The rear projection TV market has practically disappeared, thanks to the general lust for flat TVs these days. Sony is out to revive this undervalued and misunderstood part of the industry in style with the simply vast, 70-inch KDS-70R2000.
It's the first TV to use Sony's new SXRD projection technology, a device that enables film-quality smoothness on high-resolution images. For around £3,650, is bigger better?
As you'd expect of a TV with such a prodigious screen, the 70R2000 is impressively well prepared for HD. For instance, its connections include two HDMIs and two component video inputs, while its native resolution is a full HD one of 1,920x1,080 pixels. This means it can show HD sources -- including the 1080p/24 format finding favour with HD discs -- without having to 'downscale' them to a lower resolution.
The SXRD projection technology at the 70R2000's heart, meanwhile, helps the TV claim a terrifically high contrast ratio of 10,000:1. And as we'd hope, this translates into some really excellent black levels while watching dark movies like Poseidon on HD DVD.
Also mesmerising is the sharpness with which HD material is shown. The traditional softness associated with older rear projection technologies is not only completely shown the door, but replaced by levels of detailing and clarity that make the pictures of many flat TVs look mushy. If you want to fully appreciate what a full HD resolution can do for you in terms of extra detail and subtlety, this is the sort of screen size you need.
SXRD technology is renowned for not generating any technology-related noise problems, and this can be seen while watching HD on the 70R2000 in complete freedom from grain, dot crawl, blur over motion, shimmering edges, striped colour blends and so on. This helps the experience of watching such a massive screen become gloriously immersive, with nothing to distract you from what you're watching.
Perhaps the best way to sum up the experience of watching HD on the 70R2000 is to say that it's akin to looking through a huge window at a life-sized real world on the other side. You can't really ask for much more than that, especially when you've only spent £3,650.
Although Sony's designers have cleverly minimised the impact of a 70-inch rear projection TV on your living room, it still 'takes over' considerably more than a flat TV would.
Also, terrific though the 70R2000's pictures are, they're not completely flawless. As you might anticipate, for instance, the quality drops off markedly when watching standard definition via the built-in digital tuner. But while we'd always expect to see this happen to some extent, especially on a screen this large, the degree of extra softness revealed is slightly worse than anticipated.
The other problem is a drop off in brightness if you view from above or below the screen. Obviously, though, with a screen this big you're only ever likely to experience this brightness issue if you're standing up or lying on the floor. It shouldn't be a problem at all during normal couch potato sessions.
If you're thinking a flat TV is the only way to go, think again. Provided you've got plenty of HD food for it, this Sony rear projection giant can give you truly huge high-quality pictures far more affordably than any current flat TV can -- and has specs to die for. Apparently, rumours of rear projection's death have been greatly exaggerated.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday