I think we need one of these because a lot of questions get asked about these TVs. Note that this FAQ is unofficial and isn't made or approved by Sony. THIS is the most frequently asked BRAVIA question on this forum: Q: Don't these TVs use Samsung panels in them? Doesn't that mean that a Samsung LCD will be just as good? A: No, not necessarily. Each should be judged on their own merits. Both Samsung and Sony LCDs (as well as many other brands) use panels produced in a factory called S-LCD. Financially, this is a joint venture between Sony and Samsung (they own roughly half of the facility each). It would seem however that the panels are the end result of Samsung's research, so the claim that "Sony LCDs use Samsung panels" is not totally invalid. Much of the original problems with Samsung LCDs related to their lack of user control, which meant that although the same panels were found in many Sony and Samsung displays, the Sonys would allow for a superior picture. As of 2009, the performance gap has closed, and in fact, Samsung offer better calibration options than Sony. *** *** *** Q: I know LCDs have motion blur, but my new BRAVIA is REALLY blurry, what gives? A: You probably have the Noise Reduction function turned on in the Picture Menu. It's turned on by default and should always be left OFF unless you're watching analogue TV, an old VHS tape or a LaserDisc, or another noisy analogue (or analogue-derived) source - and even then it's debatable. *** *** *** Q: Do all of the BRAVIA TVs have integrated digital ("Freeview") tuners? A: They do now. You can tell that a TV has a digital tuner in it by looking at the start of the model name - "KDL" for digital, "KLV" for analogue. I think there was once a Bravia 19" LCD in the S-Series that only had an analogue tuner, but it's discontinued now. *** *** *** Q: The different "Series" are confusing me. Which are the best ones? A: This used to be much, much easier to answer, but Sony has unleashed a whole flood of different series (serieses?). At the "entry level" end of the spectrum, it's much harder to differentiate (so clarification is welcome). The series listed (in brackets) below are the ones I'm not entirely sure about, and depending on your needs/circumstances, you could probably arrange these into a different order. G (U B P T S) D V W X As for 2009, this is probably long out of date. There are many different BRAVIA series and often there is little to differentiate them other than design and a few incidental features, unlike in the past where different ranges would be based on different internals. *** *** *** Q: Each TV is different, but on the whole, what are the advantages of the BRAVIA range? A: 1. All of the BRAVIA LCDs feature a backlight control. LCDs use a lamp behind the screen called a backlight to make the picture visible. Some LCD TVs don't let the user control the intensity of this backlight (although this is becoming rarer, thankfully). A backlight that is set too high will prevent inky, convincing blacks, make brighter areas unpleasant to look at, help emphasise compression artefacts, and shorten the life of the display. Although it's not a Sony specific feature, all of the BRAVIA TVs allow you to adjust the Backlight. 2. The 32", 40", 46", 52", and 70" sizes typically use Sony/Samsung SPVA (Super Patterned Vertical Alignment) panels. Many users feel that this type of LCD panel produces the best contrast and black level out of the various types of LCD (myself included). SPVA panels are also used on some of Samsung's TVs, and other manufacturers sometimes use them as well. But they appear most often in the Sony and Samsung TVs, for obvious reasons (they make them!) 3. Typically, Sony's TVs do not feature overzealous picture "enhancement". Exceptions and errors do happen, but Sony typically give you good control over features you might not like (100hz Frame Interpolation is an example). Edit as of May 2009: Sony is no longer unique in this area. There are also lots of other brands which give good (in fact, some give better) picture control. *** *** *** Q: When did the first BRAVIA TVs come out? The first TVs to use the BRAVIA name were released in Europe over the Summer of 2005. *** *** *** Q: What was "WEGA" and "WEGA ENGINE"? Are they anything to do with BRAVIA? A: Not really. WEGA was a brand name that Sony previously used to market their TV line. In the USA and Canada, some (or perhaps all) Sony LCD TVs were called "WEGA" whether or not they had the "WEGA ENGINE" picture processing system. As far as I recall, in Europe, it was generally only models that featured the WEGA Engine picture enhancement technology that used the name. It was possible to simply buy a "Sony LCD TV". *** *** *** Q: What's "BRAVIA"? A: BRAVIA is the successor to WEGA. It's what Sony are calling their lineup of all their LCD TVs, the same way they call their audio players "Walkman". It stands for "Best Resolution Audio Video Integrated Architecture" (no, seriously). *** *** *** Q: So what does this BRAVIA Engine actually do? How much of it is hype? Can you explain it better than Sony do? A: Sony claims that BRAVIA Engine does the following. I don't know if "BRAVIA ENGINE" is the name of a group of functions, or if it's a Sony-designed chip that's in each of their TVs. * Filters every image. Sony seem to suggest that this is comb filtering (Y/C Separation). What Sony don't tell you is that comb filtering is useful only if you're using Composite video sources like a VCR, LaserDisc player, or Analogue TV. That said, if you ARE using Composite video on these TVs, the Comb Filtering is very good and eradicates all but a trace of dot crawl for NTSC sources, and most of it for a PAL one. * Provides a Temporal Noise Reduction setting (which can fortunately be turned off). * Contrast and tonal tweaks (some of which can be disabled, some of which are necessary for an LCD panel). * "Smooths the motion". Sony say this "smoothens diagonal lines in fast moving pictures", so my interpretation of this is that it's some sort of deinterlacing clean-up. Sony may also be describing the Overdrive feature on the chipset, which is a tweak to increase the LCD panel's response time. * Selectively strengthens the blacks. (Sony probably are referring to "Black Corrector" which clips the blacks - it doesn't strengthen them!) * "Matches the colours". Matches them to what? Some Sony TVs had some, uh, "creative" colour reproduction which this is possibly referring to. Most of the recent displays have had excellent (accurate) colour reproduction that conforms closely to the Rec.709 standard provided the "Normal" colour space option is enabled. Some of the 2006 and earlier models are a little bit more "Crayola". * Deepens the greens and blues (unsure why/what this is for, seems to go hand in hand with the above). * Cleans block noise (MPEG Noise Reduction, useful for digital TV broadcasts - again, it can be disabled). *** *** *** Q: What are BRAVIA ENGINE PRO and BRAVIA ENGINE EX? A: "BRAVIA ENGINE EX", as far as I can tell, is BRAVIA ENGINE + a lesser version of the Sony DRC-MF chip. This chip adds detail enhancement, deinterlacing and scaling functions to the existing lineup of features. Only the "PRO" version has the top-end DRC-MF chip, so you might find that these enhanced features are available only for 480i and 576i resolutions, for example. "BRAVIA ENGINE PRO" appears to be BRAVIA ENGINE + the top-end version of the DRC-MF chip, so a full array of tweaks will be available for HD resolutions too. Whether or not this is a good thing, though, is debatable... *** *** *** Q: OK, so Sony call this "BRAVIA Engine", but that's just branding, right? Can you tell me what's REALLY at the heart of these TVs? A: It's impossible to say what's in each one, but many of the 2006 and onward models appear to use Integrated Chipsets from Trident Microsystems ( http://www.tridentmicro.com/ ). I don't know exactly what type of Trident chip is used in each model, but you can read some quite technical information on the chipset's functions in Trident's White Paper (PDF). Reportedly, Sony also add an extra chip to add to the functionality of the Trident one, which makes the "BRAVIA ENGINE" branding more justifiable. NEC's EMMA processor also seems to feature much of the time. *** *** *** Q: I hear a lot about "V-Series", "S-Series" etc. How do I tell which is which? A: The easiest way is to look for the letter in the model name: KDL-V32A12U and KDL-32V2000U are all V-Series. KDL-S32A12U etc are all S-Series, and so on. *** *** *** Q: What else can I tell about the TV from it's model number? The first part tells you about the TV's tuner. KLV- means an Analogue tuner. KDL- means that the TV is equipped with a digital one and can pick up Digital Terrestrial broadcasts ("Freeview" in the UK). The "U" suffix means "United Kingdom". Continental Europe has the "E" suffix. The only difference between the U and E versions is that the UK models contain analog tuners that can only tune to UK-style PAL-I broadcasts. The E versions contain analog tuners that can tune to PAL-I as well as all of the other European variants. Digital functionality should be the same on both versions, so it should be entirely possible to use a continental European import in the UK with a plug adapter. *** *** *** Q: Can I get Top Up TV on the BRAVIA LCDs? A: Yes you can, they have a Common Interface (CI) card slot on the back. You just need the viewing card and CAM adapter that Top Up TV give you when you sign up. *** *** *** Q: How are firmware upgrades delivered to the BRAVIA TVs? A: On the first V-Series models (2005 versions), there's a strange connector on the back beside the HDMI input that looks a bit like an S-Video connector but isn't. This is the Service port. On the new models (the "2000" ones that came out in 2006), there's a hidden MemoryStick input on the back beside the card slot. Also, if you look at the middle of the back of your TV, you'll find a small square of plastic that can be removed to reveal another connector on the mainboard. This is the "ECS" connection and can only be used with Sony engineer equipment to adjust parameters not accessible in the service menu. Newer TVs allow the user to upgrade the firmware via USB. *** *** *** Q: Is it true that certain panel sizes are not as well specified as the bigger versions? A: Yes. S-LCD does not manufacture SPVA panels in sizes other than: 32, 40, 46, 52 and 70 inches. If the panel isn't one of these sizes, you aren't getting an SPVA panel. *** *** *** Q: What's SPVA? A: S-PVA (Super Patterned Vertical Alignment) is a type of LCD panel developed by Samsung and now produced by the S-LCD (Samsung/Sony) facility. Basically, it's a type of LCD panel (other types are TN+Film, IPS, PVA, and so on). Its biggest strength is its superior (for an LCD) contrast ratio and capability to produce deep black levels. You can read about it at Wikipedia. *** *** *** Q: What do the "Power Saving" modes do? A: They dim the backlight. Power Saving on Low will reduce the backlight intensity (I definitely recommend this setting since it looks very CRT/Plasma-like, but again, tastes vary). Power Saving on HIGH constantly locks the Backlight to the lowest setting so adjusting the Backlight in the picture menu will make no difference. *** *** *** Q: What's this "Live Colour Creation" thing? A: Basically, it exaggerates the colours. Like many manufacturers, Sony seem to have created a brand out of the fact that their TVs produce inaccurate colour out-of-the-box. Sony claim that this is made possible by: * the WCG-CCFL backlight * some sort of physical colour filter (can anyone verify?) * picture processing done via the TV's software for finishing touches. Sony appear to have learned that skewing the colours isn't a good thing, and newer Sony TVs do not suffer from inaccuracies as much. *** *** *** Q: I use Sky or cable, but the TV always turns on to the internal tuner when I turn it on. Can I stop this? A: Some of the older BRAVIA TVs always defaulted to the tuner after power-up. As of the W2000 range, Sony has changed this so that most (all?) models default to the previously viewed input.