Puzzling Anomalies with the Sony Test Unit
Many of you have been asking when the review of the Sony HS20 will be posted. I was hoping to have it done by now. But we've got some puzzling anomalies with our test unit that prevent us from posting a formal review at this time. So I will informally share with you what we are seeing.
First, our HS20 sample performs beautifully with HDTV 1080i. The image sharpness, resolution, and overall integration is superb. For 1080i display it is, as we expected, incrementally better than the Sanyo Z2 reference unit we have on hand. On the other hand, the Z2 has the advantage with HDTV 720p since its LCD panels are native to that format. This, too, is as expected.
The unexpected performance issues are several however. First, image brightness is not nearly what we would expect based upon its 1400 ANSI lumen rating. Normally we anticipate actual light readings after calibration to fall quite a bit lower than theoretical maximum specifications. But the light readings from our sample unit are so low that we must wonder whether this is a representative sample. In rough terms, the light we are getting from the HS20 is about half that of the Sanyo Z2, which carries a rating of only 800 ANSI lumens. Since actual performance is so far below spec, and since such a discrepancy is highly unusual for Sony, we would prefer to see another HS20 for a second opinion before publishing any formal conclusions in a review.
Another issue we have encountered is unexpectedly poor performance in 480-line component video. We are not seeing the black levels or shadow detail that this product should be capable of. Furthermore, the image on our test unit is not as sharp as it should be. Here again our Sanyo Z2 reference unit is unexpectedly outperforming the HS20 in all of these respects.
We have asked Sony for assistance in troubleshooting the sample, but everyone has been distracted by CES the past couple of weeks. Many of the key support personnel should be returning to their offices today. We'd like to either get another sample for review, or get the one we've presently got tuned up and performing closer to its expected potential before going to press with a review. Based upon its performance in HDTV 1080i, the HS20 looks like a major step beyond all previous 16:9 format LCD products that Sony has produced. So we still have high hopes of being able to give it a strong recommendation.