Knowing how good Sony’s KDL-46W4500 is, we rather suspected it might take a stablemate to knock it off its perch. Enter the KDL-46Z4500, a set that’s so ridiculously high-end, it costs £600 more than the already premium W.

That extra chunk of change gets you 200Hz for supposedly smoother motion, an increase in claimed contrast from 50,000:1 to 80,000:1, and a different speaker array that also boasts a built-in subwoofer. There are subtle styling differences, too, which include a ‘floating’ speaker grille and a return to the blue-tinted Midnight Sky finish.

Subtle improvements

We think it’s fair to say the Z is a better-looking set than its W brother, but does it perform better? Well, yes, but subtly so.

If you’re after better motion, the headline enhanced refresh rate might alone be enough to sway you. However, the extra level of motion processing this makes available actually decreases motion realism.

The most solid performance comes when Motionflow is standard, but it’s not a huge improvement over the great delivery of the W.

A more significant difference is the ever-so-slight extra richness to whites, which in isolation is almost impossible to spot. It actually serves to add a smidge of extra life to skintones.

The backlight is a little more even, too, which will please you if you were among those who were disappointed with the ’W4500.

Punch and black depth

All these small improvements add up to a performance that subtly improves on that of its brother. It has the subtlety to reproduce all the realism of The Duchess on Blu-ray and the vibrancy to make Wall-E jump off the screen, while revealing more detail, punch and black depth than any other set of this size.

Even the Freeview tuner is improved, with a marginal increase in stability. The sound, however, doesn’t seem to quite bring the advances that its 40in sibling enjoys.

Other than that, though, the improvements make a picture that just about justifies the price. It’s too expensive to win us over completely, but if you’re prepared to pay for the very best 46in set available, this is it.

Stuff says... 

Sony KDL-46Z4500 review

The ’Z4500 represents the pinnacle of what Sony is capable of right now, so it should come as no surprise that it’s simply stunning