The first thing that you'll notice about the top of the range Bravia "S" series LCD TV when you lift it out of the box is its size and weight. There's no getting past 26.2kgs of TV that measures in at 999 x 693 x 103mm sans stand. That's not a problem specific only to this panel -- most 40 inch TVs are rather weighty -- but we'd suggest having a few burly blokes handy, especially if you're considering wall-mounting the unit. It does come with a supplied small stand that works quite well at keeping the set stable.
The most impressive thing about the KLV-S40A10 is naturally the size -- a 40 inch LCD tends to dominate all but the smallest of rooms, and as always it's worth noting that if you're going to be using the panel in a smaller room, you're essentially wasting your dough, as you'll be forced to sit too close to the screen for comfort or optimal viewing conditions.
The KLV-S40A10 has the general hallmarks of Sony's well-established design ideas -- it's stark where it needs to be, with a minimum of visual clutter on the front display, and suitably recessed buttons that run along the top of the TV itself. All of the unit's inputs lie at the back of the panel -- which could be of concern if you're planning on wall-mounting it and want to change inputs on any kind of regular basis. The side of the panel does offer up a Composite/S-Video connector for the Playstation generation to plug games systems in on an ad-hoc basis.
The KLV-S40A10 features a maximum resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels across its 40 inch (101cm) display, with a claimed contrast ratio of 1000:1 and a fast response time of 8ms. The display does come with inbuilt speakers of only moderate output capabilities, although it's arguably highly unlikely that any consumers would be looking at dropping over five grand on a TV and not have some kind of complimentary audio system to co-ordinate it with.
One interesting feature of the KLV-S40A10 is the inbuilt light sensor, which automatically adjusts the picture settings depending on the ambient light in the room -- this lets you enjoy nice pitch black movies on the same screen that you all huddle around in the brightly lit daytime to watch the cricket.
In terms of inputs, the big omission on the KLV-S40A10 is the lack of digital HDMI inputs. That's a luxury you'll find on the "V" series Bravia TVs, but the mid-range "S" series panels instead offer Component, S-Video, Composite and PC VGA connectors only. There's not too many PC graphics cards that'll natively support 1366 x 768, but you should still be able to connect up and get a good proportion of the screen working that way if you really fancy having a truly massive PC monitor. The HDMI inputs that adorn the "V" series model aren't that much more expensive in the grand scheme of things -- they turn the AU$5,299 KLV-S40A10 into the AU$5,799 KLV-V40A10, as well as pumping up the brightness and contrast ratio.
As previously mentioned, the KLV-S40A10 is an impressive looking display, and it backs up that impressive look with some very nice visual outputs. We tested with a variety of signal types, from component DVD and digital TV set top box to the rather more mundane (and jagged) Playstation 2, and once a comfortable distance was attained from the screen, we could set in to enjoy the Bravia KLV-S40A10's display. Our one noted concern during testing was that the remote control on our test sample was sometimes a touch unresponsive, even with a fresh change of batteries.
As plasmas slowly burn away and LCD TVs move into the larger and larger sizes, it's not surprising to see LCD models at prices that you'd have paid for plasmas only a very short time ago. The KLV-S40A10 suffers most from comparison with the LCDs in Sony's own range -- with lifespans that can exceed a decade, we're still of the opinion that if you're going to spend AU$5,299 on a TV, you'd be better off spending the additional $300 (or $500 with a set top box) on the top of the range V series Bravia, rather than the V series compromise model. That being said, the KLV-S40A10 is still a very nice display unit that should work well within most home settings.