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Sony Bravia HX850 hands on

We delve deeper into the Sony TV that, perched atop its pretty little stand, is the "one to beat" amongst this year's crop, according to its maker.

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Derek Fung

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1 of 24 Derek Fung/CNET Australia

We delve deeper into the Sony TV that, perched atop its pretty little stand, is the "one to beat" amongst this year's crop, according to its maker.

Sony's range-topping new HX850 comes in two sizes (46 inches and 55 inches). The 46-inch model we have here is sitting atop the optional brushed-metal stand. During our initial hands on, we couldn't fault the image quality, but you'll have to wait until our full review to find out how good (or not) it is.

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2 of 24 Derek Fung/CNET Australia

Unlike last year's HX925, the unit "floats" above the stand, rather than sitting in a niche carved into it. Aesthetically, we prefer last year's stand.

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3 of 24 Derek Fung/CNET Australia

The HX850 uses Gorilla Glass, so its screen is incredibly sturdy. At a recent press event, Sony's Paul Colley repeatedly bashed the screen with the remote control, and the unit survived, unscathed.

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It's the same old lightweight, but relatively well-sorted, Sony TV remote.

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We say relatively well sorted, because it's all too easy to hit the Home or SEN buttons instead of down and up on the D-pad.

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There's a built-in web browser, which is handy, as you'll need it to log in to Facebook in order to use the social-media site's widget.

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Entering addresses, usernames and passwords is a real chore, unless you're a world-champion T9 typist.

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After a little effort, you can treat yourself to Twitter and Facebook updates alongside a shrunk-down TV image — which is great, if you spend most of MasterChef guessing online which cliché Senor Cravat will rustle up next.

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If you want more than one status update or tweet at a time, you can choose between an expanded display mode or a ticker.

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The Sony TV interface is quick, pleasant and easy to use. The design is reminiscent of the PlayStation's cross media bar, but upside down.

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Ten's catch-up service will soon join the services offered by the ABC, Seven and SBS.

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All of the catch-up TV services follow a similar format. It's nowhere close to being as nice as the Xbox catch-up TV interface, but it's better than what's offered up on the PS3.

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Owners can also rent and download media from Sony's Video and Music Unlimited stores.

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In Video Unlimited, some titles are available in both SD and HD.

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The HX850 will also play video files stored on thumb drives. Unfortunately, file support is patchy — DivX files generally work, but MKVs won't work at all.

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Unlike some other TVs, photos load speedily.

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Like we said, file support is patchy. Strangely, though, we got to this screen while attempting to view some JPEGs — the exact same ones that the HX850 had no problems generating previews for on the previous slide.

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18 of 24 Derek Fung/CNET Australia

On the back, there are two USB ports.

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For most people, four HDMI inputs should be sufficient.

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A D-sub VGA port is joined by an audio-in jack and a headphone port.

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The optional metal-finish TV stand has a beefier set of built-in speakers.

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The usual selection of component and composite inputs.

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The suite of ports is rounded out by a digital audio out, as well as an antenna jack and Ethernet port (not pictured). There's also built-in Wi-Fi hardware, so you don't need to shell out extra for an adapter.

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If you want to share the HX850's 3D experience, you'll have to cough up. Only one set of active 3D glasses is included.

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