Price Paid: $1800.00
Purchase at: Video and Audio City
When you’re getting a strong signal from a good station, this is probably the best direct view picture you’re going to find for the money–and believe me, I’ve looked around. Aesthetically, even though I prefer the graphite black that dominated high-end television design of the 80 and 90’s, I can’t argue with the platinum look. There’s something very forward looking about it. Then there’s the way the Wega’s perfectly flat screen is framed–it feels like you’re looking through a window. The sound is also fairly good, although I don’t expect much sonically from a television (that’s what home theater set-ups are for, right?). Finally, this set has more inputs than most, including two component video inputs. This really comes in handy. I still can’t figure out what the manufacturer’s of a high-end set like the SAMPO 34WHD5 were thinking only including one set of component video inputs! Bravo to the people at Sony for realizing that someone paying this much for a TV may want to look at more than a progressive scan DVD all day.
I desperately wanted this set to be flawless, since it costs as much as a used Hyundai and I bought one. But alas, it has its problems. First of all, all those reviews about this TV being fabulous when it’s getting a good signal but worse than most when it’s getting a bad one are true. When fed a weak signal, this set looks downright crummy, and certainly worse than my decade old Panasonic SuperFlat GAOO 27″ (which is still going strong for all those concerned). Secondly, the HDTV performance of the 32XBR450 is only marginal, especially when compared to its higher end sibling, the KD-34XBR2, which is startling vivid and sharp when fed an HDTV signal. Don’t get me wrong, this TV looks great when I tune into DISH Network’s 24 hour HDTV feed. But HBO and Showtime’s HD movies look only slightly better than DVD–a difference that would likely go unnoticed by most viewers. Finally, although Sony is to be applauded for having 6+ inputs, the fact that these inputs lack individual memory settings is lamentable.
Overall, a great set. I’m still tossing and turning at night about the Panasonic CT-34WX50, but it was about $800 more and it lacks that nifty 3:2 inverse telecine feature with its line doubler Sony dubs Cinemotion. Sorry I can’t talk to you guys about convergence and geometry, but I can tell you as a highly discerning consumer that the picture on this Sony will blow your hair back and should set the standard in direct-view TVs for at least the next 2 years.