1080p HDTV option within their respective price bracket. It is therefore no surprise that they feature among the most desired and best selling LCD TVs at major stores.

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