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Sony KDL32D3000 Picture Quality

by Vincent Teoh
10 June 2007

Standard Definition

In the midst of the marketing-fuelled 1080p frenzy, it is easy to forget that most of the content viewed by the majority of people is still encoded and broadcasted in standard definition. Some who were too eager to jump on the HDTV bandwagon were simply unprepared for the harsh reality of insufficient internal video processing as manufacturers seek to keep costs down to remain competitive. Compression and video processing artifacts that are normally concealed by smaller screens are blown up on larger panels without proportionate increase in scaling/ deinterlacing/ noise reduction power, leaving viewers severely disappointed ("My 10-year-old CRT is ten times better than this piece of junk!").

With a screen size of 32 inches and a native resolution of 1366 x 768, Sony KDL32D3000Buy this for £588.99 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £31.00 discount
is the perfect antidote to this madness. Throw in some solid deinterlacing and noise reduction, and you'll find that standard definition is right up KDL32D3000's alley.

Freeview Digital TV

Moving forward to a viewing distance of 6-7 feet appropriate for a screen of this size, I found myself impressed by the performance of Sony KDL32D3000Buy this for £588.99 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £31.00 discount
across a broad range of digital channels. The broadcast quality of US dramas on Channel 5 has consistently been one cut above the rest, and "House M.D." – starring Hugh Laurie as a misanthropic diagnostician genius – is no exception.

House House Doctors

I sat through one whole episode without complaining even once of any artifacts, which is rare for me. The Sony KDL32D3000Buy this for £588.99 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £31.00 discount
effortlessly drew upon its flat greyscale and gamma tracking to impart harmony on the picture without crushing any highlight or shadow detail. Blacks were just a shade greyer than that on the much-revered Samsung LE40M86BD, but still sufficiently deep to match that on the Sharp LC32RD2E within its own size division. This contributed to an encompassing contrast ratio of above 900:1, and lent extra zing to House's character as he juggled inquisitive brilliance with miserable cynicism.

Because this medical drama television series is (presumably) shot in 24fps, I experimented with various permutations of the [Motion Enhancer] and [Film Mode] options to see which gave the best result. One combo was particularly successful at reducing sample-and-hold effect without sacrificing cinematic feel... only the most sharp-eyed observers would notice the hint of "pseudo-fast-forwarded" motion as the doctors glided elegantly through the hospital corridors.

Bottom line is that Sony thoughtfully chopped up these video processing technologies into stepwise servings, putting the control firmly back into the hands of users. By mixing and matching these individual options, you're bound to stumble upon a settings combination that you're most comfortable with. This is in stark contrast to Samsung's broad-brush approach in the implementation of "Movie Plus" (where frame interpolation is unavoidable should you choose to engage 2:3 pulldown), or Panasonic's enforcement of 100Hz motion (you can't switch it off).

Football

Wishing to ascertain the benefits of [Motion Enhancer] on fast-action sports, I tuned in to watch the highlights of England's Euro 2008 qualifier match against Estonia on "Match Of The Day". David Beckham (soon to be knighted?) proved once again how important he is to England's setup, supplying 2 glorious crosses to seal a comfortable 3-0 victory. That's 3 assists in 2 games now... more than all his pretenders ever mustered during his 11-month absence from the international team.

Equally inspiring was the motion handling on Sony KDL32D3000Buy this for £588.99 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £31.00 discount
. With [Motion Enhancer] enabled, the ball, the players and the crowd largely retained their shape and detail, rather than degraded into trails of ghosting or smudges of blurriness. Bumping [Motion Enhancer] to "High" would infuse even more fluidity into the action, but then frames would start to disintegrate which caused occasional blurring. In the end I settled on "Standard", which was so easy on the eyes that I actually preferred the KLD32D3000 LCD to the Samsung 50Q97 plasma just beside it. Not really a fair comparison, mind you, because the PS50Q97HDX plasma was not only much larger (making ghosting/ blurring – if present – more visible), but also suffered from intermittent processing-induced motion tearing.

P.S. Here's a video of the [Motion Enhancer] in action.

High Definition

I won't lie to you: the Sony KDL32D3000Buy this for £588.99 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £31.00 discount
is not the most suitable HDTV for an involving high definition movie experience. I'm not saying this because the picture is bad (in fact it looked bloody marvellous), but because all the selling points of HD – heightened detail perception and wider viewing angle afforded by increased resolution – are lost on a smaller screen. If you find yourself watching a lot of high definition material, you ought to seriously consider a panel larger than 40 inches to derive maximum benefit.

That said, let's see how our Sony KDL32D3000Buy this for £588.99 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £31.00 discount
coped with HD DVD...

HD DVD

Formidable filmmaker Oliver Stone's decision to take on the "World Trade Center" project to recount events surrounding the 9/11 attacks raised more than a few eyebrows – was he going to slip in some political undertone like he did with "JFK" and "Born On The Fourth Of July"? In the end we need not have worried... "World Trade Center" is the most un-Oliver- Stone-like film by Oliver Stone: no ideologies, no conspiracy theories, just a very heart-wrenching portrayal of two policemen trapped among the ruins, and the harrowing anguish their families went through in praying for their safe return against all odds.

Nicholas Cage thumbnailNicholas Cage In WTC Hug In WTC

The transfer of the movie onto HD DVD is of reference-level quality especially when it comes to image depth and colour vibrance. The bright daylight scenes preceding the surreal tower collapse sequence were done full justice by the Sony KDL32D3000Buy this for £588.99 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £31.00 discount
, due in no small part to its accommodating dynamic range and consistent greyscale profile. Colours were suitably vivid... probably teetering on the brink of oversaturation but because no push is present, I'm sure most viewers would embrace it with open arms.

Those of you who have watched this movie will know that a substantial portion – when both policemen were trapped under the collapsed building – was filmed in near-total darkness, providing the sternest examination of any TV set's shadow detail. The Sony KDL32D3000Buy this for £588.99 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £31.00 discount
passed with flying colours: its smooth gamma tracking squeezing every last drop of glimmer from the policemen's cracked lips muttering and weary eyelids battering against speckles of debris as they resisted slipping slowly into death.

Marine Rubble thumbnailRubbles Of WTC

Sony KDL32D3000Buy this for £588.99 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £31.00 discount
's colour bit depth and noise reduction prowess was demonstrated amply too: smoke swirling around the rubble was rendered cleanly without the slightest trace of dithering or banding, reinforcing the lingering sense of chaos and dread.


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