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Sony KDL-EX720 series (photos)

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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David Katzmaier
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1 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Sony KDL-46EX720, overview

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 use 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 include miserly power use, extensive Internet content options, and a competitive price compared with other active 3D-compatible LED-based LCD TVs.

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Corner detail

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

The panel sits low atop the swivel stand.
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Side view

At 1.7 inches deep, it's clear the Sony is an LED-based LCD TV.
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Remote

Sony didn't modify the ergonomics of its remote much, and it's still one of the best.
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Remote detail

Behold the Netflix button! Samsung and Panasonic clickers we've seen don't have it. Their loss.
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Inputs

Minimal analog inputs is nothing new, and four HDMI is standard a this level. We appreciate the headphone jack and the fact that you can adjust its volume separately from that of the main speakers.
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Streaming services

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.
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Qriocity music unlimited

Qriocity's new subscription music service is supported.
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Gracenote

We did a full writeup of the new Gracenote music identification service already, so we'll just include the conclusion here: "Despite its hiccups and occasional failures, we really liked the ability to identify music quickly and conveniently with the push of a button."
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Gracenote results

Once it finds the track, Gracenote can pull up artist and title information.
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Gracenote search

Once you find an artist, you can search the database for biographical information. Or at least, info on artists with similar names.
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Widgets

Seventy-three Yahoo widgets are available as of press time on the Sony, including the exclusive FrameChannel meta-widget--a widget filled with other widgets.
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Web browser

The EX720 has a Web browser, although it's even slower and more annoying to use than the one on the PS3. With a few minutes of frustrated waiting for it to load hulu.com, it crashed the TV, and we never got it to load a video. It should be avoided unless no other Internet access method is available in your living room.
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Picture menu

An array of picture tweaks is onboard, including a 10-odd adjustable picture modes.
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Advanced picture menu

The company didn't add the ability to adjust dejudder processing beyond the four presets. Other advanced options are fairly standard, and don't include any of the wacky processing extras found on higher-end Sonys.
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Picture quality

Among edge-lit LED-based LCDs, the EX720 performed about average, from a 2D picture quality standpoint. Overall it matched the score of the significantly less-expensive, non-LED >Samsung LN46C630, for example. Strengths include solid color accuracy in bright areas, very good reflection control in bright rooms, and fine video processing. Its black levels were a bit lighter than the competition, however, and uniformity fell toward the bottom of the pack.

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