Pros: Picture quality from all angles, warranty, hook ups are pretty easy
Cons: Weight, may need adjustments/service, cost
I bought this TV just after the holidays in anticipation of my Patriots reaching the Super Bowl. I had visions of a Super Bowl in HD, but the cable company didn't get the boxes in time.
Warning-I am not very technical, so this review is for the basic consumer.
I had been looking around for a while, unsure whether or not I wanted to go through the hassle of moving the current set (32") and entertainment center out, and setting up a new TV and entertainment center. As mentioned above, I found out the Super Bowl would be offered in HD on CBS, I decided to make the plunge. I ruled out rear projection, since my seating/viewing area is wide and bright, and rear projection sets are better with direct view and less light.
Plasma and LCD were too expensive, and I wasn't sure about the durability. That left flat screen/tube TVs.
There isn't much competition at the 32" to 40" tube arena. I basically went with Sony since I have other Sony products that are compatible, their reputation, and family experience with a 36" XBR Sony. The 40" Sony is the largest tube, and at the time wasn't much more than the 36".
The 4:3 vs widescreen for me was easy-we watch mostly 4:3 material, and the 40" offers a 37" widescreen when watching 16:9 material. If you watch mostly 16:9, you may want to check out the widescreen TV options, but I think this TV is the best of both worlds.
Another major factor was that the XBR has a 2 year parts and labor warranty. That is important when you consider this TV weighs 300lbs.
The stand was free with purchase as well, which really clinched the deal. I assembled this the night before delivery, and it only took about 30 minutes.
Unless you and two friends are serious weightlifters, pay to have it delivered. Think of it as insurance. I also paid for a five year in home service plan for about $150. Again-I do not want to be lugging a 300lb TV to a service center.
Delivery and Set Up
The delivery was made and the TV placed on the stand. The delivery men had to open the box and remove the TV outside since the box was too big to fit a standard door. Also save the box in case you need to return it. The cables are easily attached. The manual is pretty easy to follow as well. The TV was not that hard to move since the stand slides pretty easy on the carpet.
After turning it on, the picture was just incredible. The tilt needed adjustment, and some of the picture settings, but it was not too badly out of whack.
The appearance is clean and nice. It does not look out of place in my room, which is mostly country style. This was a slight concern, since the pictures in most websites and ads make it look a little space age.
We have digital cable, and the picture using the coaxial cable from the wall is awesome for quality channels. Digital cable looks great as well, but we got in the habit of only using the cable box for stations that require it. TO me it seems the TV has a better tuner than the box itself. You will quickly notice which channels are high quality broadcasts. The remote is easy to use, and you quickly become adept at switching stations and feeds. However, there are quite a bit of options for this remote that I don't use that others may like. I am still using my component remotes due to habit, even though you can program the Sony remote for just about everything.
Since you have seven video feeds, you can hook up quite a few components. We have cable, digital/HD cable box, DVD and VCR hooked up. We used mid-level quality cables to hook things up. We use the front AV hook ups for using a video camera. It also has a memory stick port for your Sony cameras. I used this and it is pretty easy. HD broadcasts are just amazing, and digital cable is near HD for most channels. DVDs are just great, and even low quality like old VCR tapes look good. As I said before, lower quality broadcasts do suffer, but are still watchable.
Twin View is unbelievable. You can watch two shows at once, and quality on both is amazing. One side can also be expanded to the equivalent of a 27" screen. Text is just as sharp on both as well.
The viewing angle is 8 feet in a semi-circle, and the picture is great anywhere in that area, and even text is sharp.
Sound is good as well. I watched the Daytona 500 using a surround system, but switched back to the TV and the difference wasn't that noticeable.
Things I found out
As I mentioned above, the TV has a 37" widescreen format when watching DVDs and HD. However, since a lot of widescreen DVDs are actually 2.35:1 format, it is only a 35" screen and may look thinner than normal (no distortion however). Only DVDs and HD in 1.85:1 will fill the 37" widescreen. At first I though I had a setting messed up, but once I knew the issue, I felt better and just enjoyed the stunning picture.
Another tip-get a calibration DVD to set up the picture settings. Some newer DVDs have this already-"Pirates of the Carribean" has a THX calibration program that is pretty easy to use.
Make sure your component speakers near the tube are shielded. Magnetic interference will discolor your screen.
These TVs are no longer in production, so if you want one, you have a limited time.
I noticed a red/orange circle about 4" in diameter on the screen when a light color was on the screen. It was difficult to notice, but it was there. I called the store to send out a tech. He recommended exchanging the TV since he diagnosed it a defective tube, and it was swapped out for a new one quickly. Interestingly, the new one seemed to have less adjustments to the picture, and text was even sharper. The original TV would have a slight blurring of scrolling text at the very edges, which I guess is normal for larger tubes (according to the tech), but this one shows none of that. The only thing I see now is a slight yellow discoloration in one corner about 2-3 inches, but only with an extremely light color displayed-I noticed it on the ice when watching hockey. I am experimenting with moving speakers/components to see if it is magnetic. Since it has a strong warranty, I can live with it while I try to investigate.