Sony Speeds Up the Clock

Sony's new 52

At CEDIA Expo 2008 in Denver, Sony has announced a new Bravia LCD HDTV: the KDL-52XBR7. This 52″ 1080p flat panel set has one distinctive feature; it supports 240 Hz frame rate.

Frame rate refers to how often the screen is refreshed with a new image. The standard rate for LCD panels is 60 Hz, or 60 times per second. That’s fast, but it’s not fast enough to eliminate the motion blur seen on fast-moving objects when shown on an LCD screen. Manufacturers have doubled that rate to 120 Hz which has helped reduce motion blur problems. It also has the added benefit of being an even multiple of 24 frames per second, which is the speed used by movie film. Some Blu-ray players can put out 1080p24 signals (which send 24 frames per second) and the 120 Hz speed helps prevent the herky-jerky motion that is sometimes seen when trying to show this on a 60 Hz panel.

So 240 Hz is twice as fast as 120 Hz, which Sony claims results in smoother, sharper moving images. (The system also automatically creates three “interpolated” frames as intermediate steps between each of the original 60 frames per second in order to fill out the 240 frames per second.) And it retains the benefits of being an even multiple of film’s 24 fps.

I haven’t seen the new set, which is scheduled to ship in December, so I can’t comment yet on how well this new technology works. Maybe it will result in sharper images, or maybe it will be like adding a fifth (or sixth) blade to a disposable razor. Sony also has not yet released pricing information, so we’ll also have to wait and see whether the technology adds sufficient value to justify the cost.