As the first official 2010 HDTV reviewed by CNET, and the first mainstream edge-lit LED-based LCD produced by Sony we've tested, the KDL-NX800 series arrives with plenty of anticipation. However, before you equate "LED" with "awesome picture quality," it's worth reiterating that the backlight technology comes in a bunch of varieties--and not all are created equal. The Sony NX800 performs on a par with other like-equipped LCDs that we've tested, such as the UNB7000 series from Samsung, so people seeking a premium home theater picture might be disappointed.
In other areas, the NX800 shines. Sony completely redesigned the exterior of its higher-end 2010 models in what it calls a monolithic style--and this TV would be at home near the Tycho crater or orbiting Jupiter. Sony also kept the superb selection of Internet services found on 2009 models, but adds built-in Wi-Fi to make them easier to use. All told, this svelte Sony feels more thoughtfully put-together than any TV we've tested in awhile, and it will easily find a niche in design-conscious living rooms.
Sony also gave the TV's remote control a significant makeover. It's one of the best remotes we've ever used, aside from the weird duplicate power button on its backside that caused us to shut off the TV once. The company kept the excellent button arrangement from last year's remote control, preserving the logical size and placement differentiation. However, this year's keys are more flush and sleek, improving the pressing action--now they emit a satisfying low-pitched click. The remote has a concave shape along its length that seems to send the thumb to the Home key and the middle of the big cursor control naturally. Completing the package, Sony added blue backlighting as well as the cap ability to control other devices via infrared or HDMI.
This year's set is Sony's first foray into the world of edge-lit LED-based LCD since the underwhelming KLV-40ZX1M. The KDL-NX800 certainly improves upon that model, but still won't be counted among the best-performing HDTVs of 2010. Its black level performance fall short of most other TVs in its price range, and its trade-offs in uniformity are typical with other edge-lit displays we've tested, although its overall color accuracy is solid. Aside from its capability to make backlight fluctuations an option rather than a necessity, the KDL-NX800's picture is roughly equal to that of Samsung's edge-lit LED sets from last year, complete with the glossy screen.