Sony KDL-52XBR4 LCD TV Real-World Performance
As usual, I wanted to see how the Sony did on the pan across the staircase that starts chapter 8 of Mission: Impossible III. The stairs pulsed with moiré at all settings of the CineMotion control, though the pan and other motion was slightly smoother with Motion Enhancer engaged. The shadow detail in the catacombs in that chapter was quite good.
Another scene that reveals problems with 120Hz frame interpolation can be found at the beginning of Star Wars VI on DVD. As Darth Vader's shuttle approaches the landing dock on the Death Star, closely spaced vertical lines on the wall of the dock can shimmer with artifacts, as I saw on the Samsung LN-T4671F. The Sony showed no such artifacts at either setting of the Motion Enhancer control.
The "Mountains" episode of Planet Earth on Blu-ray looked fantastic on the Sony. Chapter 3 starts with a panning shot across the jagged Alps, and the fine detail in the rocks can be difficult to render cleanly, but the 52XBR4 did a fine job with it. Overall, the image was smooth and crystal-clear.
Subtle variations of whites in scenes of snow and ice were well-differentiated, and colors were vibrant yet natural, from green forests to delicate pink cherry blossoms and riotous rhododendrons. Shots from space were stunning in their detail, and the black of space was deep and rich, even with the elevated black level, because more than half the image was filled with the bright planet below.
The black of space didn't fare as well at the beginning of Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer on Blu-ray, which includes some shots with no bright objects to speak of. These shots don't last long enough to allow the black level to drop as I observed during my measurements, so it became more obvious, resulting in a somewhat washed-out appearance. Otherwise, the movie looked amazing, with super-sharp detail in the city skylines and inside Reed's lab. Colors were similarly beautiful, including human skin tones and the surfer's silvery surface.
The elevated black level was also evident at the beginning of Master & Commander on DVD; the dark night shots and black transitions are punctuated by bright white text, so the black level remained high. On the other hand, shadow detail in the watchman's below-deck walk was quite good. Colors were natural, but I thought the detail was ever-so-slightly soft.
Looking at some TV as delivered by Dish Network, high-def was gorgeous. Law & Order on TNT HD looked sharp with excellent color rendition, but I saw just a bit of jerky motion that disappeared when I turned CineMotion off. Local news in HD also looked great, but the standard-def feed was even softer than I've seen on other TVs.
On real-world content, the off-axis performance was pretty good overall. Moving away from the center axis beyond about 30 degrees or so did raise the apparent black level, but this was much more evident on test patterns. The lower off-axis contrast was visible on movies and TV shows, but much less so than many LCDs can manage.
The 52XBR4's audio quality was about average for TV sound. It was somewhat closed in, but not nearly as much as many other TVs I've heard.