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Sony KDL-EX700 series (photos)

Sony's midrange edge-lit LED-based LCD is nothing special from an image quality standpoint, but its Internet video and eco-friendliness will attract a lot of buyers.

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David Katzmaier
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1 of 20 Sarah Tew/CNET

Sony KDL-EX700 series overview

The Sony KDL-EX700 is the second edge-lit LED-based LCD we've tested from Sony this year. If you read the KDL-NX800's review, you will notice more similarities than differences between the two. The price disparity--of $400 between the two series' 46-inch models--gets you improved styling, Wi-Fi networking, and a couple of other minor niceties on the NX800; however, for some reason you lose the innovative "presence sensor." That feature turns the EX700's picture off automatically when you leave the room, and it can really lower power use if you're prone to leaving the TV on. Even without the sensor, the EX700 sips as little power as any TV we've tested--although we expect other LED models we review this year to post similar results.

Careful comparison shoppers might be surprised to learn the two Sonys have nearly the same picture quality. The major performance-related difference is that the EX700 has a matte screen, while the monolithic exterior of the NX800 apparently calls for gloss-- in a bright room, we preferred the matte finish. The EX700's picture won't wow anyone looking for a home theater centerpiece, but the TV earns the practicality nod over its more-expensive brother for buyers who still want Internet video and superb energy efficiency.

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Sony KDL-EX700 series corner detail

The separation between the screen and the frame is obvious on the EX700, but it's still plenty stylish--especially after you peel off the Energy Star sticker.
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Sony KDL-EX700 series stand

The swivel stand has a glossy black finish.
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Sony KDL-EX700 series rear panel inputs

The back panel has two HDMI inputs, a PC input, and a smattering of other jacks.
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Sony KDL-EX700 series side panel inputs

The side panel offers a second pair of HDMI and an AV input, along with a USB port.
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Sony KDL-EX700 series side view

The TV's notched profile measures 2.5 inches deep at its thickest point on the bottom, narrowing to an inch on the thinner section toward the top.
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Sony KDL-EX700 series remote

We also liked the EX700's remote control, albeit not quite as much as the NX800's slicker clicker. The EX700's remote loses the nice, flush plastic keys that the NX800 has in favor of the standard raised rubber variety; it also losing the backlighting feature, and you can't command other gear with it via infrared. However, the remotes excellent button arrangement and nice concave shape stay intact, as does that weird power button on the back of the remote and the stealthy sliding battery compartment (yes, we just praised a battery compartment).
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Sony KDL-EX700 series Netflix queue

The Sony Netflix interface differs from standard issue interface, showing a thumbnail view instead of the familiar horizontal row of cover art.
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Sony KDL-EX700 series video services

Netflix is the most important among the EX700's numerous video services, and gets a prominent place in the menu system.
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Sony KDL-EX700 series presence sensor

The EX700 includes a unique presence sensor that turns off the picture when it fails to detect movement within a certain time frame.
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Sony KDL-EX700 series Favorites menu

A handy Favorites menu lets you manually add services and other items for easier access.
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Sony KDL-EX700 series YouTube client

The Sony TV also offers YouTube but, like other so-equipped TVs we've tested, can't access the service's HD video section.
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Sony KDL-EX700 series MotionFlow menu

Sony's MotionFlow dejudder mode gives you just two options.
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Sony KDL-EX700 series options menu

The Options menu allows quick access to often-used items.
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Sony KDL-EX700 series i-Manual

Sony's onscreen manual is unusually well done, and even includes relevant graphics.
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Sony KDL-EX700 series ambient light sensor

Sony included an ambient light sensor that reacts to room lighting to set picture parameters.
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Sony KDL-EX700 series main picture menu

The main picture menu now includes an option to apply settings from any mode to all inputs (Common) or individually.
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Sony KDL-EX700 series advanced picture menu

This menu has plenty of options, and gets its own separate Reset button.
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Sony KDL-EX700 series white balance menu

As always, we appreciate the user-menu white balance (color temperature) controls.
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Sony KDL-EX700 series picture quality

The two 2010 Sony edge-lit LED-based LCDs we've tested, the EX700 and the NX800, deliver very similar picture quality. Both are characterized by average-for-an-LCD black level performance and solid color accuracy, with the exception of dark areas being tinged bluish--more so on the EX700 than on the HX800. The differences, namely the EX700's superior uniformity and bright room performance, and the NX800's better shadow detail and motion resolution result, aren't enough to cause any difference in the rating for this category; both scored a 6.

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