Sony NX713 (KDL-46NX713) 3D LED LCD TV Review
IntroductionThe Sony KDL-46NX713 forms part of Sony's uber stylish Monolithic Range but, is yet, one of their base models for entry in to the world of 3D. The NX713 originally went on sale in August 2010 but is still widely available as an end of line item so we're aiming to find out if it's a worthy bargain, or not, for you.
Competition is hotting up in the 3DTV market and the NX713 finds itself going toe to toe with the likes of the Philips 46PFL8605H, the Samsung UE46C7000, a pair of Panasonic plasmas in the TX-P46GT30 and TX-P46ST30 as well as its own successor in the Sony KDL46EX723 which is just starting to hit stores. The 46" model also has a baby brother in the KDL-40NX713.
Our recent experiences with Sony 3DTV's has been a little mixed and whilst the 2D performances have been solid, we've had an issue or two in the 3D department. Can the the NX713 do enough to be recommended as a bargain bin choice or are you better looking to the new breed of 3DTVs? Let's find out...
Design and FeaturesThe KDL-NX713 is a looker, no doubt. From its slender chassis to its one sheet of glass 'monolithic' design - where it's difficult to tell where the 'frame' ends and the screen begins, whilst switched off - it's a TV that stands as a desirable piece of AV 'furniture' for the modern home. For those that want to make it that little more designer looking, there's an optional stand that houses a 2.1 speaker set up and allows tilting of the screen back by 6 degrees. The NX713 is, of course, supplied with a swivel stand that continues the theme of solid engineering with its metal and matte black plastic construct. Assembly of the stand was probably the easiest I've come across with just 4 screws required to hold everything in place.
It's good to see that Sony have given thought to the wall mounters out there by making all the inputs sideways facing in the two recessed channels to the rear of the television. The outermost channel may perhaps be a little too close to the edge for those with beefy HDMI cables but, as you'll see from the photograph, they'll accommodate averaged sized leads whilst concealing them. As well as the 4 HDMI ports, we also have Component, VGA and USB inputs in addition to a headphone jack and legacy RCA support. For those that wish to hook up a scart connection, they'll need to use the supplied adapter - and there's only one slot available.
The supplied remote control maintains the weighty feel to affairs but it is rather large and only those with Pat Jennings sized mitts will be able to comfortably operate it with one hand. In terms of lay out, we found it to be passable but would have liked the Exit button to be a little larger and more prominently placed.
The NX series features edge LED lighting as well as being the most 'connected' of Sony's ranges. In addition to internet video streaming from the likes of YouTube, LoveFilm and BBC iPlayer there are also some widgets that can give you updates on news and weather or connect you to your Facebook, Twitter or ebay account. The KDL-NX713 is fully DLNA compliant as well as being wireless ready.
The NX713 and NX813 are updated versions of the previously released NX703 and NX803 televisions, with the major update being the addition of 3D capability as well as some minor cosmetic changes. Unfortunately, to make use of the 3D abilities of the NX713, users are forced to purchase an additional - and unsightly- IR emitter plus the active shutter glasses needed to view it. The emitter is about the dimensions of a medium sized (think Hamlet) cigar and needs to be positioned to the front. For those with Wii/Kinect/Playstation Move sensors already in situ, the emitter may cause issues and we're very pleased to learn that all Sony 3D sets for 2011 will have the emitter built in.
Menus and Set-upTo anyone familiar with Sony's XMB (Cross Media Bar) Menu system, the NX713 will hold few surprises. For those that aren't familiar, it's a GUI that scrolls both horizontally and vertically with various sub-menus available under broad headings. We're well versed in XMB operation having used it frequently in Sony review samples but for those that aren't, it may take a little time to get used to the logic.
The remote control also has a handy Options button that serves as a shortcut to the majority of the most important selections. Just as with our experiences with the HX803, we have to report that the operation of both the XMB and Options menus are very sluggish and both can take a couple of seconds to come up from sending the instruction via the remote. Fortunately the television responds to remote control inputs with an audible chime so you don't keep pressing the buttons unnecessarily whilst waiting for the TV to respond.
Contained in the standard Picture Menu are the standard Backlight, Brightness, Contrast and Colour controls and there's also Tint and Colour Temperature options. As a point of interest, we usually find the colour temperature of Warm2, in Sony displays, affords the most accurate greyscale but, in the case of the NX713 sample, Warm1 was actually the closest to industry standards. The picture Menu also contains options for Sony's 'MotionFlow' frame interpolation system which we'll investigate further later on. There are also Sharpness, Mpeg Noise Reduction and Film Mode selections as well as the Advanced controls.
In the Advanced picture sub-menu we have controls for white balance and gamma that we'll need to affect for an in-depth calibration plus there are options for Black Correction, Adv.Contrast Enhancer, Clear White, Live colour and Dynamic LED control - after careful evaluation all these were set to off. I'll go in to more detail on the Dynamic LED option later on.
The KDL-NX713 has a fairly large number of menus and sub-menus but in terms of options directly affecting picture quality, there are two that we need to mention placed in the Screen Menu. Display Area is best set to Full Pixel for correct mapping of HD sources and we'd advise setting the ambient sensor to Off to avoid unecessary brightness fluctuations. We'll leave the menus at this point having covered most of the important options for picture quality and we'll deal with the couple we haven't, so far, later on.
Out of the Box MeasurementsIn addition to the three picture presets on offer in the Picture Menu - Standard, Custom and Vivid, the NX713 has a range of different picture presets under the Scene button of the remote control. The Cinema scene proved to be the best starting point for calibration in conjunction with the Warm1 colour temperature. The Theatre button on the remote makes accessing the Cinema mode a one-touch affair. We have also set the basic controls of Backlight, Contrast and Brightness so let's see how the out-of-box results measure beginning with the Greyscale and Gamma.
As we can see from the RGB Balance graph, blue is tracking far too high right the way across the greyscale resulting in an on-screen image that's far too cool. The Warm2 temperature was too warm with red tracking way above what we want and because of the rather strange white balance controls Sony provide - where RGB gains come pre maxed out - we were unable to affect greyscale, in that temperature, to a degree we'd have been happy with. The gamma is actually tracking very well to a middling 2.2 target and adjustments to greyscale tracking should hopefully bring further improvement.
Having looked at greyscale performance we now measured how the the colour gamut matched up to Rec.709 standards.
We have no CMS to improve matters here so we'll have to rely on hoping that calibrating the white balance will bring dividends to hue performance of the secondaries, with perhaps some use of the Tint control. On screen, red is visibly undersaturated to the trained eye and the blue tint to magenta is likewise noticeable. The results were not disastrous, by any means, as the all important luminance performance of both pimary and secondary colours was pretty good and we should be able to slightly improve them with the global Colour control.
Calibrated ResultsGreyscale calibration proved fairly untroubling and very respectable results (see below) were achieved:
As we can see, red, green and blue are tracking very evenly across the scale and deltaE are in the meaningless range under 3 and, in fact, they're all below 2 with the resultant image satisfactorally neutral and free of the blue cast of the pre-calibrated condition. As we hoped for, gamma was further leveled and the results here are very very good indeed.
We were limited by a lack of a CMS here but, over all, it's not a bad result. There was never any chance that red could be fully saturated - you can't add in what's not already there - but improvements in hue performance and luminance errors meant that 'real world' material actually looked pretty accurate which was undoubtedly helped by the fantastic greyscale and gamma results. It's a pass here for the KDL-NX713 but we'd ask Sony to include a CMS, going forwards, and whilst they're at it change the operation of the white balance controls to allow greater flexibility.
Picture ProcessingThe KDL-NX713 continues Sony's recent strong performance in this area with some very good scaling of both 480 and 576i SD sources together with decent deinterlacing of video sources. The NX713 managed to lock on to both PAL 2:2 and NTSC 3:2 cadences meaning film material shot in those cadences, and sent interlaced to the TV, would be displayed progessively - meaning no unnecessary loss in detail. Blu-ray material at 24p was displayed perfectly with no judder introduced to images.
In the recent review of the HX803, we did find the Clear setting of Sony's MotionFlow interpolation system to bring some benefits to motion performance of the panel whilst not introducing too many artefacts or giving the video camera soap-look effect. Unfortunately the processing did not work quite so well with the panel fitted in KDL-NX713 with more artefacting present so we elected to keep it off. It's worth mentioning the Clear setting still didn't introduce a soap effect so some may well find it beneficial, especially if they have a differently sized panel.
Input LagThe Sony KDL-46NX713 didn't feel the most responsive in terms of on-screen reaction to video game controller input but we have encountered much worse with some of our review samples. The NX713 averaged a lag of 35 milliseconds which is between 2-3 frames at 60 frames per second.
Power ConsumptionLED lighting certainly has benefits on power consumption and the NX713 performed creditably in this area of testing with an averaged consumption of 126w, calibrated, and 1w in standby.
Picture Quality 2DThe dynamic range of the KDL-NX713 is very respectable with good black levels and they ability to produce white with only a small amount of clipping. The shortcoming of off-axis contrast loss was in evidence but, once the initial drop had occurred - at around 30 degrees - things stabilised until reaching angles totally unsuitable for watching TV. From straight in front of the screen black was black but, off-angle, it did take on a slight blue tinge. This is a marked improvement on both the NX813 and HX803, we've covered recently, that could only manage a deep purple.
Again, in contrast to the HX803, backlighting uniformity was not a major issue and what mild bleed that did occur, toward the bottom corners, didn't impinge on material unless viewed in very dark conditions.
The KDL-NX713 performed well with Standard Def content and excellently with High Def material. Shadow detailing was good for LCD with the proviso that the Dynamic LED settting was turned off. Even with it set to low, the now you see it now you don't, 'Tinkerbell' effect did show its face and the improvement in black level was not worth the trade off.
Picture Quality 3DOne problem that did translate over from the HX803 and NX813 was the propensity of the glasses to lose sync with so much as a slight tilt of the head and this is something that we dearly hope Sony have fixed in the 2011 sets.
In terms of the actual 3D presentation, the NX713 performed reasonably well but with some crosstalk in evidence. The NX713 did convey an impressive sense of depth. If 3D is going to be a major influence on your purchasing decision, then there are perhaps other TVs that may be more worthy of your consideration at this price although, at 46", we're least entering the kind of size where 3D becomes a feasible prospect for the average living room.
- Beautiful Design
- Excellent Networking Features
- Superb Greyscale and Gamma Performance - Calibrated
- Freeview HD Tuner
- Very Good Scaling and Video Processing
- Glasses Frequently Lose Sync
- Sluggish Menus
- Out of Focus Backgrounds with 3D Content
- Remote Control is too Large
- Outdated Calibration Controls
Sony NX713 (KDL-46NX713) 3D LED LCD TV Review
At the price the NX713 is still commanding, we're finding it a bit of a hard sell, particularly in light of new products coming to market and the fact that its successor, the KDL-NX723, can be had for pretty much the same price, yet has no need for a costly and unsightly 3D emitter to be added.
We actually found the 2D performance to be very good but the nuisance factor of the glasses losing sync - and some background focus issues - left us a little cold on the 3D performance. The panel is capable of a very good contrast performance and, credit where it is due, backlight uniformity was excellent. The monolithic design of the NX713 certainly has a wow factor and Sony still remain the masters of understatement with their classy designs, but we'd perhaps ask them to revisit the proportions of the frankly huge remote control.
We liked the networking abilities of the NX713 and the fact that internet video services are given their own place on the XMB, rather than needing to be accessed through a portal. But menu access remains somewhat sluggish and that's another area where we'd ask Sony to make improvements.
The calibrated greyscale and gamma results were certainly excellent but Sony really need to look at the tools they are providing to perform the task. A lack of a CMS is starting to look anachronistic and the fact that RGB gains are already maxed out is a rather strange decision.
Ultimately the KDL-NX713 is a very good 2D television but with the reservations we have in the 3D area, and considering the competition it's up against, we find it just missing out on our Recommended Award.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £1,499.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level8
3D Picture Quality6
Ease Of Use5
Value for Money5
Our Review Ethos
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