Sony’s W802A series of LED-edge-lit LCD HDTVs has some solid screens. The performance is very good, the design is very good, and the price ($1,599.99 list for the 55-inch 55W802A) is fairly reasonable for a midrange HDTV. However, when you can find an HDTV that performs almost as well, like the Editors’ Choice Vizio M551D-A2R for $500 less, and an HDTV that performs much better, like the Editors’ Choice Panasonic TC-L55ET60, for similar money, it’s hard to make the argument to settle for very good when you can get a great price or great performance without sacrificing the other category.
The W802 looks simple but attractive. A 0.7-inch black metal bezel frames the entire screen, broken up on the bottom by a rectangular protrusion that holds the Sony logo and a white power light that appears as a glowing line on the bottom. The screen sits on a circular, silver-colored base that pivots left and right. An HDMI port, three USB ports, and a 3.5mm audio output sit on the back of the screen facing left, while three additional HDMI ports and an antenna connection faces downward. Component and composite video inputs and optical and coaxial audio inputs face straight back. Near two of the side-facing USB ports, Power, Home and Input buttons, and a direction pad (that doubles as Channel/Volume Up/Down buttons) let you control the HDTV without the remote.
With either the W802′s built-in Wi-Fi or an Ethernet connection, you can access a variety of online services including Sony’s own Sony Entertainment Network. SEN’s Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited services offer access to huge libraries of music (available as a subscription service with access to millions of songs) and movies (available as piecemeal rentals, or purchases for different movies and shows). Besides SEN, the W802 includes Netflix (with a dedicated Netflix button, right next to the dedicated SEN button on the remote), Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, Crackle, Facebook, Skype, and other streaming media services and apps, all of which are accessible through the Home button.
The 8-inch remote is long, simple, and not backlit. The most commonly used buttons (Home, SEN, Netflix, and Options) are clustered around the circular direction pad, which is easy to find under the thumb. Playback and four color buttons sit above the direction pad, while the number pad and Volume and Channel Up/Down buttons (along with Muting and Media buttons) sit below it.
The good news is the W802 can get very bright. The bad news is it can’t get very dark. We test HDTVs with a Klein K10-A colorimeter, SpectraCal’s CalMAN 5 diagnostic software, and DisplayMate test patterns. After basic dark room calibration, the W802 reached a peak brightness of 318.862 cd/m2, making it one of the brightest panels we’ve tested. Its black level is a decent but not stellar 0.05 cd/m2, making a solid contrast ratio of 6,377:1.
The W802′s color accuracy was good, but not great. As you can see in the CIE color chart above (the dots represent the measured color levels, and the squares represent the ideal color levels), white was slightly cool even on the warmest color setting, and green skewed slightly warm. The Editors’ Choice Panasonic TC-L55ET60, by comparison, produced double the contrast ratio at 13,118:1 with darker blacks and slightly more accurate colors.
These color flaws and less-than-stellar black levels didn’t seem to hurt the picture quality of The Big Lebowski and Black Swan on Blu-ray. Skin tones looked natural (except for Steve Buscemi’s purposefully ghostly pallor) against the awkward lighting of the bowling alley in The Big Lebowski, and the harsh dark and light contrast of Black Swan played off each other while showing a good amount of detail in shadowy parts of scenes, while not washing out the highlights of the white costumes. Off-angle viewing was excellent, with the picture not becoming pale or tinted from extreme angles.
The HDTV uses passive 3D, and comes with four pairs of glasses so you can watch 3D movies out of the box. The 3D effect was strong in the Under the Sea 3D Blu-ray, but it suffered from some notable crosstalk when viewed just a few feet to the side.
Power and Conclusion
Under normal viewing conditions, the W802 consumes 123 watts with Eco mode turned off and 94 watts with Eco mode set to low; the high Eco mode makes the screen too dark to watch. The screen is a modest power consumer, comparable to the Vizio M551D-A2R, which eats an average of 97 watts under normal viewing conditions.
The Sony W802A HDTV series is a solid performer at a reasonable price, but it’s pinned between two superior models in terms of either performance or price. At 55 inches, you can get the superior picture of the Panasonic TC-L55ET60 for just $100 more, or you can get similar picture quality and features for $500 less with the Vizio M551D-A2R, both of which are Editors’ Choice HDTVs in their respective categories. Keep an eye out for the W802A series for deeper sales, but otherwise consider the Panasonic or Vizio alternatives based on your budget.
|Video Inputs||Component, Composite, HDMI|
|Diagonal Screen Size||55 inches|
|Pixel Refresh Rate Speed||600Hz|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc