Sony celebrated the launch of its XBR8 tricolor-LED-backlit LCD TV lineup with a Pioneer-style darkened-room shoot-out. The 55" XBR8 was pitted against an unnamed popular plasma set. What you see above is the LCD on the left, and the plasma on the right. But wait, we thought plasmas always had the upper hand when it comes to non-crushed black levels!
It's only been a few weeks since Pioneer hosted a similar demo, with a Sony CCFL-backlit LCD and a Samsung LED-backlit LCD playing stooge to Pioneer's first- and second-generation Kuro panels. In that demo, it was embarrassing how bad the LCD looked against the plasma.
In this demo, Sony's got a better TV, a brand new LED-backlit system with a new flavor of dynamic contrast management called Advanced Contrast Enhancer PRO. Sony pits that new secret sauce against a hallowed plasma competitor—one might say a competitor known for breaking new ground—and the LCD looks, well, sh'loads better.
There are two takeaways here:
1. Apparently, these things can be juked. I mean, we're not naive enough to think that they couldn't be, but at this point, our heads are spinning. The first takeaway is that unless it's a case of Pioneer vs. Pioneer, or Sony vs. Sony, there's no way to trust your own eyes.
2. TV tech is getting remarkably better all the time. If we liked the Pioneer in the other demo, and we loved the Sony in this demo, guess what... the Pioneer and the Sony are damn fine TVs. Even if we can't tell who's the best, showing them in high-performance settings against competition proves that they're at least decent. You don't see Tier 2 companies hosting these sorts of demos, cuz only the best can even compete. [New June 2008 Sony Bravia Announcement]