- Picture Quality 8
- 3D Experience 10
- Audio 8.5
- Built in Wi-Fi 5
- Applications 7
- Value 7.5
- Overall 8
A consumer’s take on the upgrade to 3D, 55″, and LED
My first and only flat-screen was a 40″ Samsung LN40A550P3F before purchasing the 55″ Sony Bravia HX750. The reviews were pretty lacking so I’ve decided to make this review detailed as possible from a consumer’s point of view.
The main features that sold me on this set was the 55″ size, 3D capability, picture quality, and built in Wi-Fi. Three lived up to and surpassed expectations while one is a disappointment.
Size upgrade makes a world of difference in good and bad ways
The 55 inch HX750 dwarfs the old 40 inch Samsung. The television doubles as living room PC monitor and I was constantly having to squint and crank up the font sizes in order to read while sitting on the couch. The 55 inch screen size allows me to sit back and relax with a wireless keyboard as if I’m seated at the desk.
Blurays look phenomenal on the large screen and bigger is better when it comes to immersing yourself in the 3D experience. I recently axed cable from our household as I was beginning to believe HD streaming was providing good enough quality to watch on the big screen. However, the artifacts present in the compressed streaming video is magnified greatly. Pixelation and banding that was only slightly visible on the 40 inch Samsung is now a distraction while watching on the large 55 inch screen.
While watching on the larger screen makes for a cinematic experience, it also exposes flaws of streaming video compression. Looks like I’ll be switching back to multiple Netflix rentals, Redbox, and Cable if boosting my internet bandwidth doesn’t improve streaming quality.
Is this 3D thing going to die fast?
I’ve watched several movies in the theater and thought 3D added to the experience. I had my doubts an in-home television could deliver experiences anywhere close to cinema quality. I also purchased a couple pairs of Sony 3D Active Glasses (wish they were included for the price).
I popped in “Chronicles of Narnia Legend of the Dawn Treader”, “Harold and Kumar Christmas”, and “Batman: Arkham City” for the PS3.
Playing my fist video game in 3D was like listening to a CD for the first time. The Narnia movie, something I normally wouldn’t give a chance, had me completely immersed. The imagery looked beautiful, added so much punch, I never wanted to take my eyes off the screen. One of the drawback of young technology is there are barely any titles available. Was really disappointed that I couldn’t purchase Avatar 3D without buying a Panasonic BD player.
Another surprise was the Simulated 3D setting that tries to emulate the stereo depth on normal footage. While not perfect, or anywhere close to a 3D movie, the Simulated 3D added punch to the picture. I actually preferred wearing glasses, because the colors on the Standard setting looked more natural. It also helped to direct the eye to focal points, especially when shallow depth of field was utilized.
I don’t believe 3D is going away folks so “adapt or die” (quote stolen from “Moneyball” which looked great on the HX750)
Can’t complain, sounds great in comparison to the old Samsung which has mediocre sound quality. Was really loud with the bar cranked a little over half way.
UPDATE 6/10/12: The audio on the television is pretty good, however there seems to be a large disparity between loud action sequences and quiet dialogue. I constantly find myself adjusting the volume up and down depending on the scene, which can be annoying.
Overall I believe the picture looks great with a couple of tweaks from the default settings. One of the first things I did was disabled the Motion Flow and Cinema Flow settings. The 240Hz frame interpolation gag that I am not a big fan of. Colors are vibrant and the image is sharp.
Since this is an LED, there is some visible light vignetting around the corners and a light leak running along the bottom of the frame. It’s most noticeable while watching in a dark room. I’m not sure if this issue creeps up in plasmas or higher end LED models, but it’s definitely not a plus. I can live with it though.
Default ‘Standard’ color calibrated for 3D
I was really on the fence about buying the HX750 given the reviews on extremely poor black-levels. Now, I am no expert when it comes to judging picture quality, but here is my take.
On many of the low-lit scenes, dark areas do appear lifted and have a bluish magenta cast over it. However, there are still deep blacks to be found. I’ve noticed throughout viewing and on certain end title sequences, the blacks almost match the surrounding frame. It seems to me that the values are gamma’d up, essentially crushing the dark shadow valued details. Anything that isn’t quite pure black. This is problematic because it’s somewhat of a golden rule in color correction not to go complete 0 black.
3D glasses alleviate black level and magenta cast issues
It’s my impression that Sony decided to calibrate the default color to look best while the glasses are on. I’m viewing through 3D Active Glasses. When powered up, the overall picture value gets knocked down around a full stop, making the ‘darks’ richer. Also, the bluish magenta color is completely neutralized.
Considering the fact Sony has so much invested in Blu Ray and 3D televisions, it only makes sense that they would tailor the best experience to that viewing mode. People love the 3D, they tell their friends, and their friends buy a Sony 3D TV.
Apps and Wi-Fi
Netflix, Amazon On-Demand, Hulu, Youtube, and more. These pre-installed apps were a draw when shopping for a new flatscreen, and I was in particularly excited that the HX750 included built in Wi-Fi and Youtube. Most of the Apps are contained in a Sony wrapper layout design and look very similar. No flashy animations like competitors (even under the same brand) much more utilitarian.
Sadly, these are lacking implementations of Netflix, Amazon, Twitter, and Youtube. Really scratching my head as to why they didn’t employ similar navigation and style as the PS3 counterparts. I assume it was to unify the apps more, but it is much less intuitive, and makes for a somewhat painful user experience.
Observations of Apps
- No ratings displayed by media icons
- Cannot rate media
- No search memory or smart search
Amazon On Demand
- No watch recently list (huge bummer)
- No search memory or smart search
- Subscriptions buried in menu
- Subscription pages don’t always display with latest first (really?)
- I like how videos play in small view while searching
- Cannot log into existing accounts
- Not bad but the layout is a bit wasteful. Only displays a few posts.
- Cannot follow links
Wi-Fi signal is significantly weaker than other devices
My current setup includes the HX750 on a wall mount, PS3, and a Dell PC all within a couple feet of one and other. The speed of the connection on the HX750 is about 1/4 to 1/2 that of the other devices. The internet speed of my ISP is anywhere from 6.5-10 Mbps. Also, the entertainment center is a pretty far distance from the router.
Not a racehorse setup by any stretch, but streaming video content on the Sony HX750 is UNWATCHABLE 9 times out of 10 with long and constant loading icons or Network Timeout errors. What adds to the aggravation, is it completely freezes if one attempts to navigate away from the ‘loading’ page. Controller button clicks will not respond until the internet searching finally errors out or finishes thinking.
Other devices in the vicinity work fine and load HD most of the time. I’m wondering if there is a hardware issue or if the mount is somehow blocking the internal antennae, but I doubt that. It would be such a pain to box this big thing up and return it because of bad Wi-Fi connection issues, and considering I already have the PC and PS3 connected, it might not be completely necessary (in my case). Will wait to see if others are having similar issues and contact Technical Support before lugging it back to the store. Also, plan to upgrade ISP to FIOS and will update if this helps the issues.
Let’s hope Sony corrects the App and Wi-Fi issues via firmware updates because it would be a shame releasing unpolished extras in a device that costs around $2000. Especially when similar applications already have a strong foundation on the PS3. Dealing with anything Wi-Fi related on the HX750, reminds me of working on a 5 year old computer that doesn’t quite have the juice to keep up with the technology. However, I’ll withhold judgement until I see it operate with faster internet.