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Sony LCD TVs: Thin as toast, smooth as silk and wireless too

The Big S is gearing up for a bumper year for its Bravia division: new features, new designs and comparing its TVs to breakfast snacks will all feature

Some time ago, we compared the thickness of a Toshiba TV to a fruit pastel. It seems Sony agrees that comparing food to technology is a good idea, because it's just announced its new LED backlit TV, the Bravia ZX1, is as thin as a piece of toast.

This screen achieves its amazing skinniness -- 9.9mm thick, which is a pretty chunky slice of bread, we have to say -- by using a sidelight instead of a backlight. This method of lighting the LCD screen uses an array of LEDs around the edge of the panel. A clever system of light diffusers then spread this light behind the screen. This dispenses with the traditional backlight and allows a reduction in thickness of baked proportions.

Although we quite like LED backlights, we generally prefer them to be mounted behind the screen, because that enables you to dim selective groups of LEDs, which means in dark scenes you can achieve a much higher contrast ratio. This is very expensive though, and doesn't allow you to reduce the depth of the TV at all.

Second on Sony's happy list is a return for its picture-frame TV. Like the E4000 range we tested last year, the Bravia EX1 is designed to look good hanging on your wall, and has special skills when it comes to displaying still images. It also features wireless technology that enables you to send an HD image to the TV from a separate media receiver.

We love the idea of wireless HD, but there is a catch. Sony's Bravia 1080 wireless system can only send a 1080i signal to the TV. That's fine when you're talking about over-the-air HD broadcasts from Sky or freesat -- which are mostly 1080i anyway -- but it's rather inadequate when you're watching Blu-ray movies or playing PlayStation 3 games. It's worth pointing out that the wireless HD system Panasonic aims to launch this year can send full 1080p video wirelessly.

The least exciting of all of Sony's new products, but likely to be the best performer, is the Bravia Z4500. Sony promises this TV's 200Hz picture mode will create the smoothest, most judder-free images we've ever seen on an LCD. We're unconvinced, because all of these extra-frame generation modes rely on the same premise. Namely, that it's possibly to generate extra picture information from nothing. We continue to fondly stroke Sceptical Cat.

We're delighted Sony is launching some innovative products though -- this has to be one of its best line-ups for several years  and we're looking forward to getting our filthy mitts on them as soon as possible.