KDL-55HX800 425

(June 11, 2010) Sony’s first production model “Full HD” 3D TVs arrived at Sony Style stores late this week. The HD Guru paid an extended visit to his local outlet to make an initial evaluation of its KDL-55HX800 55″ 3D ready TV, the only 3D TV model being demonstrated.

The Sony Style 3D demo loop includes trailers from Alice In Wonderland, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, clips from pre-World Cup Soccer, images of polar bears and pandas, and a number Playstation 3D videogame clips.

The HX800 features a dynamic edge lit LED LCD panel, Full HD 1080p resolution, Motionflow Pro 240Hz technology and is Wi-Fi adapter ready.The HX800 incorporates Sony’s striking deep black design. Powered on, the 55″ 3D TV provided sufficient brightness, despite being wall mounted up high and directly under a very bright store fluorescent light fixture. Unlike all the other flat panel 3D HDTVs on the market today, Sony does not build in the infra-red emitter into this TV, it was mounted below the screen bezel, disturbing the ultra modern look of the panel (the emitter is a required $49 accessory). Only Sony’s upcoming 3D LX series has the emitter built-in.

The Sony 3D glasses fit comfortably over my eyeglasses, but were full of fingerprints and who knows what other dirt and grime on the frame. Yuck! I cleaned off the lenses and used a hand sanitizer on the frame. Note to Sony Style and other retail stores, how about some lens cleaner and anti-bacterial wipes to clean the 3D glasses between demos?

An examination of the Sony active shutter glasses lenses revealed a mild amber tint, which slightly diminishes the amount of blue passing through them. Upon initial observation of the 3D demo loop, the colors appeared natural with the glasses level, an indication this Sony TV electronically color compensates for the amber tint when fed a 3D signal.

Except for the Alice trailer (a movie that was not recorded in 3D but was converted in post production), I am not familiar with the demo content having previously only seen it at Sony press and trade events during the past 10 months. Given that caveat, there was a limited amount of in-front of the screen scenes (called negative z-axis), making the 3D effect appear constrained to just a few inches out of the screen. This may be inherent with Sony’s demo material. We will have to wait for a test using our own 3D demo discs to learn if the Sonys’ are capable of a greater depth.

While previous prototype and pre-production Sony’s 3D TVs suffered from flickering, the production model appeared flicker-free. Unfortunately, there are new issues that challenged its 3D performance.

Viewing the HX800 with the Sony 3D glasses in place, we observed 3D without cross-talk (ghost images caused by leakage of the left eye image to the right eye and vice versa). However,  when slightly tilting my head, just a few degrees, the 3D image disappeared replaced by double-vision, the same image one would see if the glasses stop working (they didn’t) or removed while the TV is displaying 3D content. In addition, a slight rightward head tilt caused a significant red color shift! Tilt to the left and the colors shift to blue.

Imagine leaning slightly to reach the remote control and completely losing the 3D effect, then have it pop back when your head returns to the vertical position.  This effect does not occur with the other brands of Full HD 3D TV currently available, Samsung and Panasonic.

As soon as we can get our hands on a review sample, we’ll drill down on Sony’s 3D performance issues and provide precise measurements. In the meantime, we recommend potential buyers hold off purchasing a Sony 3D TV based on our initial observation.

The Sony Style store is currently taking orders on the HX800 models (40″, 46″ and 55″ sizes) for shipping on June 15th. Local independent Sony dealers surveyed yesterday said these models were originally scheduled to arrive this week but delivery has been pushed back to June 17th.

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