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The new Grand Wegas from Sony boast new styling, taking cues from their own Bravia line. And unlike the CRT RPTVs of yore, they have a very slender profile.

Sony KFE42A10 | $2999 |
For: A lot of picture for the money; excellent detail; good contrast
Against: Occasional chicken wire effect; analog tuner
Verdict: An excellent screen for home cinema buffs which will advance the cause of rear-projection no end

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Everything about this unit shows that a lot of thought has gone into enhancing the user’s experience. For example, connectivity is excellent, with HDMI, D-Sub, two component, two S-Video and three AV-in. And the remote is well laid out, even if the Menu button is confusingly labeled ‘Wega Gate’ instead.
Once running, the Sony is a very stylish performer. Images are presented with a very ‘filmic’ quality. This is the closest you’ll get to a cinematic experience from a sub-$3000 TV. As a home theatre screen it’s almost perfect, viewing angles are actually quite good for a rear projection, up to about 90 degrees – provided you’re at eye level of course. Viewing angles taper off rapidly if you’re looking down on the set, as is usually the case with rear-projection screens.
Contrast is excellent, helped along by an iris shutter system which prevents light leakage on dark images. DLP is still capable of better contrast levels of course, but the advantage of 3LCD is that you don’t get that disorienting rainbow effect in your peripheral vision.
Skin tones are warm, and yet detailed. This is a better picture than you’ll get from an LCD at twice the price. Images, though natural, are also larger than life, providing a tremendous sense of scale. Text, a problem with other Grand Wegas, is much improved on this model, being very legible. Helpfully, there is also a ‘Text” mode to improve readability even further.
The tuner is analog only, but the pictures it provides are very capable. Even so, springing a little extra for a HD set-top box or PVR would pay massive dividends. And using a HD box the picture was very pleasing, whether it was watching the cricket or some Lost.
There is some discernable LCD structure visible on white or blue screens, and we found this distracting when using the Sony as a display for Windows Media Centre, with its predominantly blue screen. And curiously, though the screen’s resolution is 1280×736 we couldn’t get the screen to fill the entire screen, despite matching the resolution.
Sound is perfectly adequate for a TV of this size, and the large, horn-like design manages a sound which belies its 15W + 15W rating. But, we presume most home theatre fans would own a suitable sound system anyway.
Like we said, for home theatre applications, this TV is almost flawless. It provides big, bold images, and plenty of flexibility through the bucketloads of AV sockets. For TV watchers, the only thing lacking is the digital tuner, which is present on overseas versions of this telly.

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