Published: February 22, 2013 3:00 PM
By Vincent Alzieu / Pierre-Jean Alzieu
Translated by: Catherine Barraclough
The 2013 Sony TV range comprises an "R" series of entry-level TVs and a "W" series of higher-end models. Small screen sizes are covered by the W6, while the W8 makes up the standard mid- to high-end range. The W9 is this year's luxury option.

Sony Bravia KDL-47W805A
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We've managed to get a close-up look at the W8 in its 47" version, which is due to launch in March/April. We were intrigued to find out what kind of screen panel Sony would be using in this model, so we whipped out our macro camera to get a closer look at the subpixels. Would the firm opt for an IPS panel made by LG as we had feared, or would it go for a new generation VA panel made by AU Optronics?

The screen's subpixels speaks for themselves:

Sous pixels w8 sony 2013
A change of course: for 2013, Sony has switched to Edge LED IPS panels made by LG.

And so it seems that Sony has changed course with the W8. For the first time (except in a Sony TV for the Chinese market) the firm has decided to use an IPS screen panel. And that's got us a little worried. Does that mean we'll be seeing IPS screens in all of Sony's 2013 TVs, or is it just the W8?

Over the last few years, Sony has been big on "picture quality". That's no doubt why the firm has plenty of loyal fans and a decent reputation for TVs. So we can't help thinking that it could be a little risky for Sony to switch its TVs—with an established reputation for good colours and contrast (>4000:1 in 2012's HX853)—to Edge LED IPS panels that we know from experience often struggle to push contrast over 1000:1 (as we saw in five of LG's 2012 TVs). But who knows—Sony could be on to something and picture quality could be set to improve ... but that would require major progress to be made very quickly. To pull that off, LG would need to have something pretty impressive in the pipeline. Fingers crossed, then!

The only advantage of a contrast ratio hovering somewhere under 1000:1 is that clouding would be pretty much invisible.

What's more, Sony was once firmly against using passive 3D with Full HD TVs, and was regularly seen showing off the merits of active-shutter technology in its product demos. And yet the 47" W8 is a passive 3D TV. We, on the other hand, have no problem with that—passive 3D glasses don't have any built-in electronics and don't run on batteries, which makes them lighter and cheaper than active-shutter glasses. They're also less likely to do anything crazy to the colours. And at three metres away from the screen, very few people can tell the difference between passive 3D and active 3D.

For the time being, we're surprised by what we've seen, but we're as keen as ever to get this TV into our labs for a closer look at its performances.

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