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Design has always been central to Sony's core, and while the past few ranges have looked quite slick we think the company's been lost in the wilderness when it comes to picture quality and value for money. However, could the NX700 be Sony's North Star — with its combination of design and performance — and guide it back on track?
Forget piano black, "borderless" designs are the current fashion with Apple, LG and now Sony leading the way. Of course, there is still a bezel on the NX700 as you still need somewhere to keep the panel's little. But the panel is covered by a pane of glass which makes it look, in Sony's words, monolithic.
All of the controls are on the side of the TV and include a hard "off" switch which enables users to cut the energy usage of the TV to zero when not in use. The side profile isn't the slimmest we've seen, especially as the optional stand sticks out the back quite a way. But we've always been more interested in how the TV looks from the front anyhow.
The TV comes with a fairly innocuous swivel stand and if you use this option you'll be able to see the thin silver stripe at the bottom of the TV. Our preferred method is the optional table-top stand, which looks like a knife sharpener, but it also sets you back an additional AU$249. It's essentially a plastic/metal slab with a speaker grille at the front. Like the table-top stand, it also comes with a brace that helps you achieve a more suave slanted look. Sony says it has designed this six-degree tilt to enable the TV to be more comfortably viewed when put on a low-slung TV stand. We found that whether you use a low stand or a tall one the tilt feels unusual, and you are actually losing a very small amount of viewing area by watching it this way. But by joves, it looks cool!
We would have preferred a simpler system of changing from the angle of tilt on the optional stand, however, as it involves removing a bracket, taking out three screws, sliding the TV forward and then tightening the screws and bracket back on.
The bundled remote is a little different from Sony's previous models as the front is slightly concave. For some reason there is also a On/Off button on the back of the remote. While the remote is fun to use, we found it wasn't always the easiest to control as the difference between the four-way cursor and the surrounding buttons isn't pronounced — it's easy to hit the "Home" button instead of "Down", for example.
While it may lack the all-dancing 3D features of the Sony, the NX700 still has a couple of magic tricks in its almanac. The 40-incher is a full-HD panel and features edge-lit LED technology for a brighter, "greener" picture. The television, like all of Sony's newest models, features internet connectivity and file streaming software. Sony has its own called , which promises to include catch-up content from providers including Yahoo7, SBS and ABC's iView in the coming months. At present users can access YouTube and Ford Models clips amongst other similar video services.
With the latest April update, Sony also brings us Yahoo widgets such as weather, Facebook and Twitter though the dedicated button on the remote doesn't currently work.
To help with the TV's connectedness, the NX700 includes both wired and wireless connections, and we were able to connect to our local WPA2 secured network without any hassles. Other connection options include four HDMI ports including two on the side and a single component connection. We didn't like the side mounts very much as we found that plugging cables into them ruined the TV's clean look, as you can see from our video. On the rear of the TV you also get two composite inputs, an optical output and a PC input.
The TV also comes with a number of picture enhancement technologies including Sony's Bravia Engine 3, "Live Colour" and 24p compatibility. The NX700 has 100Hz MotionFlow compensation, but if 200Hz is more your style then we'd say you should look at the NX800 instead. In our experience, Sony's 200Hz process is the best solution for sports enthusiasts.
Having dispensed with gimmicky features likeSony has been able to concentrate on picture quality again, and this renewed focus is immediately apparent on the NX700. For your money, you'll get one of the sharpest, most involving pictures you're likely to see on any television this year. You may not get the black levels that perhaps deep sea creatures are used to, but the images coalesce into a pleasing whole.