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Sony KDL-40R450A LED TV Review$599.00
You couldn't pick this television out of a low-end lineup.
Before you bust your piggy banks open for the Sony KDL-40R450A (MSRP $599) LED TV, be sure to take a good look at the competition.
These entry-level displays come in 40- and 50-inch sizes and offer nothing in the way of smart features. Though the R450A impressed us greatly with some absolutely gleaming color performance, we were ultimately jilted by blurry, jumpy motion, poor contrast, and a narrow viewing angle. For this price range, shoppers can buy better.
A silver accent livens this dark ensemble.
Unlike most entry-level televisions, the R450A accessorizes with a zippy silver accent along its front. Everything else is business as usual, with skinny bezels up top and a hollowed rectangular stand below.
For a medium-sized display, it's a bit disappointing to see just two HDMI ports, but at least users get a headphone jack, digital optical audio out, one USB port, shared composite/component hookups, and an antenna connection.
Users can control the TV with a small, basic remote, but this is no fun in a dark room because nothing lights up. In case of a missing remote, there is also a very abbreviated control set on the back of the television's right side.
No singing and dancing here
Though the feature set on this TV is limited to media playback via USB, the control set is actually nicer than usual. For one, the menu interface is just cleaner and more attractive than what you often find on entry-level models. As to the guts, Sony includes basic controls for Backlight, Picture (contrast), Color, Hue, and Sharpness, and there is even a Gamma option on hand—which impacts the manner in which a display allocates luminance from dark to light.
Other features include CineMotion and LED Motion Mode. The former has practically no visual effect, and the latter, which triggers backlight scanning, is much the same. As such, neither of these settings are anything to get excited about.
Rounding out the features are a great surround mode and a full-sized EQ. The Hobbit sounded great on this TV, and the ability to tweak sound to an even finer degree by way of the EQ is a very welcome addition.
The Picture Quality
Not meant for dark environments
While this TV may suffice for lovers of daytime TV, the KDL-40R450A is not equipped to handle theater-like settings, due to poor dark levels. Areas of shadow that ought to appear stark and cavernous instead look almost grey—and a dark room makes it all the more noticeable. The television is plenty bright for light, daytime settings though, so if you just need your Soaps everyday at three o'clock, this TV might work for you.
Color impressed us, at least. The R450A produces very accurate colors that adhere quite closely to the international standard for HDTV color. Unfortunately, the poor dark level really puts a damper on the overall performance—and a very narrow viewing angle makes things that much worse.
Not an optimal centerpiece for a home theater
Though the Sony KDL-40R450A knocked our socks off with its color performance, its shallow black level spelled its ultimate demise as a wholly average TV. The 60Hz refresh rate doesn't help things either; cinematic panning has a fuzzy, jittery character that degrades film quality noticeably.
If you just need a TV for a bright room, one to watch talk shows and news broadcasts on, the entry-level R450A (MSRP $599) will do, but just barely. If you want better performance for watching films in low-light settings, you should definitely keep browsing.