Sony Bravia HX903 3D TV Review (KDL-46HX903 and KDL-52HX903)
Sony has managed to be a leader in pushing the 3D technology in both the theatres and home tellys. Well, this might be simply because Sony has had a gigantic investment in both, in form of a major TV studio and a consumer electronics manufacturer. Hence, if everyone moves on to 3D Technology, Sony also stands to scrape it in. However, Sony was still not the first manufacturer to put a 3D TV into the market. There were models from Panasonic and Samsung before the 46-inch and 52-inch, 1080p Bravia HX903 3D TV were put on the shelves. But, being the first, always does not mean that it is the best. So, let us be optimistic and see what the LED Backlit HX903 has to offer.
Sony has really upped the ante with its 2010 Bravia TV range by introducing a new radical opulent design, what Sony named “Monolithic”. This design has an giant glass panel embellishing its face and it is quite heavy to cause a lot of hernias if you carry the thing. Though this set up makes the TV look extremely stylish and might also prove to be very helpful for increasing the contrast levels, we just cannot comprehend why the company had not chosen a lighter material. Having said that, the HX903 looks absolutely cool even when it is not switched on, and in fact, it looks better while switched off than when on. The combination of this excellent design with an LED TV and a good selection of ports, you have a dream TV in your hands. You will be able to improve the already arresting structure, if you pay out yet another £260 on the brushed aluminium colossal Stand, absolute with a slight back-tilt attribute.
As we just said, the Sony Bravia HX903 3D LCD TV has a wide range of connectivity features. It includes 4 HDMIs, each one of them built to the version 1.4 specification. This set-up allows for complete 3D support out of the Bluray players. And, you have to also note that the Ethernet port gets you access to the Bravia Internet Video platform from Sony and, this port also allows you to get files from DLNA enabled systems, and offers the compulsory interactive sustain for a built-in Freeview HD tuner. If all of these wired connectivity feels a bit old, then you can go Wi-Fi, through a USB dongle. Unfortunately, this dongle is not included as standard.
We also fell in love with the HX903’s remote control, though it is big. It has got a very pleasing aesthetically appealing curved design. It also sports a genuinely handy set of controls found on it.
There are good and bad points regarding the 52HX903?s operating system. On the plus side, the presentation of the onscreen menus is pretty, with good use of graphics in places, such as the screens where you can pick from your list of inputs or choose a thematic picture preset. Though this looks to be a smart presentation, their twin-axis assembly has other plans for users- getting a little tortuous to be navigated – a situation that doesn’t really help the way the input list defaults each time on being called or the slight lag caused by few menu selections. The onscreen menus of the 52HX903 are aplenty with features and adjustments, few of them useful, few of them not. With the latter comprising edge and detail enhancers making the picture seem forced, in addition to the Eco feature that moderates the picture by default in response to ambient lighting. After all, after spending £3k on a TV, you might prefer to calibrate the picture yourself than rely on an automatic system to do it for you.
The Sony HX903 joins Samsung’s 3D models in offering 2D to 3D conversion system. There are a couple of 3D adjustments that this telly offers, that is if you can find them amidst the bizarrely divided 3D menus. Lastly, the 52HX903 also packs a solid set of tools for tweaking picture. These go on to include different stages of the 400Hz setting, options for noise reduction, Live Colour processing of Sony, option to tweak the potency of the local LED dimming and various white balance settings. Sadly, though, there is no true colour management system, something we would expect to be a given on any TV at anything like the HX903’s level. That said, the HX903’s pictures can look absolutely superb with only a little effort using the tools provided. Also on offer are tools for moderating the 3D effect’s depth and interestingly also for adjusting the 3D glasses’ brightness.
Sony Bravia HX903 is obviously 3D Ready, which is exactly why it has been featured in this site. Yes, it is just 3D Ready but not out of the box. The Sony Bravia 52HX903 is available for £2,500, but the straight out disappointment here is that, surprisingly, this TV will do 3D only if you manage to add an external kit. This kit comprises of a £49 transmitter and £99 for each pair of 3D glasses you might want. 3D transmitter connects to the display and syncs the glasses with the alternating onscreen frames. As a consolation, Sony has announced that it is possible to get a 3D pack with the sync transmitter and 2 pairs of 3D glasses for a subsidised cost. However, spending about 2.5 grand on a TV and spending on glasses for the entire family with transmitter, it a annoying view. That adds up to nearly four grand for a 52in TV. Considering the price of the TV, it is something of a cheek that it does not have the built-in 3D capability. Especially when you consider the fact that Panasonic’s 50” Viera TX-P50VT20B plasma TV costs roughly the same amount, and it includes everything that you will need to drive your 3D car.
Once you have got the 3D add-on kit, setting it up is quite simple. Just plug in the sync transmitter, and the TV will automatically detect that you will now be able to see 3D content. Once you get 3D signal, it automatically switches on to the 3D mode. The glasses also turn-on on their own, when the transmitter is turned on, which means you will be having a HDMI 1.4a hardware, you will do nothing to get the 3D material on TV, except to put on those 3D glasses.
Internet Video Services:
Sony’s feature list flourishes with an excellent set of Internet video services. Almost all of its high end tellys feature the Bravia Internet Video feature. You get a great deal of video streaming with a range of video providers including HowTo.com, YouTube, the Demand Five Channel 5 ‘iPlayer’, DailyMotion, LoveFilm and blip.tv. As far as LoveFilm is concerned, you will be able to sync your online account to your TV and download complete movies. This feature is very lovable and we would say Sony has taken a great deal of effort to make the feature as handy and easy to use as possible.
Yet another remarkable thing about this feature is, how stale the platform of Bravia Internet Video is while using them via a pretty simple 2MB, thanks to the built-in 7 seconds buffer. Unfortunately the quality of the videos are highly variable and also are not in HD too. To be specific, the LoveFilm service looks rather substandard. Now that is not Sony’s fault, and we are just happy that Sony is offering such good selection of services, with lots more promised.
The 3D Glasses:
The 3D glasses of Sony KDL-46HX903 and KDL-52HX903 are quite comfortable. Though they are not as comfortable as Samsung’s glasses, which are our favourite 3D glasses so far, they have comprehensively made past what Panasonic has to offer. They also feel like the sturdiest ones we had seen so far. Samsung’s ones are comfy but not as sturdy.
It is true that one of the major factors in the cost of the HX903 is the LED backlight. Despite these LED backlights being pricey, you get to see a distinct advantage over the cheaper ones, which becomes evident when you don’t see any bright spots on the screen edges. Meaning, the picture is more uniform with no brightness or odd colour issues. Since the local dimming engine employed on the telly working with the direct lighting system takes care of all the separate groups of LEDs that create the pictures individually, hence, in theory, you will be able to have full range of brightness from one end to another.
Sony still stubbornly refuses to put an actual number on the HX903‘s potential contrast performance. But it gave us a giggle to see that while other Sony TVs that do not use direct LED lighting are described as MegaContrast models, the HX903 is a GigaContrast model. As expected from any local dimming direct LED TV, the most spectacular talent of the 52HX903 is its contrast. It has successfully powered down parts of images that has to appear dark allowing the telly to produce pictures that definitely looks like true blacks with literal zero residual grey.
The 3D performance of the Sony KDL-46HX903 and KDL-52HX903 are very admirable too. To begin with, it seems better than Samsung’s UE55C8000, as it does not exhibit any major ghosting. Ghosting comes up when 3D TV does not have an adequately quick response time, for instance, with the result that you can view with your left eye, traces of a frame for the right eye. This model also beats Panasonic’s 3D model, when it comes to brightness. 3D images really need to be bright to work well, and Sony’s set is obviously great in this. However, we still found Panasonic’s 3D images are the easiest to watch, even if the overall effect does not seem quite as powerful as that of Samsung and Sony’s sets. The 3D effects of HX903 are still good though, and it is a very capable 3D TV. A word of advice from us, please watch the 3D movies in the dark, as the reflections on the all glass screen can be a real hassle.
As we had mentioned earlier, the local dimming system enables the telly to produce some startling deep black levels and extremely bright whites, everything in a single frame. This is a thing that a standard LCD TV will never be able to do with success. The best part is, the HX903 manages to deliver these incredible black levels with great deal of screen consistency with hardly any uneven brightness or cloud patches.
Unfortunately, FreeView has been converted into a mess of noise and blockiness as the television companies manages to squeeze a lot more channels into a tiny space that is available. Being a good quality TV, Sony HX903 manages to clean up the image slightly and it does quite a good job at that regard. It is offered with a better source, like a DVD, it will prove to be a much more of a capable TV. The Sony Bravia HX903 does a good job with FreeView material like BBC HD and four HD; good but not exceptional. The bit rates for Freeview HD channels will never be completely satisfactory, hence this is not completely Sony’s fault.
Similar to this, with the Blurays too, we were able to notice a reasonable, but not exceptional, amount of detail in images. The movies looked god, but were nowhere near pin sharp. The HX903 is equipped with Sony’s Motionflow 400 Pro system, which aims at producing the best possible picture and reducing blurring on the moving images.
The HX903 inevitably carries Sony’s Bravia Engine 3 processing system, and as usual BE3 does a very likeable job of upscaling standard definition pictures to the screen’s Full HD resolution. Black levels are something that bothers LCD TV and not the plasmas. On the LCDs, they look quite grey and unpleasant too. They have employed the full LED backlight that had been on the 46HX903, having a lot of control over light and which also has the capability to enhance the contrast on the black or black places. There were no issues as far as the black levels is concered, while watching the TV, but we were able to notice that the LED lighting was noticeable when a still black display comes on.
Unlike a lot of 3D TVs, the Sony Bravia HX903 provides quite a reasonable audio. It is quite clear, and the dialogue was also quite easy recognise. Overall, it is certainly the most wanted transformation from the junk audio that we are used to with the other 3D Ready TVs. The above mentioned aluminium stand brings sound from the downward firing speakers to the spectator. The best we can say about the sound is that it does at least pass muster for the normal, day-to-day fodder that will likely occupy the majority of your viewing time.
Sony Bravia HX903 comes with three years warranty for parts and labour.
Though the Sony Bravia HX903 is quite expensive, it still does not have everything that you might require to commence viewing in 3D. As a result, you will need to find a solid reason to select this TV besides Panasonic’s 3D model, which is 3D ready right from the minute you get the package. It does not even include the built-in WiFi to access Sony’s adorable Bravia Internet Video Service, which can be forgiven in a eight hundred pound TV, but not on a one that costs about two thousand pounds. Kudos to Sony for their grand success in improvising their local dimming direct LED system after being extremely diligent in achieving the same. The 3D effect it offers is excellent, but it still seems to be over priced when compared to Samsung’s UE55C8000 or Panasonic’s Viera TX-P50VT20B. Overall, the Sony Bravia KDL HX903 is quiet good, but not excellent, making it hard for us to recommend the telly considering its current price tag.
Sony Bravia HX903 3D TV – Technical Specification Table
|Model Name||Sony HX903 3D TV|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||126.3 x 80.7 x 40.0 (46” VERSION)|
|Sizes available||46” and 52”|
|Viewing Angle (°)||178|
|Swivel Range||20° left/right|
|Resolution||1920 x 1080 pixels|
|Picture Engine||Bravia Engine 3|
|Dynamic Contrast Ratio||Giga|
|1080 24p Real Movie||Yes|
|Colour system||NTSC 3.58/4.43 (Video In), PAL and Secam|
|Other features||Advanced Contrast Enhancer
MPEG noise reduction
Live Colour Creation
CineMotion/Film Mode/Cinema Drive
Photo TV HD
USB Multimedia player
24p True Cinema
Motionflow Pro 100Hz
USB Photo Viewer
Picture Frame Mode
Power Saving + Picture Off
AFD (Auto Format Detect)
3D Comb filter
Auto Noise Reduction
Digital Comb Filter
10 Bit Panel
Picture In Picture
Picture & Picture
EPG (NexTView/Digital EPG)
Text Page Memory: 1000
|Sound Output (RMS)||10 watts x 2|
|Sound Effect System||S-Force Front Surround|
|Woofer||12W + 12W (Total 24W)|
|Sound status mode||4 modes ( Dynamic/Standard/Clear Voice )|
|Additional features||Steady Sound, Dolby® Digital, Dolby® Digital Plus,
5.1 Channel Audio Out, Speaker Off
|Video Signal||576i, 480p, 576p, 1080i, 720p, 1080p and 24p input|
|Timer||Clock, Sleep Timer and On/Off Timer|
|Interface features||XrossMediaBar™ (XMB™)
Programme Index Table
|Connectivity||1 x Digital Audio Output (optical)
4 x HDMI™ Inputs
1 x Component Inputs
2 x Scart Inputs (RGB
HDMI™ PC Signal Capability
PC Input (15pin D-Sub) + Audio In
1 x Composite Video In
1 x USB 2.0 Input
MiniJack Head/Earphone 3.5 mm
PCMCIA Card Slot
RCA Audio Out
1 x Scart Inputs (RGB)
DLNA Ethernet (Music/Photo)
BRAVIA Internet Video
|Accessories||AC Cable, Operating Instructions, VESA Mounting Holes,
Table-Top Stand, Wall-Mount Bracket,
Colour Variation Bezel / Speaker Grille
|Power Consumption (W)||136|
Friday, January 21st, 2011