There’s nothing like sitting poolside on a hot summer day, soaking up the rays, and watching your favorite baseball team. Trouble is, unless you have a protected area that’ll keep your HDTV safe from the elements, you have to haul your set in and out of the house, or risk damage from moisture, dust, and extreme temperatures. Sunbrite’s Signature Series of LCD HDTVs are built to withstand rain, wind, sleet, snow, and bugs, making them ideal for backyard use. These screens can handle temperatures as hot as 122 degrees and as low as -24 degrees Fahrenheit.
You don’t get much in the way of extra features for your money ($2,795 direct for the 46-inch 4660HD we tested), and you’ll have to shell out even more for a stand, but you do get a very bright, highly detailed picture, with accurate colors, and you can install the set just about anywhere, and leave it there all year round.
Editors’ Note: This review is based on tests performed on the SunBrite 4660HD, the 46-inch model of the series. Besides the screen-size difference, the $3,995 55-inch 5560HD is identical in features, and while we didn’t perform lab tests on this specific model, we expect similar performance.
Design and Features
The 4660HD is huge. The matte black cabinet, made of high-impact ASA resin, measures a not-so-slim 6.7 inches in depth and weighs 65 pounds. By way of comparison, the 46-inch TCL LE46FHDE5300 isn’t the most svelte set on the block and it’s 2.2 inches at its thickest point and weighs 25 pounds. There are several reasons for the 4660HD’s bulk: The cabinet houses four cooling fans and space is needed inside to enhance airflow. Also, there’s a set of blue micro-filters that helps keep out bugs, like spiders, who lay eggs and spin webs that may short out electrical components. The filters also act as a layer of protection against grease and smoke from your barbecue. In addition, the panel uses CCFLs, which requires much more cabinet space than LED backlighting.
The 1080p panel has a matte coating, which is essential for outdoor use (glossy panels reflect too much light to be watchable in the sun). Sunbrite refers to it as a high-haze coating that helps reduce sunlight glare. Even so, they do not recommend installing the TV in an area where it will be in direct sunlight, since the picture will still wash out (for direct sunlight applications, Sunbrite recommends the more expensive Marquee Series of outdoor HDTVs). The entire cabinet is weatherproofed and sports extra-wide (2.5-inch) bezels and an enclosure beneath the bottom bezel that holds a pair of 10-watt speakers.
Another enclosure on the back panel is home to the I/O ports. It’s also weatherproof and can be sealed with a screw-on lid to help keep water and bugs away from your connections. You only get two HDMI ports (most 46-inch sets offer three or four), plus s-video and composite video inputs, two sets of component A/V inputs, a PC (VGA) video input, a PC audio input, digital and analog audio inputs, and an antenna/cable coax connector. The lone USB port is for service use only and there’s an IR emitter window for use with a third party infrared remote. The 4660HD lacks Ethernet or Wi-Fi connectivity, and doesn’t offer any Web features, nor does it support 3D.
Around back on the right side are seven rubberized buttons that can be used to access the menu system, adjust volume, change channels, and select an input source. You can also use the included water-resistant remote, which measures 7.5-inches long and has a clear membrane that covers all fifty of its smallish round buttons. In addition to a number pad and four-way arrow buttons it offers Menu, Channel Up/Down, Volume Up/Down, Guide, and (screen) Freeze buttons. It also contains buttons for features that are not included with this model like picture-in-picture.
The Picture settings menu includes Brightness, Contrast, Tint, Sharpness, and Color sliders. There are five picture presets (Vivid, Standard, Sports, Theater, Custom) and a handful of advanced settings including Noise Reduction, Zoom Mode, and Adaptive Contrast. There aren’t any ways to tweak white point and gamma values, both of which are necessary for performing a complete calibration. You’ll have to contact Sunbrite and work with a technician to make those adjustments.
The set comes with a two-year warranty, the remote, a dust cover, and a comprehensive owner’s manual. You’ll have to pay extra for a table-top stand ($75), or you can purchase a non-articulating wall mount ($150), an articulating wall mount ($465), or a ceiling mount ($425). All of the mounts are powder-coated and come with lifetime warranties.
The 400-nit panel is both very bright and delivers very dark blacks. By default, the picture’s color temperature is fairly hot since its main purpose is for outdoor use rather than in a theater or dark living room setting. For testing purposes, I performed a darkroom calibration to measure peak brightness and black level output. Using images from the DisplayMate HDTV diagnostic utility, SpectraCal’s CalMAN 5 software, and a Klein K10-A Colorimeter, the 4660HD turned in a high peak brightness reading of 427.46 cd/m2 and a low black level reading of 0.013 cd/m2. The corresponding contrast ratio of 32,881:1 rivals that of our current leader, the Sharp Elite Pro-70X5FD(38,262:1).
Not only does the 4660HD deliver excellent highlight and shadow detail, you get fairly accurate colors too. On the CIE chromaticity chart below, the closer the red, green, and blue dots are to their corresponding boxes, the better the color accuracy. Here, all three colors run a bit warm but are relatively close to their ideal coordinates and none are skewed to the point of oversaturation.
The warmer color tones actually work to the 4660HD’s advantage, giving the picture a bit more pop for outdoor viewing. I hauled this behemoth outside to watch the New York Yankees’ home opener on a cold but sunny spring afternoon and was very impressed by the panel’s vivid color representation and sharp image detail. The green grass and clay infield looked spectacular and very natural, as did player skin tones. Shadow detail in the stands was outstanding. The panel’s 8-millisecond pixel response means the set has no trouble displaying fast action, such as tracking the flight of the ball. And viewing angles are nice and wide.
As is typically the case with CCFL-backlit HDTVs, the 4660HD is a power hog. It used 215 watts of power during testing, which is pretty high when compared with LED-backlit models like the 55-inch Sony Bravia KDL-55HX850 (47 watts), and the 65-inch Vizio M3D651SV (145 watts).
If you want to bring stunning high-definition TV and video to the great outdoors, the Sunbrite Signature series is worth checking out. Sure, $2,800 is a lot of money for a 46-inch HDTV that lacks Web features and 3D capabilities. Plus it only has two HDMI ports, and its older CCFL illumination technology won’t do much to curb your utility costs. But you get a bright, highly detailed picture, deep blacks, solid color quality, and the peace of mind in knowing that you can install this TV on a deck or patio and not have to worry about weather- or insect-related damage—and that makes it worth the premium.
|Video Inputs||Component, Composite, HDMI, RF, S-Video|
|Diagonal Screen Size||55 inches|
|Pixel Refresh Rate Speed||60Hz|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc