36XBR450: Non-videophile review!

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Price Paid: $2195

Purchase at: Circuit City

Strengths
Great picture, user friendly menu and remote, lots of inputs.

Weakness
Heavy (as you probably know), the Sony stand for this TV stinks IMHO (shows cables, modernistic look may not fit your home, and there’s little room for other components), Geometry needs adjusting, sound system so-so.

Comments/Review
I have had this TV for 2 weeks now and I love it. I’m not a fanatic videophile or movie freak who stayes glued to the TV pondering every tiny fault. This is just the opinion of an average guy (OK, I am an EE) who buys a new primary-TV every ten years, but tries to buy the best when he does. I also bought this TV because I want something that’s digital and ready for the future. I don’t use it to it’s fullest yet, but I’m prepared! Since I watch more regular TV than 16:9 aspect ratio sources, I chose this 4:3 set. Besides, in 16:9 mode the picture on this set is only slightly smaller than on a 32 inch 16:9 TV.

Great picture overall, but some slight imperfections need to be fixed concerning screen geometry (still waiting for service): pincushioning and tilt in the picture that can be noticed when watching programs with horizontal banners (like the stock ticker). I have digital cable and notice the same thing that others have pointed out: some channels are great, others OK. Like with the cable box, other sources will have their weaknesses revealed by this TV: I have a ReplayTV digital video recorder (TIVO-like PVR box) and this TV almost requires that I now record in High Quality mode, which gobbles up the storage space on the ReplayTV(medium quality mode was fine on my old 35 inch Toshiba). Overall I’m very satisfied. No DVD yet, I’m buying the new progressive scan Sony player next week. I also like the remote with it’s joystick and uncluttered design due to the flip up panel that conceals the aux equip buttons. On screen menus are very easy to use.

One beef I have is with the labeling. First off, you can only label 20 cable channels. I would think that menory is cheap enough now that this limitation wouldn’t apply: even my 10 year old Toshiba was more generous than that! I wish you could customize the names of the video input labels instead of having to use those that are provided. Also, while you can customize the video memory settings, you are stuck with the names (vivid, standard, movie, pro).

One problem was the stand that Sony provides for this TV. My wife hated it because of its looks (very modern with ski-like feet) and I didn’t like it because there was no way it would conceal the rats nest of cables going to all the inputs. There’s also only one open-air shelf: not very functional. Finding a stand that would hold this TV’s weight and matched the silver color was a real pain. Also, most stands that fit a standard 36 inch set won’t hold this oversized monster. I finally had to settle for a discontinued Bush stand after MUCH searching (only rated for 200 lbs but I beefed it up with some steel L-brackets on the inside). The TV overhangs by about an inch on each side though. The stand was a trade off, but it was the best I could find (any other recomendations?) Sony should offer an alternative stand for this set that is more functional and doesn’t just look good in a commercial!

One warning: this set will SPOIL you. After you get used to it most others will have a noticably inferior picture. View at your own risk!

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