Sony Grand Wega KFE50A10
- Big, movie-like picture, high definition, awesome picture quality, great price
- No digital video input option could deter some buyers
The Grand Wega is an outstanding television that is surprisingly of a high quality for its low price.
Price$ 4,299.00 (AUD)
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While flat-panel displays like plasma and LCD tend to hog the limelight, there are other big-screen TV options that provide high-quality output without the sky-high price tags - namely, rear-projection television (RPTV). If your last encounter with RPTV was with one of those beastly, bulky things of days gone by then you'll undoubtedly be stunned by Sony's latest addition to its RPTV line-up, the Grand Wega.
The range consists of three models that vary in screen size with 42, 50 and 60 inches available. They're all in 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, feature a high-definition 720p resolution and we were pleasantly surprised by the relatively diminutive size of our 50-inch test version. Measuring just 403mm deep, it's considerably slimmer than a standard CRT television. And in a direct comparison with a 43-inch plasma on a table-top stand the Sony RPTV occupied only a marginally greater area. There's no denying, however, that this is a big TV, and it still managed to block a considerable amount of light from the window it was sitting in front of - but it will take up less space than you might imagine.
As far as being a plain old television goes, the Grand Wega is as well equipped as one could wish for. It has dual tuners for picture-in-picture viewing, superb audio (not only has Sony fitted its proprietary S-Master digital amplification system typically found only in their high-end audio gear but they've also found room for a decent, built-in subwoofer), Teletext, Nicam stereo, Memory Stick reader (to view your digital camera pics on your telly) and a fast, responsive menu system.
But it's as the centrepiece of a well-decked-out home theatre system that the Grand Wega really comes into its own, and picture quality produced by the 3LCD engine is up there with the best. The Wega Engine - Sony's video processing wizardry that strives to eliminate video artefacts like digital noise and enhance contrast and sharpness - does an exceptional job on broadcast TV images, while DVDs look quite stunning.
The Incredibles is my DVD of choice at the moment, and on the Grand Wega it retained that ability to make jaws drop previously seen on the likes of Pioneer's PDP435HD 43-inch plasma, while old favourites such as The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King and The Fifth Element showed off all their respective glories in great detail. There was absolutely no sign of false contours (also referred to as quantisation errors, when what should be a smoothly graduating colour change is broken into bands of colour) and it handled both bright (the desert scenes in The Fifth Element) and dark (most of ROTK) scenes well. Blacks are very good, although not quite as good as the near perfection of the aforementioned plasma display and not quite as good as, say, a decent DLP projector. Since both of these examples cost considerably more than the Grand Wega, this presents no reason to deter us from laying down the plastic for one of these TVs. Contrast is good enough to create the preferred illusion of depth in an image, which is all we can ask really, especially at this price.
To top all this goodness off, Sony supplied an HD signal generator and a sample disc to test the high-definition component of the Grand Wega. And boy, was it a sight to behold. So crisp, so detailed, it was a tantalising glimpse of an HD future we will all be able to embrace over the next few years.
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