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Sony BRAVIA LCD TV FAQ

Discussion in 'LCD & LED LCD TVs' started by David Mackenzie, Apr 9, 2006.

  1. David Mackenzie

    David Mackenzie New Member

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    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. :smashin: 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. :smashin: 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. :smashin: 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.
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    Last edited: May 23, 2009
  2. Abbeygoo

    Abbeygoo Well-Known Member

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    Quality thread - very useful info - thanks a lot :thumbsup:
  3. DamoSXI

    DamoSXI Guest

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    Are the 3 colours of the new "S" Range purely to give us lovely people a option so it matches our furnature or do they have slightly different specs etc etc ???
  4. Argee1977

    Argee1977 Member

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    Come on Lyris, wheres the write up for the W series, go and speak to 'rep' and he'll tell you all about it


    :D
  5. drljames

    drljames Member

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    From the sony uk site, the spec of the new 26" bravia looks like it will be lower that the others.. keeps mentioning *Available in all 32" and above S-Series models.

    Could someone confirm this?
  6. David Mackenzie

    David Mackenzie New Member

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    Thanks everyone, I've added the suggestions.

    DRLJames, that's right. The 26" BRAVIAs don't contain the S-PVA panels.
  7. Argee1977

    Argee1977 Member

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    Rep, you were on about the W series having different circuitry to the V and S series, where would the W series sit with the new ones coming out???
  8. Argee1977

    Argee1977 Member

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    Lyris, wait till Sony start talking about the Y and Z series and i'll bring this thread up again, i bet Sony wishes they'd started at A as they'll run out of letters next January


    :rotfl:
  9. azz

    azz Member

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    lyris

    not to throw a spanner in the works but last year one of the mags said the V series was just not good enough and got 4/5 then another afew weeks later another sibling mag said that it was the best? go figure-?bribe

    Another mag was not too impressed with the sony and gave the crown to phillips and its pixel ++ sets.


    I saw the new bravia s 2000 40 inch in the sony centre this week and it lookes more plasticky than the old s series-it was being fed a demo of the bravia brand but not sure how connected-i was pleased that the sony centre were offering 5yr free warranty £1300 for the 32inch and £2000 for the 40inch.

    whats this about the sony clock-i assume its fixed-my old 29 inch sony now 10+ yrs old still brillliant (gave it to my mum) but i here there are issues with sony and reliability since they formed this sammsung aliance.

    Just my views


    azz
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  10. David Mackenzie

    David Mackenzie New Member

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    All perfectly valid views Azz. I don't feel qualified to talk about the Pixel Plus TVs because I've not had a good enough look at them.

    I'm honestly very skeptical of magazine reviews - none of them seem to go very in-depth. Didn't the magazine that wasn't impressed with the Sony V come back and say they'd made a mistake later (for whatever reason)?

    Sony Timer: I considered adding that to one of the down sides but I just don't have the evidence that it's there to make an accusation like that. Certainly though if you go onto eBay and search for "sony faulty", there's a far, far higher number of listings compared to the likes of "jvc faulty", "panasonic faulty" etc - try it. The thing is I've got no idea if that's down to Sony having higher sales or not.

    Has anyone else experienced Sony products failing after an unreasonable time?
  11. azz

    azz Member

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    I was a very big fan of sony and its crt and panny and its quintrix tubes. The wega engine was the best untill pix+ came out and i have yet to see pq on sd better than a phillips pixel++ but they are more expensive than the sony, i think the panel they use is full HD but a waste as no braudcasts or dvd of that quality-HD i find very good on LCD in general and even the old s series was as good as sony v series.

    The new panny lxd 60 is just a no brainer with no pc input -im split between the new tosh wlt 66 new hitaci 9700 and these new bravias-philips i know have these new back light scanning tv coming out in the summer but i expect they will be nearer £2000 like the 9830 but i dont like the 9830 design and so cant justify the price esp for a 32 inch set.

    The jvc-yes wow factor but doesent rock my boat, limited viewing angle and design almost not to my taste

    Thanks lyris

    azz
  12. azz

    azz Member

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    lyris

    I thought the old wega engine increased the pixel number and on crt by 4 fold. The bravia engine does not increase detail other than contrast/colour?

    azz
  13. frozenblaze

    frozenblaze Member

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    Great write-up. Are you sure that 40" V series Bravias use the S-PVA panel. I m sure I read that this panel is being used exclusively on the model coming soon. I own a 40" V series, and can't find the panel description anywhere?
  14. shirleywhite

    shirleywhite Member

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    Because of room size/viewing distance etc I'm fairly sure 26in is the size I need. How much of a disadvantage/loss etc would NOT having the s-pva panel etc be?? Rather than get something too big - would it be the case that in the smaller size you dont actually "need" s-pva?? Is there any other thing that 26in misses out on?? Any advice/thoughts please?? Ta.
  15. frozenblaze

    frozenblaze Member

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    S-PVA is simply a much advanced panel. Current Top of the line Samsung monitors use it (In particular, the 730BF and 19inch 930BF) and the picture is simply amazing. Best picture on any monitor, plus they allow for a really quick response time.
    If the all Bravias except the model you are looking at have S-PVA, I would reconsider looking at the Sony. It would be using a completly different screen, therefor having different performance also.
    My query is that I believe that no current Bravia's are using S-PVA, only the new ones coming. I cant find any referance to it at all, and the preview I read of the coming models state that the new model "Uses the new S-PVA panel", making it seem like a newly added feature
  16. David Mackenzie

    David Mackenzie New Member

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    Regarding S-PVA. I'm almost scared to type this because it seems possible that a theory I had last Summer is actually true.

    Reading the specs for the American V-Series (KDL-V26XBR1) that were released last Summer has always stated the S-PVA panel on all models except the 26". It was never mentioned in Europe before but I assumed it was just another marketing thing that Sony America had picked up on to use in the more competitive (?) market there.

    Sony America's versions of the V-Series also included the new menu system "WEGA GATE" (seems trivial but stay with me). When the BRAVIA TVs arrived in Europe they still had the old "LCD WEGA" style menus and with the Brightness Sensor and VGA input curiously missing from the V-Series but not the cheaper S-Series, which makes no sense at all.

    Yet now a being big deal is being made of S-PVA in Europe as a new feature, all of the features are present on the V-Series model, and lo and behold the new WEGA GATE gate menus have mysteriously appeared (minus the name). Not to point too many fingers but the conspiracy theorist in me thinks that the first European BRAVIAs have been thrown together out of spare parts, so to speak.
  17. frozenblaze

    frozenblaze Member

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    Can anyone actually find any documented infomation regarding whether or not "US, Europe or Australian" model Bravias use S-PVA? The Australian model I purchased has Wega Gate, VGA, plus S-Master Digital Amplifier, yet I cannot find any referance to S-PVA.
    In my manual, it simply lists under specifications as Panel System - LCD Panel?

    Very strange???
  18. David Mackenzie

    David Mackenzie New Member

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  19. frozenblaze

    frozenblaze Member

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    Very interesting. It appears as though my Bravia is the same as the US model (Im in Australia) as it has all the same features. I d be interested to know if the europe models are the same, as the newer release you seem to be recieving simply matchs up with the US specs, albiet with the Bravia engine( Which I believe to be rubbish, the Wega vs Bravia engine surley perform very similar, simply rebadged name).
    Can we maybe find the details if we physically look at the panel, taking off the back. I will attempt this later, and pass on any info I can find.
  20. David Mackenzie

    David Mackenzie New Member

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    My understanding of it is that the new European models take the US/Aus spec and improve upon it with BRAVIA Engine (assuming that's an improvement), and Live Colour Creation.

    Of course, the inputs are still behind what the rest of the world gets.
  21. frozenblaze

    frozenblaze Member

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    Should be interesting to see what sort of improvements it makes. I look forward to any feedback on the new models
  22. David Mackenzie

    David Mackenzie New Member

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    I'll be doing a full review with lots of pictures (of the TV running) and will be giving it the usual show no mercy treatment :thumbsup:
  23. frozenblaze

    frozenblaze Member

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    That will great, look forward to it :)
  24. Ramspeed

    Ramspeed Member

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    Sadly I'm just too busy right now to get myself to a Sony centre and check out the new S series. Anyone else fancy going and giving one of these sets a good going over? We need to know...
  25. David Mackenzie

    David Mackenzie New Member

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    I think they called that part "Digital Reality Creation". Not sure what difference it made but I hope it's still there. Wait and see I guess :smashin:
  26. Ramspeed

    Ramspeed Member

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    DRC is a mixed blessing. I have it on my WEGA CRT. It certainly enhances detail. In fact in may ways it's the best picture I've ever seen from a CRT. However, you do get a little motion smear (yes! on a CRT!). Sadly, you cannot turn it off on my set. Let's hope the LCD's will have that option...
  27. Ramspeed

    Ramspeed Member

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    Shirlywhite - I am also looking at the S26. My understanding is that S-PVA offers a small increase in the optimum viewing angle and marginally better contrast. But I wouldn't worry about it. In all important respects the S26 will be identical to it's bigger brothers...
  28. oska

    oska Active Member

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    I took delivery of my KDLS262010U yesterday. This replaced my old 28" Sony CRT. Although I have stepped down in size slightly I've hardly noticed. The quality of the picture and sound is fantastic. I was a bit worried about changing over and all the talk of not having the S-PVA got me worried further. I think the Bravia Engine on the new 26S certainly makes up for not having the S-PVA, it is a great compromise. I watched Planet Earth and the colours were superb, even food adverts had me salivating. Ok you do get a bit of ghosting sometimes from some programmes but you hardly notice. I've yet to watch a proper HD broadcast or DVD but am very happy so far. :thumbsup:
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  29. krlock2

    krlock2 Guest

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    anyone know if the new sonys will have the "wega gate" menus, or are we stuck with 5 year old menu systems again?
  30. David Mackenzie

    David Mackenzie New Member

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    Yep, from what I've heard it's WEGA GATE only without the name.

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