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Sony KDL40W5500 Calibration

by Vincent Teoh
23 March 2009


Out of the box, engaging the [Cinema] / [Theatre] mode – with its default [Colour Temperature] setting of "Warm 2" – provided us with the greyscale closest to D65 industry standard on the Sony KDL40W5500:

Pre-calibration CCT
Pre-calibration CCT with [Cinema] mode & "Warm 2" [Colour Temperature]
Pre-calibration RGB Tracking
Pre-calibration RGB tracking & delta errors

Pre-calibration greyscale was still marginally plus-red. Fortunately, the [White Balance] controls in the user menu allowed us to rectify this without needing to break into the service menu:

CCT after greyscale calibration
CCT after greyscale calibration in [Cinema] mode
RGB tracking after calibration
RGB tracking and delta errors (dEs) after greyscale calibration

The result was beautiful... delta errors were curbed below 2 (anything less than 4 is good enough) from 30% stimulus onwards, which will no doubt yield neutral greys upon which the Sony KDL40W5500 LCD television can display images without any overt red or blue cast.


Post-calibration CIE chart
Post-calibration CIE chart with reference to HD Rec. 709

Perhaps as a consequence of Sony's decision to downgrade the backlight unit on the KDL40W5500 from WCG-CCFL to CCFL, primary chromaticities seemed to have taken a hit compared to those on the W4000 and W4500 series. In particular, green primary colour point was deviated towards blue, and red primary was undersaturated though this was partially offset by the presence of red push. Activating [Live Colour] only served to increase the colour intensities/brightness globally, which would inevitably aggravate the red push so we left this setting off for critical viewing.

Benchmark Test Results

Dead pixels None
Screen uniformity Clouding and backlight bleed reducible to negligible levels
Overscanning on HDMI 0% with [Display Area] set to “Full Pixel
Blacker than black Passed
Black level Excellent (0.05 cd/m2 calibrated)
Black level retention Stable in [Cinema] / [Theatre] mode
Primary chromaticities Green primary tilted towards blue
Scaling Very good
Video mode deinterlacing Average; limited jaggies reduction
Film mode deinterlacing Passed 3:2 cadence in 480i; and 2:2 in 576i
Viewing angle 100°
Motion resolution [Motionflow] "Standard" and "High": 650; "Off": 300
Digital noise reduction Acceptable at baseline
Sharpness Defeatable edge enhancement
1080p/24 capability (PS3) Accepts 1080p/24 video signal; no telecine judder
Input lag 17-33ms in [Game Mode]; 40ms over VGA; 50ms otherwise

Power Consumption

Default "Standard" [Picture Mode] 149 watts
Calibrated [Cinema]/[Theatre] mode 106 watts
Standby 15 watts with [Quick Start] engaged; <1 watt otherwise

Black Level

Calibrated black level on the Sony KDL40W5500 HDTV was 0.05 cd/m2. Although numerically this was a hair lower than that on the Samsung B650, we were hard-pressed to tell the difference in a side-by-side comparison. If anything, the slightly wider viewing angles on the Sony KDL40W5500 meant that the blacks at the sides washed out less than those on the Samsung, contributing to marginally more immersive blacks.

Auto-dimming has made a comeback on the Sony KDL40W5500 (at least on our review unit even with [Adv. Contrast Enhancer] set to "Off" in [Cinema] mode), although fortunately it is only triggered under one rather innocuous condition. When no video signal is detected AND there is no content on screen, for example just before a Blu-ray disc is loaded on the PS3, auto-dimming will kick in on the Sony KDL40W5500 Bravia LCD, dimming its backlight down to an awesome 0.02 cd/m2. Truth be told, this black level fluctuation is probably only noticeable in a really dark viewing environment.

The good news is, switching to a blank input did not bring about this auto-dimming, since an information bar of that particular input would still be displayed at the top of the screen at all times. More importantly, black level remained stable even when we sent a video black/ 0% stimulus test pattern to the Sony KDL40W5500, which means that you can enjoy your movies without being interrupted by auto-dimming during fade-to-black or cut-to-black scenes.

Screen/ Backlight Uniformity

With its default settings out of the box, our Sony KDL40W5500 review unit exhibited about the same amount of clouding/ mura and backlight bleed as that on the W4500 series. Calibrated settings attenuated these uniformity issues to negligible levels: after calibration, only the slightest trace of backlight bleed was visible at the top corners of the LCD screen in a dimly lit viewing environment, mostly when the displayed content was black or near-black.

Standard Definition Video Processing

If the KDL40W5500's performance in our benchmark tests is anything to go by, Sony has finally upped their game in terms of standard-definition video processing with the advent of Bravia Engine 3 (BE3).

For starters, upscaling/ upconversion quality on the Sony KDL40W5500 LCD was somewhat better than the recently launched Samsung B650, which is a massive improvement considering that previous Sony Bravia LCD TVs have always lagged behind similarly-specced Samsungs in SD upscaling according to our test material. This time the tables have turned: SD detailing actually appeared slightly sharper and "to-the-fore" on the Sony KDL40W5500 LCD when compared to the Samsung B650 side-by-side – all without incurring excessive ringing.

With [Film Mode] engaged, the Sony KDL40W5500 LCD television also passed both the 3:2 (over 480i) and 2:2 (over 576i) cadence tests found in the HQV Benchmark Test DVDs (the BE2-equipped W4500 failed). The KDL40W5500 even managed to remove the moiré from the red Coca Cola sign saying "Go Bridget Go" in the PAL DVD of Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason... something which the Samsung B650 failed to do.

Video mode deinterlacing is the one area where the Samsung B650 trounced the Sony KDL40W5500. The Sony LCD television did smoothen the jagged edges in the rotating wheel, bouncing bars and waving flag test patterns somewhat, but it was nowhere near as effective as the Samsung.

4.5 Star Rating: Highly Recommended

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