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Sony KDL40W5500 Picture Quality

by Vincent Teoh
23 March 2009

High Definition (Blu-Ray)

The war action satirical comedy Tropic Thunder – beautifully transferred onto Blu-ray – looked nothing short of spectacular on the Sony KDL40W5500 HDTV. The combined effect of inky blacks (among the deepest we've seen on a non-LED-backlit LCD TV), sumptuous fine detail presentation (with [Display Area] set to "Full Pixel" for 1:1 pixel mapping), and 2.2 gamma (made possible by tweaking the [Gamma] control in the user menu) on the Sony Bravia KDL40W5500 lavished the film with an eye-popping sense of depth and dimensionality that is impossible to recreate on lesser displays.

Ben Stiller in Tropic Thunder

Sun-lit scenes were given first-rate treatment on the KDL40W5500, thanks to Sony's excellent decision to reinstate white balance controls in the user menu, which allowed us to bring greyscale into line with D65 standard. The presence of red push however made skin tones appear too ruddy, so we had to tone down the [Colour] control to keep this in check. While this entailed a small sacrifice in colour saturation, overall colours still appeared lush enough to impress due in no small part to the panel's deep blacks.

Kid holding a bazooka

The greens of the jungle foliage looked natural if a tad bluish, but it's very unlikely that any user would notice this ever-so-slight green hue inaccuracy on the Sony KDL40W5500 unless it's placed right next to a display with reference colours.

Nick Nolte in Tropic Thunder

Like recent Sony Bravia LCD televisions, the KDL40W5500 handled 1080p/24 video signal from the PS3 without a hitch... no sign of telecine judder was witnessed in the numerous panning shots employed inside the movie.

Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder

Sony's Motionflow 100Hz technology has always impressed us as one of the cleanest and least offensive motion-compensated frame interpolation (MCFI) implementations you can find on an LCD TV. True to form, setting [Motionflow] to "Standard" on the Sony KDL40W5500 HDTV did not actually introduce too much of the video-like effect to Tropic Thunder except during motion-intensive sequences such as the gunfight at the start of Chapter 21. That said, since we are purists who cherish the 24p "filmic" look of movies, we preferred not to engage [Motionflow] when watching film-based material.

Standard Definition (Freeview Digital TV)

While so much of what you see on Freeview channels is dependant upon the transmission bandwidth and compression rate, film-based content like movies and American dramas can look quite splendid on the Sony KDL40W5500 LCD television thanks to its prowess in standard-def upscaling and 2:2 pulldown, not to mention its inky blacks and well-saturated colours.

Match Of The Day football

SD video-based material is a slightly different story. Because of mediocre video mode deinterlacing, jaggies remained visible in video-based content such as football programmes – whenever the camera moved, the line markings on the football pitch appeared more serrated on the Sony KDL40W5500 compared to to those on the Samsung B650.

For fast-action sports, engaging [Motionflow] on the Sony KDL40W5500 LCD definitely improved the clarity of objects in motion, and – if the bit-rate is decent – did not introduce any significant interpolation artefact even on the "High" setting.

Console Gaming

We measured the input lag on the Sony KDL40W5500 LCD television to be 50ms slower than our resident Samsung F96 reference. By activating [Game Mode] through the [Scene Select] submenu, input lag can be brought down to 17-33ms vs. the Samsung F96. Which, of course, is still worse than that on the outgoing W4500 series. Whether or not this amount of input lag will affect your gaming performance depends on your individual sensitivity, and the reflexes demanded by the particular game.

Sound Quality

The sound emanating from the Sony KDL40W5500's in-built speakers didn't quite reach the sonical heights of the W4000 series, but was still better than many other flat panel HDTVs (including the Samsung B650) in terms of stereo imaging, transient response and high-frequency dispersion. Have no illusions though... a basic set of home theatre speakers will still wipe the floor with it.

Our Sony KDL40W5500 review unit did not emit any significant background noise either in standby or during operation.

4.5 Star Rating: Highly Recommended

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