Selling for just under AU$3,000, Sony's Bravia KDL-55HX750 is cleanly and conservatively styled. Its bezel is dark and reasonably thin, at 30mm on three sides, and although the panel is specified as being 60mm thick, it is due to a section across the bottom rear. Most of the panel is 50mm deep.
Its 55-inch screen (about 139cm) provides 3D using the active system: the 3D glasses flash their left and right lenses rapidly, in synchronisation with the screen. The one pair of supplied 3D glasses was a little heavy at 56 grams, but otherwise comfortable enough. They are rechargeable via USB. Additional glasses cost AU$149.
The TV uses LED edge lights for backlighting and there is zone control over them, to help provide deep black levels in the required parts of the screen.
A 'Home' menu shrinks the viewing picture down to a smaller area and opens up a menu bar of options, through which you can navigate. For everyday picture control, the 'Options' key gives ready access to adjustments.
Except, this TV had us bamboozled for a while. It wouldn't allow us to change any of the picture settings when it was receiving input from a HDMI socket. Indeed, most of the remote control keys wouldn't work, at all. We did a factory reset and checked that the firmware was up to date.
Eventually, we worked out that, by default, the remote switches function to control the source device via the Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) capability of HDMI. You can switch it off by pressing the 'Sync Menu' key on the remote and selecting the 'TV control with the TV remote' option. But we imagine that many purchasers will be even more bamboozled than us. Most TVs allow this, but they don't switch it on by default.
The regular picture was very impressive, with good smooth colour and decent black levels. By default, the TV's 'Eco' mode operates fairly gently, reducing brightness when the room is darker. Despite this, there was still a little mottling in full black scenes, but, short of that, the results were impressive.
The default picture settings were excellent, too, except for the sharpness control, which was set to 65 on a 0 to 100 scale. This produced ringing and edginess to the picture. Winding this back to 0 produced a much smoother result.
Crosstalk, or ghosting, was pretty noticeable on everyday 3D viewing. The red Golden Gate Bridge towering over the blue sky on Monsters vs Aliens had clear ghosting, although the 3D effect remained strong and impressive despite this. In scenes where Ginormica's white hair was in front of dark interiors, though, the ghosting was very strong and quite distracting.
It was a bit hard to read off the test results with a crosstalk static pattern, largely because the material leading through was shifted green, making it hard to compare it with the neutral grey calibration scales. But, as best we could judge, there were stacks of crosstalk: about 10 to 20% of the black content for one eye breaking through the white that is supposed to be seen with the other eye, and a remarkably poor 60 to 70% for white breaking through blacks. Zero is the perfect score for both of these.
On our measurements, this TV was extremely miserly, scoring 8.5 stars for its energy rating. And that's in accordance with the unrealistic measurement standards, which require the turning off of the light sensor. Even under our office fluorescent tubes, it scored 9.5 with this setting in its default of 'On'.
There are lots of networking goodies with this TV. There's a straight web browser, which worked quickly. The text was small, but there was a zoom function. Control was excellent via the Media Remote app on an iPhone (a similar one works for Android). This provided a pointer and a pop-up keyboard for text entry, as well as a nifty 'Catch & Throw' feature, whereby you bring up web pages on your smart device and then make them appear on the TV. This made for quick navigation.
There are lots of other items provided, either directly from the Internet or via the Sony Entertainment Network. If you purchase the optional Skype camera, you can use that; plus, there's Twitter, Facebook, Quickflix, YouTube, Mubi, SMH news, catch-up services for Ten, Seven, ABC and SBS and a bunch of speciality video channels.
The DLNA worked well, with fairly quick access to music, video and photos. The latter had that nasty Sharpness setting of 65 in place, but the TV allowed the picture settings to be changed so that we could wind this back to zero for a smoother display. Likewise, the TV allowed some adjustments to video. One MPEG2 test clip that we use often, tricks TVs with its aspect ratio. It tricked this TV as well, but it also let me manually change the aspect so that it displayed correctly.
The Sony Bravia KDL-55HX750 LCD TV provides a good feature set and solid performance — except for the merely adequate 3D — in a neat, unpretentious package.