Just a few questions on Sony TVs...

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by JJR512, Oct 12, 2002.

  1. JJR512

    JJR512 Supporting Actor

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    I was browsing around Best Buy earlier tonight and saw a TV that I thought looked really nice. This BB was rearranging its display which wound up with this unit on an endcap, and since I haven't browsed through all of their TV section lately, I hadn't noticed this model until now. But it had a nice-looking image, and I was pretty sure it was displaying it in progressive-scan.
    The display was actually there to advertise that they were giving away a TV stand with every TV purchase of some minimum amount, so there was no info or price card for this TV, and I had to ask. The BB guy looked on the back to get the model number, and he said "$1940". I asked him what the model number was, and he told me KV-36HS500. The HS in the model name confirmed for me it was one of Sony's Hi-Scan models, their HDTV-ready line.
    Anyway, I got home and looked it up on the Best Buy website and also at Crutchfield just to get some more info on it. Interestingly, at both sites it was listed at $2000, not $1940 as the BB guy had said. Anyway, I started to think that even though this was much more than I had previously planned to spend on a TV (about twice as much, actually!), that it looked so nice I figured I could do it if I really wanted to. By the way, this would be my first major TV purchase, and would be for my main system.
    As I was looking at the details at Crutchfield, I noticed they had a little blurb there that said, "Maximum picture quality — with regular and high-def sources!", and continued, "For $300 more,
    the Sony KV-36XBR800 includes: • user-adjustable DRC MultiFunction V1 upconversion circuitry — lets you tailor the amount of enhancement for different sources • HD Detailer wideband video amplifier for optimum high-definition performance • a full 2-year parts and labor warranty". Crutchfield's page on the 36HS500 is here and their page on the 36XBR800 is here.
    So I have a couple of questions. Is the 36XBR800 really $300-worth better than the 36HS500? Sony has a similar XBR model in 32" size, the KV-32XBR450 (Crutchfield's info page here) for $2000, the same price as the non-XBR 36" model. Assuming the 32" XBR is the same as the 36" XBR, just smaller, is the XBR series better enough than the HS series that one might be happier with a smaller XBR than a larger HS (32" XBR vs. 36" HS)?
    My other questions concern availability, or where to buy. Best Buy has the model I mentioned in stock, but buying there necessitates paying sales tax. The in-home delivery from Crutchfield is only $20 and thus much cheaper than sales tax, which I assume I don't have to pay with them. If I wanted any XBR model, Best Buy doesn't carry them (from what I can tell, anyway), but possibly some other local store does. But are there other places to buy these online for significantly lower prices? I'm sure it goes without saying that I'd like to get the best deal possible, as I'm sure we all do. Are there any good online stores selling what I'm looking for at better prices, and are preferably Sony-authorized dealers so I'd get a valid warranty?
     
  2. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    Justin,

    The XBR series is imho worth the extra money.

    That being said, the 32XBR450 is not the same as the 36XBR800 just with a smaller screen. The
    xbr450 is last year's model, and does not have the adjustable DRC, probably not the wideband video amp, nor does it have the DVI inputs that the XBR800 model has.

    The HS-500 does have the DVI input, but not the other XBR extras.

    Best Buy does not carry the higher end Sony models but CC does.
     
  3. Gus Smith

    Gus Smith Extra

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    Justin,

    I purchased a 36" XBR 800 last weekend, I haven't had it long enough or played with it enough to give you an in depth report but I will say that I think it's awesome.

    BTW, I purchased it at 'The Great Indoors' (I believe they are owned by Sears) for $1979. This was not their advertised price, I talked the salesman down a little.
    Maybe I could have done better but I think this is a good price compared to full price for the HS500 at BB.

    Good Luck.

    -Gus
     
  4. Adam Brandner

    Adam Brandner Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm actually in the same boat, as I'm trying to decide between the 36" HS and XBR. The $300 doesn't make much difference to me, as long as I'm picking up some useful features. My main concern is how ugly the XBR's plastic housing is this year. I thought last year's XBR looked much, much better. I know, I know, the picture quality is more important than what the TV itself looks like, but I just don't know if I can justify spending $2000+ for something that looks cheap. The HS's housing is acceptable, but again not as nice as last year's HS model. So, can anyone explain exactly what the difference is between this year's HS and XBR models for me, aside from a different chassis and warranty? I'd really appreciate it. Last year's models are completely out of the question for me by the way, because I want 720p support (hey, why not?) and a DVI input (just in case).
     
  5. DanielSmi

    DanielSmi Second Unit

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    there also is the 32 HV600. This is the replacement for the 32" XBR because sony no longer makes a 32" XBR. It has all the feature mentioned above, the Adjustable DRC, wide-band video amp, etc.
    Daniel Smith
     
  6. JJR512

    JJR512 Supporting Actor

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    Adam, I had thought the physical appearance of both models were the same...based on casual looks at the photos at Crutchfield (here and here), but upon closer inspection, I see you are correct. They are very similar, but do have some differences; however, to me, they are only very small differences. But that's just my opinion based on pictures; I'd really need to see the XBR in person before I can make a final judgement on this score.
    According to Crutchfield, the XBR has "XDS Data Service" ("XDS (Extended Data Service) can be used to set time, display call letters and to display the program name. It relies on the appropriate signal being broadcast by the station, and as it is a new technology its availability is limited at this time.") The XBR also steps up to a "user-adjustable DRC MultiFunction V1 upconversion circuitry — lets you tailor the amount of enhancement for different sources", "HD Detailer wideband video amplifier for optimum high-definition performance", and "a full 2-year parts and labor warranty". According to some info I have read elsewhere, the better wideband video amplifier of the XBR allows for full resolution of the HD signal to be uses, whereas models with a narrower-bandwidth HD video amplifier will lose some resolution. If I recall correctly, the bandwidth of an HD video amplifier needs to be at least 30MHz, and many are only 20MHz. (Going from memory with stuff I don't fully understand so I may have gotten the details or gist a bit wrong.) The DRC bit is what upconverts analog signals to HD-like resolution, so aparently the XBR model gives you better control over how this feature works.
    The final deciding factor (for me, at least) would have to be a side-by-side comparison, before I can really get a good idea if these technical differences are really noticable to my own eyes. At least now I know the differences aren't just fluff and are really worth considering. Hopefully, I can do that side-by-side, but from what I've read, it seems it will be very difficult, as they're not usually placed side-by-side on demo and it'd probably be impossible to get someone in any store to set it up for me to judge like that.
     
  7. Brent Hutto

    Brent Hutto Supporting Actor

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    Assuming your budget can handle the XBR, it is borderline "worth" the $300 extra dollars in my opinion. By which I mean that you are getting some extra-value features (notably the adjustable DRC which is desirable when viewing lower-quality NTSC programming). OTOH, 300 bucks will buy you an RP82 and a handful of new DVD's to boot so it seems like a pretty close call to me.

    But if my budget would only go to $2,000 I would get the 36" HS-series instead of the 32" XBR every time. The picture quality on DVD movies will be identical between a 36HS500 and 36XBR800 and a 36" picture beats a 32" one hands down. The only way I'd consider the 32" instead would be if I were sitting six feet or less from the screen for some reason.

    I had the local Circuit City special order my 36XBR800 rather than ordering from Crutchfield. The price was pretty much a wash but if I didn't like the TV the process of returning or swapping it out at Circuit City would have been enormously less hassle (and expense) than arranging shipment back to Crutchfield. As it turns out, there was never any question of being dissatisfied, we absolutely love watching DVD movies on it. It's a qualitatively different experience than watching the same movies on our old 27" Trinitron.
     
  8. Adam Brandner

    Adam Brandner Stunt Coordinator

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    Justin, the XBR and HS do in fact look similar in pictures. However, if seen in person, they are very different. The shape of the TV is the main difference (as the xbrs are now designed to integrate seemlessly with a special stand made by Sony) and the plastic used is different as well. I saw last year's 40" xbr at the Sony Store in in Chicago, and the black plastic border that surrounds the screen looked very cheap. It is of course possible that they have fixed that, but I haven't seen this year's model in person yet, so I really couldn't say.
    Thanks to both Brent and Justin for their comments on the features/which one to buy. I really, really want to go with the xbr, but I'm going to have to see one in person one more time to see if I can live with the chassis. It would be a different story if I were planning on buying the custom stand, but I'm afraid that the xbr will look ridiculous sitting on top of the butcher block I'm switching my home theater setup on to. I'll probably end up posting this same topic again in a month or two when I scrape the money together, so just bear with me in that event. Thanks again.
     
  9. JJR512

    JJR512 Supporting Actor

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    I finally saw the 36XBR800 in person today at a Circuit City. I have never seen any other XBR model in person until today, so I can't make direct comparisons...and I'm not sure of the exact model number of last year's 40" XBR, but I'm guessing it was the 40XBR700, still shown on Sony's site, which seems to be a bit dated (it's also showing the 36XBR450 and 32XBR450 but not the 36XBR800). To me, it looks exactly the same as the new 36XBR800, so I would assume that if you thought the 40XBR700 looked cheap, then you'd think the new 36XBR800 would also look cheap. Unless they've changed the actual plastic material or maybe the build quality (tolerances or whatever), but to me, they look exactly the same in the pictures. That said, after seeing the 36XBR800 in person, it didn't look cheap to me at all. The black trim piece around the screen was shiny and looked solid, and felt solid, too. I grabbed it and tried to wiggle it and it didn't budge. I grabbed the side of the chassis, too (the speakers) and tried twisting and turning, and it continued to feel solid. I guess the appearance of cheapness may be more of a personal opinion in this matter, but I think that if it does look cheap, it only looks cheap, but is actually very solid and high-quality.
    Aside from the cosmetics of the chassis...This TV had the best-looking image I've ever seen on any TV screen...once I stepped back a bit. I think many people, when looking at TVs on display in the store, have a tendancy to go up to the shelf and look at the TV from about a foot and a half away from the screen. That's not realistic. Standing that close, you do see stuff you're not really supposed to see, like individual pixels, and the first impression is to wonder what the big deal is. Sure, up close it still looks better than any other model looks from the same distance, but it's less of a "wow" factor. When I realized what I was doing, I stepped back to around six to eight feet, and it looked so much better. That also gave me the ability to more realistically compare it to its neighbors and see how much better it is. Not only did I step away, but I stepped to the side, as well, to see what it will look like to anyone else in my house who can't sit directly in front of it (that's MY spot, of course!). Still amazing, of course, like only a flat tube (or plasma screen...I would add front projection screen, but not in this much ambient light!) can deliver.
    There is now no doubt in my mind that this is the TV I want. A friend of mine is offering a few-year-old 47" RPJ to me for $750. I'll probably look, just to make sure it's not a hidden jem, but I highly doubt that, and even though that would be a lot cheaper, it won't be anywhere near as good. Now I just have to save from my next few paychecks...I think if I can actually manage to save up for the 36XBR800, though, I may as well see if I can hold out for the 40XBR800! [​IMG] I wouldn't count on it, though! [​IMG]
     

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