Sony KDL-46NX810 LED 3D TV Review

The Sony KDL-46NX810 is a 46 inch, 1080p, edge lit LED 3D ready TV that is part of Sony’s Bravia NX810 series of 3D televisions. The NX810 was recently introduced by Sony and in some sense combines all the nice features of both the HX800 and the LX900 lines of Sony 3D TVs. We really like the performance, features and looks of this new entry from Sony and recommend it over the HX800 and LX900 series if you can afford the higher price point of these 3D ready TVs. This is the smallest 3D TV in the NX810 Series that Sony has currently announced, with a 60 inch and 55 inch NX810 also available. The NX810 is a higher-end 3D TV offering from Sony, exceeded in performance only by the local dimming Sony HX909 series. Featuring Sony’s Opticontrast Panel technology, 3D in full HD, Dynamic Edge LED backlighting and Sony’s advanced BRAVIA Engine 3 video processing technology, the KDL46NX810 is a very attractive option for consumers looking to purchase a 3D TV featuring excellent 2D and 3D performance, stunning looks and a very nice suite of networking options (DLNA, integrated WiFi, internet apps, widgets and streaming video/movies).

Highlights of the Sony BRAVIA KDL46NX810 Review

Strengths

  • Monolithic design provides an elegant, slim, single panel with a thin bezel and a finished glass look.
  • Great 3D performance with very little cross-talk and ghosting visible.
  • Plasma like black levels and excellent contrast ratio coupled with great backlight uniformity.
  • Integration with other Sony equipment is seamless.
  • Beautiful, sharp, bright picture, with a high degree of customization possible for personal preference and room conditions.
  • The onscreen menu is perfect, and easy to navigate quickly.
  • Motionflow PRO technology is quite well developed and does a good job with fast-motion videos without introducing much in the way of artifacts.
  • Excellent suite of internet apps and streaming video. Best amongst all the manufacturers in 2010 so far

Weaknesses

  • Not as bright as some of the other LCD/LED 3D TVs. However, it is still bright enough for most viewing situations (except very brightly lit rooms that get lots of sunlight).
  • The 3D glasses are somewhat on the heavy side making extended viewing a bit uncomfortable.
  • While the glare reduction is good, it is still a glossy screen and not as good as preventing glare like regular matte screens.
  • For an expensive TV, the integrated speakers are disappointing and produce tinny sound with a lack of bass. External speakers are strongly recommended with this 3D TV
  • Internet widgets can be a bit sluggish. Will hopefully be fixed with firmware update
  • 3D Transmitter, and Glasses not included so you will need to purchase them separately

KDL46-NX810 Design and Picture Quality

Design

The Sony KDL-46NX810 features Sony’s stunning Monolithic design concept. This TV is quite a head turner and will form a centerpiece in most people’s living rooms. The monolithic concept essentially results in a TV composed of a single slab panel that has a very attractive glass finish. It looks great and is certainly better looking than the Panasonic VT25 Plasma 3D TV series. The bezel is quite slim and the entire panel is only 1.5 inches thick (1 3/8” to be precise). The base has a brushed metal look and can be swiveled 20 degrees on either side. While it isn’t as slim as some of the Edge-lit 3D TVs from Samsung, the NX810 does have better picture quality in comparison to the edge-lit Samsung TVs. Besides, at 1.5 inches thick, the 46NX810 is certainly slim enough to hang on your wall. In summary, this 3D TV from Sony has a very attractive design and pretty much anyone would be quite proud to display it in their living rooms.

KDL-46NX810 Picture Quality

Flatpanel Resolution

The Sony KDL-46NX810 features a 1080p HD screen capable of delivering 3D high-definition content in all its 1080p glory. It’s a great panel for gaming as well (more on that later). The NX810 series also features Sony’s Opticontrast Panel technology which was previously available only on their LX900 and HX909 series. This consists of a clear surface treatment and a resin sheet that is sandwiched between the LCD panel and the front glass. This enables minimizing of reflection and refraction of the screen surface reducing glare and significantly enhancing contrast ratio and allowing for deeper blacks. It should be noted that the KDL46NX810 has a glossy screen so despite the opticontast technology it might still exhibit some glare in brightly lit environments. While glossy screens can never match the level of glare reduction that matte screens can provide, they do have the added advantage of much better image contrast making things “pop” and enabling deeper blacks.

Colour Accuracy

The Sony KDL-46NX810 exhibits fairly good color accuracy and spot on color temperature, just like the Sony KDL-46HX800. We would certainly recommend having your TV calibrated or at least finding some suggested calibration settings (we will try to post them soon) for this TV.

One thing to take note of is that the 46NX810 has an Ambient sensor that tries to adjust the color and backlighting of the television based on the ambient light conditions. While this is an interesting idea (and certainly not novel at this point), it works against you more often than not and we would highly recommend that you turn this feature off so that you don’t have to deal with sudden variations in color and/or backlight brightness while you are watching TV.

The Bravia Engine 3 conducts its magic in the background helping enhance image detail, reducing noise, optimizing color and contrast, and doing all those things you would like of a TV to do that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Black level and Contrast

As mentioned earlier, the Opticontrast Panel technology on the KDL-46NX810 does a surprisingly good job at producing great black levels and reducing glare. The NX810 has surprised many by exhibiting Plasma panel like black levels, very comparable with those found on the Panasonic TC-P54VT25. This is achieved by a combination of the opticontrast panel technology and the dynamic local dimming edge-lit LED lighting on this TV. The enhanced glare reduction is certainly noticeable if you compare this TV in a store against similarly priced glossy screen TVs. On the slightly negative side, such great black levels are accompanied by a display that is lacking in total brightness compared to most other LED/LCD TVs. However, the Sony KDL-46NX810 is still much brighter than plasma panels, and the brightness is certainly more than enough to produce great pictures in most situations. However, keep in mind that if you tend to watch TV in a bright environment and are used to cranking up the brightness and backlight on your TVs, then this might not be the TV for you. Shadow details are quite nice and you don’t have the low level details being crushed into muddy black soup.

The contrast on this TV is also very impressive, although certainly not as impressive or as Sony’s “Infinite Black” contrast ratio rating which if you’ve been in the game long enough, you will realize is just another ploy by the manufacturers to make you believe that your TV is capable of something no TV really is. The contrast ratio is hurt to some extent by the lower net brightness of this panel, but it is still excellent and in our opinion a worthwhile trade-off for stunning Plasma like black levels.

Backlight Uniformity

The Sony KDL46NX810 is an edge lit LED 3D TV that features Sony’s “Dynamic Edge LED” technology. Essentially what this is, is an edge lit LED that also has some amount of “local dimming”. I say “local dimming” in quotes because edge lit LEDs don’t really have true local dimming since the panel of LEDs on the sides and top/bottom of the panel are being dimmed to try and improve black levels and the contrast of the screen. While this works fairly well, it isn’t as good as backlit LED/CCFL panels that feature local dimming, since they have complete control on the backlight level at any location on the screen.
Having said that, the NX810 series has been excellent backlight uniformity for for an edge lit 3D TV, and performs better than the Samsung edge lit LED 3D TVs as well as it’s lesser cousin, the 46HX800. Flashlighting and clouding on the NX810 are almost negligible unless you are unlucky enough to get a faulty set or have extremely picky tastes and sensitive eyes. Keep in mind that you should always test your TV when you set it up at home as edge lit local dimming technology is isn’t very mature and there is a chance that you might receive a television that shows visible clouding and flashlighting.

Refresh rate and Video Processing

The Sony Bravia KDL-46NX810 features Sony’s MotionFlow PRO 240Hz technology to preserve detail and clarity in fast motion scenes while preventing ghosting, something that was common in LED/LCD TVs in the past. This technology is similar to the fast motion processing that pretty much all 3D LED/LCD TVs employ. If you want to learn more about what the 240Hz means along with what the MotionFlow PRO is actually doing to improve TV performance in fast-motion scenes, read our article on what the Hz numbers means for LCD displays.

Sony’s MotionFlow PRO algorithm is very effective and does help in preserving details and allowing for smooth transitions during fast scenes. You will however have to play with the various settings in the TV as the extreme level can introduce artifacts and give the video content a very “home-video” like look. It’s hard to explain till you actually see it, but when you do, you’ll know to just go into the menu and tone down the level of MotionFlow processing to the input video signal. It should be mentioned that the MotionFlow PRO technology from Sony is one of the best fast-motion algorithms on current TVs in that it achieves its desired purpose while minimizing the “soap-opera” effect that plagues most sets that use such types of video processing algorithms.

The KDL46NX810 is very effective at displaying 24p video content (Blu-Rays) without any visual stuttering.

Viewing Angle

As with the other Edge-lit LED 3D TVs available such as the Samsung UN46C7000, the 46NX810 does not have the best performance when it comes to Viewing Angle. This is fundamentally a long standing limitation of LED/LCD displays due to the directional nature of the backlighting. In the case of the 46NX810, it certainly has improved on the viewing angle front in comparison to the 46HX800. You will notice a pronounced drop in the contrast ratio and the image will begin to look washed out once you exceed around 25-30 degrees on either side of the normal to the TV screen. This will also have worse implications for viewing 3D content at larger off-axis angles.

We definitely advise you to keep this in mind when buying your 3D TV. If you expect to view your TV from a number of locations, especially some that are at quite a large angle to the TV screen, we would strongly recommend considering a Plasma 3D TV such as the excellent Panasonic TC-P50VT25 or the Samsung PN58C8000. Plasma displays have an inherent advantage over LED/LCD TVs when it comes to viewing angle. If you’d like to learn more about the differences between LCD and Plasma 3D TVs, do check out our article comparing LCD vs Plasma 3D TVs.

Optimal Viewing Distance

The optimal viewing distance for this 46 inch 3D TV is approximately 6 to 9 feet. Of course, this isn’t a hard rule but it would provide you the most immersive 3D experience at these distances. Be sure to read our guide on the optimal viewing distance for your 3D TV. It will help you correctly choose the ideal TV screen size and viewing distance for your home.

3D Technology and Performance of the KDL-46NX810 Reviewed

While the 2D performance of the KDL-46NX810 is quite stunning, the 3D performance is also very good. One important thing to note is that the Sony KDL-46NX810 does not come bundled with the 3D Sync Transmitter and 3D Glasses needed for utilizing the 3D capabilities of this TV. While this may seem like a negative, it also means that the TV sells for a lower price and for those who want to wait on adopting the 3D technology, they can buy a great set that performs well for 2D while retaining the peace of mind of being able to upgrade to 3D if they decided to. If you’re lucky, Amazon tends to sell this TV in a bundle with a free pair of 3D Glasses and the Sony 3D Sync Transmitter. Click here to check the latest SONY 3D TV bundle deal from Amazon.

The 3D performance on the whole is quite good. The Sony 3D Glasses are very comfortable and more importantly allow you to comfortably wear them over prescription eyeglasses. Another nice feature of the glasses is that they use standard CR2032 batteries (you can purchase rechargeable versions online) and with regular usage, the batteries can last a few months. This is also nice because if you keep a few spare ones around, you can always swap out batteries without having to completely halt your movie viewing as you wait for your 3D glasses to recharge.

Another positive for the Sony activeshutter 3D glasses and 3D Sync transmitter is that they are able to communicate quite well without losing sync thus reducing cross-talk, ghosting and flickering while watching 3D content. The Sony NX810 series has shown less visible ghosting than comparable Samsung and LG sets, as well as the Sony HX800 series, which is a big plus for this series when it comes to 3D performance. One drawback of the 3D Active Shutter glasses from Sony is that they are a bit on the heavy side and over a long movie can get a bit uncomfortable or tiring.

2D->3D Content Conversion: While many treat this as a gimmick, it is certainly fun to have, especially when there is still a scarcity in the total 3D content available. Sony has done a surprisingly good job at making this feature work fairly well. Make no mistake, this will not look nearly as good as native 3D content, but it still works acceptably well for many video sources and can be a fun way to watch regular cable.

One drawback with the 3D on this set is that tilting your head causes the 3D effect to be lost. So if you tend to lounge around and lie down while watching your movies, you might not like this. Also, tilting your head can give rise to some color tinting. The 3D performance itself is exceptional and works very well when you are watching the TV straight on without any major head tilt. We should note that a couple of websites have panned the 3D performance of the NX810 series, but if you look at the large number of user reviews on sites like Amazon, Vanns or on forums like avsforum, you will find that the vast majority of users are exceptionally satisfied with the 3D performance of the 46NX810.

Another nice aspect of the Sony 3D Glasses is that they do not tend to flicker when viewing an outside light source, an issue that has been reported on the Samsung and Panasonic 3D TVs.

3D Gaming on the KDL-46NX810

This TV is absolutely gorgeous for 3D gaming. Obviously, being an LED 3D TV, you don’t have to worry about screen burn-in when gaming, something that will always bother you in the back of your mind if you have a plasma. While plasma screen technology has come a long way and is almost completely immune to burn-in, you still risk burn-in, especially if you are a hardcore gamer spending several hours a day gaming. Gran Turismo 5 in 3D mode is a must try for people who like 3D (make sure to use Native 3D mode from within the game options).

This TV has a “Game Mode” that turns off a lot of processing (Local Dimming, DRC and MotionFlow) that tends to introduce additional input lag. With vanilla “Game mode”, the lag is around 30-40ms. Turning on Local Dimming separately costs you another frame, so an additional 16.67ms of input lag. This should still be very acceptable for gaming purposes. Motionflow (or Smooth mode) costs you an additional 16.67ms, but might make the lag too much depending on what type of game you are playing. DRC costs you 2-3 frames and should be kept off during video gaming. In any case, it isn’t much use for videogaming as it is primarily meant for displaying SD content so you won’t miss out on much having this turned off.

Media, Internet and other Connectivity

The onscreen menu is perfect, and easy to navigate across quickly. It uses the same Xross MediaBar menu system that is found on a number of Sony products, including the Playstation 3. It is quite intuitive and coupled with the responsiveness of the TV controls, makes for a pleasurable user experience.

Of all the current manufacturers, Sony has the best Media/Internet suite available on their Bravia line of televisions. The KDL-46NX810 can be hooked up to the internet via the Ethernet port or via the integrated WiFi on this device. Depending on how good your WiFi connection is, you might need to connect your TV to the internet via Ethernet for streaming HD movies.
This TV is DLNA certified, meaning that you can stream content seamlessly from your PC or DLNA certified devices. The BRAVIA Internet Video suite offers over 36 channels including Netflix, Pandora, You Tube, Amazon VOD and many others. In addition, Sony has launched the Qriocity channel, which is its own video store when you can pay a small fee to rent a digital download.

The KDL-46NX810 also features a number of internet widgets which let you quickly access news headlines, weather information or play games while watching TV. It also includes widgets for Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. One thing to note: The widgets are quite sluggish on the NX810 at the moment. Hopefully this will be addressed in a future firmware update.

Inputs: 4 HDMI, 2 component, 1 composite, 1 PC, 1 USB, 1 Ethernet, 1 optical digital audio output

In terms of the audio, the 46NX810 is quite disappointing and has a very tinny, low bass sound despite having 3 speakers on the TV. You will definitely want to hook this 3D TV up to an external speaker system to get the best home-theater experience possible.

Price and Verdict

This Sony BRAVIA KDL-46NX810 is a very impressive LED 3D TV from Sony that features excellent 2D and 3D performance and provides good value for money with accurate colors, plasma like black levels, and good backlight uniformity. For 3D enthusiasts, the downside is that they will have to spend extra on a 3D sync emitter and 3D active shutter glasses but the good news is that this is one of the best LED 3D TVs currently available and has less cross-talk and ghosting issues compared to some of the competition from Samsung. The nice assortment of internet apps and widgets is a pleasant addition and all-in-all, we’d definitely recommend that you consider the 46NX810 when deciding on purchasing a 46 inch 3D Ready TV.

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