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Picture quality

When it comes to buying a TV, no matter how attractive the shiny flagship models may be, it usually makes the most sense to buy the midrange products. While you'd naturally assume that the more advanced models have better picture quality, this isn't always the case. Sometimes you're just paying for more features and a worse picture.

If you're considering a Sony LED TV and the excellent HX850 is too rich for your blood, your choice comes down to the HX750 and the EX640 I'm reviewing here. After comparing the two directly I'd say it's a pretty easy decision. The EX640 wins because its picture is actually better than that of the more expensive HX750. Despite its spot as Sony's least expensive LED TV, the EX640 offers a very tidy picture for the money, with better blacks than on the HX750 and the Samsung UNES6500, and well-saturated colors. Design is a high point, unusual for a midrange model, with a nicely textured finish. The only significant feature it misses is 3D, which should actually please some people.

While the Vizio M3D0KD is better in nearly every way, if you're looking for a TV by one of the "big four" TV makers, the Sony EX640 is a good buy.

Read the full review of the EX640 here.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Sony hasn't done anything drastic in the design department in 2012, and as a result, the EX640 series is none too different from last year's EX series. That is, until you get closer: the bezel is metallic and features a stippled finish not unlike a men's electric razor, and it actually looks quite classy.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
It swivels!
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
A fairly simple remote, but it still comes with a dedicated Netflix button.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Four HDMI ports and two USB ports are the highlights -- you will need one USB for the wireless dongle, though.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The Sony's menu system is simple and actually better to use than the XMB.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The menu is the easiest way to access the most commonly used video services.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The Sony Entertainment Network offers more choices, but the interface seemingly takes forever to load.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
For the price, the Sony EX640 puts in a good performance. While the Vizio M3D0KD is a better TV overall, the Sony delivers a tidy picture with better-than-average black levels. Color depth and saturation is excellent, even if some others are able to deliver more-vivid tones. Shadow detail isn't as fine as on other TVs we compared, but the trade-off of an inkier background is worth some loss of fidelity in murkier areas. The TV also showed some issues in the uniformity department, where I detected some uneven backlighting and dirty screen effect, but it wasn't terrible.

Read the full review of the Sony KDL-EX640 series.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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