- Review Date: 08/29/2012
- Bottom line: Sony's HX750 series of LED HDTVs deliver good color fidelity and come with plenty of Web apps, but you can do better for the price.
- Pros: Accurate colors. Good 2D viewing angles.
- Cons: Unimpressive black levels. Plenty of off-angle crosstalk in 3D. Glasses not included.
What a difference a digit makes. When I reviewed Sony's high-end KDL-HX850 series earlier this year, it earned great marks for style, overall picture quality, and energy efficiency. Sony's LED-backlit HX750 series is a different story altogether. It isn't nearly as sleek looking as its more expensive sibling, it uses more power, and its black levels and 3D performance fall short. On the plus side, the 55-inch KDL-55HX750 I tested comes at a much lower price ($1,899.99 vs. $2,599 for the 55HX850), and still delivers a crisp 2D picture with accurate colors.
Design and Features
The 54.6-inch screen is surrounded by glossy black bezels with a thin band of silver trim around the outer edge. The cabinet is supported by a rectangular black plastic base that lets the set swivel. While reasonably attractive, the design can't touch the sleek aesthetic of the HX850, which uses a seamless edge-to-edge glass design with an arched stand. The HX750 uses edge-lit LED backlighting, which allows for a relatively thin (1.8 inch) profile.
On the back, left-facing ports include two HDMI, 3.5mm audio out, PC/HDMI audio in, PC (VGA) video in, and two USB ports. Ethernet, cable/antenna, optical audio out, and two additional HDMI ports are down-facing, while a set of component and composite AV ports are flush-mounted on the back. These down-facing HDMI ports can be difficult to reach when the set is hung on a wall, and the side-facing port should be used first. The Power, Channel, Volume, Input, and Menu buttons are located on the lower right edge of the cabinet, behind the screen.
The bundled remote is nearly identical to the one that ships with the HX850, with a few minor exceptions. This time Sony added a dedicated 3D button and an I-Manual button that brings up an online user guide. The HX850 remote has a Scene button that lets you change picture presets (there are 14 to choose from including two Cinema presets), but with the HX750 that button is now a Guide button that launches the Rovi electronic program guide, so you'll have to use the Options button to change Scene presets. As with the HX850 remote, this one does not offer backlit buttons.
Picture settings aren't as plentiful as what you get with Sharp's high-end Elite Pro-60X5FD, but there are still enough controls to keep most tweakers satisfied. Basic settings include backlight, brightness, picture (contrast), color temperature, color, hue, and noise reduction. In the Advanced menu you can adjust gamma settings and white balance (through RGB gain and bias settings). Other advanced settings include Contrast Enhancer (adjusts contrast based on picture brightness), Auto Light Limiter (controls backlight to reduce excessive brightness), Clear White (emphasizes whites), Live Color (punches up color), and Skin Naturalizer (adjusts skin tones). Sony's Motionflow feature uses 240Hz technology to smooth out judder, but I noticed a fair amount of artifacts when used with any of its five presets.
The set offers Wi-Fi and Ethernet Internet connectivity, and comes with a nice selection of Web apps, including Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, and more than 50 sports, entertainment, and lifestyle channels. Social networking apps include Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and Picasa, and you get access to the Sony Entertainment Network, a portal that offers music and movies piecemeal or as part of a subscription.
Using images from DisplayMate's diagnostic software, a Konica-Minolta CS-200 Chroma Meter, and SpectraCal's CalMAN software, the HX750 produced a peak brightness measurement of 160.23 cd/m2 and a black level of 0.07 cd/m2. The resulting contrast ratio of 2,289:1 is pretty much in line with the HX850, but the HX850 produced darker black levels (0.04 cd/m2). Neither set can touch the black levels of a good plasma set like Panasonic's TC-P55ST50, however. I was able to achieve darker blacks by using the HX750's contrast enhancer and black correction settings, but shadow detail suffered as a result. Underwater scenes from Piranha on Blu-ray were a bit soft and minor artifacts were present in scenes with a very dark background. Despite the weak black levels, the picture quality was sharp and the semi-gloss screen keeps glare to a minimum.
As indicated by the CIE chart below, the panel delivered accurate colors. I had no reason to use the Skin Naturalizer setting; skin tones were spot-on with no apparent tinting issues. Even with Motionflow turned off, the panel did a good job of displaying blur-free action while watching clips from The Official 2010 FIFA World Cup Blu-ray. Off-angle viewing was generally good, with only a slight loss of luminance and color saturation when viewed from an extreme side angle.
The HX750's 3D performance was a mixed bag. It uses active technology to deliver great depth and clarity when you're seated directly in front of the screen, but a slight shift to either side results in significant crosstalk artifacts. What's more, 2D to 3D conversion quality is among the worst I've seen, with serious crosstalk and depth-of-field issues. In fairness, 2D to 3D conversion is generally weak when compared with watching native 3D content. To make matters worse, Sony does not include active shutter glasses with the HX750, so plan on shelling out an additional $50 per pair.
The HX750 used 88 watts of power during testing while operating in Cinema 2 mode with the light sensor feature disabled (this mode offers the best all around viewing experience for watching movies). Setting the power saving option to low dropped consumption to 57 watts while maintaining a decent, albeit less bright, picture (the high setting knocked usage down to 33 watts but produced a very dim picture). That's about average for a 55-inch LED backlit screen; the LG 55LM6700 used 67 watts with power saving disabled and 48 watts with power saving enabled. The HX850, on the other hand, used only 47 watts with power saving disabled.
The Sony Bravia KDL-55HX750 is a capable 55-inch HDTV with a generous feature set. You'll get a sharp 2D picture from this set no matter where you're seated, but you'll need to be front and center to enjoy error-free 3D video. The panel's accurate colors are a plus, but weak blacks hold it back. You can get most of the same features with Vizio's M3D550KD , which delivers darker blacks along with very convincing passive 3D. It's also considerably less expensive than the same size screen in the HX750 series, and it comes with four pairs of glasses, which is why it remains our Editors' Choice for budget HDTVs.