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KDL40W3000 Design & Operation
The Sony KDL40W3000 arrived in a box that was thinner than what I usually see, because the tabletop stand was packaged flush alongside the panel inside the box rather than pre- installed. Assembly is straightforward – lift the panel onto the stand, secure with supplied screws, and you're good to go.
Always seeking to be one step ahead of the crowd, Sony has adorned the KDL40W3000 with a brushed bezel finished in dark metallic grey, instead of the ubiquitous glossy black. The bottom border of the bezel is finely perforated, acting as a grille subtly protecting the two speakers behind. Above this, another matte strip (that gives an undesirable illusion of "eating into" precious screen real estate) displays the Sony logo at the centre.
The rectangular pedestal stand is coated in silver, a colour that matches the trimming along the bottom of the panel. Just like the KDL32D3000 I reviewed four months ago, the control buttons (the functions of which are rendered superfluous by a working remote) on the Sony KDL40W3000 are arranged in the shape of an arc at the top of the television:
An inspection around the back of the television demonstrates the high build quality of Sony KDL40W3000 – its chassis is well-screwed together without any hint of creaks nor cheap plastics. While as a package the Sony KDL40W3000 shows sparks of minimalistic charm, aesthetically there are more appealing televisions out on the market.
Rear: 2 x HDMI, VGA, 2 x component, 2 x Scarts, analogue & digital audio out
Side: Headphone, S-video, comp & HDMI
PCMCIA card slot & service port
There is an absolutely mind-blowing array of options embedded within the menus and sub-menus on the Sony KDL40W3000. Fortunately navigation is extremely responsive (as can be expected from a Sony television), making the calibration process much less painful.
The manual does not describe the function of some of these options in clear terms... by engaging the wrong option(s) the uninformed run the risk of ruining rather than improving their picture. When in doubt leave the option(s) off, but here I'll explain what some of the more enigmatic ones do. Please note that the values shown below are mostly the default settings and not my calibrated settings.
- DRC Mode: Stands for Digital Reality Creation. Available only in 480i/576i, there are 2 preset modes and a configurable palette. From my tests, engaging DRC produces a slight improvement in video deinterlacing and sharpens the picture somewhat, but screws up film deinterlacing.
Advanced Settings In Picture Submenu
- Black Corrector: Low-end gamma modifier which squashes shadow detail.
- Adv. Contrast Enhancer: Luminance-dependent low-end gamma modifier. Engaging this results in less loss of shadow detail than the [Black Corrector], but the image may look artificial due to distorted gamma tracking.
- Clear White: Increases apparent whiteness by pushing the colour temperature up. Can be used as an alternate measure to increase B-gain.
- Colour Space: "Standard" gives natural and accurate colours; "Wide" generates vibrant but inaccurate colours.
- Live Colour: Only effective when [Colour Space] is set to "Wide"; colours become even more vivid (and inaccurate).
- White Balance: Allows you to calibrate the greyscale from the user menu, which is a massive improvement considering that I had to venture into the service menu to do this for the W2000 and D3000 series.
- Detail Enhancer & Edge Enhancer: Each sharpens the picture with its own edge enhancement algorithm. The effects are obvious in test patterns but more subtle in real-life material.
Video Settings Submenu
- [Screen] > [Display Area]: "Full Pixel" is required for 1:1 mapping with 1080 source.
- [Video] > [Film Mode]: Cadence detection for film deinterlacing.
- [Video] > [Game/Text Mode]: Meant to improve fine text definition and reduce input lag, I did not manage to detect any difference compared to my calibrated settings.
- [Video] > [x.v.Colour]: Provides xvyCC colour space for x.v.Colour material (which is still very rare). No effect on non-x.v.Colour material.
- [Video] > [Colour Matrix]: In "Auto" mode, the relevant colour matrix is supplied for standard-def ("ITU601") and high-def ("ITU709") material based on the signal resolution.
- [Set-up] > [Power Saving]: Another way to control backlight.
- [Set-up] > [Light Sensor]: Automatic backlight compensation depending on screen content and ambient lighting.
Sony has replaced the blurry EPG on the W2000 with one that fully utilises the HD panel on the KDL40W3000 to generate pin-sharp crisp text which – together with the pleasing colour scheme – looks decidedly slick. Functionally it's more than adequate, though Sony should seriously consider displaying the programme info/ summary on the main screen (currently you need to press the [i+] button on the remote to learn more about any programme). A live/ preview daughter window probably wouldn't go amiss either.
Also, I wish Sony would move the Digital TV information banner from the top of the screen to the bottom: when channel surfing nothing is more annoying than not being able to see the faces (which usually occupy the top half of the screen), the recognition of which helps immensely in making out the programme being shown. Ah well, at least you can switch [Digital Set-up] > [Banner Mode] from "Full" to "Basic" to curtail the intrusion.
The infrared remote control for Sony KDL40W3000 has a long body, yet is still light enough to be handled comfortably in your hand. Placement of the keys is ergonomically excellent: the central joypad is positioned where your thumb would naturally rest, with an adjacent outer ring of buttons providing immediate access to some of the more important functions such as [Menu], [EPG] and [Input Source]. Individual buttons are well-sized and responsive.
Since the advent of HDTVTest, amazingly this is the first bundled remote I've encountered that features backlighting behind almost every button, though to activate this you will need to fumble around in the dark to press the [Light] button at the top of the remote. Not one to stick to convention, Sony has opted for a blue backlight over the more traditional yellow, adding some funkiness to the remote.
Up to three additional devices can be controlled by the remote. There is a sliding cover at the bottom which shelters some extra buttons for operation of a DVD player/ recorder.
On my review set, there was an electronic buzz emanating from the back of KDL40W3000 that persisted (albeit softer) during standby. However, I couldn't hear it sitting 6 feet away from the front of the television, so for most users this shouldn't pose a problem.
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