Sony KDL-40W600B LED TV Review
Entry-level TVs look better than ever in 2014, and Sony's is no exception.
Behind the Screens
The Sony KDL-40W600B (MSRP $499) may be Sony's entry-level LCD for 2014, but it has a lot of strengths in the picture-quality department. During my time in the lab, I tested solid black levels, accurate colors, smooth gradation between luminance steps, and a judicious use of sub-pixel balancing.
That means that this TV produces a very appealing picture, especially in darker viewing conditions. That's not even the best news though—what's really great is that you can expect very commendable performance directly out of the box, similar to Sony's flagship model for this year.
To test TVs, we tend to put them in Cinema mode before collecting data. The cinema/movie mode is typically the best for optimizing performance in ideal settings (in other words, dark, theater-like rooms). While calibrators are limited to 2-point grayscale controls on Sony's W600B series, things look pretty great right out of the box—so we won't complain.
To minimize errors, I altered various RGB gain and bias points under the white balance setting and increased the backlight, but everything else remained just as it was. Below, you can see those exact changes.
The KDL-40W600B didn't look like much next to our reference display, but it still tested above-average for an edge-lit LED LCD display. It has particularly good black levels, for instance. I collected readings using an ANSI checkerboard pattern and discovered a minimum luminance of 0.04 cd/m2 and a peak white level of 106 cd/m2 in Cinema mode. Post calibration, however, I collected the same black level, but with a new white reading of 122 cd/m2.
The contrast ratio of 2650:1 is anything but award-winning, but it gets the job done well enough for most. Best of all, there weren't cases of light bleed to distract you during black-bar content.
Sony's W600B nailed this test, thanks to very accurate color reproduction. We measure against and international standard, Rec. 709, and from red, to blue, to green, to cyan, to magenta, to yellow, to white—the only errors in hue and saturation that this TV makes are imperceptible.
Images onscreen will therefore appear natural and lifelike, not garish or off-color.
In the Advanced Menu, you'll find a gamma slider. I did test things out on various settings, but the out-of-the-box Cinema gamma preset is as good as it gets.
If you aren't familiar with gamma, it's what handles the luminance throughout intervals of the grayscale, from dark to light. When we test gamma, we're asking: Does the TV ramp up out of black shadow areas too quickly, leaving important gray details in the dust?
In this case, no. We found a gamma sum of 2.33, which is fairly close to the 2.4 ideal.
Grayscale and RGB balance
Though I found errors in this Sony's grayscale production and RGB balance, the issues were quite mild. Grayscale simply applies to a display's black, gray, and white production; this is linked to RGB balance because the red, green, and blue sub-pixels make the grayscale.
Therefore, equipped with Sony's 2-point grayscale controls, I minimized error in the RGB balance in order to perfect the grayscale. The pre-calibration DeltaE reading of 3.71 benefited from the changes, lowering to 2.21.
In typical LED LCD form, the W600B allots too much emphasis to the blue sub-pixel. It took changes to bias and gain of both the red and blue sub-pixels to improve the imbalance.
This TV's viewing angle is one of its weakest performance points, and that's no surprise for an LED LCD TV. Be sure to watch from front and center, or else picture degradation and color shifting will hamper your view. I measured a total viewing angle of 32° (±16° from the center to either side).
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