EXCLUSIVE REVIEW: Sony's gargantuan £30,000 Bravia LCD TV
Something for the weekend, sir? How about a monster 70in Sony Bravia LCD TV – all yours for a whopping £30,000 (well, just under actually).
It's not every day that we heave a TV of this size into our test rooms, and some of us are still wheezing from the effort. Getting the darn thing out of its flight case was definitely as good as a workout at the gym.
To give you some idea of just how big this set really is, take a look at the PS3 in the bottom right-hand corner fo the picture – that gives you an indication of scale.
The question is, though, can any TV really be worth the thick-end of £30k? You're about to find out.
Detailed, colourful, stable and downright huge images; impressive sound
Quite pricey; some backlighting issues; narrow viewing angle
Homer Simpson's home town of Springfield has the motto "a noble spirit embiggens the smallest man". There must be a glut of noble spirit at Sony
Bigness begets bigness. Most of us don't have a big enough pay packet or a big enough house to contemplate spending the price of a brand-new German saloon car on an LCD TV.
But imagine £30,000 is within your budget for a new telly, and then imagine you have the space in your home to accommodate a monstrous 70in screen. The Sony KDL-70X3500 suddenly looks a perfectly reasonable way to fritter away a few quid.
It may be super-sized, but the Sony's specification is no better than that of a premium 32in screen – that's to say, it's up-to-the-minute. 1920 x 1080 full high-definition screen resolution, naturally.
Three 1.3a HDMI inputs, a fistful of less-fashionable inputs and twin tuners are par for the course as well. There's a meaningful 11 watts per channel of audio power, too, though the idea that a screen like this won't be incorporated into a substantial sound system is a fanciful one.
Its considerable 76kg bulk having been wrestled from its enormous flight-case by an entire team of wheezing What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision reviewers, the Sony simply dominates one of our larger viewing rooms with its presence.
Gargantuan proportions appeal
Discussing just how big a screen that's the thick end of two metres across looks may seem redundant but, even lined up alongside a 65in plasma, the Sony's basically massive. Less serious-minded folk than us have observed how a few inches can make a critical difference, but the novelty of the '3500's gargantuan proportions is strongly appealing.
When it comes to performance, though, the Sony's quite a bit bigger than it is clever. Naturally, the '3500 does its best work when dealing with a 1080p/24fps Blu-ray source – but despite a painstaking tour of the labyrinthine set-up menus, we were unable to rid the screen of an unwanted suggestion of orangey magenta in what ought to be clean whites.
Black tones are inconsistent, no doubt a result of the screen's rather uneven backlighting, and there's a surprisingly confined 'sweet spot' for viewing – sitting off-axis by even a fairly modest amount results in a loss of depth and detail.
A rich man's folly?
Of course, there's also plenty to enjoy in the Sony's performance. It portrays details, particularly in textures, very well and can handle motion of all but the most vigorous kind better than an LCD panel of this size has any right to. And it delivers sound with a spacious focus that's as good as any flatscreen we've heard.
In strict What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision terms, a screen that costs as much as a top-of-the-line projector, a big projection screen, a most agreeable surround sound system and a nice comfy sofa to enjoy it all from is a bit of a non-starter.
But the KDL-70X3500 is a rich man's folly and, taken on those terms, it's one of the finest wastes of money we've ever seen.
Screen size (in): 70
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Progressive scan: PAL, NTSC
Inputs: 3 x HDMI, 2 x component, 2 X RGB Scart, S-Video, composite, PC, RF
Dimensions (hwd) (cm): 107 x 184 x 15
Weight (kg): 76