Sony Bravia KDL-32R400A LED TV Review
With great color production and sluggish motion response, the R400A is fantastically mediocre.
Behind the Screens
The Sony R400A gave us a real Jekyll & Hyde runaround. Its color integrity and black level—two very important aspects of picture quality—are excellent, better than I was expecting. Unfortunately, there's really no comfortably abiding the TV's narrow viewing angle and poor detail retention during high-motion content. It's hard to categorize this picture as either good or bad—it's entirely dependent on what you're watching.
A decent black level makes for a solid contrast ratio
Contrast ratio determines much about a television's picture quality, and is intensely dependent on black level to achieve a satisfactory separation between light and dark picture elements. The R400A tested with a good contrast ratio for an entry-level TV, due to its fostering of a quality black level.
I tested a better-than-average black level of 0.06 cd/m2; the R400A is capable of producing believable shadow tones and contrasting rich colors against a black backdrop. Coupled with a satisfactory peak brightness of 230 cd/m2, this TV achieves a contrast ratio of 3833:1, which is definitely a viable result.
Walk the plank! It's wider than this viewing angle
Whoever designed this panel is a real scurvy dog—you'll have to watch the R400A all by yourself! A narrow horizontal viewing angle leaves group activities sleeping with the fishes, and is one of this TV's biggest performance drawbacks.
I tested a total viewing angle of 29°, or ±15° from the center of the screen to either side. This just doesn't leave much room for comfortable viewing; sitting further than that angle from the center (head-on) is going to gray out your whites and blacks, making any kind of content more difficult to watch.
ArrrrrGB never looked so good
When we test TV color, we test three elements: color gamut, color temperature consistency, and RGB/greyscale curves (I know the greyscale has no color, in case you were about to sign into Disqus right there). Landlubbers may not know, but all televisions are currently meant to adhere to an international standard for what their displayed color "looks like." This standard is called Rec. 709.
The R400A is capable of a very accurate color gamut; its peak red, green, and white points are just about perfect when put up against the international standard. Blue has a slight error; the salty sea be a touch bluer than she ought, but otherwise, this Sony's color saturation is pretty good.
Avast! I was even more impressed with color temperature adherence. Across the greyscale intensity, shifts in white point color temperature can result in unnatural blue or orange tinting, which causes a loss in detail and is just plain wrong, from a scientific standpoint. Fortunately, the R400A's temperature management is ship shape, as it has practically no visible error (shifts in temperature ±200K).
Finally, the R400A's color and greyscale curves are very smooth, uniform, and—for lack of a more generic word—perfect. We look for a gradual, obtuse circle describing a gamma (ramp) of 2.2–2.4, resulting in detail at least between steps 16-235 (though more detail is welcome). Other than discrepancies in luminance due to hue, the R400A's curves are wholly equal, meaning a smooth, balanced, and banding-free image.
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