Sony Bravia KDL-EX720 review: Sony Bravia KDL-EX720

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good

Average User Rating

1.5 stars 3 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Sony KDL-EX720 has accurate color in bright areas; handles 1080p/24 content properly; and is extremely energy-efficient. Its automatic turn-off feature saves power and its matte screen reduces glare in brighter rooms. It has solid Internet services, including numerous niche videos and exclusive Qriocity and Gracenote. Lastly, the TV boasts classy, understated styling.

The Bad It reproduces lighter black levels, and its darker areas are tinged blue. The Sony KDL-EX720 cannot customize dejudder processing and has less-even screen uniformity.

The Bottom Line The picture quality of Sony's KDL-EX720 shows some flaws but its efficiency, design, and well-stocked feature list will win plenty of converts.

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Sony's KDL-EX720 series represents the least-expensive model in the company's 2011 TV lineup with 3D and a 240Hz refresh rate--both bullet points that the less-expensive KDL-EX620 series lacks. It's also Sony's highest-end 2011 TV to feature a matte screen finish--not a bullet point, but something we really appreciate. The latter helps improve image quality in bright rooms, but overall the EX720's strongest suits have little to do with the picture. Those highlights include miserly power use, extensive Internet content options, and a competitive price compared with other active 3D-compatible LED-based LCD TVs.

Editors' note: We don't have a pair of Sony's 2011 3D glasses on-hand yet, so we'll update this review with 3D picture quality notes when we have a chance to test the EX720 with the new glasses. In 2011, as in 2010, 3D picture quality does not figure into CNET's numeric performance rating.

Series information: We performed a hands-on evaluation of the 46-inch Sony KDL-46EX720, but this review also applies to the other screen sizes in the series. All sizes have identical specs and, according to the manufacturer, should provide very similar picture quality.

Design


Once you peel off the Energy Star sticker, the Sony can be described as ultraminimalist.

Design highlights
Panel depth 1.7 inches Bezel width 1.1 inches
Single-plane face No Swivel stand Yes

The EX720 has a slim, unadorned look with a relatively thin bezel that's basic glossy black on the top and sides and subtly textured glossy black on the bottom. The panel sits low atop the glossy black swivel stand, making the whole package appear quite compact.


The EX720's panel keeps a low profile over the stand.

Remote control and menus
Remote size (LxW) 8.6 x 2 inches QWERTY keyboard No
Illuminated keys 0 IR device control No
Menu item explanations Yes On-screen manual Yes

Sony didn't modify the ergonomics of its remote much, and it's still one of the best. The concave surface and strategic button placement guided our thumb naturally to the big cursor button, which is ringed by six keys (although four would do--Guide and Synch Menu will be underused on most setups). The biggest change is a prominent red Netflix button--and we love having instant access to Watch Instantly. Other dedicated keys of note include those to Qriocity, Internet Video, 3D, I-Manual (for the excellent built-in manual), and TrackID.


Behold the Netflix button! Samsung and Panasonic clickers we've seen don't have it. Their loss.
Sony did revamp its Home menu this year, ditching the PS3/PSP-style XMB interface for a new scheme that creates a main horizontal bottom row and a right-hand vertical column flanking a smaller, inset TV image (tweakers fret not; the TV image expands back to full size during picture adjustments). The menu shows all of the horizontal options at once, but there's simply too many of them--nine total: Settings, Widgets, Applications, Qriocity, Internet Content, TV, Media, Inputs, and Favorites/History (consolidation, anyone?). None of the main horizontal choices is labeled until you select it, so you're forced to either learn Sony's quirky iconography or scroll a lot until your item appears. Each option has its own column of sub-options, for a total effect that can easily become overwhelming.

Submenus for Options and Favorites/History, as well as those dedicated buttons, help a little, and we appreciate that the numerous "small fry" niche video services are shunted into a submenu. Overall, however, we feel the company could have done a much better job organizing the TV's numerous features.


Sony's new menu system replaces the PS3-like XMB system with an inset window arrangement.

Features

Key TV features
Display technology LCD LED backlight Edge-lit
3D technology Active 3D glasses included No
Screen finish Matte Internet connection Wired
Refresh rate(s) 240Hz Dejudder (smooth) processing Yes
DLNA compliant Photo/Music/Video USB Photo/Music/Video
Other: Presence sensor; Rovi on-screen channel guide; optional 3D glasses and USB wi-fi adapter (UWA-BR100, $80); twin-view picture-in-picture

The EX720's feature set leaves little to be desired, unless you want local dimming or built-in Wi-Fi. Like most active 3D TVs it doesn't include the proprietary glasses necessary to watch 3D content; Sony has a new version for 2011 that's lighter than the 2010 glasses.

One of our favorite little extras is the energy-saving presence sensor, which automatically turns off the picture and eventually the whole TV if it fails to detect somebody actually watching (it looks for movement) after a user-specified period of time. Yes, it actually works. As we mentioned at the top, we also really appreciate the matte screen finish in bright rooms.


A unique TrackID feature can identify music.

Streaming and apps
Netflix Yes YouTube Yes
Amazon Video on Demand Yes Hulu Plus Yes
Vudu No Pandora Yes
Web browser Yes Skype Optional
Facebook Yes Twitter Yes
Other: Gracenote TrackID; 28 niche video services; Sony's Qriocity video and music service; 73 total Yahoo! Widgets as of press time; Picasa, Photobucket and Shutterfly

In short, there's plenty of online choices for just about everyone.

The main missing link is Vudu, and while many others (namely Amazon VOD and Qriocity) can duplicate Vudu's VOD offerings, none currently offers Vudu's 3D on-demand or the superior image quality of Vudu HDX. We'd also like to see support for a major subscription music service, like Rhapsody or Napster, but doubt it's coming, since Sony is pushing Qriocity. The latter recently expanded from its VOD offerings to include a subscription music service, which is available on this TV.

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Where to Buy

Sony Bravia KDL-60EX720

Part Number: KDL-60EX720/US
Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Enhanced Refresh Rate 240 Hz
  • 3D Yes
  • LED Backlight Type Edge Light
  • Display Format 1080p
  • Energy Star Qualified EPA Energy Star
  • Diagonal Size 60 in
  • Type LED-LCD
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