The Best Gear, Tested
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You won’t need to be poolside in Beijing this summer to see every bubble in Michael Phelps’s wake. NBC is airing more than 1,000 hours of hi-def action during the Summer Games, so the time has come to give up your high-minded but futile HD resistance. Sony’s new 46-inch Bravia Z series high-definition LCD has a 30,000:1 contrast ratio for deep blacks and detailed shadows, and a next-gen color processor, so gold shines like the real thing. The three-inch-thick set isn’t the slimmest, but its brain displays 120 images a second—double that of a standard set—smoothing fast-action scenes so well you’ll see every footplant in the 100-meter dash. You can also stream select content from the Net (with a $300 add-on), plug a camera into the USB port to showcase your own athletic feats and travel shots, or connect an iPod and use the Bravia as a stereo. (Cue: Olympic anthem. Volume: Full.) $2,800; sonystyle.com
Sony Bravia Z Series High-Def LCD TV