Hype Buster: Sony XEL-1 OLED Not the Perfect TV (We're Not Talking 'Bout Size, Either)

Sony's first OLED TV, the XEL-1, has gotten loads of favorable reviews and hype (from us too). It does put out a hell of a picture, one that made our Wilson proclaim: "you're essentially staring into what could very well be the perfect TV." But Gary over at HDGuru isn't so swoony, and his more rigid (and far HD geekier) tests show some serious (though not fatal) flaws you should definitely know about, if you're thinking about dropping $2,500 or are just an HD freak. Like, for instance, that it's not nearly as bright as the best plasmas and LCDs.

Brightness is the major issue here (though green is more saturated than the HDTV standard, if you care). If you move off-axis by 45 degrees horizontally (think viewing angle) then the image brightness drops by a third. And even if you actually calibrate the settings to "produce an optimum image," even on-axis, the best plasmas and LCDs are two-three times brighter (30-40 footlamberts vs. the XEL-1's 16.4 ft footlamberts).

Making the problem worse, one of the set's features is an auto-dimming circuit that slowly ratchets down the brightness (and contrast) within a minute of turning the set on (to around 7.8 footlamberts, way darker than "any calibrated plasma or LCD HDTV"). Sony says that it's to reduce the chance of burn-in, but it's more likely to help extend the set's life, which was discovered recently to only be half as long as it's rated for.

All that said, the picture quality remains "more breathtaking than its price," but you might wanna keep it in a dark room. [HD Guru]