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Sony KDL40W4000 Image Quality

by Vincent Teoh
21 May 2008

High Definition (Blu-Ray)

Very few movies can show off the virtues of high definition like Joel Schumacher's 2004 film adaptation of The Phantom Of The Opera on Blu-ray; and very few HDTVs can match the Sony KDL40W4000 when it comes to colour fidelity. From the very moment the crashed chandelier laying in black and white wreckage rose to the tune of the familiar title theme to reignite sweeping flames of colour across the opera house, a sea of silkily rich and deeply vibrant colours simply flowed merrily from the Sony KDL40W4000, portraying among other examples the velvety red of the curtains and the golden hues of the statues in all their majestic glory.

Surprise

Even in the company of strikingly bold and wonderfully lush colours, flesh tones were reproduced with faithful authenticity by the Sony KDL40W4000, which was no mean feat considering the various lighting elements (e.g. the reflected orange-red glow on Christine's face as she approached her father's mausoleum in the cemetery) deployed in the film.

Emmy Rossum

Although calibrated greyscale on the Sony KDL40W4000 was strictly speaking not D65, we felt that this did not detract from the splendid colour performance, but then again this might be due to the lack of truly testing bright daylight scenes in The Phantom Of The Opera. In any case, most people probably can't tell (nor care about) a deviation of 500-1000K from D65 outside of a side-by-side comparison.

Of course, colours generally only shine when supported by high-quality blacks, so it's hardly surprising for us to discover that the Sony KDL40W4000 excelled in this department too. Darker than its predecessor the W3000 series by a couple of hairs, the Sony KDL40W4000 HDTV delivered inky blacks which furnished the movie with remarkable depth and dimensionality. Bearing in mind that we haven't seen the latest Samsung 5 and 6 series, among LCD TVs we've tested to date the black-level performance of the Sony KDL40W4000 is only surpassed by the Samsung F96 (achieved through LED backlighting) and the Sony X3500/ X3000 (by virtue of auto-dimming).

Phantom Of The Opera

Shadow detail was decent: not too dark that we missed out on any nuances in the shadows; nor too bright that the image was robbed of punchiness and realism. As Phantom (Gerard Butler) led Christine (Emmy Rossum) down a spiralling staircase to his underground lair for the first time, one could still appreciate the dampness and texture on the walls, as well as make out the Phantom's cape, jacket, patterned vest and lace jabot.

Minnie Driver

With [Display Area] set to "Full Pixel" to achieve 1:1 pixel mapping, the Sony KDL40W4000 retrieved and presented fine detail faultlessly, ranging from the lustrous chandelier pendants and opulent theatre ornaments to the elaborate costumes and intricate jewelries. 1080p/24 video signal was handled correctly without any sign of telecine judder, judging from the smoothness with which the many swirling and slow-panning camera shots inside the movie were rendered.

Standard Definition (Freeview Digital Television)

Standard-def content looked rather good on the Sony KDL40W4000. On top of excellent blacks and colours, the LCD HDTV did a better than average job of upconverting 576i video signal to fit onto its 1920 x 1080 high definition screen. Sufficient detail and sharpness were preserved without introducing excessive halos (which would have suggested overzealous/ undefeatable edge-enhancement). We could tolerate sitting as near as 6 feet away from the television, as long as the quality of the source was not too poor and the aspect ratios were matched (i.e. [4:3] for 4:3 material, and [Wide] for 16:9).

Miss Match

In spite of the benchmark test results, we did not witness as many deinterlacing artefacts in real-life material (be it video or film-based) on the Sony KDL40W4000, but of course part of the reason could be that live broadcasts do not afford us the luxury of pausing/ rewinding to verify our suspicions. Obviously the farther your viewing distance, the less likely you'll be able to pick up the artefacts on screen.

HD Console Gaming (PS3)

We measured the input lag on the Sony KDL40W4000 to be 30ms better/ faster than our resident Samsung F96 reference, meaning that it's probably on par with a CRT (as good as it gets). Now we know why Sony didn't bother including a [Game Mode] in the user menu... there's simply no need. The gaming response on the latest Sony Bravia KDL40W5500 did not come close to this, probably due to more complicated video processing.

Gran Turismo 5

The deep blacks, lush colours and exquisite detail on the Sony KDL40W4000 turned Gran Turismo 5: Prologue into a dazzling visual feast. There remained some predictable drop in motion resolution during fast action, but it was no worse than other top-tier LCDs not blessed with MCFI (motion-compensated frame interpolation) technology. As long as the LCD panel was properly warmed up, we detected little to no dark area motion smearing in Call Of Duty 4.

Unlike the W3000, there's no [RGB Dynamic Range] setting available on the Sony KDL40W4000, so you should always set [RGB Full Range (HDMI)] on the PS3 to "Limited" to avoid crushing near-black shadow detail.

4.5 Star Rating: Highly Recommended

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