By Davis Freeberg
I remember the first time that I went shopping for a television. As a poor college student, I knew that my funds were limited, yet I still wanted the biggest TV that I could find. At the time 19″ sets were priced at $200 and it seemed like the prices went up by about $10 an inch, until you hit the 32″ threshold. After the 32″ sets, the prices seemed to jump by about $150. Being a bargain minded shopper I seized upon the 32″ set as being the best value for my money, but also offering the largest screen size.
Two years ago when I was finally ready to make the upgrade to a big screen TV, I used the same philosphy in my approach. At the time prices on the 42″ plasmas were very tempting, but then I noticed that I could get a 60″ rear projector for about $3,500 and I starting to look into it more seriously. It was tough choosing between the slim plasma design or the larger screen size, but ultimately the screen size won me over and I purchased a 60″ Sony Wega rear projector TV.
Sony did a really good job with the design. Despite being a rear projector set, the depth of the TV is only about 22 inches deep. While this isn’t plasma impressive, it’s depth was still less then my previous 32″ Panasonic even though the screen size is significantly larger.
The picture quality on the big screen varies depending upon whether you are watching HDTV or standard definition. HDTV definetely looks great. It may just be my imagination, but sporting events seem to look the best on this set. It could just be the larger screen size, but sports always seem to look especially crisp. It’s hard for me to get a true sense of how good the picture quality really is because the KF-60WE610 model that I bought only supports 720p resolution. For most of the public I think that this is clear enough, but in retropsect, I do wish that I would have purchased the more expensive 1080p KDS-R60XBR1 model instead. In reality, I probably couldn’t tell the difference between the two, but psychologically I’m sure that I would think it looked better.
I might not be able to tell the difference between 720p or 1080p, but the difference between standard definition and high definition is pretty dramatic on the 60″ set. Standard definition TV looks terrible. The large screen degrades the quality pretty significantly. The quality looks about the same as when you try and watch a .mpeg in full screen mode with an aspect of 320×240. It doesn’t make it impossible to watch, but it’s a huge step down compared to the HD programming.
Compared to SD programming, DVDs look great on the set, but you can tell that the HDTV is just a little bit better. The only real drawback to the video presentation is that the screen that they used seems to be especially reflective with light. If you watch TV mostly in the dark, you’ll never notice it, but if you’re trying to catch up on your daytime soaps, then you’ll definetely need a good set of blinds.
I’ve experiemented a little bit with the audio quality and while it’s on par with any standard definition set on the market, it didn’t blow me away compared to my home theater system. With 30 watts of output, you should be able to get more then enough volume out of it, but despite the audio quality being clear it doesn’t have the same depth that you can achieve with a complete home theater setup. For some this won’t be as important, but believe me hearing Michael Myers breathing behind my neck made Halloween about 20 times more scary.
Over the last year and a half I’ve probably used at least 2,000 hours of lamp light and have yet to run into any major problems. I have noticed that on a half a dozen occasions, I’ve had to completely cutoff power to the unit in order to get the lamp to light, but it’s always turned back on after I’ve recycled it’s power. I know that models produced prior to January 2004 have had issues with this but my set was made after that. I’m not sure how many hours of lamp light my set is designed to take, but I know that the estimated life of the more expensive KDS-R60XBR1 model is supposed to be around 6,000 – 8,000 hours. I figure that this should give me at least 3 – 4 more years of years of heavy use before I need to worry about upgrading to a better set.
The TV also has some additional functionality that I haven’t tested out, but it supports cable card and it has the ability to hook up your computer directly to the TV. I’m a little disappointed that we don’t see any ethernet support, but you can play mp3s and photos off of a memory card. Somehow limiting my music collection to a memory card fails to excite me, but someone at Sony must have liked the idea.
In total the set features seven different input channels and supports every video input out there, unfortunately only two of it’s channels are dedicated to HDTV. Because my home theater system only supports an HDMI connection, I’m forced to juggle between Cable, DVDs and the Xbox 360. I could go out and get a splitter box, but I swore those off after I got rid of my Nintendo & both of my playstations.
Overall I’ve had a great experience with my TV and would recommend it to anyone who doesn’t have their heart already set on a flat screen. The TV may end up taking up a bit more space, but the extra screen space is well worth it. While I don’t believe that Sony is still producing my model, their 1080p model currently sells for $3,500 – $4,500 depending on the merchant.