Sony Bravia CX523 (KDL-40CX523) review: Sony Bravia CX523 (KDL-40CX523)

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The Good Engaging colours; deep blacks; great Internet features; good standard-definition upscaling; solid sound quality.

The Bad Doesn't play MKV files; some motion blur.

The Bottom Line Stunning Internet features, perky pictures and impressive audio mean the 40-inch Sony Bravia KDL-40CX523 is a brilliant budget LCD TV. For around £560 online, it's an absolute steal.

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8.8 Overall

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The Bravia KDL-40CX523 is the entry-level 40-inch TV in Sony's 2011 line-up. It lacks 3D support and uses CCFL rather than LED backlighting, but it still packs in many more features that you'd expect from an LCD TV that can be picked up online for around £560.

Plastic porker

The KDL-40CX523 isn't the most beautiful TV we've ever laid eyes on. The bezel around the screen is quite thick and, despite the brushed-metal appearance of the band under the screen, the entire chassis is actually made from plastic.

The TV is fairly thick too, measuring 71mm deep. That's just under twice the depth of most LED screens. Still, we wouldn't describe the TV as ugly -- it's just rather non-descript. On the plus side, it won't draw attention to itself when it's sitting switched off in the corner of your room.

We've no complaints about the TV's array of connections. With four HDMI ports, a set of component inputs, a Scart socket, VGA connector and composite input, there are plenty of options for hooking up your AV kit. There are also two USB ports for digital media playback, or connecting the optional Wi-Fi adaptor, and an Ethernet socket for Internet connectivity and media streaming.

Sony has moved away from the XrossMediaBar user interface used on last year's models and developed a new, slightly more straightforward system. Now, when you press the home button on the remote, a rotating row of icons pops up from the bottom of the screen. Selecting each of these icons causes further relevant options to appear in a line above.

The biggest difference in the new interface is that the picture source you're viewing now stays on-screen, although it's shifted to a slightly smaller box in the top left-hand corner of the screen. The new interface is easier to understand, quicker to use, and far more colourful than the old XrossMediaBar system, but it will take newcomers some time to get their head around..

The comfortable remote control now has dedicated buttons to let you jump directly to features such as the Internet TV services and the scenes menu, which really just comprises a series of combined picture and audio presets.

The new menu system is faster to use and looks more colourful than the old XrossMediaBar interface.

One great new feature that also has its own dedicated button is TrackID. If you're watching something on the TV and a song comes on that you like but don't know the name of, you can hit the TrackID button and the set will record a snippet of the audio in the background, upload it to the Internet and then come back with the track name, artist and album information. It's rather like the Shazam service on mobile phones.

TrackID works across all the TV's inputs, including the Freeview HD tuner and HDMI inputs. It's fast too, taking just 5 seconds or so to come up with the song name. In our experience, it tended to be accurate.