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Sony Bravia KDL40HX800 review: Sony Bravia KDL40HX800

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The Good Deep blacks. Clean and sharp visuals. 3D capable. Hearty selection of on-demand content. Attractive styling.

The Bad A little small for full 3D impact. Need to buy 3D receiver and glasses separately.

The Bottom Line Yet another barnstorming 3D TV from Sony, the Bravia KDL40HX800 is a true all-rounder and demonstrates that LCD can do better blacks than plasma can.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

9.0 Overall

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It’s been a while since we’ve been able to say this, and another four years before we’re contractually obliged to say it again, but Sony’s televisions are currently kicking goals!

We were impressed with the company’s NX700 television as it had style and performance in equal measure. Even though the HX800 pares the aesthetics down a little it’s even better: dare we say it’s the best TV we’ve seen so far this year?

Design

Looking at the Sony HX800 one word comes to mind: classy. While it misses the bezel-less design of the NX700, the bezel does employ a slick two-tone design: the bottom edge is brushed aluminium while the “walls” and “roof” features a piano black colour scheme.

The TV is edge-lit (meaning the LEDs sit inside the bezel) and this enables the TV to be quite slim. Sure, it’s not as skinny as a piece of toast, but when you hang it on the wall it won’t jut out too far from the wall.

Sony’s latest crop of remote controls are “interesting”. They’re not as ergonomic as Sony’s competitors and there’s a power button on the underside for some inexplicable reason.

Features

Unlike the Sony LX900 this is a "3D-optional" television and you’ll need to spend a little bit extra to watch 3D broadcasts or movies. The stick-on receiver might look a bit ugly, but at least it only costs AU$69, while glasses are also reasonable at AU$99 when compared to Panasonic and its AU$199 models.

Other goodies include Sony’s Bravia Internet Video with streaming of content from Yahoo!7, SBS and others plus support for DLNA. All of this is available from the Xross Media Bar menu, but we’ll admit a preference for the look of LG's NetCast to the XMB with its big friendly “doors” and weather effects. Sony gets the nod for pure breadth and depth of content though.

This is the 40-inch version, which to our minds is a little too small for immersive 3D viewing, but a decent size for most material in a modest room. It comes with all the Sony niceties such as MotionFlow Pro 200Hz for smoother sport replay, better picture quality thanks to the Bravia Engine 3 and local dimming of the backlight.

Apart from the 3D receiver port the other connections are quite comprehensive with the provision of four HDMI slots, two components, three AV inputs and a PC connector.

Performance

Up until this point we haven’t been that thrilled with edge-lit LED set-ups — they tend to have poor contrast and muted colours — but Sony’s latest version is actually a corker. Mind you, if you turn up the backlight too much you will get some spotting in black areas called “backlight clouding”, but turn it down and that’s when the fun starts!

We’ve always had a fondness for Sony’s image processing, and think that this year the company has excelled itself. In fact, the HX800 is one of the sharpest, most detailed sets we have seen in a long time. It doesn’t even bother with artificially boosting Sharpness levels, its images are naturally razor-sharp and noise free.

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