Review date:  June 30, 2005
 Updated:
December 13, 2012

Sony LCD Projection TV Sets
'KDF' Grand WEGA Sony Wide Screen Projection TVs

Product Review


The latest Grand WEGA Sony LCD projection TV sets are taking home entertainment to the next level. Picture quality is superb, come with an integrated HDTV tuner, and they are stylish and slim. Price-wise, they compete well with similar products from other brands.

We review some of the top-selling products in the range of LCD rear projection TVs from Sony to see what's on offer for the home theater.


 
Mitsubishi 73-inch WD-73642 3D DLP HDTV
Mitsubishi WD-73642 3D DLP TV

This is the most affordable 3D 73-inch HDTV presently available on the market.

It is true that this Mitsubishi DLP TV comes with a reduced feature set, but you get a massive 73-inch 3D TV for a more immersive 2D and 3D experience than you can ever enjoy with a similarly priced 50-inch LED TV.

More on 2012 Mitsubishi DLP HDTVs can be found in our rear projection TV review page here

Introducing the Sony Grand WEGA 'KDF' LCD Rear Projection TVs

All products in the 'KDF' range of Sony rear projection TV sets share similar features and specifications.

The real major differences between the various models are different product dimensions and weight - which vary according to the product screen size. The smallest in the Sony's line of Grand WEGA LCD RPTV's is the Sony KDF-42WE655 - a 42-inch wide screen rear projection HDTV. The other extreme in terms of screen size is the 70-inch wide screen SONY KDF-70XBR950Sony KDF-70XBR950 LCD rear projection TV. Other popular products in the range of Sony Grand WEGA LCD rear projection TVs include:

Sony KDF-50WE655Sony KDF-50WE655:
This succeeds the highly rated Sony KF-50WE610 and is the 50-inch version of the KDF-42WE655

Sony KDF-55WF655Sony KDF-55WF655:
This is the 55-inch version of the KDF-42WE655

Sony KDF-60XS955:
This 60-inch HDTV set is a step-up version of the KDF-60WE655

All sets include an integrated HDTV tuner that is capable of receiving over-the-air broadcasts, as well as digital cable TV. There is also a cable card slot, a memory slot to view your digital camera pictures, and 2:3 pull-down. In addition, all models except for the  KDF-70XBR950 come with a HDMI™ interface as standard.

Thanks to the use of Sony proprietary WEGA light engine and the latest LCD micro-display projection technology, these Sony rear projection TV sets are capable of delivering exceptional picture detail and vivid bright colors across the full screen surface.

In addition, though not as slim as a wall hanging Plasma TV, yet these Sony LCD projection TV sets are stylish, relatively lightweight, and slim - requiring no more than 15 to 20 inches in depth - depending on the screen size. The only except is the 70" Sony LCD rear projection TV with its 25.5" depth - yet it is still compact in comparison to what would be required for a CRT RPTV.

Surely, Sony are the undisputable leaders in the field of home entertainment and video technology - their products have always been synonymous with quality and reliability. However the real seller for these great feature rich Sony LCD projection TV sets is not the Sony brand name inasmuch as the price. Mind you, they do not come cheap — maybe even a bit more expensive — but they still compete well with similar products from other brands.

In fact, the smallest in this range of Sony LCD rear projection TVs - the Sony 42" KDF-42WE655 is selling online at around $1,900. If one were to take into account the slight difference in screen size, this would fall in line with the slightly bigger 46-inch Toshiba 46HM94 DLP HDTV. Similarly, the Sony 50-inch and the 55-inch models are within the same price bracket of the Toshiba 52HM94 52" DLP HDTV.

Sony LCD projection TVs only start to get somewhat more expensive than the average with the larger 60-inch and 70-inch wide-screen models, with the 60-inch model selling on amazon at $3,300.

Even so, these prices for the Grand WEGA range of Sony LCD projection TVs still contrast heavily with the prices of plasma TV sets, which at $5,000 for a new 50-inch HDTV plasma model, renders plasma a relatively expensive big screen option.

Sony KDF-60XS955 60-inch LCD RPTVSony LCD Projection TVs: A Detailed Technical Analysis

As indicated earlier on, these products in the 'KDF' ranges of Sony LCD projection TVs share very similar specifications and features - with the real significant difference being a different screen size.

All sets feature a wide 16:9 aspect ratio screen and offer compatibility with standard-definition 480i, enhanced-definition 480p, and high-definition 720p and 1080i signals.

Integrated HDTV Tuner: These Sony LCD projection TVs come with a built-in HDTV tuner which can receive both over-the-air broadcasts as well as digital cable broadcasts (ATSC and QAM). This means that there is no need to spend a few hundred dollars in an external HDTV decoder to feed in high definition signals. The tuner supports picture-in-picture through Sony's TwinView PIP, a feature that lets you view any 2 sources simultaneously - side by side, even at different image resolutions,

These Sony LCD projection TV sets are also capable of making a good show out of a standard-definition video signal through Sony proprietary Digital Reality Creation MultiFunction Circuitry. This raises standard definition signals to HD quality to display clear, stable images from any video source. MID-X Multi Image Driver Circuitry scales all incoming standard and high definition signals to the configuration of the panel without degrading signal quality.

Sony WEGA LCD Light Engine: Sony rear projection TVs utilize LCD technology in their light engine. Sony make use of 3 different 1,366 x 788 wide-XGA format, high-resolution LCD panels, one for each of the RGB color component (resulting in a total of 3.28 million dots of resolution). This calls for a more complex optical setup but at the same time, it gets rid of the color wheel found in most DLP sets - often associated by some with the rainbow effect.

The WEGA Engine system maximizes picture performance from any video source by minimizing the number of digital-to-analog conversion processes. The optical engine used in these Sony LCD projection TV sets also features a special 11-element lens system responsible for the lightweight, ultra-slim cabinet. The lens system bends the light path, creating an ultra-short focal point while maintaining high brightness. A 100W or  132W user-replaceable ultra-high-pressure lamp is used as the light source; lamp wattage varies according to model. This proprietary system delivers vivid images from the center of the screen all the way to the edges.

This set-up frees the user from having to make any convergence adjustments. In addition, as with other micro-display projection technology, these Sony LCD projection TV sets do not suffer from burn-in; this is not the case with phosphor-based CRT and Plasma displays.

When it comes to these Sony LCD projection TV sets image quality, our only minor complaint is their black-level performance, or rather their ability to accurately render black and very dark picture areas. Surely there has been a huge step-up from some previous models, something which brings Sony LCD rear projection TV sets on par with most competing DLP models - but still not as good as some CRT-based RPTV's. 

Sony's Digital Reality Creation (DRC) circuitry ensures high picture resolution, while proprietary Direct Digital Circuitry increases the video signal's signal-to-noise ratio before it reaches the DRC circuit, ensuring rich, natural-looking images from any source.

3:2 Pulldown: Sony's CineMotion 3:2 pulldown detection and reversal is a handy feature for watching progressive-scan movie programs in their native 24-frame format. Digital video mastering introduces a common distortion when adjusting 24 frames-per-second movies to 30 fps video; 3:2 pulldown digitally corrects this distortion, removing the redundant information to display a film-frame-accurate picture.

Other features include:

Built-in Memory Stick media slot  allows quick, easy viewing of digital photos (JPEG images) and MPEG-1 video.  It can also display customized slide shows using MP3 files for background music.

Channel Fix lets you select a specific TV channel (3, for example) for cable box reception. Then you can control a compatible cable box via the TV remote without inadvertently changing the TV from Channel 3.

A CableCARD slot gives you the option to connect to cable TV without a set-top box, giving you access to analog, digital cable, HDTV, and premium cable channels like HBO and Cinemax (if supported by your cable company).

Sony's exclusive S-Master 1-bit digital amplifier produces 15 watts per channel (x 2), ensuring high power for superb, clear dialog.

HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) - a lossless, uncompressed, all-digital audio/video interface to link the set with any audio/video source (such as a set-top box, DVD player, or AV receiver). HDMI supports standard-definition (SD), enhanced definition (ED), or high-definition (HD) video, plus multi-channel digital audio - all using a single cable. It transmits all ATSC HDTV standards and supports up to 8-channel digital audio, with bandwidth to spare to accommodate future enhancements and requirements.

Note that HDMI Interface is not available on the Sony KDF-70XBR950; this is a slightly older Sony LCD projection TV model that was released in late 2003; in comparison, the other models were released in late 2004.

A few minor differences

We have stated that these Sony rear projection TV sets share very similar specifications - with the real major difference being a different screen size. This doesn't mean that there aren't any differences in the supported features and enhancements between the various series. For example, the XS955 Series of Grand WEGA Sony LCD projection TVs offers additional features over other products in the 'KDF' range of Sony LCD projection TV sets, including advanced menu functions that are typically found only in service menus:

Gamma correction (bright and dark balancing),

Black correction (enhances contrast),

White balance (fine-tunes white intensity),

Detail enhancement (sharpens the picture), clear white (emphasizes whites), and

Live Color with an assortment of enhancement option levels - this is an innovative circuit that emphasizes blues and greens without affecting reds for a more natural, vivid picture.

Product Dimensions and Weight

The table below lists the respective product dimensions and weight for each of the Sony LCD projection TV sets referred to in this review article:

  Model

Width

(Inches)

Height

(Inches)

Depth

(Inches)

Weight

(Pounds)

  KDF-42WE655   42" 16:9 LCD Sony RPTV 47.24" 32.24" 15.03" 64.4
  KDF-50WE655   50" 16:9 LCD Sony RPTV 54.2" 36.5" 17.3" 81.6
  KDF-55WF655   55" 16:9 LCD Sony RPTV 57.33" 37.125" 19.33" 101.44
  KDF-60XS955    60" 16:9 LCD Sony RPTV 66.375" 39.625" 20.25" 113.5
  KDF-70XBR950 70" 16:9 LCD Sony RPTV 71.7" 45" 25.5" 203.9
What's in the Box

All Sony LCD projection TV sets come with a remote control, remote batteries, a user's manual, product registration information, and a limited manufacture's warranty.

Concluding Remarks

Pros: Affordable sets from the leader in the field. These Sony LCD projection TV sets represent a huge leap forward in the performance of LCD rear-projection televisions - in particular when it comes to the black-level performance. Still not exactly in line with the bulkier CRT-based RPTV's, yet these Grand WEGA line of DLP RPTV products compete well with their DLP counterparts. In addition, the use of three different LCD panels  - one for each color component - in place of the typical color wheel used in some other rear projection TVs ensures that viewers will not suffer from any rainbow effect.

Cons: These Sony LCD projection TV sets do not come with lamp brightness adjustment - a feature available on the Toshiba range of DLP rear projection TV sets. This may render a too bright a picture for viewing in a darkened room - in particular with the smaller screen size sets. Fan noise may be noticeable especially during passages of low volume sound. Our final complaint concerns channel labeling - no matter how much time it takes to label all your favorite channels, at the instant you perform a scan to update the channel programming on your Sony LCD projection TV,  all your labeling work goes down the drain as the scan process seems to erase all channel labels!



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