Sony Bravia KDL-BX420 review: Sony Bravia KDL-BX420

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The Good The inexpensive Sony KDL-BX420 series evinced good performance for an entry-level non-LED-TV, with deep-enough black levels and accurate color in mid-bright areas. It also, surprisingly for a 60Hz TV, handled 1080p/24 cadence properly, and its matte screen is a boon in bright rooms. Its styling is clean and its remote is among the best in its class.

The Bad The BX420 only has two HDMI inputs when most of its competitors have three or four. Its color was too blue in dark areas and too red in bright areas and its screen showed brighter corners.

The Bottom Line If you don't expect the world from the entry-level Sony KDL-BX420 LCD, its picture quality may be a pleasant surprise.

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6.3 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 6
  • Performance 6

By this time next year companies like Sony might not even sell TVs like the KDL-BX420 series. The CCFL (cold-cathode fluorescent) backlight that illuminates this TV's LCD panel is slowly going extinct, replaced especially in larger screen sizes by LEDs packed into razor-thin cabinets that can generate more light from less power. They can also generate higher profits. The BX420 is Sony's least expensive 1080p TV for 2011, and it's a very good value. The picture quality isn't up to the best non-LED models we've seen, like Samsung's more expensive LND630, but we noticed no major problems and a couple of surprising strengths. We wouldn't recommend it for budget videophiles, but casual viewers who don't want to pay more for LED will find plenty to like about the Sony KDL-BX420.

Series information: We performed a hands-on evaluation of the 40-inch KDL-40BX420, but this review also applies to the other screen sizes in the series. All sizes have identical specs and according to the manufacturer should provide very similar picture quality.

Models in series (details)
Sony KDL-32BX420 32 inches
Sony KDL-40BX420 (reviewed) 40 inches
Sony KDL-46BX420 46 inches


Sony keeps the BX420's design clean and entirely black.

Design highlights
Panel depth 3.75 inches Bezel width 2 inches
Single-plane face No Swivel stand No

Sony eschews the transparent edging, color accents and swivel stands of Samsung and LG in favor of unadorned glossy black on a low-profile, swivel-free base. We appreciate the clean look but, as expected at this level, it's nothing special.

Remote control and menus
Remote size (LxW) 8.6x1.7 inches QWERTY keyboardNo
Illuminated keys No IR device control No
Menu item explanations No Onscreen manual No

The basic Sony remote is an ergonomic winner despite its petite size. A sensible number of buttons are arranged into logical areas differentiated by size, color and shape, centered on a big Home key below the cursor control. The menus are similarly simple and satisfying, managing to place plenty of choices onscreen without seeming overwhelming.

A separate options menu gives quick access to most of the TV's settings.


Key TV features
Display technology LCD LED backlight N/A
3D technology N/A 3D glasses included N/A
Screen finish Matte Internet connection No
Refresh rate(s) 60Hz Dejudder (smooth) processing No
DLNA compliant No USB Photo/Music/Video

The most notable extra is the Sony's ability to play back music, photo, and video files from attached USB drives. Unlike the Samsung LND550 series, the BX450 lacks an Ethernet port, so it can't do the same via DLNA over a home network.

Picture settings
Adjustable picture modes 9 Fine dejudder control N/A
Color temperature presets 4 Fine color temperature control 2 points
Gamma presets 7 Color management system No

In addition to the three adjustable picture modes available under the General setting, there are (confusingly) six more under Scene. A seventh, called Auto, can't be adjusted. That's plenty of presets but only Custom and Standard allows access to advanced settings like detailed color temperature controls and gamma. Unlike LG with its LK450 series, Sony doesn't provide 10-point color controls or a color management system.

Fine color temperature control is welcome, but it's not as fine as LG's.

HDMI inputs 2 back Component video inputs 1 back
Composite video input(s) 1 back, 1 side VGA-style PC input(s) 1 back
USB port 1 side Ethernet (LAN) port No

Compared with the Samsung, Vizio, and LGs at its level, which offer at least three HDMI ports, the BX420's two-port offering is one of its biggest weaknesses. Two HDMI might be enough for the most basic systems, but to add something beyond a cable box and a game console--say, perhaps, a Roku or even a temporary camcorder or laptop PC connection--you'll need to get an external HDMI switch.

Two HDMI inputs is a paltry amount by even entry-level standards these days.

While the Sony BX420 doesn't do anything particularly well from a picture quality standpoint, it also, surprisingly for an entry-level LCD, doesn't do much badly. Its worst offense is color inaccuracy in dark areas and imperfect screen uniformity, but its black levels were decent and it actually handled 1080p/24 cadence--something we didn't expect from a 60Hz TV. Overall its picture deserves the same score of 6 we gave to Sony's EX720 LED-based model, which costs hundreds more. We'd give the BX420, with its more accurate color and better processing, a slight edge over the Samsung LND550 with its better black levels and uniformity, but the two are neck-and-neck overall.

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